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Analysis of Real Growth and Wealth in the Latin American Republics*

  • Pedro C. M. Teichert


The following study was prepared with the purpose in mind of exposing and clearing up some frequent confusion and misconceptions existing among Latin American experts about fundamental concepts of growth, standards of living, future potentialities, accumulated wealth, as well as inflationary problems in connection with the area's economic development.

There seems to exist some evidence that in the past few years too much has been written and said about Latin American economic development without the benefit of statistical data. Frequently the latter — when used at all — have been misinterpreted and unpleasant data were omitted with a consequent distortion of the truth. Writers in other disciplines have then built on these findings and further distortions of the Latin American picture have resulted. It also has become very fashionable to theorize and perhaps in that process to make up some facts that will fit the theory to be developed, generally the pet project of the investigator.



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This study was prepared with the help of a University of Mississippi Research Grant.



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1 The reader is referred to the recent controversy between Professor Edwin Lieuwen and Dr. Virgil Salera, two expert scholars in the Latin America field.

Lieuwen, Edwin, “On Salera's ‘Venezuelan Oil: Facts, Fancies and Misrepresentations,'Inter-American Economic Affairs, Summer 1958, pp. 9092 . Also Virgil Salera, “Reply,” Ibid., pp. 92-95.

The issue seems to center around who has the facts. While Mr. Salera talks about “tremendous housing developments and substantial Venezuelan farm surpluses,” Professor Lieuwen believes in “failures in Venezuelan housing and agriculture.” Professor Lieuwen quotes New York Times reporter Tad Szulc's March 28, 1958 dispatch from Caracas:

Of a population of 6,200,000 about 3,500,000 persons are eking out a bare living… . The Provisional Government is starting an emergency housing program designed to help lift rural populations from their depressed conditions. A country rich in agricultural land, Venezuela does not produce enough rice to meet the demand. Meat and milk consumption and production are low.

It seems to be strange, to say the least, that two scholars have to argue about facts, that is, statistical data which are available to anybody who cares to look them up.

2 For a theoretical treatment of the subject see: Pedro C. M. Teichert, “Towards a Synthesis of Theory and Policy in Latin American Developmental Economics: The Dynamics of the Economic Policy Revolution in the Transformation of the Periphery,” Weltwirtschaftuches Archiv, Vol. 80, No. 2, 1958, pp. 234-277.

3 Teichert, Pedro C. M., “Die Problematik der Entwicklungstheorien,” Wirtschaftsdienst, 37. Jahngang, Heft 1 January 1957, pp. 1425.

4 “40,000 Americans Enjoy Oil-Wealthy Venezuela,” The State Journal, Lansing, Michigan, July 24, 1957, p. 7.

5 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Economic Development of Mexico (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1953), pp. 318, 184.

6 J. Walter Thompson Company, The Latin American Markets (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc., 1956), p. 176.

7 Hanberg, C. A., “Panama: Pro Mundi Beneficio,” Current History, April 1957, Vol. 32, No. 188, p. 232.

8 The Economic Development of Mexico, p. 10.

9 Strictly comparable statistics are generally not available on Latin America. The few data that can be obtained are frequently inaccurate. Therefore the application of complicated and refined statistical tools and formulas does not accomplish the expected results.

10 An economic exclave may be defined as a splinter of one economy lying inside another economy. The Venezuelan oil industry, for instance, is really part of the U. S. economy functioning in Venezuela.

11 J . Walter Thompson, op. cit., p. 174.

12 Economic Commission for Latin America. Analysis and Projections of Economic Development. United Nations Document No. E/CN. 12/363 (Lake Success, N.Y., 1955), p. 11.

13 “Comparative Statistics on the Latin American Republics,” World Trade In- ¡formation Service. U. S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D. C, Part 3, No. 158-3.

14 For an excellent treatment of this subject see: Economic Commission for Latin America, Theoretical and Practical Problems of Economic Growth. United Nations Document No. E/CN 12/221 (Lake Success, N.Y., 1951).

15 Economic Commission for Latin America, Economic Bulletin for Latin America. United Nations. Vol. 1, No. 2. September 1956, p. 3.

16 The Chase Manhattan Bank, Latin American Business Highlights. March 1957, pp. 1-7.

17 Ibid, September 1956, pp. 4-6.

18 Teichert, Pedro C. M., “Some Aspects of Industrial Protectionism in Latin America,” Current Economic Comment (Urbana: University of Illinois, Bureau of Economic and Business Research), Vol. 19, No. 1, February 1957, p. 52.

19 The Economic Development of Mexico, p. 7. ji

20 Teichert, Pedro C. M., “Latin America and the Peripheral Theory of Economic Development,” The Centennial Review. Vol. II, No. 1, Winter 1958, pp. 9197.

21 Teichert, Pedro C. M., “Recent Patterns of Economic Development in Mexico,” Current Economic Comment, Vol. 19, No. 4, November 1957, pp. 3438.

22 Ibid., p. 36.

23 The Chase Manhattan Bank, Latin American Business Highlights. September 1957, p. 22.

* This study was prepared with the help of a University of Mississippi Research Grant.

Analysis of Real Growth and Wealth in the Latin American Republics*

  • Pedro C. M. Teichert


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