Argentina's Economic Reforms of the 1990s in Contemporary and Historical Perspective (Hardback) book cover

Argentina's Economic Reforms of the 1990s in Contemporary and Historical Perspective

By Domingo Cavallo, Sonia Cavallo Runde

© 2016 – Routledge

296 pages

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Hardback: 9781857438048
pub: 2017-02-09
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315669625
pub: 2017-02-03
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About the Book

Why has Argentina suffered so much political and economic instability? How could Argentina, once one of the wealthiest countries in the world, failed to meet its potential over decades? What lessons can we take from Argentina's successes and failures? 

Argentina’s economy is irresistibly fascinating. Argentina's economic history-its crises and its triumphs cannot be explained in purely economic terms. Argentina's economic history can only be explained in the context of conflicts of interest, of politics, war and peace, boom and bust. Argentina's economic history is also intertwined with ideological struggles over the ideal society and the on-going struggle of ideas.  

The book comprises two distinct components: an economic history of Argentina from the Spanish colonial period to 1990, followed by a narrative by Domingo Cavallo on the last 25 years of reform and counter reform.

Domingo Cavallo has been at the center of Argentina's economic and political debates for 40 years. He was one of the longest serving cabinet members since the return of democracy in 1983. He is uniquely qualified to help the reader make the connection between historical and current events through all these prisms. His daughter, Sonia Cavallo Runde is an economist specialized on public policy that currently teaches the politics of development policy. The two Cavallos offer academics and students of economics and finance a long form case study. This book also seeks to offer researchers and policymakers around the world with relevant lessons and insights to similar problems from the Argentine experience.


"Cavallo's book superbly travels the economic history legacy of Argentina to give a unique perspective on the contemporaneous policymaking process in a resilient conflictive Society."

Gerardo della Paolera- Professor of Economics at Universidad de San Andres and Central European University (CEU)

"Domingo Felipe Cavallo and his daughter Sonia Cavallo Runde, have produced a masterful book. Superb! Full of fascinating insights. Highly instructive, thoughtful and very well researched. The authors provide a compelling analysis of Argentina, connecting its historical episodes with current events. Domingo Cavallo presents a first-hand insider’s view from the battlefields of economic policies. He is a courageous and patriotic warrior who fought hard to save Argentina from itself. This book is a must read! "

Dr. Jacob A. Frenkel, Chairman, JPMorgan Chase International, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Group of Thirty (G30) and Former Governor of the Bank of Israel

"The history the economics and the politics of Argentina, which promised so much at the onset, has been a long tragedy. This book provides a fascinating account that will benefit all those who want to understand better, students, scholars and practioners. Domingo Cavallo has been fully engaged, with all his energy, in the workings of that history and he takes the reader with him in his passion."

Christophe Chamley, Professor of Economics at Boston University and Directeur d'Etudes Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) at Paris School of Economics

"Argentina’s history of policy mistakes and corrections has important lessons for all countries. Bad policies created high rates of inflation that weakened growth and destroyed financial institutions. Argentina has recovered in the past and is trying to do so again. This book is the best source for understanding this complex history. Domingo Cavallo brings unique insights and technical understanding to these complex issues."

Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, just sent us this endorsement:

Table of Contents

Argentina’s Economic Reform of the 90s in Historical Perspective



Part I

The southernmost territory of Imperial Spain turns into the Argentine Nation

Chapter 1: Spanish Heritage

    • The Royal road to Alto Perú and the Río de la Plata waterways
    • The Jesuit missions
    • From cattle hunting (vaquerías) to cattle raising ranches (estancias)
    • From landowners and ranchers to caudillos
    • The creation of the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata
    • The British invasions

Chapter 2: From the May Revolution to the National Organization

    • Primera Junta and Junta Grande
    • The Triunvirates
    • The Constitutional Assembly of "The Year XIII" and the Directorates
    • The declaration of independence
    • The anarchy of 1820
    • The Unitarist constitution and the short lived Presidency of Rivadavia.
    • Juan Manuel de Rosas
    • The economic system of the United Provinces of Río De la Plata
    • Consequences of the liberalization of foreign trade
    • Consequences of the interruption of the supply of fiscal resources by Potosi
    • The United Provinces’ growth struggle


Part II

1953-1913, six decades of increasing integration into the global economy

Chapter 3: From the National Organization to First World War

    • Succession of constitutional governments
    • The new governments learn from historical experiences

Chapter 4: Split, reunification and the "historical presidencies"

    • Argentine Confederation and the State of Buenos Aires
    • Politics from 1862 to 1880
    • Money and banking from 1862 to 1880
    • The crisis of 1876

Chapter 5: The years when Roca dominated politics

    • Politics from 1880 to 1906
    • Money and banking from 1880 to 1906
    • The Law of Guaranteed Banks and the Crisis of 1890
    • The landowners
    • Electoral Reform

Part III

From the beginning of World War I to the end of World War II

Chapter 6: The traumatic 30 years from 1914 to 1944

    • The ideological conflicts during the interwar period
    • Economic performance during WWI, the interwar and WWII

Chapter 7: The "Radical Republic"

    • Politics immediately before and during the "Radical Republic"
    • The economy from WWI’s recession to the beginning of the Great Depression
    • Money and banking from WWI to the Great Depression

Chapter 8: From the fall of Yrigoyen to the rise of Perón

    • Politics between 1930 and 1945
    • The effect of the Great Depression on economic institutions.
    • Rent seeking
    • Stagnation of agriculture and slow expansion of manufacturing




Part IV

Four and a half decades of political and economic instability

Chapter 9: Inflation, stagflation and hyperinflation

    • 45 years of slow and unstable growth
    • Long term stagnation of agriculture

Chapter 10: Perón and Evita

    • Politics from 1943 to 1955
    • The economy from 1943 to 1955
    • Monetary and banking reform
    • Foreign exchange control and government managed foreign trade
    • Nationalization of public utilities and railroads
    • Price control and rent freezes
    • Social security savings financing the spending spree
    • The onset of persisting inflation
    • The crisis that started in 1949
    • The stabilization plan of 1952

Chapter 11: The 18 years when Peronism was outlawed

    • The economy from 1856 to 1972
    • Exchange rate, commercial policy and stimulus to agriculture
    • The relationship with international institutions
    • The monetary and banking reforms
    • Salaries, prices and rents
    • Fiscal policy
    • Inflation and the disclosure of the latent crisis in 1958
    • Frondizi’s Stabilization and Development Plan
    • Moderate inflation and consumer driven growth during Illia’s Presidency
    • Krieger Vasena’s Stabilization and Growth Plan

Chapter 12: The return of Perón and the Military

    • The economy from 1973 to 1976
    • The "National Reorganization Process"
    • The years of stagflation
    • Martinez de Hoz’ financial reform and monetary policy

Chapter 13: Transition to democracy and Alfonsín’s Presidency

    • Bignone’s government focus on the financial crisis
    • Wehbe and Grinspun
    • Sourrouille’s Plan Austral
    • Hyperinflation during the transition from Alfonsín to Menem
    • The Argentine economy in 1990

Part V

Reform and counter reform

Chapter 14: The Latin American Consensus of the 90s

    • The ideological discussion in post war Latin America
    • Stagflation and hyperinflation as signals of lack of "stateness"
    • The influence of Chilean reforms on other Latin American economies
    • The Latin American Consensus and U.S. leadership

Chapter 15: Menem and De La Rúa

    • Politics from 1989 to 2001
    • The first 18 months of Menem’s government
    • The diagnosis and plan I discussed with Menem
    • The Convertibility Plan
    • Convertibility and the IMF during the 90s
    • Export performance
    • Investment
    • Productivity and growth
    • Social Security normalization and reform
    • Fiscal policy and debt management from 1989 to 1996
    • Post Cavallo economy in automatic pilot
    • The causes of the recession that started in mid-1998
    • The recession turns into a financial crisis
    • The crisis of 2001
    • The De la Rúa - Cavallo attempts to avoid the disorderly debt default
    • The institutional coup of December 19th to December 30th of 2001

Chapter 16: The origin of Duhalde’s decision and Kirchner’s metamorphosis

    • The political discussion on unemployment and poverty
    • The professional discussion on public debt and the currency regime
    • The discussions abroad on the factors that triggered the crisis
    • Kirchner’s metamorphosis

Chapter 17: Duhalde and the Kirchners

    • Duhalde’s economy
    • The economy during the government of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner
    • The allocative and fiscal effects of price distortions
    • Fiscal policies turned opposite to that of Kirchner in Santa Cruz
    • Social Security counter reform
    • Debt management
    • Monetary policy
    • Growth and inflation
    • Four years of stagflation
    • Unemployment and poverty

Part VI

Conclusions and Epilogue

Chapter 18: Conclusions

    • Foreign policy
    • Fiscal accounts
    • Debt management and the role of money
    • Domestic and foreign savings
    • Investment productivity and long term growth
    • Crisis management and stabilization plans
    • Unemployment and poverty
    • Are these lessons relevant for other nations?

About the Series

Europa Perspectives: Emerging Economies

The Europa Emerging Economies series from Routledge, edited by Robert E. Looney, examines a wide range of contemporary economic, political, developmental and social issues as they affect emerging economies throughout the world. Complementing the Europa Regional Surveys of the World series and the Handbook of Emerging Economies, which was also edited by Professor Looney, the volumes in the Europa Emerging Economies series will be a valuable resource for academics, students, researchers, policy-makers, professionals, and anyone with an interest in issues regarding emerging economies in the wider context of current world affairs.

There will be individual volumes in the series which provide in-depth country studies, and others which examine issues and concepts; all are written or edited by specialists in their field. Volumes in the series are not constrained by any particular template, but may explore economic, political, governance, international relations, defence, or other issues in order to increase the understanding of emerging economies and their importance to the world economy.

Robert E. Looney is a Distinguished Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, who specializes in issues relating to economic development in the Middle East, East Asia, South Asia and Latin America. He has published over 20 books and 250 journal articles, and has worked widely as a consultant to national governments and international agencies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development