Either term is primarily used by critics of neoliberalism rather than proponents, thus most discussion and description of neoliberalism is written from a critical point of view. Supporters of concepts found in neoliberalism, such as free trade and capitalism, view many of the descriptions of neoliberalism as straw man arguments.
As described by Berkeley economic historian Bradford DeLong, neoliberalism has two main tenets:
The neoliberal doctrine is also a subset of the so-called "Washington consensus": a set of specific policy goals designed for Latin American countries to help them recover from the "lost decade" of the 1980s. This period not only saw a rise in dictatorships in the region, but also disastrous financial mismanagement resulting in rapidly rising prices for basic products, which inevitably caused an increase in poverty. In addition to the tenets of neoliberalism, the Washington consensus stipulated that a country should have stable exchange rates and a government budget in balance.
Neoliberalism has drawn its share of critics due, in part, to some catastrophic failures. In particular, Nobel prize winner and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that the IMF is guilty of forcing neoliberal and Washington consensus policy goals on countries at times when it was not appropriate (i.e., the Asian Economic Crisis), with devastating results. Neoliberalism has also been criticised by the anti-capitalist movement, who argue that market forces inevitably increase inequality in wealth and hence power.
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