The Role of Political Institutions in the Resolution of Economic Crises: The Case of Argentina 2001-05
Many financial crises during the last decade have derived more directly from political than purely economic problems. When democratic institutions, government transparency, regulatory oversight or the rule of law break down, the likelihood that politicians will implement unsustainable economic policies rises. The economics literature analyses the role of poorly functioning government institutions in allowing a nation to slip into financial crisis. However, the literature on the effectiveness of post-crisis reforms focuses almost exclusively on whether the stated post-crisis policies are appropriate from an economic viewpoint. Oddly, that literature fails to examine the status of the underlying governmental deficiencies, assuming implicitly that they have been remedied. Because economic reforms are feasible only with wide political and social consensus, two important post-crisis issues are essential to the success of such reforms; namely, the political situation and politicians' management of economic policy. Political failures are particularly relevant to the Argentine financial crisis that began in December 2001. This paper identifies those political issues, which derived from an unstable political structure characterized by corruption and fragmented power between provinces and the federal government. Critically, the rule of law had been undermined in 1991. Interestingly, these same shortcomings still pervaded Argentina in 2004. The resultant lack of political consensus continues to delay implementation of the structural reforms necessary to return to sustainable economic growth. Social confidence in the government is low; the independence of the Supreme Court has been shattered; and the rule of law continues to be eroded, as the government tramples on the property rights of private firms and public debt-holders. Because it seems unlikely that Argentina can overcome its political deficiencies in the near future, its prospects for full economic recovery are limited, regardless of which economic reforms it implements.
Volume (Year): 34 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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