We test for the populist view of state capture in Latin America between 1970 and 2003. The empirical results based on the relatively novel panel time-series data and analysis confirm the prediction that recently-elected governments coming into power after periods of political dictatorship, and which are faced with high economic inequality and demand for redistribution, end up pursuing unfunded populist [re]distributive policies. These policies, in turn, lead to bursts of hyper inflation and therefore macroeconomic instability in the region. All in all, we suggest that the implementation of democracy as such requires
not only the right political context or a constrained executive to work well, but it also must come with certain economic institutions, (e.g. central bank independence and a credible and responsible fiscal authority), institutions which would raise the costs of pursuing populist
policies in the first place.