Neoliberalism failed in Bolivia because a macroeconomic checklist is
not enough to make an economy work. Incorporating a new business in
Bolivia, for instance, takes fifty-nine days, entails fifteen separate
procedures, and costs twice as much as the average person earns in a
year. So, according to a recent World Bank study, most of Bolivia’s
businesses remain “informal,” which means that they have no legal
protection, and limited access to credit markets. Corruption is
rampant–a survey in 2000 found that it was a greater problem in Bolivia
than in about ninety-five per cent of other countries surveyed. And the
state bureaucracy has been more interested in patronage and clientelism
than in good policy.
Even if Bolivia got the big picture right, it got the details all
wrong. And it’s increasingly clear that when it comes to development
God really is in the details. A country’s history, institutions, and
power structures have a profound impact on whether reform can work.
Read the whole thing. Elsewhere in The New Yorker, here is an article about Battlestar Galactica; season two showed up on my doorstep yesterday.