Weonomics. Noun. The study of peculiar Chilean economic behavior in business dealings.

There are some clear cultural difference between doing business in the US and in Chile. I’ve taken to calling it Weonomics. (Gringo readers, weon is the ubiquitous Chilean word meaning anything from dude to asshole.) Clearly not all Chileans subscribe to the principles of Weonomics, but I run into enough Weonomics experts each week that I felt I had to write about it. I have a feeling that most foreigners in Chile will identify with this post, but I’m also interested to see the response from Chilean friends. Please enjoy.


A typical US negotiation.

  • Seller asking price $45,000
  • My offer price: $37,000
  • Seller counteroffer: $43,000
  • My counteroffer: $39,000
  • Final price: $41,000

Pretty simple, right? A sales price, a counter offer and meet somewhere in the middle. You’d think negotiation would work similarly in any part of the world, but not with many Chileans.


  • Seller asking price $45,000
  • My offer price: $37,000
  • Seller counteroffer: $48,000
  • My counteroffer: See ya!

Seriously? Who in their right mind thinks they’ll close a deal counteroffering by RAISING their initial price?  But this is a principal tenant of Weonomics. The worst case I’ve seen was when a friend was trying to purchase a house. The opening price was $140,000. My friend bid $120,000. The counter offer? $210,000. Weonomics at its finest.


Someone’s first offer is rarely close to a real offer. It’s almost always a borderline insultingly lowball offer, or a pie in the sky number that only an idiot would pay. A friend closed a deal with a major Chilean company that pays him $20,000 per month. Their first offer? $500 per month. Many Chilean real estate prices are listed above market value in hopes that someone will come along and just buy it. You’ll rarely find a business deal that’s priced to get a deal done quickly.

Meeting Cancellations and No Shows

I’ve been stood up more in the past six months that I ever have been in my entire life combined. I had a string of five meetings on monday and tuesday that all cancelled less than 30 minutes before the meeting was supposed to start. Two didn’t even show up at all. One of the no shows told me it was my fault because “maybe I didn’t understand spanish fully.” The only problem? She’d emailed me the day before explicitly setting the meeting. It was impossible to mistake. That’s Weonomics.


You rarely ever hear a true yes or no in Chilean business. Each answer can mean multiple things. See chart:weonomics

One time I ordered sushi for delivery on a national holiday. The person who answered the phone told me I shouldn’t order because it would be an hour and a half wait for my food. I thought about it, but put the order in anyway and made myself a small snack to tide myself over. 20 minutes later, my sushi arrived, just as I was finishing my snack. Her no, it’ll take too long, was simply trying to get out of more work. Weonomics at work.

So what do you think? Am I right? Do you notice any of these too? Or any other ones? Do you do them yourself? Or am I just un gringo que no cacha nada?

Hat Tip: Skinner Layne for originally coining the phrase.