Sunday, April 17, 2016

Too much data vs no data at all

Two recent articles in the FT and the NYT illustrate how many political debates are taking place without serious empirical evidence.   As the NYT article says, we are at a moment when "money-fueled culture where tweets, not position papers, shape the national conversation."  Yet, in contrast, we are also at a time when there is a big accent on big data and the need to have "evidence-based" policymaking (which usually means statistical data).  At times, I am afraid that qualitative researchers are in the middle of both worlds and will have diminished influence over time: they are compared with the type of research that bad think tanks do or they are considered second rate when compared to quantitative research.  A rather worrying trend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dilma's impeachment is totally unjustified

I wrote a column in El Pais today about the crises in Brazil.  The corruption scandal is severe but does not justify the impeachment at this point.  Moreover, the disappearance the PT (which is an obvious goal of a large segment of the upper middle class and the rich) would be a disaster for Brazil's redistributive agenda.

You can also find an interesting interview to Lula here.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Article for Elcano

A few weeks ago the Foundation Elcano organised an interesting closed door debate on the Sustainable Development Goals and Spanish aid in Latin America.  They asked me to prepare a document with some of the most significant challenges for the region... not an easy task!  Here is the final version in Spanish.  Of course, the region has many more challenges but it is important to stay focus on inequality, human rights/violence, economic transformation together with the role of institutions.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Latin America in the last ten years

Today I briefly talked on BBC radio Scotland on the situation in Latin America. Having only five minutes forces you to think about what is the headline that should be emphasise.  I think it is four points:

1. The economic basis of the region are the same as a century ago: commodities and agricultural products.

2. The region used the commodity boom MUCH better than before: it promoted formal employment and expanded social incorporation for new groups. The result was the reduction of inequality and the growth of an emerging middle class.  

3. Yet governments did not pay enough attention to three factors that are now in creating problems:

a. High levels of corruption (these were not created by the left but the left has happily participated).

b. Economic dependence on natural resources and difficulties to create other sources of growth.

c. Governing through polarization means that there are now groups (the elite, the upper middle class) that are more than happy to support protests against these groups.

So yes, the region has many problems, but the last ten years were not a wasted opportunity as some people now claim.