In This Review

Crisis and Reform in Latin America: From Despair to Hope
Crisis and Reform in Latin America: From Despair to Hope
By Sebastian Edwards
Oxford University Press, 1995, 364 pp

An authoritative and generally optimistic overview of the reform process in Latin America from 1982 to 1994 by the World Bank's chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. Edwards, who is on leave from his position at UCLA, examines economic policymaking, often drawing on the excellent comparative work of recent years. He recognizes that just as experts failed to anticipate the Mexican default of 1982, which set in motion the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, they underestimated the depth of the Mexican peso crisis in December 1994. While he acknowledges the role of the debt crisis and outside pressure from the multilateral lending agencies and the United States in stimulating market reform, he attributes the reform consensus primarily to the failure of various stabilization policies (particularly the Austral and Cruzado plans in Argentina and Brazil) and a reinterpretation of the experience in Chile, where antipoverty programs were combined with market economics after the return to democracy. An essential book, clearly written and accessible to nonspecialists, that should be basic reading for anyone who follows the region.