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Volume 55 / Social Sciences

ECONOMICS: COLUMBIA


NOHRA REY DE MARULANDA, Manager of Integration and Regional Programs Department, Inter-American Development Banks


ALTHOUGH CERTAIN TRENDS already highlighted in previous HLAS volumes continue (i.e., scarcity of theoretical works and emphasis on surveys which collect essays on key economic policy issues), it is encouraging to acknowledge the significant increase of quantitative and econometric research in Colombia, as reflected by a sizeable number of relatively short articles which appear in the main journals. Dominant subjects of these articles seem to be financial sector analysis, inflation, and monetary and fiscal policy. Among the journals, the largest number of contributions comes from the Central Bank's Ensayos sobre Política Económica.

In recent years, much of the policy debate among economists in Colombia and, indeed, in Latin America, has been related to the profound macroeconomic reforms which have taken place as a response to the deep crisis faced by the region in the decade of the 1980s, commonly referred to as "The Lost Decade". Not surprisingly, many of the works annotated below are related to research, conferences, and public debates on the nature of those reforms. In particular, the reform of the external sector, known in Colombia as "La Apertura," accounts for about one-third of the annotated works.

Two pieces deserve to be singled out: Londoño's examination of changes in income distribution from 1938-88 (item bi 93017607) and Urrutia's edited volume 40 años de desarrollo: su impacto social (item bi 94003347). Both explore a subject which has not received much attention from mainstream economists, i.e., the analysis of the changes in the structure, level, and distribution of income, wealth, and welfare as a result of economic growth. Using different methodological approaches, both studies reach very positive conclusions on the progress achieved by Colombia in this area.

One should highlight also the contributions of Luis Jorge Garay (items bi 94003356, bi 94003341, bi 94003349, and bi 94003345) on Colombia's external sector. Both as an author and as an editor, his work is rigorous and valuable.

Finally, a theme emerging in the literature which deserves far more study and analysis is the impact of the drug trade on Colombia's economy and society. Interesting contributions to this new topic include two articles in a compilation of readings on capital inflows (item bi 94003345; see chapters by Urrutia and Pontón and by O'Byrne and Reina) and a work edited by C. Arrieta et.al, on the impact of narcotrafficking in Colombia (item bi 95012436).


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