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As a new president prepares to take power in Mexico the biggest economic news is whats not happening The peso is not plummeting investors are not panicking and people are not suddenly paying more for their tortillas or televisions Given recent history this is a small miracle every presidential transition in the last two decades has been scarred by an economic crisis Instead of fears there are great hopes all raised by the next president Vicente Fox Quesada Mr Fox now must institutionalize the stability he has inherited He has pledged sweeping tax and fiscal reforms annual economic growth rates of up to 7 percent millions of new jobs a stable economic architecture for foreign capital private investment in the state-run oil industry and competition in telecommunications He also promises budget austerity increased social spending the rise of the rule of law and an end to ingrained political corruption Mexico is still very much a developing nation Reliable electric power and potable water are sometimes hard to find In the capital one of the worlds most populous and polluted cities the elite live behind barricades protected from the impoverished by armed guards Middle-class Mexicans have less buying power than they did 20 years ago and some of the biggest banks are shaky from a legacy of bad loans Many small businesses are threatened by imports credit is difficult to obtain and millions of people scrape by on less than 2 a day The departing president Ernesto Zedillo never addressed the huge structural problems of the state-run energy industries which are inefficient and suppress competition or of the justice system which cannot control crime - a serious worry for foreign companies considering operations here even if they are optimistic about Mr Fox Hes going to have his hands full said Peter E Weber vice president of Latin American operations for the FMC Corporation a Chicago- based industrial and chemical company that does extensive business
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