New Paper Examines Argentina’s Economic Success

For Immediate Release

New Paper Examines Argentina’s Economic Success

“Argentina has had the fastest growth in the Western Hemisphere over the past nine years, and among the highest growth rates in world.”

WASHINGTON - As Argentines prepare to go to the polls this weekend in new presidential elections, a new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finds that the Argentine economy and social indicators have done remarkably well since the country defaulted on its debt almost nine years ago. The paper notes that Argentina’s dramatic recovery from its severe 1998-2002 recession has significant policy implications for other countries, most notably Greece and some of the other weaker eurozone economies burdened by unsustainable debt.

“Since its recovery began, shortly after its debt default in 2002, Argentina has had the fastest growth in the Western Hemisphere over the past nine years, and among the highest real growth rates in the world,” CEPR Co-Director, and lead author of the paper, Mark Weisbrot noted. For the years 2002-2011, including the IMF projections for the end of this year, Argentina’s real GDP has grown by 94 percent.

“There has also been a huge reduction in poverty and inequality, and record gains in employment,” said Weisbrot. “Clearly most Argentines have benefited enormously from the government’s economic policies, and that’s why Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is likely to be re-elected.” The percentage of Argentines in poverty and extreme poverty has fallen by about two-thirds from its peak.

Weisbrot noted that Argentina’s experience contradicts the widely held conventional wisdom that recessions caused by financial crises must be followed by slow, painful and  difficult recoveries. Argentina started growing just one quarter after its default, and reached its pre-recession level of GDP just three years later.

“It was very important that Argentina defaulted on most of its foreign debt, and freed itself from having to follow destructive policies imposed by creditors and their allied institutions and governments,” said Weisbrot. He noted that countries such as Greece and possibly some of the other weaker eurozone governments should see Argentina’s successful policies as a possible alternative to years of recession or stagnation and high unemployment.

The paper, "The Argentine Success Story and Its Implications", also shows that Argentina’s economic growth success is not the result of a commodities boom, as is sometimes claimed.

The paper also notes that Argentina experienced its remarkable economic growth despite the challenges of a refusal of a minority of creditors to accept the eventual restructuring agreement in 2005, subsequent legal action by these creditors and “vulture funds,” and  problems borrowing from international financial markets over the last nine years.

“This should give pause to those who argue, as is quite common in the business press, that pursuing policies that please bond markets and international investors, as well as attracting FDI, should be the most important policy priorities for any developing country government,” the paper states. “Argentina’s success suggests that these capital inflows are not necessarily as essential as is commonly believed. And it also suggests that macroeconomic policy may be more important than is generally recognized.”

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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