A Comparative Perspective
Edited by Werner Baer and David Fleischer
Werner Baer and David Fleischer Economists and other social scientists analyzing contemporary South America have often puzzled over the similarities and differences between the two giants of the region: Argentina and Brazil. Both countries were great agro-exporting economies in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first decade and a half of the twentieth century. However, Argentina had benefited from the prolonged boom of its grain and meat exports and from gigantic foreign investments in its infrastructure and meat packing plants to such an extent that on the eve of World War I it was viewed as being in the same league as the US, Canada and Australia as a newly emerging economic giant. Brazil’s wealth, based on coffee exports and also on foreign investments in infrastructure, seemed not to have been large enough relative to its size so that it was not considered in the same league as Argentina. However, there were a number of similarities. Both countries received a large number of European immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Brazil also receiving a large number of Japanese immigrants), and both experienced an incipient industrial growth at the time (mainly in the food and textile sectors). After World War I both countries seemed to have prospered again from their traditional exports and during the Great Depression of the 1930s both had similar experiences in an incipient import-substitution industrialization (ISI) period – mainly as a result of declining export earnings, which lead to a decline of...