The collapse of the Argentine ecomy in 2001, involving the extraordinary default on $150 billion in debt, has been blamed variously on the failure of neoliberal policies or on the failure of the Argentine government to pursue those policies vigorously eugh during the 1990s. But this is too myopic a view, Klaus Veigel contends, to provide a fully satisfactory explanation of how a country enjoying one of the highest standards of living at the end of the nineteenth century became a virtual ecomic basket case by the end of the twentieth. Veigel asks us to take the long view of Argentina's efforts to re-create the conditions for stability and consensus that had brought such great success during the country's first experience with globalization a century ago. The experience of war and depression in the late 1930s and early 1940s had discredited the earlier reliance on ecomic liberalism. In its place came a turn toward a corporatist system of interest representation and state-led, inward-oriented ecomic policies. But as major changes in the world ecomy heralded a new era of globalization in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the corporatist system broke down, and social class or ecomic interest group was strong eugh to create a new social consensus with respect to Argentina's ecomic order and role in the world ecomy. The result was political paralysis leading to ecomic stagnation as both civilian and military governments oscillated between protectionism and liberalization in their ecomic policies, which finally brought the country to its nadir in 2001.
Klaus Friedrich Veigel lives and works in Washington, D.C.