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Opening the Black Box of Financial Negotiations: the IMF, Argentina, and Brazil in the Post-war Era (1945-1964)

PhD Supervisor and 2nd Reader: Rui Esteves and Nathan Sussman 
Funding Organisation: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Doc.CH scheme. 
Timeline: September 2021–August 2024
Budget: CHF 223,051
Keywords: conditionality programmes, international financial negotiations, policymaking, International Monetary Fund, Latin America

Fernanda is Visiting Researcher in the Department of History at Princeton University with Professor Harold James from September 2023 to February 2024.



In the 1950s and early 1960s, a fall in commodity prices and export revenues put Latin American economies under severe financial strain. Leaders in the region resorted to foreign capital to cover balance-of-payments deficits and avoid inflationary cycles, giving rise to the first wave of conditionality programmes between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Latin American states. Like other countries in the region, Argentina and Brazil suffered severe economic difficulties and their leaders turned to IMF financial assistance. They agreed to implement a set of economic adjustment policies under IMF-based programmes to obtain the much-needed foreign lending. Despite the historical economic and political-institutional characteristics Argentina and Brazil shared, international financial negotiations with the IMF followed surprisingly different paths and achieved distinct objectives. After adhering to their first conditionality programme in 1958, Argentinean officials seemed committed to cooperate and comply with IMF-based policies whereas Brazilian officials hesitated and faced harsh difficulties to obtain the much-needed lending.



I investigate international financial negotiations and the process of policymaking – rather than primarily focusing on the outcomes of these interactions – to understand the conditions that shaped the relationship between IMF, Argentinean officials and Brazilian officials as well as how “cross-learning” happened and affected policy decision. I rely on Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) to understand how governments and international organisations negotiate and make a policy decision, assuming that policymakers should not be approached as unitary, rational actors equivalent to the state.



My research design is a mixed-method approach that combines traditional methods in history and Sentiment Analysis within the field of Natural Language Processing to analyse different types of primary sources. 



This research contributes to historical studies on IMF–Latin American relations and the broader literature in international policy economy that mostly relies on panel analysis to investigate the general contours of IMF interactions with member countries.



de Oliveira, Fernanda Conforto. “The IMF as a ‘Mantle of Multilateral Anonymity’: US-IMF-Brazil Relations, 1956–9.” Cold War History 23, no. 1 (2023): 1–19. doi:10.1080/14682745.2022.2078312.

de Oliveira, Fernanda Conforto. “Review of Sorting Out the Mixed Economy: The Rise and Fall of Welfare and Developmental States in the Americas, by Amy C. Offner.” Journal of Latin American Studies 53, no. 3 (2021): 606–9. doi:10.1017/S0022216X21000535.

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