A Comparative Perspective
Edited by Werner Baer and David Fleischer
Chapter 24: Comments on Part VIII
Donald N. Coes Beginning with the nineteenth century, Andrés López looks over a grand sweep of Argentine economic history. Given this long time period, the chapter is remarkably successful in portraying the large ups and sometimes even larger downs of an economy whose experience has few parallels in its variability. López notes Argentina’s rapid progress between 1870 and 1930, when the world depression put an end to export-led growth. He notes that the common characterization of trade policy as ‘liberal’ or laissez-faire is inaccurate, with significant departures from free trade in a number of sectors, even if such policies were the result of ad hoc political pressures rather than structured policies. Argentina in the pre-1930 period was ‘liberal’, however, in capital account policy. Foreign investment was virtually unfettered, making the country one of the major destinations for FDI. But what Lopez’s historically sweeping account makes clear is that the large swings in international direct investment in Argentina over a century and a half may not be the result of Argentine policy changes. The military dictatorship that took over in the 1970s also followed an almost ‘classical’ or pre-1930s foreign investment model, but had little to show for it. One can indeed read Lopez’s lengthy account of Argentina’s rise and fall in favor with international investors as a combination of world financial market trends and the constraints imposed by Argentine domestic macroeconomic policies. López is cautious in drawing any sweeping conclusions from the wealth of data he...
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