Structural Characteristics of the Mexican Economy (1942-82)
The aim of this paper is a limited one - to delineate the structural1 characteristics of the Mexican economy, from the point of view of those that are likely to affect its future growth and development. It is not the aim of this paper to examine in detail the evolution of the Mexican economy between 1940 and 1982. It is a task which has been undertaken by several scholars (Cockcroft 1983, Looney 1985, Fitzgerald 1985, Reynolds 1970 to name just a few) and to avoid repetition I shall draw upon their contributions.
It might be worthwhile to state more explicitly why I find it necessary to study the structural characteristics of the Mexican economy. This is in the nature of a prelude to a study of the restructuring which the Mexican economy has undergone in the period 1983-88 (the de la Madrid presidential term) as a consequence of having faced the debt crisis of 1982.
The de la Madrid government had two short term and one long term goal which it set for itself at the beginning of the presidential term. The short term goals were, first, a reduction in the inflation rate, and second, adjustment of the BOP. The long term goal was a shift in the relative price structure such as to promote export-led growth and move towards a more market oriented economy. Ros (1987) defines the goal more sharply as 'a radical shift in the price of tradables relative to non-tradables, in order to stimulate non-oil exports'. This strategy for growth as opposed to one of ISI, which is what Mexico had been following until then, would certainly mean a reordering of infra-sectoral priorities if not intersectoral ones.
A detailed look at how this change in relative price was sought to be brought about, and how successful the attempt was, would be out of place here. Suffice to say that to be able to understand the trajectory which the economy took in an effort to restructure, one must understand how the economy came to obtain the structure that it had at the beginning of the period. One must have an understanding of the nature
* Research student. Centre for Economic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 18, No. 5, May 1990