Several decades of neoliberal economic reforms brought about the greatest global reduction in poverty ever achieved, by far. But success brings laziness, and many countries began to take their achievements for granted. Even successful policies fail to eliminate all economic problems, and because neoliberalism was the dominant strategy from the 1980s to the 2000s, pundits began to (wrongly) blame neoliberalism for the remaining economic problems. Reform momentum slowed, and policies moved back in a more statist direction.

Nonetheless, when countries get into serious economic difficulty, their policymakers remain aware that neoliberalism is the only regime that is reliably effective. Here’s the FT:

They include most prominently Turkey, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya, and they carry some weight. All five of these reforming countries are in the 40 largest emerging economies, so their turn for the better is reinforcing the global economic recovery as well.

Battered by high inflation, debt and deficits, their foreign exchange coffers were emptying when global interest rates rose sharply in 2022. As higher borrowing costs drove their debts deeper into distress, they had no choice but to change. Their leaders — who in Argentina, Kenya and Nigeria were newly elected with a mandate for reform — don’t quite say so out loud, but their plans came straight from the pages of the old and much-maligned Washington consensus. Budget discipline and heeding market forces are the only policy choices that work when a nation runs out of money.

Statism is a luxury that bankrupt countries cannot afford to engage in.