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Latin America’s Growth Frustrations:
The Macro and Mesoeconomic Links

José Antonio Ocampo
Seminar on Management of Volatility
 Financial Liberalization and Growth in Emerging Economies
ECLAC Headquarters, Santiago
Conference Room II
April 24-25, 2003

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Whereas the return of moderate rates of economic growth in 1990-1997 generated positive evaluations of Latin America's reform efforts (see Edwards, 1995; IDB, 1997; and World Bank, 1997), the new "lost half-decade" of 1998-2002 has brought an extensive reevaluation of these early assessments (ECLAC, 2003a; Kuczynski and Williamson, 2003). The new development strategy has been effective in generating export dynamism, attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and increasing productivity in leading firms and sectors. In most countries, inflation trends and budget deficits have been effectively brought under control, and confidence in the macroeconomic authorities has increased.

Nonetheless, economic growth has been frustratingly low and volatile, and domestic savings and investment have remained depressed. Overall productivity performance has been poor, largely as a result of a growing underutilization of the available labor force. Increasing productive and labor market dualism has become one of the most distinctive effects of the reform process, with the expansion of "world class" firms (many of them subsidiaries of multinationals) coinciding with increasing unemployment and labor market informality.

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April 28, 2003

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