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World Economic Restructuring and Market-Oriented Reforms in Developing Countries

Abstract

Over the past fifteen years, long-term economic policy models adopted in developing countries have undergone profound transformations. After World War II most of these countries have pursued strategies of development aimed at domestic markets, remarkably protectionist, and founded on the leading role of the state. The dissolving effects of intractable economic problems stemming from such models fueled criticism and contributed to their discredit and subsequent rejection. Since then, developing countries have been trying to find their way to prosperity through liberal reforms, with the objective of eliminating - as much as possible - the political-institutional restrictions to the behavior of the economic agents; correcting market imperfections, and establishing markets as basic regulatory mechanisms in the economy. In practice, these general goals translate into imperatives such as cutting spending, eliminating subsidies, privatizing, opening of economies, thereby creating favorable environments to foreign investors.In most developing countries, however, the shifting towards such reforms has neither been synchronic nor even. Quite the contrary. National experiences differ, dramatically at times, as regards to the order, pace, and content of the changes observed. The main purpose of this project is to elaborate an interpretative framework able to answer two basic questions: 1) how to understand the general movement of market-oriented reforms? 2) how to deal with the aforementioned differences? In that sense, this project offers a critical appraisal of the main arguments on the matter found in the literature, and a set of propositions that outline an alternative view and redefine the terms of the proposed problem. On these grounds it seeks to achieve the objective above through a twofold plan: a) the analysis of the changes that occurred in the international economic institutions (regimes) and in the agenda of the most relevant actors in this universe - enterprises surely, but mainly States and supranational organizations - along the following lines: 1) the global financial system; 2) international organizations; 3) the American foreign economic policy; 4) the conflicts of principles implied in the overall process of change; b) a comparative study of economic reforms carried out in developing countries. (AU)

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