Liberty Review América Latina

The Roots of Brazil’s Heavy Taxation


Abstract: Latin America is widely known as a low-tax region, but Brazil defies that description with a tax burden almost double the regional average. Though longstanding, Brazil’s position atop the tax burden ranking is not a historical constant. As recently as the early 1950s three other countries, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, had similar or even heavier burdens. However, by the early 1980s Brazil had emerged as the most heavily taxed country in Latin America, and subsequent decades reinforced that status. This article seeks to uncover the roots of Brazil’s heavy taxation by examining the process through which it rose to the top of the regional ranking and managed to stay there. It emphasises two variables, the social class bases of public sector growth and the degree of support for democracy among key political actors. Despite changing over time, these variables have consistently interacted in ways that favour rising taxation.

Filed under: Ciencia Política, Economía

Classical Liberalism in Guatemala

ECON JOURNAL WATCH 12.3 (2015): 460-478

Abstract: We give an account of classical liberalism in Guatemala, its successes, failures, and main figures. Classical liberalism is a young tradition in the country and relatively small. The three most important organizations are Universidad Francisco Marroquín, the Center for Economic and Social Studies (CEES), and the Center for National Economic Research (CIEN). The most important individual for liberalism in Guatemala has been Manuel Ayau, who passed away in 2010.

Filed under: Ciencia Política, Economía, Historia, Sociedad

Venezuela: Without Liberals, There Is No Liberalism

ECON JOURNAL WATCH 12.3 (2015): 375-399

Abstract: The Venezuelan economy evolved from a growth miracle (1920–1957) to a growth disaster (1960 to the present). This paper describes the institutional collapse behind this reversal of fortunes. To cast light on Venezuela’s U-turn we provide a brief historical account, and we discuss the role played by educational organizations, the media and culture, and political and entrepreneurial elites in the destruction of liberal institutions. We also describe the most prominent liberal reactions to the pervasive institutional decay endured by the country. Finally, a major lesson emerges from this case study: illiberal mindsets coupled with the absence of leadership bring dire consequences for the people’s standard of living.

Filed under: Ciencia Política, Economía, Historia, Sociedad

The Stock Exchange, the State and Economic Development in Mexico, 1932-1976


Abstract: In this article I examine the history of the Mexican Stock Exchange from the end of the Revolution until 1975, under the hypothesis that it did not carry out its pertinent functions in corporate financing but was rather an economic and political instrument of the government. Due to state intervention and the deficient definition of property rights, its functioning was completely anomalous except during this period. The article represents a first step in the study of the role of the stock exchange in Latin American corporatist economic models.

Filed under: Ciencia Política, Economía

Tracing the Reversal of Fortune in the Americas: Bolivian GDP Per Capita since the Mid-nineteenth Century


Abstract: In the centuries before the Spanish conquest, the Bolivian space was among the most highly urbanized and complex societies in the Americas. In contrast, in the early twenty-first century, Bolivia is one of the poorest economies on the continent. According to Acemoglu et al. (Q J Econ 117(4):1231–1294, 2002), this disparity between precolonial opulence and current poverty would make Bolivia a perfect example of “reversal of fortune” (RF). This hypothesis, however, has been criticized for oversimplifying long-term development processes by “compressing” history (Austin in J Int Dev 20:996–1027, 2008). Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Economía, Historia

Latin American Inequality: Colonial Origins, Commodity Booms, or a Missed 20th Century Leveling?

NBER WORKING PAPER NO. 20915 (January 2015)

Abstract: Most analysts of the modern Latin American economy have held the pessimistic belief in historical persistence — they believe that Latin America has always had very high levels of inequality, and that it’s the Iberian colonists’ fault. Thus, modern analysts see today a more unequal Latin America compared with Asia and most rich post-industrial nations and assume that this must always have been true. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Economía

América Latina Archive

Recent Posts: Liberty Review

Reassessing the productivity gains from trade liberalization

JAEBIN AHN, ERA DABLA-NORRIS, ROMAIN DUVAL, BINGJIE HU, LAMIN NJIE REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS Abstract: This paper reassesses the impact of trade liberalization on productivity. We build a new, unique database of effective tariff rates at the country‐industry level for a broad range of countries over the past two decades. We then explore both the direct […]

Government extraction and firm size: Local officials’ responses to fiscal distress in China

YU LIU JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE ECONOMICS Abstract: This paper studies how government extraction behaviors respond to local fiscal distress in China. We exploit the 2002 Chinese Income Tax Reform which exogenously cut local government revenues from income taxes roughly by half. We find that, when facing fiscal distress, local officials resort to informal taxes, such as […]

Plato’s Concept of Liberty in the Laws

YOUNG, C. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT Abstract: In this article, I argue that Isaiah Berlin’s distinction between positive and negative concepts of liberty is useful for articulating nuanced aspects of Platonic liberty, but that this terminology has led readers to fail to grasp the full dimensions of Plato’s conception of liberty and the essential virtue that […]

Hands, Not Lands: John Locke, Immigration and the ‘Great Art of Government’

SMITH, B. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT Abstract: This paper looks at the transmigration of peoples in Locke’s thought, particularly the migration of foreigners into England. I pay close attention to the ‘great art of government’ passage in the Second Treatise which shows that rather than exhibiting a hard right to exclude aliens, rulers are obligated to […]

A Schumpeterian Model of Top Income Inequality

CHARLES I. JONES, JIHEE KIM JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY Abstract: Top income inequality rose sharply in the United States over the last 40 years but increased only slightly in France and Japan. Why? We explore a model in which heterogeneous entrepreneurs, broadly interpreted, exert effort to generate exponential growth in their incomes, which tends to raise […]

Gordon Tullock’s Legacy

PETER BOETTKE AND ROSOLINO CANDELA, RICHARD WAGNER, WILLIAM SHUGHART, AND RANDALL HOLCOMBE THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW 23.2 Abstract: Trained as a lawyer and practiced in the arts of war and diplomacy, Gordon Tullock opened economists’ eyes to new ways of viewing constitutional construction, the challenges of bureaucracy, the nature of government regulations, the problem of rent […]

The Hayek-Friedman hypothesis on the press: is there an association between economic freedom and press freedom?

CHRISTIAN BJØRNSKOV JOURNAL OF INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS Abstract: The Hayek–Friedman hypothesis states that economic freedom is causally associated with stable democracy. I test a particular element of the hypothesis focusing on press freedom, which is arguably a necessary component of any democratic polity. Combining the Freedom House index of press freedom and the Heritage Foundation Index of […]

The Birth of Pork: Local Appropriations in America’s First Century

SANFORD C. GORDON and HANNAH K. SIMPSON AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW, Volume 112, Issue 3 Abstract: After describing a newly assembled dataset consisting of almost 9,000 local appropriations made by the U.S. Congress between 1789 and 1882, we test competing accounts of the politics surrounding them before offering a more nuanced, historically contingent view of the […]

About Liberty Review

Liberty Review summaries are selected by Liberty Fund Fellows on the basis both of their own research interests and of their relevance for Liberty Fund's mission: to contribute to the preservation and development of individual liberty through research and educational activities.

Print Issues

Liberty Matters

Our Books

Liberty Fund, Inc.

Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. The Foundation develops, supervises, and finances its own educational activities.