Actividades Economicas Principales is a newly published economic treatise by Guillermo Loya, the economic advisor to the PRD party in Chile. This new book contains a lot of fresh insights into the problems of the South American nation. I have borrowed quite a few phrases from this new economic text to use in my own economic studies and have come to the conclusion that this is one of the best books that has been written on Chile and Latin America in general.
The book is primarily a work on economic policies in Chile during the period of Pinochet's military dictatorship. It discusses the experience of economic policies in Latin America following the end of the military junta rule. This means that this book also covers the years preceding the restoration of democracy and the economic policies implemented during those years. These are crucial issues that are often left out of political and international economic literature that might focus merely on the effects of specific policies or the implementation of specific laws.
The book provides an extensive analysis of the effects of economic policies during the years of Pinochet's rule, including a detailed study of the impact on private sector activity. The author examines the role that foreign investors had during this era, and how these multinational firms (such as Unilever, Texaco, Enron and BP) sought to participate in the country's economic development process. They are portrayed as exercising considerable restraint in terms of financial activities.
As regards Chile's neighbors, this book provides a detailed account of the events that triggered the economic crisis. For me, the most important aspect is how the transition process from military rule to a free market democracy played out in Latin America. In the case of Chile, the events leading to the 1997 98 economic collapse is closely observed, with the author comparing these to the recessions that occurred in Latin America just before the advent of the New World Order. The result is a situation where free market capitalism was implemented, but without the kind of growth that might have been achieved through a different set of economic policies. This book thus focuses mainly on the issues surrounding the introduction of economic policies.
On the other hand, I find the overall treatment rather too simplified and seems to gloss over some very important realities, for example the role of the Pinochet regime in imposing the dictates of the pro-business elite. The author rightly points out that economic policies were rarely discussed during the transition period, but this would have changed if the authors had pursued a more inclusive approach. Some of the topics that are discussed deserve closer scrutiny: the role of free trade in creating economic growth, the role of international capital flows, and the role of small and medium enterprises in supporting economic development – issues that are often ignored in accounts of Latin American economic history.
On the other hand, some parts of the book do a good job of describing the emergence of a new class of Latin American economic elites. These are the ones mentioned most often in economic history books, and they include oil magnates, industrialists, and investors. However, it seems to be a bit of overkill, and much of the book relies on the more traditional account of the accumulation of wealth by families and corporations, rather than . . . . . . by ordinary people. Overall, this doesn't affect the quality of the book, but it can be a point of criticism.
The book is also helpful in providing a detailed analysis of how these economic policies worked in Latin America. While the analysis may seem a little simplistic, the book does provide a lot of data that was not available before, allowing readers to assess the impact of the reforms on real incomes. The same cannot be said for similar programs introduced elsewhere in the world, such as those in South Korea, Taiwan or India. The lack of statistical data makes it difficult to evaluate these programs.
This book offers a simple way of understanding the role of the state in economic development, with an emphasis on family and corporate accumulation, rather than concentrating mainly on the effects of free-market capitalism. While it may seem too simple to be considered a text book, it offers many insights into the complicated world of Latin American economics. Although it doesn't cover the topics as exhaustively as other texts, it's still worth reading for any student of economic history. For students looking for a simple introduction to economic thought, or for those who are already familiar with this topic but would like to have more depth, Actividades economic Principales offers just what you need.