Revenge of the 'Mad Intellectuals'

May 1, 2002

A group of American economists has dominated the debate over the policies that Latin American governments, especially Argentina's, should adopt. Any policy they suggested would have worked better that what is in place.

To most people, mad scientists are either harmless eccentrics toiling away in a basement or malevolent individuals bent on world domination. Which category do economics professors fall into?

A handful of leading economists in the United States take a particular interest in Latin America, particularly Argentina. The likes of Rudiger Dornbusch, Ricardo Hausmann, Adam Lerrick and Jeffrey Sachs have showered the authorities in Buenos Aires with advice in private consultations or through the columns of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. Their ideas, which run the gamut from useful to pedestrian to bizarre is one of the more colorful features of Argentina's financial collapse.

These academics hold high-profile posts at US universities like Harvard, Columbia or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most have worked at the International Monetary Fund or World Bank. Some are bankrolled by pro-business foundations like the Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute....

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