Financial Crisis, Populism, and the Path to Prosperity in Latin America

During his visit to Brazil in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI called Latin America the “continent of hope.” Similarly, economists, sociologists, and others have frequently noted the entrepreneurial flair of the people of Latin America, pointing to their innovative ways of meeting their needs and those of others in the face of obstacles and hardship.

These descriptions are ambivalent. They envision a bright future but also imply that much potential has thus far been unrealized. Many nations of Central and South America have enjoyed occasional periods of growth and prosperity, yet sustained economic progress adequate to solve the problem of poverty in the region has been elusive.