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Ilàn Bizberg

The global economic crisis as disclosure of the existence of different types of capitalism in Latin America

27 novembre 2010

How can we explain why Mexico, one of the countries that was markedly a model for Latin America in the nineties, is in such difficulties, while the country that was signaled to be most urgently needing the recipes of the “Washington Consensus” : retreat of the State, privatization, and deregulation, is doing so well. This apparent paradox is explained by one of the more heterodox economists of the US not as proof that the recipes were wrong but that they are too abstract (Rodrik, 2005). This implies they are right at the end of a road but that they way to arrive to them diverges from country to country. In contrast to this idea, I will try to defend that in the same way as there are different types of capitalism in the developed world, we are not dealing with different paths that lead to the same end, but that we are facing the development of different types of capitalism in Latin America. I follow the literature that considers different types of capitalism : while some are more liberal and based on the market (US), others are more coordinated (Germany, North Europe) (Hall and Soskice, 2001), in others the State has a crucial role (France, Korea), and in still others it‟s the conglomerates of banks and industries that play the main role (Japan) (Amable, 2005, Boyer 2005). Thus, in Latin America there would also exist different types of capitalism and not a deficient variant of the one (or ones) of the developing countries (as Schneider and Soskice, 2009 have affirmed). In at least three countries we can see that the economic structure and the socio-political conformation (basically the welfare regime and the industrial relations system 2) are complementary enough to be able to construct ideal types. We can identify two types of capitalism with strong State intervention, one of them led by the internal market –IMLC- (Brazil), another led by external market –EMLC- (Chile). Another type of capitalism, albeit a disarticulated one, is the Mexican one, based on international subcontracting with retreat of the State (ISCC).
The way in which these countries faced the 2008-2009 global crisis is of crucial interest for the understanding of the types of capitalism, because it has been an opportunity to consolidate a certain type of capitalism (Brazil, Chile) or to diverge from a given economic trajectory (Argentina). The main idea of this paper is that the way countries have responded to the global crisis is related : 1. on path dependence, that is on the economic, social and political institutions and organizations created in the past ; and 2. on the manner in which the countries responded to previous crises, transformed their economic and social institutions during the eighties and nineties and the degree to which they followed the recipes of the Washington consensus ; something that in the countries we are analyzing is closely related to the political context in which they did so, whether under an authoritarian or a democratic regime.

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