The macroeconomics of the public sector deficit : the case of Argentina
Argentina has had a quarter century without growth at a time of rapid economic growth in the rest of the world. This paper looks at the role that public sector behavior, particularly government spending, taxation and deficit financing, may have had on the economic stagnation in Argentina. Government spending declined when the final crisis of the Argentine economy began in 1982, but more because of resource constraints than deliberate political action. The government ran a primary deficit every year from 1961 to 1989, so it issued money and interest-bearing debt. As a result, the economy experienced high real interest rates and inflation. Despite heavy fiscal pressure, fiscal spending has continued to grow, systematically exceeding revenues. From 1964 to 1975, the deficit was financed by creating money; with the fall of Peron and the beginning of a military regime, debt financing became significant. The regression study in this report shows that every 1 percent of primary deficit is financed with 0.7 percent of revenue from creating money. Public debt plays a peculiar role in Argentina's finances. The central bank has become the chief borrower of about 80 percent of the private banks'lending power. In this context, a policy of tight money to reduce aggregate demand basically increases the transfers from the public to the private sector because of the higher deficit that the rise in interest rates generates.
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