Monday, July 20, 2009

Economics 101 for The Economist

You can tell The Economist's lastest article on Bolivia is a piece of true idiocy just by the title "Bolivia's Divisive President" (because only 67% support Evo!). It rehashes all of the usual 'stoopid' and debunked criticisms of Evo Morales and even one you would think a publication called "The Economist" would see through, that Evo promotes "bad economic policy". Inca Kola News lays the details of Evo's "bad economic policy" in terms even these dunces should understand (read the entirety of Otto's post for the full thrashing):
  • 2007 GDP up 4.6%
  • 2008 GDP up 6.15%
  • 2009 GDP expected to grow "at least 4%"
  • U$8Bn in international currency reserves, which is all-time record levels and represents U$816 per capita.
  • Inflation now under control. The last two months have seen negative inflation thanks mainly to the drop in imported foodstuffs.
  • Expansion of exports despite losing the ATPDEA advantages with the USA. New and very large investment programs in hydrocarbons and metals in exactly the way those economists say you should do these things (except it's China, Brazil and India invited to the parties, not the US...perhaps related?)
  • An old age pension given to every single senior citizen regardless of sex, status or history for the first time ever. Poverty rates dropping at record speed.
  • Programs that have rid the country of illiteracy by official UN world standards.
  • Free heathcare that is so popular visitors come from "the economic miracle" Peru to get their eyes fixed.
In other words, Bolivia is "the best performing economy in the whole of South America in 2009." Maybe it just annoyes all the technorats with fancy degrees that an uneducated coca farmer trumps them at their own game.


mcentellas said...

Not sure what your beef w/ the Economist piece was. It clearly points out that Evo is popular, and will likely win reelection. But it points out that politics in Bolivia (which, yes, the Economist blames mainly on Evo, which may not be fair) has become more "divisive" than in the past. Anyone who's spent time in Bolivia, seeing the collapse of anything resembling a "moderate center" would, I think, agree that the country is divided--even if not evenly divided. Easing the polarization (if that's possible) is critical for the long-term success of Evo's reforms. Otherwise, they risk being overturned if ever the opposition gains the upper hand again. Bolivia's history is full of such cycles, dating back to the Chaco War.

El Duderino said...

For one thing, you would think a magazine named "The Economist" would realize the successes of Morales' policies by traditional economic standards- the kind the Economist usually uses. Then to call Evo "divisive" when he has received the highest support of any Bolivian President in half a century is asinine. "Divisive" is a President elected on a 23% plurality selling of the countries natural resource wealth in secret and responding to protests by killing dozens. Sounds like Alan Garcia, doesn't it?

mcentellas said...

The Economist actually measures economic growth by a number of indicators (as professional economists do). But you seem to have ignored my point.

Divisive (or polarizing) is not a mathematical measure. The chance that a coin can fall heads or tails is 50/50. But that doesn't make the issue "divisive." A KKK rally may bring only 1% support in Skokie, Illinios. But it's very presence is "divisive." The question of divisiveness (in politics) is not about whether the share of supporters on both sides are equal in numerical weight, but on whether their rhetorical distance is too great to find common ground. You may disagree w/ whether that is true in Bolivia (I believe common ground is possible, though too many leaders on both sides are currently working against that by using charged rhetoric & invectives). But you can't disagree w/ the use of a term by redefining it to suit your purposes. Alvaro Garcia Linera himself warns about the danger of polarization when he articulates his theory of the "political stalemate."

El Duderino said...

67% is not a question fuzzy mathematical measurement.

As Alvaro states, the government has constantly perused a politics of compromise. What is more "divisive", beating and murdering pro-MAS campesinos or negotiating and compromising with opposition leaders? The Economist piece shamelessly sympathizes with opposition violence.

mcentellas said...

I think you may be reading too much into the coverage. Regardless, hardly anyone seriously observing Bolivian politics would argue that Bolivia today is NOT bitterly divided, polarized, and radicalized. Certainly, your posts reflect that kind of polarization and the view that politics is a sort of "war" between ideological extremes. It is that kind of view that is divisive. Also be aware that a political actor can be "divisive" w/o intending to be (though I don't think that was the gist of the Economist piece). For example, Hillary Clinton is a "divisive" figure, because he can mobilize US conservatives to vote against Democrats in a way that other figures might not.

You earlier chastized me (in your stalkerish post) for not paying more attention to the racist graffiti in Santa Cruz. Doesn't such graffiti speak to a kind of "dividedness" in Bolivia? At various turns your posts expect, celebrate, and encourage the ideological political division we see in Bolivia today. But when others point out that Bolivia is divided into hostile camps--and that Evo is part of the cause of that division--you take offense. You can't have it both ways, my friend.

Evo Morales is a divisive figure in Bolivia. So is Ruben Costas. So is Felipe Quispe. It makes little difference whether they intend to be divisive, or whether you agree w/ them. They act as lightning rods that help polarize and mobilize rival electorates. Evo is banking on that divisiveness to mobilize his supporters (who currently outnumber his opponents) to win the election (hence, the "permanent campaign"). It's the same kind of strategy US conservatives employed in 2004. Bush was a divisive figure, but if he could "fire up" his base long enough to defeat a disorganized Democratic party, he could win reelection. And he did.

Interestingly, I actually met a Garcia Linera protege in Bolivia who's writing a master's thesis comparing Evo to Sarkozy on these same grounds: that both use symbolic politics to create a "rupture" in politics. Most MAS activists see the country's polarization and are banking on it to win reelection.

El Duderino said...

That you insinuate Morales is responsible for the "dividedness" of racist graffiti in Santa Cruz kind of demonstrates the gross fallacy underpinning your argument, which I suspect is why you cannot recongize that The Economist simply published a yellow press hit piece. You can't argue away reality, it's just not on your side here.

mcentellas said...

I don't think he's "responsible" (in either a legal or a moral sense). But are you really suggesting that 1/3 of Bolivians aren't bitterly opposed to him? That's what divisive means, in a political context.

Anonymous said...

All of this back and forth about the definition of "divisive" is a little bit of a red herring. The reason why The Economist article is so weird is that it doesn't talk about economy, yet concludes that Evo and the MAS have 'bad economic policy'.
But what kind of economic policy do they have? I highly recomend that you check out recent country reports by the International Monetary Fund, The InterAmerica Development Bank, and The World Bank. They tell a different story. They do what The Economist does not do: economic analysis. Below is a link to the World Bank report, since the World Bank is the least likely to say anything good about Bolivia.,,menuPK:322289~pagePK:141132~piPK:141107~theSitePK:322279,00.html
The economist is a popular magazine. The aforementioned institutions are international financial institutions who's very existence depends on accurate analysis.
You decide.

El Duderino said...

Centellas is pushing this one point because he has no argument. There is nothing really to defend about the Economist piece and he believes he can make this up through pointless debate about the meaning of "divisive".

El Duderino said...

And I should add that his logic is based on projection because he doesn't seem to have the reading comprehension to understand this point. It is a trademark of the Bolivian rightwing.

The mentality works something like this: The racist-violent opposition hates Morales, it obviouslt must be Morales' fault. He should have know better than to be born brown and indigenous.

The Economist could have titled the piece¨"Popular President faces divisive opposition", but then you might have to interoggate what the oppos are all about and they just wanted to make Evo look bad, hence the shit journalism we find above.