Media Center

Press Release


  May 17, 2005

John B. Taylor, the former U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, told a hemispheric audience today that the United States and the countries of the region have two challenges for sustained growth: locking in macroeconomic policies and improving microeconomic reforms for higher productivity. He also encouraged more productive investment in infrastructure as one way to accomplish this objective.

Addressing the fifth monthly conference in the Lecture Series of the Americas at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, Taylor, speaking on “Latin America: From Economic Crisis to Economic Growth,” said good economic policies implemented in recent years have positioned Latin America to seize the opportunities of strong global growth which, he attributed in part to “well-timed” fiscal and monetary policies in the United States.

Taylor suggested that “higher productivity growth leads to higher wages and decreases in poverty.” He stressed that productivity in Latin America is far too low, compared to Asia—linking the phenomenon to low trade integration with the rest of the world as well as to rigidities in the labor market, weak property rights and judicial systems, and lack of access to credit, particularly for small business.

Taylor, who served the George W. Bush Administration until recently, explained that the staggering regional inflation of the early 1990s had given way to monetary policies that are much more focused on price stability, with inflation now only one hundredth of what it was then [in the 1990s]. This represents an “extraordinary accomplishment”.

OAS Permanent Council Chairman Ambassador Alberto Borea of Peru opened the lecture and OAS Acting Secretary General Luigi Einaudi moderated the session. The conference was immediately followed by a roundtable discussion on Dr. Taylor’s presentation, with panelists Eduardo Lora, Chief Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank and Peter Hakim, President of the Inter-American Dialogue. That discussion was moderated by Irene Klinger, Coordinator of the Lecture Series of the Americas and Director of the OAS Department of Communications and External Relations.

The OAS Permanent Council established the hemispheric Lecture Series to promote democratic principles and values in the countries of the hemisphere. The lectures feature internationally renowned speakers addressing key hemispheric agenda issues such as the strengthening of democracy, human rights, social development, hemispheric security and the fight against poverty.

The 12 conferences programmed for this year are being held thanks to a financial contribution from Peru’s San Martín de Porres University and support from the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The previous lecturers were: former United States President Jimmy Carter; the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Enrique Iglesias; President of the International Criminal Court Philippe Kirsch; and Nobel Literature Laureate Derek Walcott of Saint Lucia.

Reference: E-098/05