The best book on the contemporary Cuban economy

by on November 26, 2016 at 11:05 am in Books, Economics, History, Law | Permalink

Buy Richard E. Feinberg, Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy.  It also will make my best non-fiction books of the year list.  See also his Miami Herald interview, and his long Brookings paper on FDI in Cuba.

1 chuck martel November 26, 2016 at 11:47 am

There seems to be a certain amount of excitement about the US opening trade relations with Cuba. Why? What does Cuba, or actually the government of Cuba, have that Americans want or need? Cigars and other tobacco products are no longer socially acceptable, there’s an international glut of sugar but a US tariff on imports. The only thing that Cubans produce that the US needs is baseball players and they seemed to be available anyway. Unless you’re a Cuban immigrant whose property was confiscated by the Castro regime, or stood to inherit it, the whole affair is a non-issue for Americans. Cuba is a larger version of Puerto Rico.

2 Handle November 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm

I think the answer is ‘yield’. That is, “good potential for FDI-funded rapid economic growth.” I don’t have an opinion as to whether this will turn out to be accurate, but the story goes that the combination of Castro-style Communism and the US embargo kept the place locked into a dismally low equilibrium far below some as-yet quiescent possibility of emerging as a much wealthier nation. Cuba’s still got a decent smart fraction and their entrepreneurial energies have been suppressed or misallocated up to now.

3 chuck martel November 26, 2016 at 12:08 pm

If money means anything, the money that Cuba has won’t buy anything in the US. Furthermore, Raul Castro doesn’t walk around Havana with an AK-47 enforcing his older brother’s vision. There must be a substantial number of Cubans that are at least satisfied with the current regime or a counter-revolution would have occurred years ago. That’s not to say that they find things perfect, everyone everywhere wants some sort of change. Cuban Fidelistas want to be wealthier than they are now, opening up might bring that about.

4 mulp November 26, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Opening up would make Cubans better off as long as Cubans own everything.

But the Cuban exiles imagine their role as US coastal elites in banking, technology, and trade, dictating terms to Cubans, just as terms have been dictated to residents of Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, West Virginia, Michigan,…

5 y81 November 26, 2016 at 12:37 pm

There are several Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries; I hadn’t noticed that any of them had ever experienced FDI-funded rapid economic growth. What people think they see in Cuba is a government that will keep the lid on and deliver slave labor at low wages. But you get what you pay for with labor.

6 mulp November 26, 2016 at 2:58 pm

“Unless you’re a Cuban immigrant whose property was confiscated by the Castro regime, or stood to inherit it, the whole affair is a non-issue for Americans”

Of course, this is also true:

Unless you’re an indigenous American whose property was confiscated by the European invaders, or stood to inherit it, the whole affair is a non-issue for Americans….

Speaking of events like Thanksgiving, Independence Day, …

The time since the Cuban Revolution is the longest time Cubans have not been subjected to foreign invaders taking their property and otherwise exploiting the Cuban people.

And Cubans have not become increasingly outraged by a perceived economic decline and cultural decay like the American heartland has during the increasing power of corporations dictating terms for life with the full up port of conservative elites and conservative Republicans. Does anyone think that a Cuba that is taken over by American corporate power would not result in 75% of the Cuban people being as angry as the Trump voters within a decade? If Cuban exiles returned to Cuba, they would soon be trying to implement the same policies to limit voting that Republicans have been doing to hold onto political power.

7 chuck martel November 26, 2016 at 8:21 pm

“The time since the Cuban Revolution is the longest time Cubans have not been subjected to foreign invaders taking their property and otherwise exploiting the Cuban people.”

The Cuban people are the foreign invaders. The real Cubans have been extinct since the 16th century.

8 dearieme November 26, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Hillary and then Castro: who’s next?

9 Rogue Duende November 26, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Too bad Mister Cowen didn’t mention the best book on Cuban history:

Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History
by Jane Franklin

In this updated edition of her classic, Cuba and the United States, Jane Franklin depicts the two countries’ relationship from the time both were colonies to the present. We see the early connections between Cuba and the United States through slavery; through the sugar trade; Cuba’s multiple wars for national liberation; the annexation of Cuba by the United States; the infamous Platt Amendment that entitled the United States to intervene directly in Cuban affairs; the gangster capitalism promoted by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista; and the guerrilla war that brought the revolutionaries to power.

A new chapter updating the fraught Cuban-U.S. nexus brings us well into the 21st century, with a look at the current status of Assata Shakur, the Cuban Five, and the post-9/11 years leading to the expansion of diplomatic relations. Offering a range of primary and secondary sources, the book is an outstanding scholarly work. Cuba and the U.S. Empire brings new meaning to Simón Bolívar’s warning in 1829, that the United States “appears destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom.”

10 mulp November 26, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Is Trump the US Bolivar or Fidel building a base of support in the exploited masses of the US heartland?

Exploited in the name of Freedom.

The decline of the heartland has coincided with the rise of conservatives in the Republican party displacing the leftist Republicans and the rise of the Republican Party back to overwhelming dominance of American politics, with Republicans constantly calling the removal of shackles on corporate power (first created by Republican leftists in the 19th century) to bring “freedom”.

11 Econchic November 26, 2016 at 3:43 pm

As a Cuban, my first instinct is to be angry at an american being the one writing about my country, from what is perhaps an insightful perspective. Then I remember that the best book of Dominican’s Trujillo dictatorship was written by peruvian Varga Llosa and I get over it.
Something about someone else being able to see your nose better than you can…

12 Akira November 28, 2016 at 4:37 pm

I love reading books, but it’s important that we learn from it. We must be wise with economy, as a Forex trader, I am well aware of how much difference it makes. I always feel happy with learning and thanks to OctaFX broker, I find it extremely easy and straight forward with their lovely educational guidance while there is also demo contest like Southampton Supreme, it’s just 90 minutes yet got unlimited prizes to be won, so is very good!

13 Dotty November 30, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Heck yeah this is extacly what I needed.

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