Including a Symposium on Latin American Monetary Thought: Two Centuries in Search of Originality: Volume 36C

Cover of Including a Symposium on Latin American Monetary Thought: Two Centuries in Search of Originality

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(9 chapters)


Pages i-xiii
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Part I Symposium on Latin American Monetary Thought: Two Centuries in Search of Originality


This article studies how the Regenerative Government (1880–1903) in Colombia positioned monetary policy as one of the central subjects in the political arena by the end of the nineteenth century, and how the struggles of this attempt transformed the political economy of the period. In the background of the monetary, debates were some relevant characteristics: the country was facing serious difficulties as a consequence of an uneven integration of sectors to international trade, the de facto bimetallic regime, the formation of conglomerates of regions, and the difficulty of implementing paper money. Facing this situation, the Regenerating Governments found themselves in the need of imposing monetary and credit rules. They attempted to implement the scientific rules prevailing at the time and the possibilities that the national reality allowed them. As a consequence, the interests of the merchant elites and bankers had eroded the existing free banking system. Some bankers took advantage of the situation of the dubious management that the State gave to the monetary issue and succeeded on speculative finance increasing their wealth. Others, on the other hand, tried to strengthen their relations with the State. In this perspective, this article will synthesize the main aspects by agents of the debate between free banking and forced course.


This essay explores the critical vision of Francisco Barrera Lavalle about the Mexico’s Monetary Reform of 1905. In his critique, Barrera inserts an argument about the nature of the balance of payments in the Mexican economy: the disequilibria in Mexico’s trade balance were structurally recurrent given the characteristics of what the country exports: commodities and raw materials. Barrera believed that the authorities made the mistake of overvaluing the peso, assigning it a value higher than what silver currency was worth at the time on international markets. Barrera also dismissed the idea that monetary stability could be achieved by suspending the free coinage of silver currency. Finally, Barrera held that banks should be obligated to pay their banknotes in gold, as they were in Great Britain and in the United States, not in silver coins.


The Central Bank of Argentina began its activities in May 1935 surrounded by controversy. The Bank was created as a result of a mission led by the expert from the Bank of England, Sir Otto Niemeyer. The foreign involvement in the origins of the bank was not welcome to a good part of the Argentine society. Finally, the project for a central bank approved by the Argentine Congress was not the one proposed by Sir Otto Niemeyer, but a version of it that contained crucial modifications introduced by Raúl Prebisch. The aim of this work is to highlight Prebisch’s ideas on monetary and banking matters by analyzing the differences with the ideas of Sir Otto Niemeyer around monetary policy and the characteristics of the future Central Bank of Argentina. Even if there were almost no direct debates between them, there were different visions and indirect contentions that can be traced in the writings of both, which on the side of Prebisch were published in the Revista Económica del Banco de la Nación Argentina and some government documents, and on Niemeyer’s side can be traced in some writings and correspondence regarding his visit to Argentina, held in the archives of the Bank of England.


Traditionally, monetary policy in Latin America followed the recommendations of the missions of the monetary “doctors” who defended an independent central bank and a pro-cyclical monetary policy, adhering to the automatic adjustment of the gold standard. A key function of central banks was to support fiscal stability. The effects of the Great Depression and its aftermath in the periphery countries questioned these recommendations and gave way to a shift in monetary policy. An illustrative example is provided by the creation of the Central Bank of the Argentina Republic (BCRA) under the auspices of Raúl Prebisch, and the technical assistance missions of the United States Federal Reserve to several Latin American countries some of which were led by Robert Triffin. Prebisch actively participated in mission to Paraguay and the Dominican Republic bringing the experience he had acquired as director of the BCRA and the tools devised to adapt monetary policy to a changing external context and circumstances. The use of the discount window and exchange controls, among other instruments, was seen in this new view as necessary to pursue counter-cyclical policies and to provide support for industrialization and full employment in the periphery.

Part II Essays


No longer do resource economists merely regard nature as a collection of inert materials to be improved by human labor and manufactured capital; rather, nature is, to an increasing extent, taken to be a mindless producer of economically valuable ecosystem goods and services. Instances of natural capital are frequently said to produce such goods and services in a manner that is relatively detached from human agency. This article argues that, historically, the idea of nature as a systematic original producer capable of self-generation is hardly novel. The eighteenth-century roots of this idea can be found in the writings of Carl Linnaeus who depicted the whole Earth and all of its productions as the “oeconomy of nature.”


This chapter conducts a systematic comparison of behavioral economics’s challenges to the standard accounts of economic behaviors within three dimensions: under risk, over time, and regarding other people. A new perspective on two underlying methodological issues, i.e., inter-disciplinarity and the positive/normative distinction, is proposed by following the entanglement thesis of Hilary Putnam, Vivian Walsh, and Amartya Sen. This thesis holds that facts, values, and conventions have inter-dependent meanings in science which can be understood by scrutinizing formal and ordinary language uses. The goal is to provide a broad and self-contained picture of how behavioral economics is changing the mainstream of economics.


Pages 157-164
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Cover of Including a Symposium on Latin American Monetary Thought: Two Centuries in Search of Originality
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Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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