Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Once More on Cuba
Brad DeLong spares no love for Fidel Castro's country (and almost less for Chris Bertram), and expands on this in Comments:
Wrong comparison: Cuba in 1960 is like Costa Rica, northern Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Portugal. The fact that we today think of Cuba as in the same basket as Guatemala, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic is Castro's doing, and is worth thinking about.
As a thought-experiment, following is some data from the Penn World Tables 6.2. First, a comparative table of Cuba against the other Caribbean countries (click to enlarge):
Notes: I start in 1970 because that's where the PWT data does for Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. Haiti only has data through 2000, and the divisor on gains is adjusted accordingly. (Anyone wishing to argue that Haiti experienced massive growth from 2000-2003? I didn't think so.)
No one would pretend it has been all growth. Indeed, it's messy, although per capita GDP grows.
And a fairly steady investment price level since ca. 1988 (or, if you prefer, since around the fall of the Berlin Wall):
None of this is to pretend that Cuba has been all bread and roses. But romanticizing the Bautista regime ("Cuba in 1960 is like Costa Rica, northern Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Portugal") does very little good.