The Economics of a Dictatorship: Analysis of the Influence of the Chicago Boys in Chile during the Reign of Pinochet
On September 11, 1973, Augusto Pinochet became the leader of Chile after a violent coup d’état, which left the economy in shambles. The previous president and ruling party, Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity coalition respectively, were moving the country towards socialism and in doing so increased the government presence in the economy, nationalized copper and other industries, and redistributed agricultural land. Soon after nationalizing the copper industry, prices fell and the large expenditures being made by the government lead to a recession characterized by shrinking GDP, failing nationalized businesses, US economic sanctions, high inflation, and unfavorable exchange rates. Pinochet turned to the Chicago Boys, Chilean economists educated at the University of Chicago’s School of Economics by Milton Friedman, to formulate an economic plan that would reduce inflation as well as limiting government involvement in the economy. This paper will examine the neoliberal free market principals instituted by the Chicago Boys, the immediate and delayed effects in the Chilean government, and how these principals have been and can be utilized to provide stabilization and growth in other Latin American economies.