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The last reason for optimism is that the incentives for politicians have changed, too. Growth has slowed sharply, making reforms that open the economy vital. Countries with governments that are reforming and trying to tackle vested interests, such as Mexico, have been better insulated from the jitters in the financial markets.
There is much more to be done. Governments need to be more assiduous in regulating monopolies, in promoting competition, in ensuring that public tenders and asset sales are transparent and in prosecuting bribe-takers. The boom that created a new class of tycoon has also created its nemesis, a new, educated, urban, taxpaying middle class that is pushing for change. That is something autocrats and elected leaders ignore at their peril.