Volume 44, Number 172, January-March 2013


EDITORIAL
THINKING ABOUT DEVELOPMENT FROM A LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

revista164More than four decades after the first publication of Problemas del Desarrollo, Latin American Journal of Economics, it is time again to reflect on what development means. Over a period of three days, distinguished members of the editorial committee, the advisory board and the international academic community responded to a question from the journal: How can we plant the seeds of development in Latin America? The seminar was organized by the journal and held from October 29 to 31, 2012 at the Institute for Economic Research, unam.

Addressing development from both theoretical and empirical standpoints reveals that Latin America is in a different stage than it was during the 1960s and 1970s. The region experienced sustained development during the golden years, unlike the past decade. Development goes beyond economic growth. As such, it is important not only in terms of new alternatives, such as the “good life” and “living well,” but also in terms of the heterogeneity of the capitalist relationships that characterize the region. Development is a path for all Latin American countries.

The import substitution model of the golden years and the primary export mining model of today only reaffirm what Mariágetui once wrote in his seven essays. His concept of how our countries are inserted in the capital accumulation process and the relationships between social classes are important mechanisms to address and conceive of the history of our development.

In the framework of the Latin American and Caribbean Conference for the Social Sciences, held from November 6 to 9, 2012 in Mexico City and organized by clacso (Latin American Council of Social Sciences), Orlando Caputo, participating in a round table on past, present and future development, referenced a new stage of “neoliberal capitalism” in America, accompanied by an extended crisis. Productive diversification supported by new technologies is key. It is also important to increase support for “national self-sufficiency,” as mentioned by Keynes, as land profitability is not for the world market. Julio Gambina reflected on what the Latin American perspective contributes to theoretical knowledge. The ways in which Mexico, Brazil and Argentina emerged from their crises —1994 to 2001— will not necessarily work for Greece. A return to the discussion of development was also suggested, as well as the debates from the 1960s and 1970s as a theoretical school of thought for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. There is also the illusion of an independent project. Foreign investments used to come from multinational companies for domestic markets; today, neo-development implies large investments for the world market and the destruction of small owners who live off their lands. Criticism of neo-development theory and neoliberalism imply a double effort to once again pick up the category of development and economic growth.

Gregorio Vidal rescues an idea from Celso Furtado, regarding Latin America and based on a thought fed by many sources: successful capitalism. In the history of capitalism, the “golden age” is sort of an exception; the 30 glorious years were not just any time period. To focus on today’s problems, we would have to talk about the thirty years of disaster. Although there were no world wars, the results of the disaster have only just begun. Understanding the differences is key to recover reflections on development and ask what are the best ways to raise our quality of living. Reflecting on development within its own scope may even allow us to find the issues of our own time. Development cannot be solved with industrialization; rather it is an appropriation of all of society. But we must not forget to analyze money, as the theory of dependence did. This school of thought from the 1950s and 1980s, regarding capitalism based on production, ignored financial topics. Today, the cycles of capital, production, circulation and money are imposed in such a way that we must recover the analysis of money to take on development issues. The idea that neoliberalism has been exhausted is not over and is in fact fully alive. The plan to build alternative options means it is time for a critical reflection of the critiques of these proposals and actions that are currently being carried out.

Tsuyoshi Yasahara, in his article “Financial Instability in Latin America: A Minskian-Kaleckian Perspective,” focuses on the fact that, since 2002, Latin American countries have benefited from the increase in commodities prices in international markets and the inflow of foreign investment. This has driven economic growth, while at the same time creating macroeconomic uncertainty due to the fact that expansion has been sustained on volatile economic variables that depend on market expectations. The author uses data from the Balance of Payments to provide statistical support for the study. The theoretical side of his work is based on two elements: financial instability as proposed by Hyman P. Minsky, where the phases of economic boom incubate financial fragility that will eventually lead to financial crisis, and the Kaleckian model, which mainly rests on the role of investment, saving and capacity utilization. His goal is to show that there is a possibility for dynamic adjustment between the variables.

“The Role of Public Banking During Financial Crises in Argentina and Uruguay” was written by Wesley Marshall. The text returns to the economic debate regarding the proper financial structures and institutions to protect credit flows in the economy in adverse situations. This article contributes to the debate, defining the counter-cyclical nature of public commercial banking, using a historical analysis of the banking crises in Argentina and Uruguay at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In Argentina, public banking registered a considerable increase in deposits and an important repositioning within the credit system at the end of Convertibility. This led to high and sustained growth rates over the next five years. In Uruguay, the public banking system halted the development of the crisis, which resulted from banks operating in the country. However, they saw the same trends in terms of increased deposits, although not as intense as in Argentina. The author concludes by underlining the importance of examining two specific cases where the public banking system brought about a more positive economic panorama in times of crisis, as it was used as a tool for stabilization and reactivation of credit.

In “Gender and Salaries of the Qualified Workforce in Brazil and Mexico,” Maria Cristina Cacciamali and Fábio Tatei analyze salary differences between men and women with higher education in Brazil and Mexico. Despite the fact that both countries are ranked among the most dynamic economies in the Latin American region, they have high and persistent gender inequality. The work makes important contributions to the study of gender and salary equality in Brazil and Mexico. The culture in both countries has been an obstacle for women to gain access to many labor fields. Women are absent from decision-making positions of power, despite the increase in female employment. The salary gap between Brazil and Mexico is more biased for females; in general terms we could say that women with higher education find it more difficult to get hired for a job that requires this level of training in Mexico than in Brazil. In Brazil, the panorama is not entirely discouraging, because given that it is a more dynamic economy than Mexico, competition and the unemployment rate are greater. In both countries, the work that women do is not given the value it deserves; if there were no discrimination and women were equally as qualified as men, in Brazil they would receive the same salary, while in Mexico they would even receive a slightly higher salary. This speaks to the persistent discrimination in both countries.

The article “Migration of Qualified Workers as an Obstacle to Development,” by José Luis Hernández, offers a theoretical analysis and explanation for the migratory flows of qualified workers from Mexico to the United States. The main hypothesis is that underdevelopment, within the context of limited technological development and scientific knowledge, obliges qualified employees to migrate to developed countries that are better able to use their acquired abilities. This phenomenon not only leads to a direct loss of human capital, but also promotes the unilateral transfer of workers that gradually damages development in Mexico. To argue this hypothesis, the author divides his analysis into four chapters and a section, which use the theory of accumulation and the law of population on the global level to confirm that migration is a mechanism to adjust imbalances between developed and underdeveloped nations. Finally, he concludes that the phenomenon must be addressed with a broad scope State project to redefine the course of technological research and development, drawing on the experience of a few successful Asian countries, and international cooperation.

The article “Migration and Exclusion in China: The hukou System,” by Gabriela Correa and René Núñez, is centered on reforms to the hukou system, whose main goal is to control population movement. Chinese economic growth is strongly dependent upon exports (low labor costs due to an abundant labor supply). Improving living conditions for migrant workers is thus a dilemma: growth or welfare of the population. This interpretation is problematic, as it is unlikely that the hukou system will be eliminated in the short or medium term, as it is the most effective institutional method to maintain the labor supply, continue to control salary increases and attract foreign investment. In other words, to keep production attractive for the international market, China must have a segmented labor market, and this segmentation has been achieved using the hukou system. In terms of the Theory of Human Capital, by limiting access to higher education, the hukou system prevents the children of migrants from accessing better living conditions. According to Amartya Sen’s approach, the hukou system affects the welfare of the population by limiting their choices.

Mario Enrique Fuente and David Barkin, in “Mining as a Development Factor in the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca: An Ethical Evaluation,” touch on a crucial point of an economic model based on comparative advantages that does not take into account environmental and ethical costs. The problem is addressed from a heterodox point of view, recognizing the importance of ethical postures derived from the rationality of communities located in important mining territories. They set forth two critical analyses of the expansion of mining. The first is related to mining expansion within the new age of global capital accumulation. The second is a critique from the sociocultural standpoint. In this sense, they emphasize environmental economics and political ecology in their attempt to respond to the issues and present perspectives in the process of reconstruction. This reconstruction process is happening all over Latin America, with the goal of proposing solutions to counteract those of the orthodox school of thought, as well as provide alternatives to the mainstream discourse and practice of sustainable development. They propose redefining the mechanisms in Latin American by which resources are assigned, substituting current methods for those that would reduce inequality and damage to the ecosystem, while focusing on distribution problems, community practices, the value of nature and inter-culturalism.

In our Commentary and Debate section, we present “Higher Education and Research for Productive International Competitiveness,” by Iris Guevara.

The journal closes with five reviews: “Crisis, Profit-Seeking and Neoliberal Intervention in the Mexican Banking System: (1982-1999),” by Irma Sandoval, written by Juan José Dávalos, “Commercial Bank Financing for Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Mexico,” by Rodrigo Fenton and Ramón Padilla, reviewed by Karol Solis, “Regional Studies in Mexico: Understanding Authors and their Works,” by Javier Delgadillo and Felipe Torres, written by Rafael Olmos, “Why Certain Countries Have Grown,” by Julio Sevares, reviewed by Ricardo Aronskind and “The Architecture of the Financial Crisis,” by Irma Manrique, written by Santiago Hernández.

Alicia Girón
Journal Editor
unam, December 2012

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Published in Mexico, 2012-2018 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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