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Abstract

This chapter looks at the historical evolution of commodity dependence in Latin America, showing that dependence on natural resource-intensive exports increased during the 2003‒13 commodity price boom after a period of export diversification that began in the mid-1960s. It then analyses price dynamics, showing that commodity prices experienced both long-term trends, which were generally adverse for non-oil commodities through the twentieth century, and super-cycles of 30‒40 years. Based on that pattern, the author argues that the recent price collapse may be the beginning of a long period of weak commodity prices. Finally, the chapter demonstrates that the region has been unable to take full advantage of the benefits of its natural resource specialisation and has faced, in contrast, some negative Dutch Disease effects due to the aforementioned dependence. Latin America has, furthermore, been a victim of the macroeconomic vulnerabilities generated by commodity cycles, largely because it has failed to develop appropriate countercyclical macroeconomic policies.

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