AMERG036: Latin American Economics: Beyond Neoliberalism

Course convenor Dr. Geoff Goodwin


This course explores the Latin American contribution to current debates in political economy. It examines the roots of these ideas in the region’s place in the global market and its recent economic history, and the impact of these ideas on economic policy shifts.

Students gain an awareness of debates in the political economy of development, and the heterodoxy of Latin American policy approaches today, in terms of macroeconomic management, social protection and redistribution, trade and industrial strategies, and environmental protection. The course encourages students to evaluate current economic policies, and explain their strengths and weaknesses.

1. Latin America’s economies today. Economic indicators are used to compare the structure and performance of the economies of the Latin American region with the other regions of the world. The region’s distinguishing features are identified, as well as the divergences within it.

2. Currents in economic thought. The roots of Latin American ‘structuralism’ and dependency debates; the debt crisis and the development counterrevolution.

3. Critique of the ‘neoliberal’ consensus. Latin American experience of the ‘neo-liberal’ agenda of trade, capital and labour market, and the emergence of the political challenges.

4. The new role of the state. New Latin American thought on the limits of neoliberalism, and the relationship between these ideas and the ‘post-Washington consensus’.

5. Competing Latin American economic alternatives. The range of Latin American economic responses to the demise of neoliberalism: Lula, Chávez, Bachelet, Kirschner, Morales, Correa and Santos.

6. Heterodox macroeconomics. Examination of the range of regulatory, fiscal, monetary and administrative instruments being used to balance budgets, manage exchange rates and contain inflation.

7. A new anti-poverty drive: different approaches. A survey of the use of microfinance, cash transfers, and expansion of the welfare state.

8. The commodities curse. Principles of sustainable development, vested interests and practice, ideas and outcomes (using recent examples from Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador; Venezuela and Colombia.

9. Trade and industries: new challenges, new actors. Opportunities and threats from shifts in global markets; active industrial policies; and the growth of Latin American multinational companies.

10. Economic performance, prospects and risks. Students present country case studies, tracing the influence of new ideas on economic policy, assessing performance to date, and identifying risks to sustained economic growth and development.