Friday, November 04, 2005

And Now from Argentina


I'll confess that I haven't been following the details of the Summit of the Americas, now underway in Mar De Plata, Argentina. I also haven't figured out why economic growth and higher standards of living stubbornly refuse to arrive in most Latin American countries, despite their abundance of resources and proximity to the largest market in the world.

But I'd be pretty surprised if Chavez, Maradona, Esquivel, or these fellows pictured above had a better plan for starting the process than ratifying the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

Read all about this cast of characters here.

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8 comments:

Arun Khanna said...

Globalization is facing 21st century collectivists (21 cc) in Latin America. 21 cc's argue for ambiguously defined notions of sustainable evelopment, ‘positive’ human rights, corporate social responsibility, socially responsible investment, social and cultural diversity, social justice and global social governance. 21 cc's cover all non-free market folks under a big tent. Unfortunately for the poor in Latin America 21cc's economic policies will lead to underpowered economies and lack of GDP growth.

Anonymous said...

1- Experience has taught LatinAmericans to distrust anything in which the USA might have any interest (70s and 80s).
2- FMI 'medicine' has proved both painful and useless on Brazil and Argentina in recent years (90s).
3- Argentina used to have a pretty decent cultural level before its democratic system was ruined. No wonder they now fall for populism: that is exactly where misery and hopelessness bring people to.

Anonymous said...

We have to hope the U.S. avoids social unrest. I get the feeling that gas is in the air - all it would take one thing to strike a match and lookout!

Please note I am not going to strike this match. Please do not blame me. I did not put the gas in the air, or profit from the gas in the air.

Arun Khanna said...

Post cold war instead of the end of history, it is starting to look like history repeats itself.

Lord said...

I think there is little faith that free trade leads to better lives, and not without reason. There are sufficient externalities, inadequacies, and inequalities that prevent the realization of significant benefits by most, along with a distrust of political institutions and the power of corruption by elites that have the most to benefit by it.

dearieme said...

"I also haven't figured out why economic growth and higher standards of living stubbornly refuse to arrive in most Latin American countries, despite their abundance of resources and proximity to the largest market in the world." Because they were Spanish (or Portugese) colonies, not British?

Arun Khanna said...

It's easy to export goods and services. It's very hard to export institutions and cultural ethos.
Ask foreign students from Latin America or other developing countries in your university about the three most striking features of American culture. Most of them will not even mention rule of law or democratic institutions.

Anonymous said...

The current anti-American / populist sentiment in Argentina can be explained by both recent national history and post Modern (1910+) reform of the country. Though Argentina has been moving closer toward Chavez, it is wrong to view Argentina in terms of the Latin American question. The history of Argentina and Venezuela are quite different and should be studied from an individual rather than collectivist perspective.

Starting with the recent:
The Menem era of the 1990's saw the closest historical Argentine/US relationship. The country saw Menemist privatization of the public sector & a close relationship between Pres. Memem & Clinton. In the 2001 economic collapse, which was the worst collapse in the history of the modern world, the country felt that privatization had failed and been rift with corruption. Though, most allegations of corrupt privatization were related to deals with Spain, Italy, France & Germany; Argentines felt that the US model was to blame.
2. Argentina's population is pacifist & US actions in the Middle East make Argentine citizens view the US as an aggressive imperialist that uses capitalism as a pretext to imperialism. They correlate their economic collapse to the US wars in the Middle East.
- Though most Argentines firmly believe that the Falklands/Malvinas Islands are their territory, they hold a deep resentment for the war that was inspired by the inept local leadership of the Junta. To this degree, they felt that the world gave the UK free reign to slaughter their soldiers in a war they was not wanted, yet morally correct. This has led to negative sentiments to current action by the US as the citizens draw a distorted comparison to their recent history.
3.) The deterioration of Arg/UK bilateral trade replaced by US hegemony in the Americas. In the early 1900s, Argentina had one of the highest standards of living & their economy was almost equal to that of the US. At that time, the majority of Argentine trade was with the UK. As the US replaced the UK as the world leader, Argentina was never able to adapt to the new world order. The Arg/UK trade model functioned well since Argentina had distinct economic comparative advantages in Cattle & Agriculture. With the deterioration of the UK as a world power, and the growth of the US, Argentina could not establish comparable economic advantages of trade with the US. The US's efficiencies were very similar to that of Argentina. Thus, Argentina could not provide an economic value export to this new power. This has historically created a negative impression of the US and the American system.
4. Peronism: The Peron era defined the strong national movement towards populism. Although prior leaders attempted to create an Argentine version of Italian Facism/ Spanish Nationalism, none succeeded as did Pres. Peron. Under his leadership many anti-capitalistic changes were made in the country and gave the significant under-class population power within the nation. Additionally, many have defined his focus on large industry as the turning point from which the country has continued to slide in terms of exportable products. Small to Mid-sized industry was replaced by a focus on heavy industrialization. To a large extent, the country had succeeded on the international scene in small/mid-sized industries. The heavy industry focus of Peron was never exportable. As a result, Argentina saw huge shrinkage in their best industries being replaced by sub-par production in the newly created industries. Since Peron, the nation has seen a dramatic decline in its economic power. Rather than blame incompetent governmental leadership, the country has placed blame on the failures of the world capitalistic system.