This chapter looks at the historical evolution of commodity dependence in Latin America, showing that dependence on natural resource-intensive exports increased during the 2003–13 commodity price boom after a period of export diversification that began in the mid-1960s. It then analyses price dynamics, showing that commodity prices experienced both long-term trends, which were generally adverse for non-oil commodities through the twentieth century, and super-cycles of 30–40 years. Based on that pattern, the author argues that the recent price collapse may be the beginning of a long period of weak commodity prices. Finally, the chapter demonstrates that the region has been unable to take full advantage of the benefits of its natural resource specialisation and has faced, in contrast, some negative Dutch Disease effects due to the aforementioned dependence. Latin America has, furthermore, been a victim of the macroeconomic vulnerabilities generated by commodity cycles, largely because it has failed to develop appropriate countercyclical macroeconomic policies.
Antonio Luis Hidalgo-Capitán and Ana Patricia Cubillo-Guevara
The purpose of this chapter is to identify the different meanings of Latin American Good Living (buen vivir) and its diverse intellectual wellsprings, with a focus on the political economy of development. The authors try to answer the following questions: What different types of Good Living lie behind the overall concept? What intellectual wellsprings have the authors drunk from? The authors use the methodological strategies of deconstruction and conceptual genealogy, based on a broad bibliographic review. They conclude that three different types of Latin American Good Living exist: ‘indigenist’ and ‘pachamamist’, socialist and statist, and ‘ecologist’ and ‘post-developmentalist’. Moreover, they argue that synthesised notions of the concept exist. These versions are associated with different intellectual influences, such as sumak kawsay, suma qamaña and allin kawsay; the Andean world view; development with identity; the theory of reciprocity; post-development; liberation theology; dependency theory; the theory of ‘coloniality’; sustainable development; world-system theory; human development; endogenous development; eco-socialism; twenty-first century socialism; social justice; the economics of happiness; eudaemony; the economic theory of relational goods; the social and solidarity economy; intercultural feminism; the feminism of care; eco-feminism; the self-sufficient economy; community economy; barefoot economics and human scale development theory; the Buddhist economy; ‘post-extractivism’; ‘de-growth’; deep ecology and the theory of conviviality.
Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva and Gianandrea Nelli Feroci
This chapter argues that we are witnessing new processes of social participation and activism in Latin America, characterised by the absence of defined centres of deliberation and coordination, and by transitory leadership. This activism is part of a wider global wave of social protests that began with the Arab Spring in 2011, with which it shares common features such as the generational factor, the role of social media and networks and the use of information and communication technologies (icts), the gap between institutional politics and the citizenry, and the weakening of the convening and mobilisation power of classic social movements. The period 2011–15 was characterised by the emergence of this new kind of social activism in Latin America. This form of activism is growing in a specific regional context of increasing contradictions arising from exclusionary socio-economic development and incomplete human development characterised by radical social inequalities in democracies that still do not attend to the needs of large parts of society. Although these social movements may seem new, they are in fact the expression of underlying tensions present in most societies of the region; points of tension that have long represented the core of social conflict in Latin America: inequality, poverty and the exclusion they both imply. This exclusion is social (a lack of access to basic services, education, health and transport, etc.) and political (a lack of participation in decision-making processes, self-referential political classes and opaque institutional processes, and a lack of political–institutional accountability).
Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Humberto Campodónico
Fernando Henrique Cardoso is a former two-term President and Minister of Finance of Brazil. A distinguished scholar, Dr Cardoso has written over 40 books, with his 1969 contribution to ‘dependency theory’ among his most well-known. In this interview with guest editor Humberto Campodónico, President Cardoso discusses the evolution of development theories in Latin America, offers his views on recent growth and challenges in the region, and provides insights regarding the future of Latin America’s engagement in the global economy.
In Bolivia, an alternative vision of development has emerged that relies on the concepts of Madre Tierra (Mother Earth) and Vivir Bien (Living Well), and promotes balance and harmony between humans and nature. It aims to break away from the economic model previously adopted by Bolivia, a model that has made the country highly dependent on the export of raw materials. This chapter analyses the Biocultura programme, a project launched in 2008 by the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (sdc), which aims to translate this alternative vision of development into concrete practices. Stemming from a participatory approach, this initiative shows that it is possible to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with raising incomes and the promotion of local knowledge. It also contributes to the creation and strengthening of institutions and policies in line with Vivir Bien. This chapter is based on documents and ideas developed by the Biocultura programme and the sdc, as well as on fieldwork carried out between 2013 and 2015.
Guillermo Perry and Eduardo Garcia
This chapter discusses the changing relations between Multilateral Development Institutions (mdis) and Latin America from the 1980s to the present day. The chapter first depicts how the influence of mdis on Latin America has changed over time and across countries, depending on their access to international private capital markets, the development of long-term markets for domestic currency government bonds and the significant reduction of macro-financial vulnerabilities in the region. It then illustrates how the view of mdis on macroeconomic and development policies has evolved, influenced by academic developments and also by Latin American governments. Finally, the chapter shows how most governments in the region, whether left-wing or center-right oriented, have increasingly converged with mdis’ recommendations on macro-financial policies while historically many actors, from both ends of the political spectrum, applied both macro and micro policies that differ from mdis’ views.
The predominant school of thought leads us to believe that an economy without growth is an impossibility and that the only means of achieving development is through economic growth. In turn, this growth requires ever-larger amounts of natural resources to sustain increasing global demand, while generating revenue for the global South to overcome its ‘underdevelopment’. Reality nevertheless tells us that moving beyond this vision is the most pressing challenge of our time: to overcome ‘the religion of economic growth’ and make room for new approaches that will enable us to escape the extractivism ‘trap’. This chapter proposes to move towards a non-capitalist society inspired by the visions, values, experiences and practices of the different forms of buen vivir that can be found among diverse indigenous populations across our planet.
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Latin America experienced strong growth that was primarily attributable to high export prices and growing demand from China. Moreover, democratic transitions in the region brought to power governments with highly contrasting economic policies and different visions of the sectors that were driving growth. These governments also differed in terms of the social policies they implemented to combat poverty and inequality. Countries with ‘heterodox’ policies (Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Venezuela) that promoted efforts to better distribute the fruits of growth increased social expenditure and encouraged, to a greater or a lesser degree, productive diversification, particularly in the internal market. Countries with ‘orthodox’ policies (Chile, Colombia and Peru) promoted foreign investment in the primary export sector (mining, oil, fishing, soybean cultivation, etc.), which was considered the main driver of growth, and implemented conservative fiscal and monetary policies that created a climate of confidence for investors and led to stable exchange rates and prices.
This chapter attempts to assess the events of the last decade in terms of distributive aspects by comparing the cases of countries that applied heterodox policies with those that implemented orthodox policies. The study focuses primarily on Peru, where governments combined a ‘leftist’ ideology—which brought them to power—with economic policies that were close to the ‘Washington Consensus’. The author examines the results of this phase of rapid growth in terms of poverty reduction and assesses to what extent these results have been accompanied by (and possibly have been achieved thanks to) a drop in inequality and the growth of the middle class. This phenomenon is seen by some as a guarantor of political stability and by others, as a cauldron of conflict. Finally, the degree to which social expenditure and taxation can play distributive roles in this new phase of slower growth is explored.