Friedman, Chile, and the Chicago Boys

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Soldier Field
Hosted By: History of Economics Society
  • Chair: Andrew Farrant, Dickinson University

There are no Free Lunches: Milton Friedman’s 1975 visit Chile

Andrew Farrant
Dickinson University
Leonidas Montes
Adolfo Ibanez University


Milton Friedman's early 1975 visit to Chile has attracted much attention in the ever-burgeoning literature on neoliberalism. This paper makes use of previously unknown archival material to explain what happened when Friedman visited Chile in March 1975. Although Friedman’s 1975 visit has been widely discussed, a complete record of what actually happened has not yet been written.

Friedman and Chile

Edward McPhail
Dickinson University


Making use of previously un-translated foreign language material, speeches, commentary, and interviews we provide the background to Milton Friedman’s 1975 visit to Chile. We rationally reconstruct Friedman’s implicit model of the way in which Chile’s adoption of a bevy of welfare state welfare state measures in the early twentieth century had supposedly set the stage for the events which ultimately culminated in the1973 coup. Similarly, we analyze the logic which underlay Friedman’s assessment of the situation in Chile both immediately before – and immediately after – his trip. We draw upon several virtually unknown 1975 interviews in which Friedman discusses the Allende regime, the Pinochet regime, and the Chilean experience with 900% inflation. We also discuss some particularly egregious misreading’s of Friedman’s supposed assessment of the Pinochet junta

Brickmakers: On the History of ‘El Ladrillo’ in Chile

Juan Pablo Couyoumdjian
University of Desarrollo


The free-market reforms implemented in Chile during the military government led by General Augusto Pinochet were based on a document labeled “El Ladrillo” (Fontaine, 1988). This document was prepared during the early 1970s (de Castro, 1992), as a group of economists who had as a common experience the fact that they pursued graduate studies in the U.S. started to meet to discuss the economic situation in the country. Based on new interviews, in this paper we propose to study the history behind this work, which is something that has not been explored in the literature. Specifically, we consider what objectives this group had in mind, and what its main influences were. From this research we learn that these economists did not forsee the effects their work would have in the country.
Peter Boettke
George Mason University
JEL Classifications
  • B2 - History of Economic Thought since 1925
  • B3 - History of Economic Thought: Individuals