Silent Revolution: The Rise of Market Economics in Latin America.

Author:Grabel, Ilene
 
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Duncan Green's Silent Revolution: The Rise of Market Economics in Latin America is an extremely useful and nuanced account of the creation of market-driven "neoliberal" economies throughout Latin America. The book is very much in the spirit of Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation [1944]. Following in Polanyi's footsteps, Green's principal argument is that the most lasting - and in his view, over-looked - legacy of the Latin American debt crisis is the opportunity it provided for the restructuring of economic life around market relations. Uncovering the factors that led to this economic and social revolution is the single-most important contribution of the book.

Green argues persuasively that the creation of market systems in the 1980s was the result of a complex interplay of economic, political, and intellectual developments at the national and global levels. He focuses our attention on the economic pressures that gave rise to calls for reform in the 1980s. These economic pressures include the global recession of the 1970s, the problems encountered by import-substituting regimes in developing countries during the 1970s, and the debt crisis and the rise of International Monetary Fund/World Bank (IMF/WB) structural adjustment programs in the 1980s. On the political level, Green emphasizes the way in which general and heterogeneous calls for reform became condensed into demands for a specific type of economic transformation - namely, neoliberalism. These political pressures emanated from a powerful coalition of the IMF/WB, the United States, and Latin American governments (which were authoritarian in some cases and "modernizing technocratic" regimes in others). Green's discussion of the role of intellectual and ideological pressures for market-oriented reform adds a final dimension to his account of why general calls for economic reform took the particular form they did. Here he focuses attention on the way in which the ascendant neoclassical orthodoxy of the academic economics profession helped to create the intellectual conditions for a market revolution in Latin America.

But this is no mere listing of diverse causal factors. Instead, having analyzed carefully the individual forces that contributed to this "great transformation," Green proceeds to weave a compelling and rich empirical analysis of their complicated interaction. Social change is inherently complex, and it is to Green's credit that he presents a layered and nuanced analysis...

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