As perspectivas de desenvolvimento na América Larina, nos últimos tempos, têm se reconfigurado significativamente. A este respeito, escrevi o pequeno artigo abaixo por ocasião de um debate num fórum eletrônico coordenado pelo norte-americano Louis Proyect. Disponível aqui: http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives.
Recent perspectives about development in Latin America
By Ivonaldo Leite
Latin America is a much more diversified and dynamic reality than the image presented in United States and Europe. It also is more complex than the image presented by some academic analysis.
Until the mid-1970s Latin America's major countries' growth rates were not far away from those of East Asia. It was the "lost decade" of the 1980s, as a consequence of the debt crisis and of deterioration in terms of trade, that set back Latin America. Even countries with high export performances such as Brazil had to use their earnings to cover their financial obligations, being forced to cut imports and public spending at a critical moment when international competition and technological revolution required the modernization of the productive structure. By Manuel Castells, taking the long-term view, it is possible to say that Latin America has struggled in the half-century after the Second World War to make the transition along three distinct, albeit overlapping, models of development. The first model was based on exports of raw materials and agricultural products, within the traditional pattern of unequal exchange, trading primary commodities for manufactured goods and know-how from most advanced regions in the world.
The second model was based on import-substituition industrialization, along the policies designed and implemented by United Nations-CEPAL economists (most notabily Raul Presbisch and Anibal Pinto), couting on the expansion of protected domestic markets. The third was based on an outward development strategy, using comparative cost advantages to win market shares in the global economy, trying to imitate the successful path of Asias' newly industrialized countries. The first model deteriorated in the 1960s, the second was exhausted by the end of the 1970s, and the third failed by and large in the 1980s as a critical period of restructuring in the relationship of Latin America to the new "global economy". Latin America, with all the singularities of such a diverse continent, was in the 1990s in process of being integrated into the "new economy global economy", albeit, again, in a subordinate position. Foreign investment has poured into countries, particulary Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina since the early 1990s.
Even Peru, which was literally in a process of economic disintegration during the 1980s, reversed its decline in 1993-1995, under impact of massive foreign direct investment flows and fast expanding trade, once Fujimori established some sort of political stability and imposed the Fujishock to regain the “good reputation” with IMF that country had lost under Alan Garcia. However, since massive foreign investment, both in stocks and in real estate assets, is an essential part of new economic dynamism in Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, and to some extent Brazil, we may be observing an artificial increase of the wealth of these economies, by labeling as investment what is basically a transfer in ownership of existing assets, particularly in privatized state companies in strategic sectors. Thus, some of the region´s new prosperity could be a financial mirage, subject to reversible capital flows relentlessly scanning the planet for short-term profitability, as well as for positioning in strategic sectors (such as telecommunications).