In This Review

Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism
Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism
By Sarah Babb
Princeton University Press, 2001, 259 pp

Babb examines the rise of Mexico's economists to show how this initially powerless group -- once strongly nationalist and leftist -- embraced neoliberal orthodoxy and became a key player in Mexico's shift toward privatization, deregulation, and free trade. This story of the "Americanization" of Mexican economics has been told before, but never in such detail. Babb writes of how a second-rate night school, the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, was remade by a small group of central bankers into a world-renowned bastion of neoclassical economics. Eventually, many of its graduates headed for government jobs and transformed national economic policies. Babb also looks at Mexico's U.S.-trained technocrats as they gained power in the 1980s. Of course, not all was a story of success. Babb cites a 1993 article in The Economist stating that Mexico had "the most economically literate government in the world"; soon thereafter, these same technocrats helped produce the 1994 peso crisis. But even that episode did not undermine their credibility. Babb concludes on a more worried note, warning that in a region with monumental problems of social inequality and social injustice, "economic policy choices are moving even further from the ballot box into the hands of experts."