What is the effect of the economy on political trust among Latin American countries? The few studies that have examined the causal link between the economy and trust in institutions have observed the phenomenon in a synchronic way, adopting information collected at the individual or at the aggregate level. The results shown by these works reveal a citizenry that is dissatisfied, less tolerant towards the political class, and oriented to de-legitimize the political system. In this work, which analyses the political attitudes of citizens in 18 Latin American countries from a longitudinal perspective (1996–2013), the conjoint effect that economic perceptions and the real economy have on political trust is estimated. In particular, by using data from the Latinobarómetro, we show that in contexts where the political regime continues to alternate between democracy and authoritarianism, citizens’ sociotropic understanding of the economy contributes to strengthening the relationship between citizens and political institutions.