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Abstract

Among the many stabilization and liberalization programs in Latin America, the Peruvian version from August 1990 has been the most extreme so far. The results have been in some respects positive but in important ways perverse. Comparisons with some of the key aspects of liberalization programs in other countries, especially with the two different versions tried in Chile, point to alternatives that might be helpful for Peru, while Peru's own experience helps brings out problems that other countries might be able to avoid. The conflicts and still-unanswered questions in Peru include: (1) adopting a floating exchange rate and ending controls on capital movements under conditions of tight liquidity made the currency appreciate in real terms, blocking exports as well as investment while stimulating imports; (2) in the context of prolonged decreases in production and employment, a strong drive to raise taxes plus quasi-indexing of prices for energy and public services have unnecessarily aggravated contraction and kept the price index rising; (3) steep cuts in tariffs went against the drive to raise government revenue and, in combination with appreciation, badly damaged the competitive position of all producers of tradable goods; (4) cutting 4overnment capital expenditures after two decades of deteriorating infrastructure added to the problems of producers, and cutting social expenditures weakened possibilities of response to falling employment and wages, worsening poverty, and growth of violence.

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