In this important volume, 22 distinguished intellectuals examine Latin American countries and argue convincingly for the adoption of free market economies. The reader is shown the chaos, poverty, corruption, and unfairness of situations in which governments have run industries, relied on trade barriers and subsidies, controlled prices and foreign exchange, wrecked currencies, discouraged savings, and inadvertently stimulated “informal economies” that illegally avoid countless regulations. Attention is also given to improvements, such as those that followed Miguel de la Madrid’s diagnosis of the Mexican state as obese, and to the startling changes in Chile. The story of Chile begins with the failure in 1955 of the “Chicago Boys” (inspired by University of Chicago views) to convince the democratic government of Eduardo Frei to adopt the model that eventually quadrupled employment, immensely increased and diversified foreign trade, and brought prosperity to farms, thereby holding back migration to the cities (described as inevitable under import substitution policies).

Frei’s reaction is understandable. The authors point out that the promised land can be reached only after austerity, the abandonment of trade barriers and noncompetitive industries, and the elimination of the privileges of labor unions and businessmen who use government connections. The revamping of justice is deemed indispensable, and the privatization of social security systems is recommended.

The contributors to this volume admit that the recent examples of market economy success have occurred under governments hardly notable for democracy, such as those of South Korea, Formosa, and Chile under the rough regime of Augusto Pinochet. (Perhaps mainland China will be a candidate.) Therefore these writers wrestle with the problem of how to achieve a market economy democratically. The problem is acute, because success does not come quickly and because Chile’s economic modernization program was unpopular even when it was enjoying success after 15 years. The contributors suggest emphasizing the ethical aspects of liberal reforms to give them appeal, and enacting the reforms in a simultaneous, global manner in which those who lose privileges will benefit from others’ loss of privileges. Leaders are advised to act decisively and without fear of unpopularity.

These writers tell us that a severe economic crisis is apt to result in society’s support of reforms. The crisis exists, and it exists at a time when old remedies, given their opportunities in much of the world, have resulted in failure. For these reasons, careful study should be given to the countless episodes and comments furnished in this volume by Mario Vargas Llosa, Octavio Paz, Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Peter L. Berger, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Enrique Krauze, Barry B. Levine, Hernán Echavarría Olózaga, David Gallagher, José Piñera Echeñique, Carlos A. Ball M., Eduardo Mayora Alvarado, Arturo Fontaine Talavera, Enrique Ghersi, Luis F. Aguilar Villanueva, Miguel Angel Rodríguez Echeverría, Manuel F. Ayau C., Miguel Sang Ben, Og Francisco Leme, Andrés Van Der Horst, Alberto Benegas Lynch, and Luis Bustamante Belaunde.