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Consensus heads to Lima via Amazon

Some bestsellers are expected. Number one on Amazon.com's list of the top-selling books in Latin America is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Some are more of a surprise. At number five you'll find an anthology of dry economic prose entitled After the Washington Consensus: Restarting Growth and Reform in Latin America.

The book is a collection of policy prescriptions: it attempts to map out a route by which per capita GDP in Latin America could grow at 5% or so a year, rather than the present rate of roughly zero. It is edited by former Peruvian finance minister Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski and Institute of International Economics senior fellow John Williamson, who were PhD students at Princeton together in the early 1960s and have been preoccupied with the state of Latin America's economies ever since.

Just don't mention Washington It is Williamson who is responsible for the dread slogan "Washington Consensus". He coined it in the wake of the 1980s' debt crises, and soon regretted it. His 10 points for looking forward to economic growth rather than backwards at economic stagnation soon became shorthand for neo-liberalism and IMF control of Latin governments.

Williamson, then, is clear that his new agenda should not be called "Washington Consensus II", although he hasn't come up with a better idea yet.

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