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Economics Ideas and Institutions in Historical Perspective: Cairú and Hamilton on Trade and Finance

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  • Matias Vernengo

Abstract

This paper deals with the role of economic ideas in institutional development. Conventional wisdom in Brazilian historiography suggests that, in part, the relative backwarderness of Brazil with respect to the United States was the result of the economic liberalism of its elites, represented by José da Silva Lisboa, the Viscount of Cairú. The paper argues that Cairú’s defense of an open economy, integrated to the world economy, in which agricultural production would prevail over the industrial interests, should be seen as a discourse for landowners and the mercantile class connected to the slave trade. It is also argued that, in contrast to Alexander Hamilton, Cairú and the Brazilian elites had a naive view of public finance that is central to understand the backwarderness of Brazilian financial markets. Political conservatism and a negative view of finance are seen as more relevant than liberalism in explaining the relative backwarderness of Brazil.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Utah, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah with number 2005_08.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uta:papers:2005_08

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Keywords: Cairú; Hamilton; brazil;

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2004. "Institutions as the Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 4458, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Bordo, Michael D. & Vegh, Carlos A., 2002. "What if Alexander Hamilton had been Argentinean? A comparison of the early monetary experiences of Argentina and the United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 459-494, April.
  3. Jesus Felipe & Matias Vernengo, 2002. "Demystifying the Principles of Comparative Advantage : Implications for Developing Countries," International Journal of Political Economy, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 32(4), pages 49-75, January.
  4. Neal,Larry, 1994. "The Rise of Financial Capitalism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521457385, October.
  5. Douglas A. Irwin, 2003. "The Aftermath of Hamilton's "Report on Manufactures"," NBER Working Papers 9943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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