In today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern,
Joining the developed countries, In Chile, many are optimistic that prosperity is coming
This week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of rich nations that includes the United States, Japan and several European countries, formally invited Chile to join. Becoming the first South American nation in the 30-member group would be among the tangible signs of Chile’s steady rise since the 1980s, when it was in the grip of dictatorship.
“It’s a recognition of all the good things we’ve done,” Andrés Velasco, Chile’s finance minister, said in an interview last week.
Such a transition from developing to developed country last happened more than a generation ago — think Ireland and South Korea. No one is exactly sure of the timing for Chile. But economists say this country of 17 million will become the first Latin American country to switch categories sometime in the next decade.
Chile has posted Latin America’s fastest economic growth over a generation, and poverty has dropped from 45 percent before the demise of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s government to a regional low of 14 percent today. But Giugale and other economists say Chile has advanced in areas more difficult to measure, such as strengthening state institutions like the courts and fighting corruption.
Chile also has a stable and robust democracy, ruled since 1990 by a coalition of Socialists and Christian Democrats that unseated Pinochet. The current president, Michelle Bachelet, has a popularity rate hovering at nearly 80 percent.
And though polls show that a conservative opposition businessman, Sebastian Piñera, may win the presidency in a January election, no one expects an overhaul of Chile’s economic system. Piñera, who won a first round of voting Sunday over the ruling coalition candidate, Eduardo Frei, has said he would not reduce government or roll back an extensive social safety net.
Good news from the region, for the region.