Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mexico: Their Brand is Crisis

A brilliant documentary by Rachel Boynton, released this year, chronicles the adventures of one of America’s most influential public relations firms as it applies the most advanced polling, advertising, and focus group techniques to the 2002 presidential elections in Bolivia. The company, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, has the daunting task of winning the election for Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a former president who speaks Spanish with an American accent and is not well-liked.

The firm decides that the only way “Goni,” as he is called, can succeed is to convince the voters that if his opponent wins, the country will suffer a devastating economic meltdown. “Our brand,” explains an operative of the firm, “is crisis” — hence the title of the film.

This has become the default strategy for incumbent political parties in Latin America, as one government after another faces opponents from the left. Next up is Mexico, where the ruling National Action Party (PAN) faces a strong challenge from former Mexico City major Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) on July 2. Lopez Obrador is a popular — some would say populist — left-of-center leader whose main campaign slogan is “for the good of everyone, the poor first.”

It’s pretty clear that Mexico needs to reconsider its economic policies.

Over the 25 years since 1980, income per person in Mexico has grown by just 17 percent. To see how bad this is, one need only look at the 20 years from 1960-1980, when the country’s per capita income grew by 99 percent. If the Mexican economy had simply continued to grow at its pre-1980 rate, average income in Mexico would be at the level of Spain today. There would be far fewer Mexicans looking to emigrate illegally to the United States.

Mexico’s pre-1980 growth was good but nothing spectacular for a developing country — South Korea grew more than twice as fast and Taiwan at nearly three times Mexico’s rate over the same period. So the country’s past growth performance is a reasonable benchmark by which to compare the unprecedented growth failure of the last quarter-century. Many have hailed Mexico’s post NAFTA growth as a success, but even this was only about a third of its pre-1980 performance.

However, most people do not understand what economic growth is or why it is so important. For comparison, imagine a discussion about baseball where hardly anyone understood batting averages, and those who understood them did not distinguish between good and bad averages, labeling a .175 average “outstanding.”

As a result, the focus of criticism is on Mexico’s poverty, which is mainly a result of the growth failure. In 2004, nearly half the country lived below the official poverty line of about $4.00 per day.

Will a left government cause an economic crisis in Mexico?

It is worth recalling that the same was said about President Lula da Silva when he ran for office on behalf of the leftist Workers’ Party in Brazil four years ago, but the crisis never materialized. It is often maintained that this was because Lula did everything that the financial markets wanted. But across the border in Argentina, President Nestor Kirchner did what the financial markets didn’t want, and the economy has been booming at about 9 percent annually for more than three years.

Latin America’s left governments are doing pretty well, regardless of whether Washington or anyone else approves of their policies. Venezuela is tied with Argentina as the fastest-growing economy in the hemisphere. And Evo Morales has only been president of Bolivia for half a year, but the government’s increased revenues from natural gas have helped to fund its reform program, and its re-nationalization of the industry has not caused an economic or political crisis.

Mexico will likely face problems as the big imbalances in the U.S. economy — the housing bubble, trade deficit, and unsustainably low long-term interest rates — are corrected. Our last recession in 2001 cause a downturn in Mexico’s economy, and the next one will probably do the same. But Mexico’s current economic policies, which tend to sacrifice growth and employment in the fight against inflation, may be the wrong recipe for recovery. Mexico may need a Franklin D. Roosevelt at the helm in the next few years, rather than a Herbert Hoover.

MARK WEISBROT is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He is the author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: the Phony Crisis. He can be reached at: weisbrot@cepr.net

 

 

More articles by:

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of  Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail