Washington Consensus in Latin America: From Raw Model to Straw Man

Journal of Economic Perspectives

Ilan Goldfajn, Lorenza Martínez e Rodrigo O. Valdés

We take stock of three decades of a love-hate relationship between Latin American policies and the Washington Consensus, reviewing its implementation, national debate, and outcomes. Using regional data and case studies of Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, we discuss the various degrees of the Washington Consensus implementation and evaluate performance.

We find mixed results: macroeconomic stability is much improved, but economic growth has been heterogeneous and generally disappointing, despite improvement relative to the 1980s. We discuss the risk that the region could revert parts of the Washington Consensus reforms, which are necessary building blocks for a new agenda more focused on social integration, a fairer and just society, and environmentally sustainable growth based on better education.

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