Taking comfort in Lula and Calderon’s electoral victories glosses over the fact that neither of those two leaders won a mandate for deepening their countries’ halting economic reform programs. It also overlooks the fact that both Lula and Calderon will be confronted with divided and fractious Congresses that likely will result in a prolonged period of policy paralysis.
The very real prospect that Latin America will now be backtracking on its reform agenda could not come at a worse time for the region. It would seem all too probable that Latin America’s unprecedented commodity boom will soon fade as global growth moderates, while its international borrowing costs will rise as global liquidity dries up. More menacing still is the almost certainty that competition from China will only intensify in the years ahead.