Pinochet's Economists: The Chicago School in Chile

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Pinochet's Economists: The Chicago School in Chile

By Juan Gabriel Valdis
Cambridge University Press, 1995
334 pp. $49.95
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A detailed inside look at the intellectual formation of the so-called "Chicago boys," the young economists trained at the University of Chicago who came to exercise a great influence during the Pinochet regime and, depending on the biases of the observer, are credited or blamed for Chile's economic miracle. ValdJs is currently the chief coordinator for the negotiations on the accession of Chile to NAFTA and was an important participant in the redemocratization process in Chile, serving from 1990 to 1994 as ambassador to Spain. Given the strong international interest in market-driven reform, the precocious and brutal imposition of market policies in Chile during the 1970s is of more than local interest. Ironically, Chile under the Allende government was seen on the left as a model of socialist transformation, and the violent swing from one extreme to the other provides the context for ValdJs' account. Based on extensive research in the archives of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the Agency for International Development, the book shows how the transmission of economic ideas was encouraged and fostered, highlighting the role Arnold Harberger of Chicago played in the process. ValdJs' book is thus more focused on the pre-Pinochet period than on the working out of the neoliberal policies under the military regime; these are dealt with in a very general introductory chapter, as is the post-Pinochet period in the conclusion. The reader, as a consequence, is left with a great sense of frustration. A good analysis of the working relationship between the Chicago boys and Pinochet would have been extremely interesting.

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