Volume 45 Number 178,
July-September 2014

Neoliberalism in Crisis: Causes, Scenarios and Possible Developments, Jaime Estay, Claudio Lara and Consuelo Silva (eds.), World Economic Studies Network, REDEM, Chile, 2012.

Various distinguished academics contributed to this text, reflecting on the economic deterioration of the past 30 years, a result of prevailing economic policy, and contrasting it with the rising dominance of transnational companies and profits generated by the financial system.

This debate revolves around neoliberalism, conceived of as an economic, philosophical and political school of thought regarding the economy and society, based on classical and neoclassical economic theory.

Neoliberal strategies began working their way into Latin America at the end of the 1970s, following the onset of economic instability in the region; policies were designed according to Washington consensus guidelines, which support the free market, fiscal balance, inflation control and an economy with the private sector at the steering wheel.

The economic crisis that broke out in September 2008 and still persists to this day has generated a theoretical debate surrounding the causes and effects of the crisis and the anti-cyclical policies that might help mitigate it. The dominant school of thought espoused by international financial bodies explains the current crisis as a consequence of financial system speculation, deregulation and highly complex instruments. Neoliberalism is making a comeback, with proposals to once again liberalize the global economy, aiming to reinstate the accumulation cycle at the expense of greater appropriation of social wealth.

In this environment, topics such as the disappearance of the Welfare State, the elimination of social security and limitations on the negotiating rights of workers tend to come up more frequently. With this in mind, the authors stress that we must raise the profile of critical thought, starting in academics, and invite us to propose new solutions to the problems of capitalism in its current state.

Notwithstanding the importance of the current crisis, the reflections in this book highlight the advent of a crisis in the productive system, the backbone of the economy, which has been eroded as a result of reduced international trade, thereby reducing growth.

Special attention is paid to the role of Latin America in global commerce, because elevated raw materials prices in international markets have led to the reprimarization of economies in the region. Countries such as Brazil and Argentina seem to be anchoring their growth to this fact, which produces good results as long as prices stay high and their main trade partners (China) continue to grow. However, the book calls on Latin American countries to leave behind the global hegemonic circuit and strengthen economic relationships within the region, proposing fair trade between similar partners in step with industrial growth.

This book mainly consists of works presented at the International Seminar, "The Contemporary World Economy: Balances and Perspectives," held on October 13 and 14, 2011 at the University of Arts and Social Sciences (Arcis), in Santiago, Chile. The speakers there debated the relevance of neoliberalism on the international scale, with an emphasis on Latin America.

These works aim to depict the scenario in which Latin America finds itself, calling on readers to investigate social and economic issues as a road to possible solutions.

The text has been divided into four major sections. The first consists of four works on the idea that neoliberal policies have been exhausted, the current hegemonic powers weakened and the international configuration of power shifted towards multiple poles, highlighting the role of China as an emerging power. The second consists of three works analyzing the structural causes of the financial system crisis, consequences for the real economy and the alternatives before us in our current environment. This analysis was written from the perspective of orthodox and heterodox theory, which enriches the explanations and broadens the reader's view. The third consists of five texts regarding the idea of a global dispute, which necessarily means that something must prevail, and proposes different projects that might be feasible for Latin America. The fourth section consists of five works, as the first two pick up the growing debate surrounding the viability of Chile’s educational system, beginning with its costs. The other texts shed light on some alternative options for Latin American economies.

Francisco González
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 48, Number 191, October-December 2017 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,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Nov 13th, 2017.
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