About Catalina Piccato

I am a junior at Columbia College, majoring in History and Economics. I am interested in the political economy, emerging markets, economic development and economic history. Born in Mexico City, I am also interested in all things Latin America.

I can be reached at cp2468@columbia.edu.

Argentina Needs to Fix Its Debt Problem

Argentine President Mauricio Macri has a tough year ahead of him, marked by a weak economic outlook and a strong political opposition. Economically, his liberal economic plan seeks improve macroeconomic indicators by addressing external and fiscal imbalances and reducing inflation. In his first month in office, President Macri eliminated or reduced taxes on commodity exports and abolished exchange controls. The most popular measure he has enacted thus far has been the lifting of the controversial “cepo cambiario,” or ban on dollar purchases. This move gave him the political capital to later cut electricity subsidies in order to reduce Argentina’s high fiscal deficit, raising the price of electricity. Cutting the subsidies also increased the amount of money that goes to the province of Buenos Aires through the system of revenue sharing, to the great displeasure of other provinces. The first months of 2016 in Argentina were marked by a sharp peso devaluation that boosted an already high KEEP READING >>

Glass-Steagall Act and the 2016 Presidential Race: The Great Misperception

An obscure Depression-era financial law has taken central stage in the debates of the 2016 presidential race. The 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had imposed a regulatory separation between commercial banking and investment banking, is blamed by many for the financial crisis of 2008-09. Invocation of this law has become synonymous with “breaking up big banks” or ending “too big to fail”: an argument preached by populist candidates on the left and the right. Such demands on the basis of the repeal of Glass-Steagall are ungrounded in history, and serve largely as a romantic morality tale touted by candidates for popular appeal. Republicans and Democrats have embraced similar populist rhetorics against Big Banks underpinned by a misguided understanding of Glass-Steagall. “Crony capitalism,” “a corrupt system,” and “excessive risk-taking” are evoked by the left and right as implicit symptoms of its repeal. Glass-Steagall has become symbolic of a populist narrative of the KEEP READING >>

Marijuana In Mexico

On November 4th, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled in favor of four anti-crime activists from a cannabis club called Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Use, or SMART. It declared unconstitutional the country’s ban on the production, possession, and recreational consumption of marijuana. Though the court’s decision currently only applies to the plaintiff, it has lain the groundwork for future legal actions that could ultimately lead to the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana nationwide. It represents a direct challenge to the nation’s strict substance abuse laws and has significant implications for the debate on the efficacy of current policy on narcotics in the region. Shifting drug policy in Mexico as a result of this controversial ruling will impact a drug war that has ravaged multiple regions of the country since the early 2000s and has claimed over 83,000 lives.  In order to understand the effects of legalization, a closer look at the business of KEEP READING >>