Cuba’s economy has grown hardly at all during Raúl Castro’s presidency (2006-2016), hit by the economic collapse of its Venezuelan partner and burdened by a legacy of decayed infrastructure, a bankrupt sugar industry, and stagnant agriculture. This book diagnoses the ills that afflict Cuba’s economy and examines possible economic policy changes in seven areas: macroeconomic policy, central planning, role of small and medium private enterprises, nonagricultural cooperatives, financing options for the new private sector, state enterprise management, and relations with international financial institutions. Cuban economists are the authors of these seven chapters, whose combined import is further considered in introductory and concluding chapters. The book stems from over a decade of scholarly collaboration with Harvard scholars, anchored in a series of workshops held over the years in Cambridge and Havana.
What is the role of history in the life of new democracies? In this volume, twelve reflections―the work of journalists, writers and poets, literary critics, political scientists, historians, philosophers, economists, and linguists―explore legacies of authoritarian political regimes noted for repression and injustice, questioning how collective experiences of violence shape memory and its relevance for contemporary social and political life in Latin America. The past matters deeply, the essayists agree, but the past itself is debatable and ambiguous. Avoiding its repetition introduces elusive and contested terrain; there are, indeed, many histories, many memories, and many ways they can be reflected in democratic contexts. In much of contemporary Latin America, this difficult past has not yet been fully confronted, and much remains to be done in reconciling memory and democracy throughout the region. As this is done, the lessons of the past must contribute not only to the construction of democratic institutions, but also to the engagement of democratic citizens in the collective work of governance and participation.
The Cuban economy has been transformed over the course of the last decade, and these changes are now likely to accelerate. In this edited volume, prominent Cuban economists and sociologists present a clear analysis of Cuba’s economic and social circumstances and suggest steps for Cuba to reactivate economic growth and improve the welfare of its citizens. These authors focus first on trade, capital inflows, exchange rates, monetary and fiscal policy, and the agricultural sector. In a second section, a multidisciplinary team of sociologists and an economist map how reforms in economic and social policies have produced declines in the social standing of some specific groups and economic mobility for others.
A joint collaboration between scholars at Harvard University and in Cuba, this book includes the same editors and many of the same authors as The Cuban Economy at the Start of the Twenty-First Century, which is also part of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS)’s Series on Latin American Studies.
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Why do some new export activities succeed while others do not? Why are some not even attempted? In this book, distinguished research teams analyze eleven cases of new export endeavors in six Latin American countries to learn how export pioneers are born and jump-start a virtuous process leading to economic transformation. The case studies range from blueberries in Argentina and fresh cut flowers in Colombia to aircraft in Brazil and software in Uruguay. They put to the test two conjectures: that costly burdens to entrepreneurial self-discovery due to imitation by competitors deter would-be pioneers (the low appropriation hypothesis advanced by Harvard’s Hausmann and Rodrik) and that new export activities are a complex enterprise that only reach fruition when the innovative contributions of many actors are somehow provided jointly (the failure of coordination hypothesis). These case studies offer many examples in which cooperation proved absolutely vital to export success, while problems of appropriation appeared less critical. Interestingly, in solving coordination problems, innovators frequently mitigated problems of appropriation. Coordination is difficult, however, and, as the tales of these export pioneers suggest, industrial policy has an important role to play in facilitating it.
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Is Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution under Hugo Chávez truly revolutionary? Most books and articles tend to view the Chávez government in an either-or fashion. Some see the president as the shining knight of twenty-first-century socialism, while others see him as an avenging Stalinist strongman. Despite passion on both sides, the Chávez government does not fall easily into a seamless fable of emancipatory or authoritarian history, as these essays make clear.
A range of distinguished authors consider the nature of social change in contemporary Venezuela and explore a number of themes that help elucidate the sources of the nation’s political polarization. The chapters range from Fernando Coronil’s “Bolivarian Revolution,” which examines the relationship between the state’s social body (its population) and its natural body (its oil reserves), to an insightful look at women’s rights by Cathy A. Rakowski and Gioconda Espina. This volume shows that, while the future of the national process is unclear, the principles elaborated by the Chávez government are helping articulate a new Latin American left.
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Latin America’s widespread poverty and multi-dimensioned inequalities have long perplexed and provoked observers.
Until recently, economic historians could not contribute much to the discussion of living standards and inequality, because quantitative evidence for earlier eras was lacking. Since the 1990s, historians, economists, and other social scientists have sought to document and analyze the historical roots of Latin America’s relatively high inequality and persistent poverty.
This edited volume with eight compelling chapters by preeminent economists and social scientists brings together some of the most important results of this work: scholarly efforts to measure and explain changes in Latin American living standards as far back as the colonial era. The recent work has focused on physical welfare, often referred to as “biological” well-being. Much of it uses novel measures, such as data on the heights or stature of children and adults (a measure of net nutrition) and the Human Development Index (HDI). Other work brings to the discussion new and more reliable measurements that can be used for comparing countries, often with unexpected and startling results.
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Traditionally, the concept of quality of life has been viewed through objective indicators of living conditions, basic needs, or capabilities. In Beyond Facts, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) looks at quality of life through a new lens, namely, the perceptions of millions of Latin Americans. Using an enhanced version of the recently created Gallup World Poll that incorporates Latin America–specific questions, the IDB surveyed people from throughout the region and found that reality and perceptions of quality of life are often very different. Despite the rise of menial, low-paying employment, Latin Americans are largely satisfied with their jobs. Although greater income is associated with greater satisfaction, faster growth actually lessens satisfaction. These surprising findings have enormous significance for the political economy of the region and provide a wealth of information for policymakers and development practitioners to feast upon. Beyond Facts attempts to explain these apparent anomalies and consider their implications for both politics and policy.
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How was frontier expansion rationalized in the Americas during the late nineteenth century? As new states fleshed out expanded national maps, how did they represent their advances? Were there any distinct pan-American patterns? The renowned anthropologist and human rights advocate David Maybury-Lewis saw the Latin American frontiers as relatively unknown physical spaces as well as unexplored academic “territory.” He invited eight specialists to explore public narratives of the expansion of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the western regions of Canada and the United States during the late nineteenth century, a time when those who then identified as “Americans” claimed territories in which indigenous peoples, who were now seen as economic and political obstacles, lived. The authors examine the narrative forms that stirred or rationalized expansion, and emphasize their impact on the native residents.
The authors illustrate the variety and the similarities of these nationalist ideas and experiences, which were generally expressed in symbolic and cultural terms rather than on simple materialist or essentialist grounds. The cases also point out that civic nationalism, often seem as inclusive and more benign than ethnic nationalism, can produce similarly destructive human and cultural ends. The essays thus suggest a view of nationalism as a theoretical concept, and of frontier expansion as a historical phenomenon.
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This book is a dialogue about poverty in North America, especially in Mexico and the United States. Poverty has different roots and different manifestations, and requires different responses, whether in the Mississippi delta, in Native American reservations, among single-parent families in inner cities, or in Mexico’s rural southern states and in its urban areas.
In this book, twelve poverty scholars in Mexico and the United States contribute to the understanding of the roots of poverty and build knowledge about effective policy alleviation strategies. After setting the context of poverty and place in North America, the book focuses on three areas of policy response: macroeconomic policy, education policy, and safety nets. Within each section, the authors explore the dimensions of the poverty problem and alternative responses. A final chapter by the editors—from the United States and from Mexico—raises provocative questions about poverty in North America as a whole.
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The budget is the main tool used to allocate scarce public resources, and it is in the context of the budget process that politicians must make trade-offs between different policy priorities. The characteristics of the budget process determine not only the sustainability of fiscal accounts but also their adaptability, efficiency, and representativeness. This volume describes the budget practices, both formal and informal, in ten countries of Latin America and explains fiscal results in terms of these four features. The country studies identify the actors involved in budget policymaking and distinguish their incentives. The studies also present the laws and regulations that affect the incentives and behavior of each actor, as well as the transactions these actors engage in from a general equilibrium perspective. Equally important, and a central focus of each study, is the interaction among the different actors during the budget process. Through this unique framework, the authors identify the role that the budget process may have in the broader policymaking game as a crucial arena to carry out key political transactions.
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This book explores the impact of transport costs on trade in Latin America and the Caribbean, and argues that transport costs have assumed an unprecedented strategic importance to the region. The region can no longer rely solely on trade agreements, proximity, labor costs, and an abundant supply of natural resources to give it a competitive advantage in international trade. The book finds that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have transport costs that are generally higher than those of the developed world, largely because of deficiencies in infrastructure and weak competition in shipping services. It concludes that a broader and more balanced trade agenda would bring the long-neglected issue of transport costs to the center of the policy debate.
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The Other Latinos addresses an important topic: the presence in the United States of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants from countries other than Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Focusing on the Andes, Central America, and Brazil, the book brings together essays by a number of accomplished scholars.
Michael Jones-Correa’s chapter is a lucid study of the complex issues in posing "established" and "other," and "old" and "new" in the discussion of Latino immigrant groups. Helen B. Marrow follows with general observations that bring out the many facets of race, ethnicity, and identity. Claret Vargas analyzes the poetry of Eduardo Mitre, followed by Edmundo Paz Soldán’s reflections on Bolivians’ "obsessive signs of identity." Nestor Rodriguez discusses the tensions between Mexican and Central American immigrants, while Arturo Arias’s piece on Central Americans moves brilliantly between the literary (and the cinematic), the historical, and the material. Four Brazilian chapters complete the work.
The editors hope that this introductory work will inspire others to continue these initial inquiries so as to construct a more complete understanding of the realities of Latin American migration into the United States.
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In South and Central America, a movement toward further economic integration has begun. Those policy actions may one day become part of a process that could create a single economy including several Latin American and Caribbean countries. They have significant implications for policies related to public finances and especially the countries’ tax systems.
In the hope of helping to make the process smoother, and to foster a better understanding of the policy actions required, the Inter-American Development Bank studied the impact of trade integration on taxes. Twelve of these studies are collected in Taxation and Latin American Integration, covering such topics as the impact of trade liberalization on tax revenues and fiscal balances; harmonization and the instruments needed to achieve it; tax coordination among different regions of the same country; globalization and tax competition; tax incentives for foreign investment; tax treaties; transfer pricing and integration; exchange of information among tax administrations; economic integration and pensions; capital income tax coordination; and the impact of globalization on tax systems.
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Using unique household data sets for six Latin American countries, the essays collected in this volume put together a compelling picture of the effects of privatization. Prices usually increase significantly in the wake of privatization, which can prove particularly difficult for low-income groups. On the other hand, privatized services often lead to expanded coverage, greatly benefiting even poorer groups. Symbolic issues as well as material outcomes are relevant, as access to public services generates a sense of inclusion and provision of basic rights to historically excluded populations.
The expansion of service that has accompanied privatizations in Latin America not only provides the less well-off with the opportunity to use those services, but also offers the possibly more important benefit of a sense of inclusion in society. Increased access to services further allows Latin Americans to enjoy a higher quality of life and provides the opportunity to generate more stable sources of income.
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What determines the capacity of countries to design, approve, and implement effective public policies? To address this issue, this book builds on the results of a comparative study of political institutions, policymaking processes, and policy outcomes in eight Latin American countries. The volume benefits from both micro detail on the intricacies of policymaking in individual countries and a broad cross-country interdisciplinary analysis of the process in the region.
The country studies demonstrate a deep knowledge of the specific historical dynamics and idiosyncratic structural factors at play in each case, while focusing on the effects of political institutions as viewed through a common analytical lens founded in game theory and institutional analysis. This book should become a staple on the syllabus of any class on Latin American politics or institutional politics and important background reading in many classes on development economics.
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