The Rafael del Pino Foundation received Mary Anastasia O'Grady, as part of its Master Lecture programme, who gave the lecture "How the triumph of bad ideas poisoned the source of prosperity".
Mary Anastasia O'Grady spoke about economic developments in Latin America and the latest decisions of some of its governments: "Although this is a very painful issue for Spanish investors, what alarms me most is that these are negative decisions for the Argentinean or Venezuelan people. These countries are suffering a clear deterioration in the image of their economies. It is going to be very difficult for these nations to attract new investment. It is obvious that companies in the hydrocarbon sector take a lot of risk; oil companies operate in different parts of the world and sometimes they operate in countries where the protection of property rights is very weak, which is part of their business. What is happening in Argentina is something that is going to greatly affect investment in the country and its effect is going to be felt in the GDP figures. If you look at Bolivia, foreign investment is 16% of GDP, which is a tremendously low figure for a country that wants to develop its economy. Bolivians are going to suffer more and more from this and I suppose there will come a time when the leaders of this country realise this and change their policies, but I think we will see a further deterioration of economic conditions before we get to that point.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady explained the differentiating factor of those Latin American economies that have entered the growth path: "There are other countries on the continent that recognise the importance of property rights and the strength of their currency and are trying to stick to these principles. These are the countries where the economy is starting to take off and gain altitude. But we are talking about the first steps in the direction of a free market economy and I am sure that the strength of these principles will again be called into question. One of the cases that worries me most is Brazil. It is certainly a country that has received large investments, especially in the oil sector, but its economy has not been structured to be the economic power it aspires to be. That structuring is a pending task for your government to undertake.