Economic History and Development in Latin America Lecture Series 4 | Globalization, Convergence and Divergence in Latin America (1870-1914)

On March 15, 2022, the Institute for International and Area Studies of Tsinghua University (IIAS) invited Professor Lucas Llach from the Department of History and Social Studies at the University of Ditra, Argentina, to deliver the fourth lecture entitled “Globalization, Convergence and Divergence in Latin America (1870-1914)” of Economic History and Development in Latin America lecture series. The lecture was presided over by Yuan Mengqi, a postdoctoral researcher at the IIAS.

At the beginning, Professor Llach briefly introduced the teaching ideas of this lecture. Firstly, he led the audience to review the impact on Latin American countries after their struggle for national independence, such as the negative shackles caused by the continuance of terms and systems in the Spanish colonial period, changes in national import and export trade conditions incurred by external economic shocks, political turmoils brought about by changes in countries’ regimes, and changes in trade due to variations in international and domestic transportation costs. He went on to highlight the similarities and differences in the post-independence economic performance of Latin American countries, using Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as examples. He mentioned that although Brazil gained independence, the country still maintained the narrative color of imperialism, and the large plantation economy in slave-system in Brazil continued until the end of the 19th century. Brazil also faced several obstacles to industrialization, including a lack of technology and capital to develop modern manufacturing factors of production. Mexico suffered from political conflicts and slow economic growth after independence until the 1880s. In this regard, Professor Llach tried to explain the root of such sufferings from multiple perspectives like the legacy of Spanish colonial rule, the problem of land use distribution system and the power of the church. Argentina enjoys the most dynamic economy among the three countries, but the general rise in land prices and the relative decline in household incomes have had an impact on both production and income distribution, keeping the country zigzagging along. Then, from the perspectives of institutionalism, endowment theories and dependency theories, Professor Llach deeply analyzed the economic performance of Latin America in the first globalization. He had an in-depth discussion with the audience about the correctness of institutional determinism put forward by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in their book. He believed that learning from European institutions does not stand for the capability of development, and having elites does not mean institutional establishment, but elites are needed to set up a complete and stable system to ensure development. From the perspective of Engerman and Sokoloff’s factor endowment theory, the industrialization process in Latin America is closely related to the railway traffic conditions of the region. Whereas according to the dependency theories proposed by Latin American scholars, the political independence of Latin America has not ended the external economic dependence formed during the colonial period, and foreign companies still control the decisive industries of the national economy.

During the Q&A session, Professor Llach interacted with the audience enthusiastically. He gave detailed answers to all questions raised to him, including the influence of transport development and different commodity characteristics on export trade, etc. The audience expressed their appreciation for his academic enlightenment as the lecture came to an end in warm applause.

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