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'This little-noticed development is thanks not to government welfare or foreign aid but mainly to the opening of markets and to the end of the central bank's practice of financing the government. '

'Mexico has avoided running up huge fiscal deficits in recent years, despite a U.S. Treasury push for stimulus spending by the G-20. Mexico had been there and done that. When government goes hog-wild, markets worry that the debt will be monetized by the central bank. Mexican President Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) wisely resisted.'

'In a recently released book "Mexico: A Middle Class Society," Mexican economist Luis de la Calle and Mexican political scientist Luis Rubio describe a nation where many politicians still think of the electorate as rural and poor but where consumption patterns reveal a trend toward urbanization and upward mobility. Judging by family incomes but also by things like housing rental and ownership, appliance purchases, Internet access and trips to the cinema, they argue that today "the middle-class population is the majority in Mexico."

This has occurred, the authors say, "by combining the income of various family members [including remittances from abroad] rather than through the increased income of an individual or couple." In other words, Mexico has not achieved the wage gains generally associated with a rising middle class.

So what's different? For one thing, the North American Free Trade Agreement has meant an opening of the retail sector, giving Mexicans access to quality products at competitive prices. Second, family incomes are no longer being destroyed by successive devaluations and bouts of inflation triggered by fiscal crises. '
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