Economic History and Development in Latin America Lecture Series 8 | Latin America into the 21st Century: the New, the Old and the Ugly

On April 19, 2022, the Institute for International and Area Studies of Tsinghua University (IIAS) hosted the last lecture entitled “Latin America into the 21st Century: the New, the Old and the Ugly” 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, Professor Llach mentioned that many countries experienced economic crises in the late 1990s, including the Mexican financial crisis in 1994, the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the Russian financial crisis in 1998, the Brazilian financial crisis in 1999 and the Argentine financial crisis in 2001. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Latin American countries have gradually emerged from the quagmire of financial crisis and witnessed increasingly stabilized national economies. But they also meet structural challenges, including the impact of China’s economic rise, the difficulty in financial industry development and the modernization of employment. Firstly, he presented the trend of China’s agricultural imports from 2001 to 2019 with clear charts, and vividly explained the specialization process of industrial structure transformation by citing Hausmann’s theory. He also pointed out the problems encountered in the course of economic structure transformation. For example, the industry structure transformed from labor-intensive to technology-intensive subsequently led to a decline in employment while the industry type conducive to the employment rate met new challenges in the process of shifting from labor-intensive to service-intensive. Then, he made an in-depth analysis on the trend of financial development in Latin America from the late 20th century to the early 21st century. The proportion of FDI and capital flow in GDP of the region showed wavy and very unstable development. He dissected the changing exchange rate trends of Latin American countries through charts and raised a question: can floating exchange rate policies be an umbrella to protect economic stability? Finally, he focused on explaining the human development index and its factors in different regions of Latin America in the 21st century, including per capita income, average life expectancy, education index, etc. From multiple dimensions, he analyzed the employment problem being or to be faced by economic development in the new century, as well as other social problems caused by this, such as the solidification of social structure, income inequality, poverty and so on.

During the Q&A session, Professor Llach engaged in a lively discussion with the audience about whether Latin America suffered the consequences of excessive globalization in the 1990s, how to analyze the development trend of foreign investment in Latin America from the perspectives of regional human development index and knowledge intensive capital level, thoughts on the future development of agriculture, manufacturing and service industries in Latin American countries, and the stabilization program to deal with the inflation now in Argentina. The full and profound exchange of views benefited the audience a lot followed by the successful conclusion of this lecture as well as the whole lecture series in rounds of 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