Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

Visiting Bolivia (part II)

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, May 17, 2007

Everyone in Bolivia is focusing on the shift toward “participatory democracy,” from the previous “representative democracy.” Some embrace this change enthusiastically, while others view it warily. What is clear is that the traditional political parties have disintegrated here, as they have in many other countries in the Andean region, including Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Read more »

Bolivia visit (part I)

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I am in Bolivia this week. In my meetings so far in La Paz, one common theme is the general support for Evo Morales. While there is significant frustration with the government, interviews with representatives from indigenous groups, from the middle class, from academic institutions and foundations, and with foreign diplomats (not to mention taxi drivers), show a general support for Morales and for his position as President. Almost all see him as genuine, as representative, and as capable of negotiating with the various interests within Bolivia. Read more »

The Return of Inflation

by Shannon K. O'Neil Sunday, May 6, 2007

The one area of real triumph for market-oriented reforms in Latin America was inflation. Unlike the uneven record on poverty, inequality, and economic volatility, structural adjustment and austerity programs of the early 1990s ended high and hyper inflation. These programs brought the Latin American average from 235% per year in the early 1990s to less than 8% by the turn of the century. Low and steady inflation has been a crucial element for attracting both foreign and domestic investment, increasing economic production, and encouraging the economic growth of the last several years. Read more »

Pardon the appearance…

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, May 3, 2007

A quick note to readers: this blog will be undergoing some design upgrades in the coming days. If something looks different or temporarily broken, that’s why. Posts and comments will continue to display and work while we do this even if the layout looks different. Thanks for your interest and comments in the meantime.

Mexico's New Credit markets

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Yesterday Mexico’s microfinance group Compartamos, backed by Accion International and the IFC, went public on the Mexico stock exchange. Where once only the largest companies and wealthiest elites had access, credit markets are now increasingly receptive to middle and even lower class Mexicans. The fantastic growth of mortgage-backed security industry in Mexico since 2000 has made house and even car financing increasingly available to the middle class. Government policy has pushed these changes, but it has also come from the market itself  “ specifically the quest of Mexico’s internationally-owned banks to develop new customers and new profits. Read more »