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  • Author: Ernesto Semán
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
  • Abstract: A look back at the factors that led to Peronism—and populism's—resurgence in Argentina.
  • Topic: Democracy, Populism, Protests
  • Political Geography: Argentina, Latin America
  • Author: Anuschka Álvarez von Gustedt, Susanne Gratius
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: Are populism and social cohesion two sides of the same coin, or antagonistic concepts? In deeply divided Latin American societies, populism and discourses from the left have repeatedly promised inclusion and welfare programs under a strong leader who gives voice to the poor and marginalized. At first glance, however, results are ambiguous. The recent wave of left-wing populism in Latin America --from Hugo Chávez in 1999 to Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2019 - show a mixed record of social inclusion or –in a term we will use here - social cohesion. Bolivia under Evo Morales (2006-2019), for example, improved all social indicators compared to former governments, while the severe political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela illustrates how populism and its welfare policies may lead to potentially disastrous consequences. The paper is organized as follows: In the first section, we provide a short overview of current political and academic debates on populism and social cohesion, as well as their relationship. The objective here is to identify a minimal definition of both concepts. In the second part, we develop a series of indicators to compare the social record of five Latin American case-studies where leftist leaders with state-centric discourses promised justice and welfare for the poor. From this comparative perspective, the third part of the document explores the causes that led to the rise of leftist populism between 1999 and 2018 in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as the social discourse and track record of populist governments. This analysis is based on indicators developed from the broad literature on social cohesion.
  • Topic: Socialism/Marxism, Populism, Humanitarian Intervention
  • Political Geography: Argentina, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia
  • Author: Guillermo Calvo
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The last presidential elections in Argentina (2015) and in Brazil (2018), represent a change from populism towards more orthodox economic policies in two important countries in the region. This shift is not only economic but also reflects other fundamental changes in the electorate, in particular the growing dissatisfaction of the population with issues such as weak security and growing corruption in political institutions. In both countries, there are significant fiscal problems and adjustment is needed. But in modern democracies, the success or failure of economic policy is closely tied to political developments. Notably, both countries face their macroeconomic challenges under a parliamentary minority; a situation that is common to many countries in the region at present. Economies highly integrated into the international capital markets, with macroeconomic imbalances inherited from populist governments, face a particularly difficult challenge. On the one hand, the required fiscal tightening entails the execution of policies that may result in greater social unrest, thus encouraging a gradual approach. On the other hand, a gradual approach requires a greater funding stream of financial funds thus exposing the economy to higher financial risk. The dilemma of choosing between a shock adjustment and a gradual approach has been central to understanding what has happened in Argentina and is essential to assessing the options available to the next government in Brazil. The dilemma about the optimal speed of fiscal adjustment has been faced by other countries in the region in the past. In some successful cases of gradualism, the presence of a clear commitment mechanism over the fiscal path, including the implementation of goals agreed with the IMF, has played a decisive role in mitigating the credibility gap typically linked to gradual approaches. One question that the Committee puts forward throughout this statement is to what extent does Argentina's experience entail relevant lessons for Brazil? In order to thoroughly understand these possible lessons and the challenges that both countries face, it is important to consider the similarities and differences between Argentina and Brazil. There is no doubt that both countries are dealing with formidable fiscal challenges. In both countries, there is a primary fiscal deficit and public debt levels are high in relation to GDP. Also, both economies face low or negative growth rates, partly because of cyclical or temporary factors and partly because of low productivity levels due to complex regulatory regimes and tax systems that hinder investment. On the other hand, the realities of Argentina and Brazil are very different in some important aspects. Brazil has not had to cope with a currency crisis and external financing problems such as those of Argentina; the latter has had to reduce its hefty deficit in the current account of the balance of payments. In contrast, Brazil’s external public debt and external financing needs of the public sector are low. However, while the private sector’s foreign indebtedness is quite moderate in Argentina, it is relatively high in the case of Brazil. As regards to monetary policy and inflation, the situation in both countries is also very different. Whereas the inflation rate in Argentina has suffered a substantial increase throughout this year in the context of low credibility in its monetary policy, Brazil has kept a low and stable inflation rate and has significantly improved its central bank’s credibility. These similarities and differences require a differentiated discussion of each country, even if some challenges facing Argentina and Brazil are shared, and whether their experiences provide lessons for each other. The international context plays a fundamental role for both economies in determining the results of economic policy. Before embarking on a more detailed analysis of the challenges facing Argentina and Brazil during the next year, we will analyze how the international context has recently changed, in the next section.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Populism, Local
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, South America
  • Author: Robert F. Noriega, José R. Cárdenas
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Argentina is the poster child for economic dysfunction in the Americas and stands as a cautionary tale of the perils of populist economics. The International Monetary Fund’s recent unprecedented censure of the Argentine government for cooking inflation figures is only the latest installment in a long fall from grace for what was once one of the world’s most productive economies. Moreover, under the presidencies of Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina has alienated traditional allies such as the United States while reorienting its foreign relations toward radical outliers like Venezuela and Iran. US policymakers must continue to hold Argentina accountable for its failures to abide by its obligations to international financial institutions and work to thwart Argentina’s troubling alliances with rogue governments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Monetary Fund, Populism
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America