“Friedman Friday” Friedman and Chile

Milton Friedman and Chile – The Power of Choice

Uploaded on May 13, 2011

In this excerpt from Free To Choose Network’s “The Power of Choice (2006)”, we set the record straight on Milton Friedman’s dealings with Chile — including training the Chicago Boys and his meeting with Augusto Pinochet. Was the tremendous prosperity unleashed after the Chicago Boys reforms worth the free-market therapy Friedman suggested? You be the judge. But when doing so, just remember the policies leading up to liberalization (land seizures, industry nationalizations and price controls).

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I have discussed Milton Friedman and Chile before and it an amazing story. Evidently what Milton Friedman’s Chicago Boys started many years ago in the 1970’s is still working today.

I’m in Vienna, Austria, for the annual European Resource Bank meeting.

I had the pleasure last night of listening to Jose Pinera speak about economic reform in Chile, particularly the system of personal retirement accounts.

He shared a chart that conclusively shows why good economic policy makes a difference.

Chile Miracle

Wow. Look at how much faster the economy has grown since the communists were ousted in 1975 and replaced by a pro-market government.* And the poverty rate has plummeted from 50 percent to 11 percent!

Simply stated, economic reform has been hugely beneficial to poor and middle-class people in Chile. Something to remember as we try to rein in the welfare state in America.

Let’s look at some more data. A couple of years ago, I shared this chart showing how Chile had out-paced Argentina and Venezuela. In other words, Chile’s performance is ultra-impressive, whether examined in isolation or in comparison with other nations in the region.

The reason for all this success is that Chile didn’t just reform its pension system. As you can see from this Economic Freedom of the World data, Chile has made improvements in virtually all areas of public policy.

The nationwide school choice system, for instance, is another example of very beneficial reform.

It’s not quite Hong Kong or Singapore, but Chile is definitely a huge success story.

*The Pinochet government that took power in the 1970s may have been pro-economic liberty, but it also was authoritarian. Fortunately, Chile made a successful and peaceful transition to democracy in the late 1980s and has generally continued on a pro-free market path.

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