Mexico's New President Promises To Improve Economy By Emulating Countries That Are Poorer

A blog about business and economics.
July 3 2012 9:03 AM

Mexico's New President Promises To Improve Economy By Emulating Countries That Are Poorer

147510646
MEXICO CITY: A voter casts a ballot during presidential elections July 1, 2012.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

A strange illness has overtaken the world over the past 10 years, in which elites in wealthy countries argue that prosperous societies ought to emulate the economic models of much poorer places simply because those places are growing richer at a more rapid rate. Now, rates matter a lot in life. But so do levels. As we've seen, "basketcase" Greece is much richer than China, and the challenge for China over the next two decades will be to see if it can develop institutions of governance that are up to the Greek standard. Rapid increases in Chinese wealth over the past 30 years are less about the excellence of Chinese policy than about how bad Chinese policy used to be.

The latest to succumb to the illness is Enrique Peña Nieto, new president of Mexico, who wrote in the New York Times yesterday that "Developing countries like India, China and Brazil have shown the way to significant and lasting poverty alleviation through institutional reforms and economic policies focused on growth. It’s time for these improvements to come to Mexico." Brazil, however, is modestly poorer than Mexico once you adjust for purchasing power while China and especially India are drastically poorer. China has been getting rich by becoming more like Mexico—a middle-income country with private property and corruption rather than a Maoist nightmare. In China, over a third of the labor force is still working in the agricultural sector while in Mexico it's just 10 percent. I don't have any kind of detailed economic reform agenda for Mexico, but if Mexico wants to imitate some foreign countries, it needs to imitate countries that are richer than Mexico—they could be more like Chile or more like Portugal or more like Taiwan.

Advertisement



Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.