As 2002 came to an end, the Argentine economy seemed to have touched bottom after contracting more than 10 percent. But a robust recovery during 2003 will be blocked by many of the same forces that helped create Argentina's economic catastrophe: the hard-line stance of the IMF, the muddle that is Argentine politics, and a dispirited and politically disaffected populace.
Since the arrival of Vicente Fox to the presidency, Mexico has been stuck in neutral. The executive has been characterized by confusion, indecision, and repeated policy mistakes. Mexican political parties have shown a striking inability to adjust their behavior to the new democratic political environment. And Mexicans of all stripes remain steeped in an authoritarian culture that has prevented them from embracing the political opportunities offered by Mexico's new democratic setting.