July 2020 Newsletter - Julio López Gallardo

10 Jul 2020

Julio López Gallardo, the distinguished Chilean-Mexican development economist, has died in Paris at the age of 78. Julio López made important contributions to the understanding of the macroeconomics of emerging markets, where aggregate demand is constrained by the trade balance, and governments are unable to use monetary policy in an international financial system that they do not control. In Latin America this set of dilemmas had been analysed by structuralists like Raúl Prebisch, or Celso Furtado. However, López preferred the approach of  Michal Kalecki, which laid more emphasis on the aggregated flows in the domestic economy as well as foreign trade, and placed greater emphasis on the crucial development bottleneck of agriculture.

Julio López was born on the 22 September 1941 in Osorno, a provincial capital in southern Chile. On finishing school he entered the University of Chile to study economics. He went on to teach at the University of Concepción. In 1966 he was awarded a government scholarship to pursue doctoral studies in Europe, where he travelled with his wife Judith. In Italy he was recommended to go to Warsaw, where Kalecki and Ignacy Sachs were running an important seminar in development economics. He not only learned his economics directly from Kalecki. Poland was going through yet another economic and political crisis. In 1968 López and his wife witnessed attacks on students, culminating in a purge of Jews in the Polish establishment and the circle of critical economists around Kalecki. In 1969 Julio and Judith returned to Chile and to his job in Concepción.

Shortly afterwards López was awarded his doctorate of Warsaw University. He moved to the University of Chile in the capital Santiago, where the socialist Salvador Allende entered the La Moneda palace as President of Chile in 1970. Allende was supported by the Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitario (Popular Unitary Action Movement or MAPU, a left-wing splinter group that had emerged in 1969 from the Chilean Christian Democratic Party) of which López was a member. In 1972 López joined the research section of the Copper Corporation, the state company managing the extraction and export of Chile’s most important traded commodity. When Augusto Pinochet mounted his coup, López and MAPU urged resistance. This effectively ended his career. Compared to many others he got off lightly. Judith managed to leave the country, and he was later allowed to join her. They ended up in Venezuela, where he worked from 1976 to 1978 at the Foreign Trade Research Institute (Instituto de Comercio Exterior de Venezuela). In 1979, he and Judith moved to Mexico City, where he started teaching at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

When his daughters Antonia and Manuela grew up and started studying in Europe, López became a more frequent visitor to Europe. This allowed him to keep in contact with those colleagues of Kalecki, such as Ignacy Sachs and Kazimierz Laski, who had been scattered around Europe by the 1968 purges. The visits to Europe became more frequent as Antonia and Manuela settled into employment in Paris. With retirement, López and Judith purchased a small flat in Paris, where he could stay close to his growing family and continue with his research.  In 2010, together with Michaël Assous he published his account of Kalecki’s economics in a book entitled simply Michal Kalecki. The volume included the notes that López had taken while attending Kalecki’s lectures over four decades before.

In December 2019 he was diagnosed with cancer. Julio López died on the 3 May 2020.

Janek Toporowski

School of Oriental and African Studies, London