By MARK LORENZANA
Economic experts in Mexico have questioned the numbers that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) presented in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Informe de Gobierno) at the National Palace in Mexico City on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 1, and accused him of “not sticking to reality.”
The analysts, in a report by Mexican financial daily newspaper El Financiero, presented data of their own detailing what López Obrador got wrong in his address.
In his speech, AMLO boasted of “saving 2.4 billion pesos,” which according to him was achieved through his “republican austerity.” Experts, however, said it was not achieved in one year as López Obrador made it appear, but as a result of a combined four years of his mandate so far.
Carlos López Jones, director of consulting at Tendencias, a Mexican financial consulting firm, pointed out that although it is a positive thing for the country to have saved billions, it was not mentioned by AMLO at what cost — since spending on education and health has fallen. López Jones also pointed out that, on the contrary, the government made budget cuts in these areas, which is not a positive thing.
Alain Jaimes, senior economic analyst at Signum Research, focused on the fact that economic growth metrics should not be neglected, as “these data approximate reality.”
“There is a sense that if reality — data — does not suit the political order, it is better to skip them,” Jaimes said.
Jaimes was referring to López Obrador’s statement that his government was “not obsessed with measuring everything with indicators.”
“In the new moral and social economic policy that we have applied since the beginning of our government, the technocratic obsession of measuring everything based on growth indicators that do not necessarily reflect social realities has been discarded,” AMLO said in his speech. “We believe that what is fundamental is not quantitative, but qualitative. Economic growth and increases in the productivity of competitiveness do not make sense as objectives in themselves, but as means to achieve a higher purpose: the general well-being of the population, and even more precisely the material well-being and the well-being of the soul.”
Jaimes said that measuring well-being is less objective, since it is based on the perception of an individual, and added that if hard data is left out, it is difficult to objectively measure and speak of real progress.
Likewise speaking on the topic of measuring success, López Jones said he believes that “the president ignores the measurement of GDP because he knows that his policies have not given the results he wanted, that it is very likely his six-year term will go down in history with the lowest GDP growth, because of his bad decisions.”
López Jones pointed out that according to Mexico’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval), there are now more poor people in percentage terms in the country than when he took office in December 2018, contradicting AMLO’s statement in his address that he has managed to reduce poverty.
Larry Rubin, former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, and current president of the American Society (Amsoc), said AMLO must do more to address the issue of insecurity in the country to help pull in more U.S. investors, especially in the manufacturing sector.
“If right now, we are going at 80 kilometers per hour, we could even go at 150 kilometers per hour, and that is what we want to promote,” Rubin said. “Mexico has a great opportunity to create opportunities for U.S. companies to put their manufacturing centers here, but what they demand is the rule of law.”
For his part, Francisco Cervantes, president of Mexico’s Business Coordinating Council (CCE), agreed that “Mexico is becoming a very important investment destination.”