以前ここここでProject Syndicate論説を紹介したアンドレス・ベラスコ(Andrés Velasco)が、中南米の現状に対し悲憤慷慨したProject Syndicate論説「Latin America's Monster Movie」を書いている(H/T Mostly Economics)。以下はその冒頭。

Latin Americans have many talents. One is a remarkable ability to misgovern ourselves, as the pandemic has made clear. Six of the 20 countries with the most COVID-19 deaths per capita in the world are in Latin America. Peru tops the list. Brazil is eighth.
Yes, poverty, a shortage of hospital beds, and overcrowded housing all helped the virus spread, but those factors alone cannot explain why the region has done so badly. Many countries in Asia and Africa suffer from the same problems but had fewer deaths per capita. Even countries that vaccinated people early, like Chile – or which, like Uruguay, were held up as successes when the virus first hit – have ended up mediocre performers.
Latin America is once again getting ready to lead the world – this time, in post-pandemic economic failure. The region enjoyed a couple of quarters of vigorous recovery, fueled by high commodity prices, but the engine of growth is already sputtering in several countries. The International Monetary Fund expects Latin America to be the world’s slowest-growing region in 2022. Even worse, the losses look set to be permanent, with the IMF’s just-released report on the region concluding that it will probably never return to the path for per-capita income envisaged before the pandemic. By contrast, the Fund projects that advanced economies will soon converge to their pre-virus trajectories.
Standard economic growth theory maintains that poor countries should gradually catch up with the rich. Latin America is the exception that confirms the rule: for the foreseeable future, it will fall even further behind.
In the past, the region’s economy suffered whenever commodity prices fell. This time around, it will suffer during what looks like a commodity mini-boom. Part of the reason is that slow growth in productivity and income are longstanding problems. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Latin America missed the boat of export-oriented manufacturing that made East Asia rich. In the twenty-first century, it missed the boom in supply chains that benefited countries from Bulgaria to Vietnam. Mexico is tightly bound to North American supply chains. The large South American economies of Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia are not.


Latin America has long suffered from left-wing populism. Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, and the Kirchners (husband and widow) in Argentina have excelled at portraying themselves as the people’s only true representative – and then proceeding to weaken the democratic institutions that could hold them accountable for their disastrous policies. Now the region is also plagued by right-wing populism. Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, some of Álvaro Uribe’s disciples in Colombia, and José Antonio Kast in Chile are reciting the same Trumpian script: law and order, anti-immigrant nationalism, and anti-woke cultural warfare. Chile, Brazil, and Colombia will soon hold presidential polls whose second rounds will likely pit a right-wing King Kong against a left-wing Godzilla. In the movie, the two monsters’ clash left only destruction. The same could well happen in Latin America.
Moreover, while the pandemic may be ending, the specter of a debt crisis looms. The good news is that most countries did not lose market access, so governments and firms could keep borrowing to get over the pandemic hump. The bad news is that they now have to live with the consequences. Much higher public and private debt, shortening maturities, and rising world interest rates are a toxic combination. In several countries – including Brazil and Argentina – government debt ratios are already worryingly high. Faster-than-expected monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve could set the stage for the kinds of debt runs and rollover crises that have often beset the region.


“Brazil is the country of the future and always will be,” goes the old adage. Nowadays, too many other poorly governed Latin American countries are courting the same destiny.