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Fitzgerald, Valpy and Thorp, Rosemary Edit

(editors) – Economic Doctrines in Latin America . St. Anthony's Series, Palgrave, Macmillan. 2005. ISBN 1-4039-9749-7

Sometimes politicians on both sides of the Atlantic seem just to get hold of the strangest policies. Sometimes they switch policies in midstream or, shortly after being elected on one manifesto or political platform, change to another (Fujimori 1990). How do ideas come to shift the behaviour of decision makers? Rosemary Thorp and Valpy Fitzgerald (two of the most respected academics in the field) have assembled a 'first eleven' team of contributors - there are eleven chapters - ranging from the more specific (Marco Palacios talking about the influence of an elite corps of economists) through the historical (Nils Jacobsen) and the more general. Fitzgerald himself writes on the conflict of economic doctrine in Latin America and the way that, over time, changes in the relative power of a wide range of social organisations affect the 'fate' of economic doctrines. The key drivers are seen to be 'epistemic' communities, US hegemony and the power of international capital, and domestic politics and interest groups. The book's focus is on how new doctrines (and it seems this word is carefully chosen in preference to 'thought' or 'ideas') come to be 'embedded' in social practice. To those who thought, simply, that it was down to the Chicago Boys (and this is dealt with) but with some help from militaristic regimes, the book reveals an immensely more complex process. Frances Stewart traces the evolution of economic ideas from import substitution to human development, Paul Drake looks at US hegemony, Peter Gourevitch deals with international versus domestic perspectives. Joseph Love, a well respected figure in the trade, is brought in twice: to cover the 1914-1950 period and, then, to write on the rise and fall of structuralism. The Bretton Woods system, once seen to be a Keynesian influence, is analysed by Ngaire Woods in chapter ten, looking particularly at the transmission of neo-liberal ideas in Mexico . Finally Laurence Whitehead exposes the shifting foundations of economic liberalism in Latin American public policy, preparing us to an extent, for the momentous changes of the last few years.Unfortunately the book has had rather a long gestation and readers really need a part two sequel which would deal with the embedding of a 'post neo-liberal' thought, as yet not easily defined. Little, though, perhaps could have prepared us for the emergence of 'another' axis ( Venezuela , Argentina , Brazil , Bolivia and - perhaps - Chile and Peru ), for which it is still too early to talk about the embedding of a universal doctrine or a new Latin American economics.

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