March 7, 2010

THE NEXT BEST THING TO AN ANGLOSPHERIC ISLAND:

After the quake, Chile shows its strengths: In Latin American terms, it couldn't have happened to a better country. (Pedro Dutour, 5 March 2010, MercatorNet)

In part, Chile’s relative good fortune is due to its well-managed economy. This is one of the few success stories in Latin America, thanks to a model implemented during the dictatorship of the reviled Augusto Pinochet with the help of economists trained in America under Milton Friedman. Instead of trashing his achievements, the succession of left-wing and centrist governments which succeeded him continued in the same path.

As a result, writes Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal, “Chileans have become South America's richest people. They have the continent's lowest level of corruption, the lowest infant-mortality rate, and the lowest number of people living below the poverty line.” In fact, Chile has just joined the rich man’s club, the Organisation for the Economic Cooperation and Development. It was the first country in South America to do so.

President-elect, Sebastián Piñera, a centre-right leader who takes power on March 11, can rely upon a Social Stabilization Fund of US$14 billion which was earned in the days of sky-high copper prices. President Bachelet had US$8 billion up her sleeve to deal with global crisis last year -- something that other Latin American economies could only dream about. In fact, Chile was the first country in the continent to exit the global financial crisis. According to the research group Capital Economics, the Chilean economy will expand by five percent this year.

“As the priority shifts from the urgent humanitarian needs to reconstruction, the strong state of government finances in Chile will facilitate these efforts”, Curtis Mewbourne, of investment group Pimco, told the BBC.

But American attempts to interpret Chile’s resilience in terms of economics are not altogether adequate. The history and character of the Chileans must also be taken into account. First of all, Chileans are more homogenous ethnically. The social tensions which have blighted the politics of its neighbours Boliva and Peru are less evident. As well, geography has made them more self-reliant. To the east are the impassable Andes; to the west, the Pacific Ocean, to the north the Atacama, the world’s driest desert; to the south, ice. So, from the very beginning of its history as an independent nation, Chileans had to fend for themselves.


Thanks again, General.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 7, 2010 5:36 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« SO, GOVERNOR PERRY, TELL US ABOUT THE ANTI-INCUMBENT FEVER OUT THERE...: | Main | DID THEY CHECK HIS PAGE ON CORPSEBOOK?: »