Chile, una economía difícil is the most recent publication of Aníbal Pinto, Chile’s most prolific economist. This volume, which contains Pinto’s views on some important issues of Chilean economic development during the 1950-1963 period, is divided into three parts and an appendix. The first part of the book (pp. 1-57) deals with the export sector, employment, the fiscal disequilibrium, the evolution of the industrial sector, the agricultural supply curve, and the income distribution problem. The issues are old (some have been discussed in Chile for almost one hundred years); and, although the selection of topics has a strong structuralist flavor, many of Pinto’s insights are novel. His analysis is orthodox, generally sound, and revealing. In the second part (pp. 58-130), Pinto analyzes the “propensity towards inflation” and problems of dynamic growth. In the third part, a short one (pp. 130-155), the author discusses conditions of dynamic growth. A reprint from El Trimestre Económico, dealing with social aspects of Chilean economic growth, closes the volume.
Two Pintos emerge from this monograph. The first Pinto, possessing good common sense and exceptional acumen, is responsible for many solid analytical and critical points covering the whole gamut of the Chilean economic organism. This first Pinto is seldom dogmatic, and he appears as a strong critic of hard-core structuralism (pp. 54 ff.), developing a useful analysis and offering recommendations on foreign exchange policy (pp. 77-78). Only when he attempts to relate his points to such slippery concepts as “inward-oriented” and “outward-oriented” development does Pinto become both confusing and confused.
A second Pinto emerges from a mass of allusions, unsupported statements, vague references, disorganized presentation and an incomplete analysis of the Chilean economic scene. Pinto either fails to recognize or devotes minimum attention to such important issues as urbanization or the role of the middle classes and to specific sectors such as power groups, expansion of services, intra-public sector competition, and so forth.
In either case the Pinto of Una economía difícil is less thorough than Raúl Prebisch, less sweeping and broad than Celso Furtado, and less systematic, clear, and policy-oriented than Jorge Ahumada in En vez de la miseria or Pinto himself in Chile, un caso de desarrollo frustrado.
Pinto is successful in making one point, and the very weaknesses of this volume reinforce his view. The Chilean economy is a difficult one to understand, analyze, master, and propel into sustained growth. He thus implicitly and subtly offers a defense rather than an apology for his inability to supply the missing interpretation of the structure and functioning of the Chilean economy.
Some shortcomings of the book are understandable. The book is a companion volume to one published by the Economic Institute of the University of Chile, La economía de Chile en el período 1950-1963. Pinto was responsible for this pairing, and he assumes that the reader is familiar with the basic statistical and economic information contained in the earlier volume. The Institute’s work provides substantiation and solid groundwork, Pinto’s book, imagination. Jointly—and preferably in one volume—they would have been a classic in Chilean economic literature. Separately, Pinto’s volume lacks the vital ingredients that could save it from oblivion.