Bolsonaro’s Brazil: Chicago Boy-style Neoliberalism

On January 1, 2019, Jair Bolsonaro will begin his four-year term as Brazil’s president. Everyone expects his government to follow a neoliberal path. The only question that seems to remain is how far they can actually go.

When it comes to neoliberal reforms, all eyes are on Paulo Guedes, Brazil’s next minister of the economy, who will head a ‘super-ministry’ that combines finance, industry, trade and planning. 

Guedes is a committed neoliberal. He not only earned his PhD at the University of Chicago where he was taught by the extreme right-wing economist Milton Friedman, but he is also a well-known fan of the Chicago boy economists who managed Chile’s economy during the Pinochet dictatorship, turning Chile into the first experiment in neoliberalism in Latin America. 

During that time Guedes taught economics at the University of Chile, demonstrating he has no moral objections serving under a right-wing authoritarian, be it General Pinochet of Chile or Brazil’s incoming president Jair Bolsonaro. And when it comes to Brazil, Guedes is set on a “Pinochet-style” fix of the economy: “The Chicago boys saved Chile, fixed Chile, fixed the mess”, he stated in a Financial Times interview. Guedes now has set his sights on ‘fixing’ the Brazilian economy in a similar way.

In the last few weeks, it has become clear that Guedes has surrounded himself with other Chicago graduates. Joaquim Levy, who apparently has no problem shifting his political allegiance in…

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