Economic History and Development in Latin America Lecture Series 2 | European Conquest and Integration of Latin America to the World Economy (1500-1800)

On March 1, 2022, the Institute for International and Area Studies of Tsinghua University (IIAS) hosted the second lecture entitled “European Conquest and Integration of Latin America to the World Economy (1500-1800)” of Economic History and Development in Latin America lecture series. The lecture was delivered by Professor Lucas Llach from the Department of History and Social Studies at the University of Ditra, Argentina and presided over by Yuan Mengqi, a postdoctoral researcher at the IIAS.

At the beginning of the lecture, Professor Llach reviewed the four major stages of economic history and development in Latin America and the important exogenous impacts at each stage. Firstly, he mentioned that before the “Columbian Exchange”, Latin America’s economic and social development was mainly concentrated in Mesoamerican and the Andean region with reliance on agriculture. There was a lack of horses for transportation and no use of metal to make production tools. Professor Llach then cited The Cambridge History of Latin America authored by Elinor Melville to explain the colonization of Latin America by European settlers, who plundered tobacco, sugar, coffee, gold, silver, gems and other resources from Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1500s. Therefore, in the colonial period, Latin America witnessed the shaping of the mining economies represented by Mexico, Peru and Bolivia, the plantation economies represented by Caribbean countries, Brazil and parts of Colombia, the population economies represented by Mexico and Peru, and the agricultural economies represented by Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. He also mentioned that European colonization brought Latin America into the global economy either passively or actively, leading to the emergence of new species, new immigrants and new labor management systems in the region.

As of 1820 or so, Latin American countries had been largely independent and emerging as new political forces on the world stage. As their economies gradually opened up to international trade, these countries were impacted by external forces, resulting in inflation, financial crisis, debt default, and macroeconomic instability. Professor Llach then stated that the industrial revolution led the trend of specialization to the industry in Latin American countries and caused different impacts on the supply and demand relationship of each country. Meanwhile, the products of the industrial revolution triggered the transport revolution, which doubled the economic growth of countries starting industrialization earlier. Finally, he talked about the period from 1914 to 1960 when there was a trend against globalization. Since the 1970s, and especially since 1990, there has been a resurgence of globalization and the rise of the Asian economy. These global economic development trends all have exogenous impacts on the development path of Latin America’s economy.

During the Q&A session, Professor Llach interacted with the audience enthusiastically. He patiently and meticulously expressed his profound and original views on the most important exogenous factors of Latin America’s economic development and the complementary mode of economic exchanges between China and Latin America. The audience benefited a lot and gave a round of warm applause at the end of the lecture.

Professor Lucas Llach teaches in the Department of History and Social Studies at the University of Ditra, Argentina and holds a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He received his B.S. in economics from the University of Ditra, and his M.S. in history from Harvard University and economics from the University of Ditra. He served as Vice Governor of the Banco Central de La República Argentina from 2016-2018, and Vice Governor of the Banco de la Nación Argentina in 2019, where he was responsible for policy formulation and implementation of financial electronization and informatization across Argentina. His main research areas include economic history, Latin American present and contemporary history, and medieval history. He is the author of a number of books, including Como Sapiens: correr, comer, amar y descansar a la manera de los humanos (Debate, 2020), Macroeconomía argentina (Alfaomeaga, 2006), Entre la equidad y el crecimiento (Siglo XXI, 2004), El ciclo de la ilusión y el desencanto (Ariel, 1998), etc.

Edited by: Xu Shuai
Typeset by: Cheng Yao
Proofread by: Yuan Mengqi