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Chicago Boys

The Chicago Boys (c. 1970s) were a group of about 25 young Chilean economists who trained at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger.VILLAROEL, Gilberto. La herencia de los "Chicago boys". Santiago do Chile: BBC Mundo.com - America Latina, 10/12/2006.

In 1973, the Chilean economy was deeply hurt by the economic sanctions imposed by the Nixon administration Still Hidden: A Full Record Of What the U.S. Did in Chile, Peter Kornbluh, The Washington Post, Sunday 24 October 1999; Page B01 and the economic and political catastrophe of the previous marxist government of Salvador Allende, inflation was hundreds of percent, the country had no foreign reserves, and GDP was falling., By mid 1975, the government set forth an economic policy of free-market reforms which attempted to stop inflation and collapse.

To formulate the economic rescue, the Military junta led by General Pinochet, heavily relied on the advice of the so-called Chicago Boys.

The economic policies espoused by the Chicago Boys and implemented by the junta initially caused several economic indicators to decline for Chile's lower classes.

The First Latin American to receive an Economics degree from Chicago was Adolfo Diz from Argentina who competed laboriously to be the first Latin American PhD. in Economics from the University of Chicago but was beaten by Ernesto Fontaine of Chile. The Chicago school disseminated in Latin America through Arnold Harberger and still holds today a strong stance in the more developed Latin American Countries.


The Chicago Boys received their basic economic education from the School of Economy in Universidad Catolica. In 1956 that School had signed a three-year program of intensive collaboration with the Economics Faculty of the University of Chicago (the "Chile Project"), after Santiago's larger universities had refused to take part. It entailed Chicago professors going to teach in Santiago, the donation of a full modern library, scholarships to the best Chilean students, etc. Under the leadership of Dean Theodore Schultz of the University of Chicago, this program was renewed three times and eventually had a transformative effect on economic policy in Chile. That is why the graduates of the School of Economics of "La Catolica" (the Catholic University) are called "the Chicago Boys."

Only some of them went later for postgraduate studies at the University of Chicago, where they enrolled in Arnold Harberger's Latin American Finance Workshop and Milton Friedman's Money and Banking Workshop. The whole group was heavily influenced by the Chicago School of Economics, and especially by the writings and public policy proposals of Milton Friedman. Their proposals were very much on the fringe of Chilean political debate until 1973. The first reforms were implemented in three rounds - 1974-1983, 1985, and 1990.

Some key Chicago Boys were:

Jorge Cauas

Sergio de Castro

Pablo Barahona

Jose Pinera

Hernan Buchi (Minister of Finance 1985 - 1989) (although he did his MBA in Columbia University).

Alvaro Bardon

Juan Carlos Mendez

Emilio Sanfuentes (Economic advisor to Central Bank)

Sergio de la Cuadra

Miguel Kast

Martin Costabal

Juan Ariztia Matte (Private Pension System Superintendent 1980-1990)

Maria Teresa Infante (Minister of Labor 1988-1990)

Elsewhere in Latin America

Although the largest and most influential group of so-called Chicago Boys was Chilean in origin, there were many Latin American graduates from the University of Chicago around the same period. These economists continued to shape the economies of their respective countries, and include people like Mexico's Francisco Gil Diaz, Fernando Sanchez Ugarte, Carlos Isoard y Viesca, Argentina's Adolfo Diz, Roque Fernandez, Carlos Rodriguez, Fernando de Santibanez and Ricardo Lopez Murphy as well as many others in more countries like Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Other military regimes of the seventies, such as the Ernesto Geisel presidency in Brazil, followed a radically different economic orientation, based upon the idea of overcoming underdevelopment through government spending and centralized planning.

See also

Miracle of Chile

Berkeley Mafia

[[The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism|The Shock Doctrine]]

Jeffrey Sachs

John Perkins

Augusto Pinochet

Further reading

Valdes, Juan Gabriel (1995), ''Pinochet's Economists: The Chicago School of Economics in Chile'', Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-45146-9*Fontaine Aldunate, Arturo (1988), "Los Economistas y el Presidente Pinochet", Zig Zag

External links

Video clip - Chicago Boys and Pinochet, on PBS

Is Chile a Neoliberal Success? analysis of Chicago Boys' policies in Dollars & Sense magazine

Audio clip - 'Chicago Boys' Leave Lasting Legacy on Chile's Economy, National Public Radio

Beware the Chicago Boys by Naomi Klein, report appeared in The Nation and Commondreams.org

How the Chicago Boys Wrecked the Economy An Interview with Michael Hudson by Mike Whitney

The Chicago Conspiracy - A film about the influence of the Chicago Boys and radical currents in Chile against their legacy

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