Who Lost Argentina, Again?
With a presidential election approaching next month, Argentina is once again on the cusp of a crisis that could end in depression and default, owing to mistakes made by everyone involved. Should President Mauricio Macri secure another term, he must waste no time in reversing the country's economic deterioration.
CERNOBBIO – Investors and economic observers have begun to ask the same question that I posed in an article published 18 years ago: “Who lost Argentina?” In late 2001, the country was in the grips of an intensifying blame game, and would soon default on its debt obligations, fall into a deep recession, and suffer a lasting blow to its international credibility. This time around, many of the same contenders for the roles of victim and accuser are back, but others have joined them. Intentionally or not, all are reprising an avoidable tragedy.
After a poor primary-election outcome, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri finds himself running for another term under economic and financial conditions that he promised would never return. The country has imposed capital controls and announced a reprofiling of its debt payments. Its sovereign debt has been downgraded deeper into junk territory by Moody’s, and to selective default by Standard & Poor’s. A deep recession is underway, inflation is very high, and an increase in poverty is sure to follow.
It has not even been four years since Macri took office and began pursuing a reform agenda that was widely praised by the international community. But since then, the country has run into trouble and become the recipient of record-breaking support from the International Monetary Fund.
Argentina has fallen back into crisis for the simple reason that not enough has changed since the last debacle. As such, the country’s economic and financial foundations have remained vulnerable to both internal and external shocks.
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