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Volume 51 / Social Sciences

ECONOMICS: BOLIVIA, PARAGUAY, AND URUGUAY


STEPHEN M. SMITH, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics, The Pennsylvania State University

INTERNATIONAL DEBT per se is no longer the major topic it was in previous years. The vast majority of publications from all three countries continues to focus on their respective economic crises of the mid-1980s, the policies and programs instituted in response, and their impact. Most of these studies are general descriptions of the economic situations and how they evolved, with little in the way of analysis or new ideas. The most interesting and valuable publications examine the impacts of these programs on specific industries, on agriculture and key commodities, and on different social groups. The conclusions focus on how, and how well, the sectors adjusted to generally more open economies. There also is an emerging focus on the informal economy, as in works by Doria Medina (item bi 90007850) and Portes et al. (item bi 90008046). Agriculture was the other topic common to the works reviewed. Much of this was concerned with the structure of the agricultural sector, and how this interacted with agricultural development policies, the economic crises, and the more open economies.

BOLIVIA

The literature from Bolivia covered a greater range of topics than that from the other countries, though there was not much in the way of new ideas, solid research, or analysis. The greatest number of publications focused on the economic crisis and its roots, with most concluding that the economic model followed since the 1950s, with its institutions and power blocs, was the basic cause of the crisis and therefore must be changed. Publications recommended on this topic are Morales Anaya's "Estabilización y Nueva Política Económica en Bolivia" (item bi 90007856) and Lora's "Una Nota sobre la Hiperinflación Boliviana" (item bi 90007854), along with the Doria Medina work on the informal economy mentioned above (item bi 90007850).

Other areas substantially represented were agriculture, mining, and economic history. For agriculture, two well-done pieces focus on agricultural policies since the 1950s and their effects, one by Prudencio for the Oriente region (item bi 90007858), and the other by Zeballos for the nation as a whole (item bi 88002845). Two balanced and thoughtful views of the problems and future role of the mining sector are Bolivia frente al crisis del estaño: alternativas de defensa y acción (item bi 90007847) and El sector minero: crisis y perspectivas (item bi 90007861). Finally, for those interested in agrarian history, I found the short book by Crespo et al., Siporo: historia de una hacienda boliviana (item bi 90007862) very interesting.

PARAGUAY

The quantity and quality of published research on Paraguay, both from within and outside the country, are much lower than in past years. The main topic in recent HLAS volumes, the Itaipu hydroelectric project and its effects, was mentioned only in passing. The two great concerns of most publications were the effects of "opening" the economy in the 1980s and the developing economic crisis following the years of growth based on investments in energy projects. Most works are general summaries with little to distinguish them. An exception is Economía paraguaya 1985 (item bi 90007923). Two other authors maintained their usual high quality of publication: Rodríguez Silvero examines the effects of greater economic ties with Brazil in an interesting context in La integración económica del Paraguay en el Brasil, (item bi 90007930), and Luis Campos et al. have collaborated on three interesting and useful studies of small farms in Pequeños campesinos y su incertidumbre: estudios regionales sobre el desarrollo socio-económico rural en el Paraguay (item bi 90007872).

URUGUAY

There were several interesting and good studies from Uruguay. In addition to the economic crisis theme, studies of trade-related issues and the agricultural sector accounted for most of the publications. Two useful works on the general economy are those by Bonilla Saus (item bi 90008036) and Larrain (item bi 89000129). The former covers 1958-76 and provides an interesting perspective with which to interpret the later years covered by Larrain. Two studies based on surveys of urban households are very interesting and useful: Portes et al., "The Urban Informal Sector in Uruguay: its Internal Structure, Characteristics, and Effects" (item bi 90008046), and Encuesta de gastos e ingresos de los hogares, 1982-1983: metodología, resultados de Montevideo e interior (item bi 90008039). The former focuses on characteristics of participation in the informal economy, while the latter is a general look at household income and spending. The studies of the agricultural sector were generally well-done empirical analyses, such as those by Forteza (item bi 90008040) and Reig and Vigorito (item bi 90008048). Also, Quijano's reprinted 1961 essays on Uruguay's agrarian structure (item bi 90008047) continue to be relevant today.


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