Guardians of the Nation?

  • Economists, Generals, and Economic Reform in Latin America

  • by Glen Biglaiser

  • 252 pages, 6.00 x 9.00

  • Paperback | 9780268038755 | October 2002

  • Hardcover | 9780268038748 | October 2002

  • eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268076016 | August 2020

  • Kellogg Institute Series on Democracy and Development


Central to the question of how to promote economic growth in Latin America is the role different types of regimes play in determining economic performance. Guardians of the Nation? challenges conventional wisdom regarding the expected advantages of military rule for economic growth. Glen Biglaiser explains why many military regimes in Latin America have not performed noticeably better than their democratic counterparts. Biglaiser argues that economic policy-making under military regimes is essentially an unintended by-product of the military’s strategy to retain power. Using this premise, he examines the economic performance of regimes in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Biglaiser shows that the appointment of neoliberal economists occurred not because military rulers possessed inherent interest in following market-oriented policies, but because they saw the appointments as a way to solidify their power. Biglaiser’s study also depicts Pinochet’s one-man rule as unique vis-à-vis the military regimes in Argentina and Uruguay. He concludes by demonstrating that his study is also applicable for understanding economic policy choice under democratic rule, and by comparing the similarities and differences between presidential and parliamentary governments.