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Paperback | $45.00 X | £37.95 | 464 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 92 figures | May 2017 | ISBN: 9780262533157
eBook | $45.00 X | May 2017 | ISBN: 9780262337885
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The Economics of Contemporary Latin America


Latin America is richly endowed with natural resources, fertile land, and vibrant cultures. Yet the region remains much poorer than its neighbors to the north. Most Latin American countries have not achieved standards of living and stable institutions comparable to those found in developed countries, have experienced repeated boom-bust cycles, and remain heavily reliant on primary commodities.

This book studies the historical roots of Latin America’s contemporary economic and social development, focusing on poverty and income inequality dating back to colonial times. It addresses today’s legacies of the market-friendly reforms that took hold in the 1980s and 1990s by examining successful stabilizations and homemade monetary and fiscal institutional reforms. It offers a detailed analysis of trade and financial liberalization, twenty–first century-growth, and the decline in poverty and income inequality. Finally, the book offers an overall analysis of inclusive growth policies for development—including gender issues and the informal sector—and the challenges that lie ahead for the region, with special attention to pressing demands by the vibrant and vocal middle class, youth unemployment, and indigenous populations.

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About the Authors

Beatriz Armendáriz is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at University College London and Research Affiliate at Harvard University. She is coauthor of The Economics of Microfinance (MIT Press).

Felipe Larraín B. is Professor of Economics at the Catholic University of Chile and Director of the Latin American Center of Economics and Social Policies (CLAPES UC). He is coauthor of Macroeconomics in the Global Economy and was Finance Minister of Chile from 2010 to 2014.


The Economics of Contemporary Latin America is a superb contribution to our understanding of the region’s economic and social transformation. The authors thoroughly dissect the main forces driving economic changes since the independence movements in the region, cover a lot of the scholarly research, and distill policy lessons to address continuing challenges. The result is a unique and valuable resource for understanding the economics of Latin America.”
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director for the IMF
A brilliant synthesis of the roots and causes of Latin America’s development challenges; highly suitable as a text for a course on economic growth or the Latin American economy.
Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University
Beatriz Armendáriz and Felipe Larraín provide us at last what we have long needed, the definitive economic introduction to Latin America. That introduction could not be more timely. While other parts of the world are succumbing to economic populism, Latin America has been there and back. Armendáriz and Larraín offer invaluable hints about how other regions might, just might, achieve economic salvation and, along the way, avoid the worst.
Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen H. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
This terrific book by Beatriz Armendáriz and Felipe Larraín provides an engaging and convincing story of the historical forces that have shaped current Latin American economic policies. Debt crises happened as Latin American countries battled inflation and each other, interwoven with commodity booms and busts and populist responses to severe income inequality, including protectionism. All these factors remain influential today. This book provides a deep understanding of the current complex economics of Latin America.
Robert Engle, Director of the NYU Stern Volatility Institute; 2003 Nobel Laureate, Economics