CHILE: ECONOMY IN TURMOIL


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Since October, Chile has been rocked by public protests against conditions ranging from economic inequality and rising prices to plans to privatize pensions and public education.
Economic policies begun in the 1990s created wealth but also drew millions of people into debt, with most of the new wealth flowing to richest 1 percent of the population.
Protests began last fall when high-school students launched a coordinated initiative to dodge subway fares after prices were raised. The movement has grown from there.
The protests have sunk economic productivity, with Chile’s October 2019 economic performance the worst since the 2009 global recession. That month’s numbers were 3 percentage points lower than those of October 2018.
A $5-billion stimulus package last fall was aimed at public infrastructure and strengthening pensions and small businesses. The move buoyed President Sebastian Piñera’s popularity, but the effect has since ebbed.
Potential investors are nervous, in part because of this April’s referendum asking voters whether the country should rewrite its constitution.

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