Our Brand Is Crisis

          Our Brand Is Crisis is a film that goes behind the scenes to see the work of Americans in foreign policy making and the influence they possess in developing nations around the globe. The movie follows James Carville as he works as a strategist in order to help American educated, Bolivian born Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada run for the presidency. Eventually going on to become president of Bolivia with their help and new policy making. It focuses on the Washington Consensus which was an effect to spread neoliberal policies during the period between 1980 and 2005. This movement was supported and backed by the International Monetary Fund and World bank which both play a major role in macro level global markets and exchange rates between countries. James Cypher talks about this paradigm shift in the policy making of Latin America in his article “The slow death of the Washington Consensus on Latin America.” Cypher goes on to say that “The intellectual impetus behind the consensus view clearly flowed from Washington. Equally important, the consensus encompassed key Latin American business elites and transnational corporations particularly in the financial realm.(p.2)” Clearly having these businesses in your back pocket would not hurt when trying to make new policies or in cases such as John Perkins keep the tales of corruption quiet. John Perkins began to write “Confessions of an Economic Hit man” in 1982 but was stopped four times over the next twenty years through the use of threats, extortions, and bribes. This becomes more understandable once Perkins says that two of his clients, the Presidents of Ecuador and Panama, had just perished in a fiery plane crash that was actually an assassination attempt. The reality and gravity of the situation begins to set in once an organization is powerful, rich, and more importantly evil enough to take out anyone in their way. This is a “fraternal group of corporate, governmental, and banking heads whose goal is global empire.”(Perkins p.2)
         For over a decade other countries have been using U.S. strategists to help candidates running for anything from public office to the presidency. These strategists work behind the scenes to mold public opinion and making the candidates message loud and clear. In a way they have been spreading their own values and the values and principles of the democracy they grew up in. James Carville has worked on several foreign campaigns helping everyone from Tony Blair run for prime minister to Israel’s labor party to the liberal party of Canada before his 2002 run with the Bolivian president.
        Any organization that is backed by companies that control the global market and exchange of funds to the extent that IFG and World Bank do it is clear that the economic and political influence they control could be quite significant. The Washington Consensus generally advises developing countries and emerging economies around the globe. Their advice usually goes along the same lines of: reducing government deficits, deregulate international trade, and to pursue export led growth. Although these policies have worked quite well for America throughout its history the outcome in Latin America has come with more than its fair share of criticism as Cypher points out. Cypher shows us that “According to the Washington Consensus, nations - particularly Latin American nations - that followed the precepts of neoliberal economics could expect to be rewarded by an inflow of foreign funds that would make up for the savings shortfall and energize the economy through renewed investment. The greatest neoliberal fallacy, of many, was the implicit assumption that all capital inflows are equally good and that importing what cannot be made best within a Latin American nation is always and everywhere the epitome of economic rationality.”(p.4) Unfortunately this was not the case that played out once all was said and done as Cypher explains. Not all the capital that began flowing back into Latin America was of the same benefit to all the citizens living their. In reality most the money flowed to agriculture, timber operations, and petroleum industry that created few new jobs for the unemployed. The second place the money ended up was in real estate, banks, and stock brokerage companies which inevitably gave vast sums of money to a very small number of people who were already presumably very wealthy to begin with which as Cypher points out does little to nothing in the area of financial stability and support.(p5-6) Lastly, the money was parked in nations offering higher yield on assets. Leading to tax rates maintaining their extremely high levels which starves financial institutions of their ability to bounce back from economic downturns.