Sebastian Edwards’ Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism. This, from what I understand (I’ve only just started reading it), is a pro-market economic analysis of the economic situation in today’s Latin American economies. The title alludes to a major theme, which is that the Washington Consensus of the late 1980s and early 90s was good advice, it simply wasn’t implemented well. The populist response to the perceived failure of neoliberal reforms, argues Edwards, has continued to stifle growth. Since I have to finish the book I won’t comment much on what I think about this, but it’s worth considering that populism and pro-market reform aren’t necessarily opposed to each other (Ecuador has grown quite a bit this past decade, including under R. Correa). Further, the poor implementation of neoliberal policies was a direct failure of the Washington Consensus, which didn’t take institutions into consideration. The populist response, in some countries, actually directly addressed the institutional question (sometimes unsuccessful, such as is the case with Venezuela, and other times the results aren’t obviously negative [Ecuador]).
My plan to read one book per week and fifty pages per day fell apart last month, when I went about two weeks without reading much. I was re-reading F.A. Hayek’s Individualism and Economic Order, but apart from this I didn’t get much done. My hope is that I can catch up during the summer, although I have some of the more difficult reading planned for then.