Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Chile is number one.... if you read from right to left.

If you wish to understand what is happening in Chile, this one chart pretty much explains it.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Trudeaus and Chilean liberalism

Liberalism in Chile has a funny history. During the first half of the last century the Liberal Party was considered conservative. And in the post-Pinochet era, liberalism is conflated with neo-liberalism. Since the centre of the political spectrum has been taken up by the Christian Democratic Party, and to some degree (depending on one's point of view) the PPD, there was little space for a new Liberal Party.

But today, in political upheaval that is redesigning the ideological and party spectrum in Chile, it's all pretty much up for grabs, and there are several liberal groups emerging, including a new Liberal Party and Red Liberal (in this case, red is 'network' in Spanish, not red as in red).  But even now, and although they are clearly liberal on social issues, they seem to have trouble moving past the neo-liberal worldview in the economic sphere.

So, taking advantage of the recent election of Justin Trudeau as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, I wrote this piece to remind them of another type of liberalism, in another country, in another time. And maybe, in the future, too.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

But they're only numbers

For some time it has been apparent that the numbers don't add up. Política, the political science journal I edit, published a paper a couple of years ago indicating that the unemployment numbers published by the Piñera government were, at least, problematic. Since then issues have popped up in other statistics, such as poverty. The ECLAC, which together with the University of Chile participated in the design and implementation of tools for measuring poverty in Chile, pulled out after accusing the government of political interference.

And now, last week, officials from the National Statistics Institute accused the government of having totally bungled the census. So we really don't know how many people live in the country, or where. Whether they are poor, or unemployed. And we don't know what the real inflation rate is. So we do not know whether the Central Bank is doing a good job or not with interest rates. So we don't know if our exchange rate is accurate or not.

But wait, it gets better!

The minister in charge of the census is the Economy Minister, Pablo Longueira. But he is now the ex Economy Minister, because he resigned to run as the UDI's candidate for president. The reason the UDI needed a candidate is that its previous candidate had to step down for, among other things, having millions of dollars in offshore accounts in the Virgin Islands.

One of the reasons that post-authoritarian Chile signed so many free trade deals, joined every regional group there was, tried to become an active member of the Pacific Rim, and, most recently, joined the OECD, was to prove that it was in the big leagues. The consolidation of strong, politically independent, and uncorrupt political institutions would be the basis for this integration, but would also be bolstered by it. In three years, however, that has all been thrown away. Again, the Economist has taken notice.