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Archive for July 11th, 2022

It’s not as bad as Cuba, North Korea, or Venezuela, but Argentina (as illustrated by this video) is a case study of how statism can ruin an economy.

The most important takeaway from the video is that Argentina used to be one of the world’s richest nations.

Even as recently as the late 1940s, Argentina was in the top 10 for per-capita economic output.

But it’s been downhill ever since.

If you want to blame just one politician, the clear choice would be Juan Peron. But he’s been followed by plenty of other statists. Even the supposed conservatives in Argentina seem to be fans of big government.

The net result is that the people of Argentina keep losing ground relative to their peers in other nations.

To some degree, Argentina is an example of why “modern monetary theory” is a bad idea. Simply stated, it’s not a good idea to finance big government via inflation.

Not that we need another example. Sri Lanka’s economic collapse already taught us the same lesson.

But Argentina’s wretched politicians seem determined to make a bad situation worse. In her column for the Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O’Grady opines about the nutty ideas of the current Minister of the Economy, Silvina Batakis.

Ms. Batakis’s resume isn’t reassuring. She’s a former minister of the economy for the province of Buenos Aires (2011-15) who left her successor with empty coffers and forced him to turn to the federal government for emergency help to pay the salaries of public employees. …In a 2019 tweet, Ms. Batakis advised that to “combat” poverty requires “a state that plans and intervenes.” Worry has quickly spread that Ms. Batakis will abandon even mild attempts to end the fiscal profligacy and money printing that has generated inflation now running at more than 60% a year, and accelerating.

So what comes next?

…another round of hyperinflation driven by government “experts” who believe in modern monetary theory—which posits that printing money to pay bills doesn’t have to cause inflation if tax rates are high enough.

No wonder the Argentinian peso has lost so much of its value.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, I asked in 2019 whether the country could break free of “economy-sapping statist governance.”

Given the country’s dependency culture, the answer almost certainly is no.

P.S. The last minute of the above video warns that Democrats have a policy agenda that will make America more like Argentina. That’s true, but the profligate spending of Bush I, Bush II, and Trump suggests most Republicans are not any better. They may even be worse.

P.P.S. Argentina’s politicians are not the only villains. The IMF also deserves to be castigated for enabling and subsidizing the nation’s bad policy.

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