Chicago Boys

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The Chicago Boys (c. 1970s) were a group of young male, mostly Chilean economists, the majority of whom trained at the Department of Economics of the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, or at its affiliate in the economics department at the Catholic University of Chile. Upon their return to Latin America most occupied leading positions in government, finance and education[citation needed].


The term Chicago Boys has been used at least as early as the 1980s[1] to describe Latin American economists who studied or identified with the neoliberal economic theories then taught at the University of Chicago, even though some of them earned degrees at Harvard or MIT (see below). "Chicago boys generally advocated widespread deregulation, privatization, and other free market policies for closely controlled economies. They rose to fame as leaders of the early reforms initiated in Chile during the rule of General Augusto Pinochet."[1] Milton and Rose Friedman used the term Chicago Boys in their memoir: "In 1975, when inflation still raged and a world recession triggered a depression in Chile, General Pinochet turned to the "Chicago Boys" ... and appointed several of them to powerful positions in the government.[2]

The training program was the result of a "Chile Project" organized in the 1950s by the U.S. State Department, through the Point Four program, the first US program for international economic development. It was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation aimed at influencing Chilean economic thinking. The University of Chicago’s Department of Economics set up scholarship programs with Chile’s Catholic University. About one hundred select students between 1957 and 1970 received training, first in an apprenticeship program in Chile and then in post-graduate work in Chicago.

The project was uneventful until the early 1970s. The Chicago Boys' ideas remained on the fringes of Chilean economic and political thought, even after a group of them prepared a 189-page “Program for Economic Development” called El ladrillo ("the brick").[3] It was presented 1969 as part of Jorge Alessandri's (unsuccessful) presidential candidacy. Alessandri rejected El ladrillo, but it was revisited after the 1973 Chilean coup d'état on 11 September 1973 brought Augusto Pinochet to power, and it became the basis of the new regime's economic policy.

Even though the "Chile Project" ended, the training connection between Chile and the University of Chicago continues. One of the numerous networking organizations for alumni, including the Chicago Boys, is the "Latin American Business Group at Chicago Booth School of Business" (LATAM).

The term continues to be used in popular culture, business magazines (see external links).

Key Chicago Boys[edit]


Some of the more than 100 Chilean "Chicago Boys" are or were:

  • Jorge Cauas Minister of Finance (1975–1977)
  • Sergio de Castro Minister of Finance (1977–1982)
  • Carlos Massad Comisión Económica para América Latina(Cepal) (1974-1992), World Bank (1978-1981), Central Bank of Chile 1996-2003
  • Ernesto Fontaine Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Administration Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile,returned to Chile financed by the Inter American Development Bank in 1976, chief of the "external financing unit" of the Organization of American States (OAS)where he organized a Technical Assistance Program which trained teams of public officials in Project Preparation and Social Evaluation,[4] World Bank consultant, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) died 1/20/2014 of lung cancer
  • Pablo Barahona (Minister of Economy, 1976–1979)
  • José Piñera (Minister of Labor and Pensions, 1978–1980, Minister of Mining, 1980–1981) (although his PhD is from Harvard)
  • Hernán Büchi Minister of Finance, 1985–1989, MBA at Columbia University
  • Alvaro Bardón (Minister of Economy, 1982–1983)
  • Juan Carlos Méndez (Budget Director, 1975–1981)
  • Emilio Sanfuentes (Economic advisor to Central Bank)
  • Sergio de la Cuadra (Minister of Finance, 1982–1983)
  • Francisco RosendeResearch Manager, Central Bank of Chile (1985 and 1990, Antitrust Commission (1999 and 2001), Dean and professor of economics, Faculty of Business and Economy of PUC since 1995.[5]
  • Miguel Kast Minister of Planning (1978–1980), Labor Minister (1980-82), Governor of the Central Bank of Chile (1982–83).
  • Martín Costabal (Budget Director, 1987–1989)
  • Juan Ariztía Matte (Private Pension System Superintendent, 1980–1990)
  • Maria Teresa Infante (Minister of Labor 1988–1990)
  • Camilo Carrasco Alfonso (General Manager of Central Bank, 1994-2005)
  • Joaquín Lavín (Minister of Education, 2010–2011, Minister of Planning 2011–present)
  • Cristián Larroulet Vignau Chief of Staff of the Finance Minister, member of National Commission for Privatization, Head of Antitrust Commission, Minister of General Secretariat to the Presidency [SEGPRES], 2010–present), Executive Director at Libertad y Desarrollo, a private think tank, Dean and professor of economics, Faculty of Business and Economy at Universidad Del Desarrollo (UDD) Santiago, Chile, member of Board of several public enterprises, member of the Mount Pelerin Society.[6]
  • Juan Andrés Fontaine (Minister of Economy, 2010–2011)
  • Francisco Perez Mackenna Chief Executive Officer of Quinenco since 1998, one of Chile’s largest conglomerates, assets of over US$ 33.1 billion, industrial and financial services companies. Director of many Quinenco group companies, including Banco de Chile, Madeco, CCU, Inversiones y Rentas, LQIF, ECUSA, CCU Argentina and Banchile Corretores de Bolsa, and Advisor to the Board of Vina San Pedro Tarapaca.1991-1998, CEO of CCU. Universidad Catolica de Chile, major in Business Administration. MBA from University of Chicago.[7]
  • Jose de Gregorio Governor of the Central Bank of Chile since 2007. Vice-Governor from 12/2003-12/2007, member of the Bank's Board from 6/2001. 2000- 2001 “tri-minister” of Economy, Mining and Energy. 1997-2000 professor at the Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica. Before 1997 Coordinator of Economic Policy at Ministry of Finance and economist research department International Monetary Fund, degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in engineering from University of Chile (1984), PhD in Economics from MIT 1990.

Elsewhere in Latin America[edit]

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 Díaz, Fernando Sanchez Ugarte, Carlos Isoard y Viesca, Argentina's Domingo Cavallo, Adolfo Diz, Roque Fernández, Carlos Alfredo Rodríguez, Fernando de Santibañez and Ricardo Lopez Murphy, as well as others in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Panama.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Gary S. Becker (1997-10-30). "What Latin America Owes to the "Chicago Boys"". Hoover Digest. Stanford University. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  2. ^ Two Lucky People: Memoirs. Milton Friedman and Rose D. Friedman. University of Chicago Press, 1998. p. 398.
  3. ^ El Ladrillo. Bases de la política económica del gobierno militar chileno.Santiago: CEP 2nd edition1992
  4. ^ "Latin American Business Group at Chicago Booth School of Business (Latam Group)Speaker Profile". Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  5. ^ "Latin American Business Group at Chicago Booth School of Business (Latam Group)Speaker Profile". Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  6. ^ "Latin American Business Group at Chicago Booth School of Business (Latam Group) Speaker Profile". Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  7. ^ "Latin American Business Group at Chicago Booth School of Business (Latam Group)Speaker Profile". Retrieved 2014-01-26. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]