[R-P] (Inglés) Stiglitz, la Argentine y el FMI.
Gorojovsky en arnet.com.ar
Vie Mar 15 09:46:01 MST 2002
El amigo Mário de Lima siempre nos regala perlitas como ésta. Por desgracia,
está en inglés, pero en la lista hay quien bien puede traducirlo a la castilla.
Así que lo mando para que alguien recoja el guante, ya que el contenido no
tiene desperdicio. Después se pueden mandar la parte citando al Straits Times,
algo que da mucha más chapa que citar, digamos, la edición dominical de
Crónica, así que vale la pena...
Lessons from Argentina's debacle
By: Joseph Stiglitz Date: 1/10/02
Source: Straits Times (Singapore)
ARGENTINA'S collapse incited the largest default in history.
Pundits agree this is merely the latest in a string of bail-outs, led
by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that squandered billions of
dollars and failed to save the economies they were meant to help.
Some claim the IMF was too lenient while others say it was too tough.
And some see the problem was self-inflicted through profligate and
corrupt spending by Argentina.
Such attempts at blame-shifting are misguided: The default can be seen
as the result of economic mistakes made over a decade. Understanding
what went wrong provides important lessons.
The problems began with the hyper-inflation of the 1980s. To slash
inflation, expectations needed changing; 'anchoring' the currency to
the dollar was meant to do this.
If inflation continued, the country's real exchange rate would
appreciate, demand for its exports fall and unemployment increase,
dampening wage and price pressures.
Market participants, knowing this, would realise inflation would not
be sustained. While the commitment to the exchange-rate system
remained credible, so did the commitment to halt inflation.
If inflationary expectations were changed, then disinflation could
occur without costly unemployment. This prescription worked for a time
in a few countries, but was risky, as Argentina was to show.
The IMF encouraged this exchange-rate system. Now it is less
enthusiastic, though Argentina is the one paying the price. The peg
lowered inflation but did not promote sustained growth.
Argentina should have been encouraged to fix a more flexible exchange
rate, or at least a rate more reflective of its trading patterns.
There were other mistakes in Argentina's 'reform' programme. It was
praised for allowing large foreign ownership of banks. This led to a
seemingly more stable banking system, but one which failed to lend to
small- and medium-sized firms.
After the burst of growth which came with hyper-inflation's end,
growth slowed, partly because firms could not get adequate finance.
The government recognised the problem, but was hit by numerous shocks beyond
its control before it could act.
East Asia's crisis of 1997 provided the first shock. Partly because of
IMF mismanagement, this became a global financial crisis, raising
interest rates for all emerging markets, including Argentina.
Argentina's exchange-rate system survived, but at a heavy price -
Soon, high interest rates strained the country's budget. Yet its debt
to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio remained moderate, at around 45
per cent, lower than Japan's.
But with 20 per cent interest rates, 9 per cent of the country's GDP
would be spent annually on financing its debt. The government pursued
fiscal austerity, but not enough to make up for the vagaries of the
The global financial crisis that followed East Asia's crisis set off a
series of big exchange-rate adjustments.
The US dollar, to which Argentina's peso was tied, increased sharply
Meanwhile, Argentina's neighbour and Mercosur trading partner, Brazil,
saw its currency depreciate.
Wages and prices fell, but not enough to allow Argentina to compete
effectively, especially as many agricultural goods, which constitute
Argentina's natural advantages, face high hurdles in entering rich
The world had hardly recovered from the 1997-1998 financial crisis
when the 2000-2001 global slowdown started, worsening Argentina's
Here the IMF made its fatal mistake: It encouraged a contractionary
fiscal policy, the same mistake it had made in East Asia.
Fiscal austerity was supposed to restore confidence. But the numbers
in the IMF programme were fiction; any economist would have predicted
that contractionary policies would incite slow-down, and that budget
targets would not be met.
Needless to say, the IMF programme did not fulfil its commitments.
Confidence is seldom restored as an economy goes into a deep recession and
Perhaps a military dictator could have suppressed the social and
political unrest that arises in such conditions. But in Argentina's democracy,
this was impossible. I was more surprised unrest took so long to manifest
itself, than that street turmoil unseated Argentina's president.
Seven lessons must now be drawn:
In a world of volatile exchange rates, pegging a currency to one like
the US dollar is highly risky.
Globalisation exposes a country to enormous shocks. Adjustments in
exchange rates are part of the coping mechanism.
You ignore social and political contexts at your peril. Any government
following policies which leave large parts of the population
unemployed or underemployed is failing in its primary mission.
A single-minded focus on inflation - without a concern for
unemployment or growth - is risky.
Growth requires financial institutions that lend to domestic firms.
Selling banks to foreign owners, without appropriate safeguards, may
impede growth and stability.
One seldom restores economic strength - or confidence - with policies
that force an economy into a deep recession.
Better ways are needed to deal with situations like Argentina's.
I argued for this during East Asia's crisis; the IMF preferred its big
bail-out strategy. Now it belatedly recognises that it should explore
The IMF will work hard to shift blame - there will be allegations of
corruption, and claims Argentina did not pursue needed measures.
Of course, it needed to undertake other reforms - but following the
IMF's advice made matters worse.
Argentina's crisis should remind us of the pressing need to reform the
global financial system - and thorough reform of the IMF is where we
The writer, a professor of economics at Columbia University, won the
Nobel Prize for Economics last year. He was formerly chairman of the
Council of Economic Advisers to then US President Bill Clinton, and
chief economist and senior vice-president of the World Bank.
Copyright: Project Syndicate.
Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky en arnet.com.ar
Compañeros del exercito de los Andes.
...La guerra se la tenemos de hacer del modo que podamos:
sino tenemos dinero, carne y un pedazo de tabaco no nos
tiene de faltar: cuando se acaben los vestuarios, nos
vestiremos con la bayetilla que nos trabajen nuestras mugeres,
y sino andaremos en pelota como nuestros paisanos los indios:
seamos libres, y lo demás no importa nada...
Jose de San Martín, 27 de julio de 1819.
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