The renowned economists Robert Merton, Laurence Kotlikoff, Edward Gleaser and Jeffrey Sachs agreed on Chile’s potential to reach development in 2018, the year that celebrates the country’s 200th formal anniversary of independence.
The group visited the country for its first international meeting “Chile towards Development” in Santiago, organized by the Finance Minister, Felipe Larraín, occasion at which he also met with President Sebastián Piñera in the beach city of Viña del Mar.
The activities’ main purpose was to debate a framework of public policies for the short and medium term, which means complying with one of the main axes of the government’s economic program: to lay the groundwork for Chile to become a developed country in 2018 and the first nation in Latin America to achieve this goal.
For the director of Earth Institute at Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs, “Chile’s fiscal performance has been adequate and is being implemented in a particularly careful way, which may be an example for other countries.”
Regarding the challenges of overcoming poverty, he said that “Chile will be one of the countries that will deliver the way of ending extreme poverty, and that again will be an example for countries facing similar challenges”.
On the challenges of the country’s reconstruction after the earthquake and tsunami of February 27, Sachs said that “obviously these are very important, but the strength of the economy and the government’s fiscal responsibility allow foreseeing a quick and very powerful exit.”
Meanwhile, the 1997 Nobel Laureate of Economics, Robert Merton, said that “the goals being considered by the Government of Chile, in particular to become a developed country by 2018 are difficult but feasible.”
“The good economic performance and economic recovery, even in the context of the international financial crisis of recent years and the effects of the earthquake, allow to consider that these challenges are indeed achievable,” said fellow professor emeritus of Harvard University and academic of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Business School.
Professor of the Economics Department of Boston University Laurence Kotlikoff said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the peaceful coexistence of the political sectors of the country.
“In my visit to Chile, I have seen a very particular element which provides the basis for development and the possibility of having different parties working together, obviously respecting differences of opinion. This is a very positive sign, a major indicator of the development of the economic and of Chilean society,” he said.
As key elements for achieving development, Kotlikoff specially mentioned mechanisms to enhance investment and human capital, “a very particular element that can be a major factor for achieving development.”
“The Chilean Government has a correct view of how to develop economic and fiscal policies, in the sense of not only looking at the good cycles but also the potential negative cycles, because of the natural fluctuations of the economy. This global vision that the Government has also means a fundamental basis in order to achieve the development goal,” he added.
The meeting was attended by ministers, under-secretaries and the top ministerial advisors of Chile as well as parliament members, local and foreign economists, advisors of the Central Bank, superintendents, businessmen, union leaders and representatives from different universities and think tanks, among other officials and guests.
The Minister Felipe Larraín recognized and thanked “the presence of such distinguished group of economists who came to help the country, to help us think about the long-term development of Chile.”
He explained that “this is a meeting for analysis that seeks to study and to try to advance public policies that will be applied to meet the goals of President Piñera’s government.”
“These goals could be summed up in two: become a developed country by 2018, for which the Government will lay the foundations for achieving this goal, and defeat poverty.”
The Secretary of State announced that at the end of the seminar a report will be elaborated with the developed proposals, which will be submitted to President Piñera. He also announced that this will be a permanent meeting and will be held every year.
“We do not want to discuss this only once, but we want to monitor our progress in complying with the program to advance towards development, eradicate poverty and how we can improve what we are doing. It is always possible to improve and learn, because we also want to learn from the experience of these distinguished colleagues who are visiting us,” said Larraín.
This post is also available in Spanish