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Editors’ Introduction: Gerardo Angeles-Castro, Ignacio Perrotini - Hernández and Humberto Ríos-Bolívar


The principal themes pursued in this book emerge from the great transformation that the Latin American and the Caribbean economies experienced in the aftermath both of the foreign debt crisis of 1982 and of the macroeconomic stabilisation policies that vividly and painfully produced the so-called ‘lost decade’ of the 1980s. Latin America implemented an economic liberalisation process during the late 1980s and the 1990s. The main policy reforms involved in that course can be summarised as privatisation of state owned firms, trade openness, deregulation of the foreign direct investment (FDI) regime and fiscal discipline. Latin American countries have also embarked in regional trade agreements, the most important ones being Mercosur and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The book compares results from the experience of North-South and South-South moulds of integration. Thus, the impacts of these policies on growth, development, technological progress, poverty and inequality are analysed. Orthodox and heterodox economic policies and theories are discussed along with relevant empirical evidence with a view to assess the relative merits of the various policy reforms applied by different countries in the region, on the one hand, and the experience of integration into the global economy, on the other. There are 13 chapters in this collection linked in varying ways to the series of economic reforms introduced in the region in the last decades. In this introduction we do not intend to provide a comprehensive résumé of the chapters of the present book or to exhaust the great richness of the analyses and debates contained therein. We just want to give a general appraisal of the editorial structure of the volume. There are many authors in this volume, and undoubtedly they disagree with each other on many important economic issues and policy questions. Yet, we have chosen to bring these chapters together because they indisputably share a common concern, namely the search for an alternative economic policy model that best suits Latin America’s future economic development. The book is organised in three parts.