Policy makers and academics: A SHIFTING RELATIONSHIP.

Author:Espitia, Santiago
Position:LT: BOARD OF ECONOMISTS
 
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One thing is clear to the Latin Trade Board of Economists: the relationship between policy makers and academics in Latin America is, to say the least, complicated and fluctuates in intensity. However, it is expected that increasing knowledge sharing at the technical level will improve this relationship over the next decade.

According to the director for the Western Hemisphere of the International Monetary Fund, Alejandro Werner, "there is a continuous dialogue" between policy makers and academics "in some countries more than in others" in Latin America.

Exchanges between the two groups occur more frequently in the big economies of the region, said former Finance Minister of Chile and Columbia University professor, Andres Velasco. "In larger countries, there is a highly developed and trained academic and intellectual community, while in the smallest countries maybe it is different."

The two economists agree that, even in large countries, communication between the two groups fluctuates in its intensity.

For Werner, the key variable is the political climate. "When countries decide that, from the point of view of the political space, conditions exist for making significant changes, there is a very close dialogue with academia." But in times of political tension, in general, policy measures are not those that academics would recommend.

THE RELATIONSHIP WILL INTENSIFY

How policy is made will be revolutionized in the next decade, predicted Princeton University professor Esteban Rossi-Hansberg. Recent technical and theoretical developments in academia and the compilation of data according to the needs of each country mean that decisions on public policies will be supported with a much stronger set of information.

Not only will the economy and its agents be better known, but also there will be in-depth knowledge of the potential consequences of each policy. Data, modeling and computer analytics will be the basis of this revolution.

Today, we owe a great debt on the technical level to the interaction between academia and the policy makers. "We focus too much on the academic celebrities talking to the economy minister, but actually the contribution of many academics and technicians in many public ministries is far more important," said Werner.

These days, the...

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