Capital, Trade, and the Political Economies of Reform

Authors


  • We would like to thank Eric MacGilvray, Irfan Nooruddin, Aisha Shafique, Andy Sobel, panelists and participants at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, members of The Ohio State University Comparative Politics Research Workshop, and three exceedingly incisive reviewers for helpful comments.

Sarah M. Brooks is assistant professor of political science, The Ohio State University, 2140 Derby Hall, 154 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210-1373 (brooks.317@osu.edu). Marcus J. Kurtz is associate professor of political science, The Ohio State University, 2140 Derby Hall, 154 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210-1373 (kurtz.61@osu.edu).

Abstract

Existing approaches to the study of economic reform have focused on the mobilization of special interests that oppose liberalization and have tended to assume that reform dynamics follow a similar logic across distinct policy arenas. Analysis of the dynamics of capital account and trade liberalization in 19 Latin American countries between 1985 and 1999 demonstrates otherwise. Movement toward liberalization is shaped systematically by the timing and salience of each reform's distributional costs and partisan political dynamics. In turn, the timing and magnitude of costs are mediated by the economic context, while salience depends on the informational environment. Our findings thus differ from the conventional wisdom on several scores, particularly by emphasizing the ways in which good rather than bad economic conditions can facilitate reforms, the conditionality of legislative politics of reform enactment on whether reforms are characterized by ex ante conflict or fears of ex post blame, and how the type of reform shapes its political dynamics.

Ancillary