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Restoring economic growth in Argentina


  • William R. Cline


The author reviews the debate on the causes of Argentina?s economic collapse in late 2001 and 2002 and examines the measures needed to help restore sustainable growth. Some analysts stress fiscal imbalances, others overvaluation of the peso under the convertibility plan, and others external shocks. Cline judges that all three contributed substantially, but that it was their inflammatory interaction with domestic political unraveling that forced the bad-equilibrium outcome. He reviews the nascent recovery since the second half of 2002 and the important success of avoiding hyperinflation. Looking forward, the author?s analysis underscores the importance of strengthening fiscal performance, in part by increasing relatively low collections of value added taxes. He stresses the need for reform of the system of revenue sharing with the provinces; the importance of strengthening the banking system, which was severely weakened by asymmetric conversion of assets and liabilities from dollars to pesos; and the need to arrive at equitable restructuring of utility tariffs to reestablish confidence of foreign direct investors in the rules of the game. Restructuring government debt is also central to restoring growth. A simple model indicates that a relatively ambitious target for the primary fiscal surplus and a restricted set of senior-status debt will be needed to limit the haircut on junior debt to amounts compatible with longer-term creditor perceptions of fairness. The author also considers the new dynamics of bargaining with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He judges that although conditionality is arguably appropriately less stringent as only rollover is involved, and despite the large outstanding debt to the IMF, there are limits to how lenient the Fund can and should be in key areas with potential for setting international precedents.

Suggested Citation

  • William R. Cline, 2003. "Restoring economic growth in Argentina," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3158, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3158

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mario I. Blejer & Alfredo M. Leone & Pau Rabanal & Gerd Schwartz, 2002. "Inflation Targeting in the Context of IMF-Supported Adjustment Programs," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 49(3), pages 1-2.
    2. Alberola, Enrique & Lopez, Humberto & Serven, Luis, 2004. "Tango with the Gringo: the hard peg and real misalignment in Argentina," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3322, The World Bank.
    3. Frederic S. Mishkin & Adam S. Posen, 1997. "Inflation targeting: lessons from four countries," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 3(Aug), pages 9-110.
    4. Mariano Tommasi, 2002. "Federalism in Argentina and the Reforms of the 1990s," Working Papers 48, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised May 2002.
    5. Marcus Noland & Howard Pack, 2003. "Industrial Policy in an Era of Globalization: Lessons from Asia," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 358, July.
    6. Arturo C. Porzecanski, 2005. "Argentina: The Root Cause of the Disaster," International Finance 0510014, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cavallo, Eduardo A. & Fernández-Arias, Eduardo & Powell, Andrew, 2014. "Is the Euro-zone on the Mend? Latin American examples to analyze the Euro question," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 243-257.
    2. World Bank, 2003. "Argentina : Reforming Policies and Institutions for Efficiency and Equity of Public Expenditures," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14637, The World Bank.
    3. David Altig, 2006. "Damned If You Do: Comment on Schuler's Argentina Analysis," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 3(1), pages 88-94, January.
    4. Cavallo, Eduardo A. & Fernández-Arias, Eduardo & Powell, Andrew, 2014. "Is the Euro-zone on the Mend? Latin American examples to analyze the Euro question," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 243-257.


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