WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- Latin America is in trouble. For years the region has been trapped in a poor economy, people are without jobs, and only frustration is seen in its forecast.
And once again, it is the economists who have come to the rescue.
Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski, president and chief executive officer of the Latin America Enterprise Fund, and John Williamson, senior fellow of the Institute for International Economics, have released their new book, "After The Washington Consensus: Restarting Growth and Reform in Latin America." The book is a follow-up study to a book the two published together in 1986.
Kuczynski said that the first book, "Toward Renewed Economic Growth in Latin America," focused on reforms, not Latin America's debt crisis that other economists were studying at the time.
"These may not be the worst of times, but few view them as among the best of times in Latin America," wrote Williamson in the book's overview. "The region has lived through another decade of slow growth. Crises seem to have become ever more frequent, with the consequences of the Argentine crisis particularly painful ... But when all is said and done, Latin Americans are entitled to feel disappointed that the past decade did not live up to the hopes that were kindled at the start of the 1990s, when it was widely expected that reforms would get the region back on a growth path that would allow living standards to start catching up with those in industrial countries."
"Latin America is a region growing old before it grows up," Kuczynski said.
He acknowledged the aging population, especially in the south: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Something must be done in 20-30 years, because of the aging population, or it will be too late, Kuczynski said.
Today, "the reality is that markets perceive Latin America as a whole," Kuczynski said. "Even Chile gets dragged down when things are bad."
Latin America as a region has a relatively small economy, with only $2 trillion compared to the $10 trillion of the United States.
Though Latin America's economy needs to be growing at a rate of 5 percent to become an important world market, Kuczynski said that isn't possible. Between 1940 and 1980 Latin America only grew 5.2 percent, and that was under the best imaginable conditions, he said.
"It will be very hard to get beyond 5 percent. We need to get beyond 5 percent," he said.
Latin America's income distribution is "the most unequal in the world," Williamson said. The region also needs crisis proofing, exchange rate flexibility and aggressive institute reforms, among other things.
Williamson also mentioned several successes that Latin America has had over the years. Inflation has been conquered, social statistics show improvement, and Chile became the fourth-fastest growing country in the world in the 1990s, he said.
Privatization of companies has also worked well for Latin America, according to Williamson. Before being privatized, Lima's electricity averaged 72 hours per month of interruption. Today, there is less than an hour each month without electricity.
The release of this study hopes to influence development strategies in Latin America. Twelve of the study's 15 authors are Latin Americans. Kuczynski said: "An uninformed public without growth and employment -- this creates frustration."