Argentina: Macroeconomic Performance and Crisis
Working Paper #27
The paper is presented in two parts. The first discusses two key issues related to the Convertibility regime established in 1991 and its final crisis in 2001. The second part analyzes the economic performance in the nineties with a focus on the effects on the labor market. One key issue refers to the policy regime and the economic performance it led to. The paper claims that the case is similar to other Latin American experiences of financial liberalization and opening that ended up in crisis. A similar set of critical factors can be identified and a common model can explain both the economic performances and the crises. The fiscal issue is the second key point considered in the paper. It is shown that the public debt dynamics in the second half of the nineties resulted mainly from the cumulative effect of high interest rates (pushed-up by the rise in the country risk premium) after the Asian and Russian crises. The interest payments were the main factor behind the increase of the fiscal deficit in 1998-2001. The fall in the social security system revenues also contributed to that increase. It was mainly a consequence of the recession and the employment contraction that took place from mid-1998. The fiscal deficit rose in spite of a simultaneous significant increase in the primary surplus. In order to give support to these assertions, the paper presents a detailed review of fiscal data and new estimations of the public debt evolution. In the second part of the paper the analysis stresses the role played by the capital flows and the negative effects of the appreciated exchange rate and the macroeconomic volatility on the performance of the labor market.
About the Authors
Center for the Study of State and Society (CEDES)
Principal Research Associate
Roberto Frenkel is Principal Research Associate at CEDES (from 1977) and Professor at the University of Buenos Aires (from 1984). Presently he is also Director of the Graduate Program on Capital Markets (University of Buenos Aires) and teaches graduate courses at the Di Tella and FLACSO-San Andrés Universities in Argentina. He was Professor at the University of Chile, University Católica de Chile, University Central de Venezuela and also visiting professor at the University of California (San Diego), University Católica de Rio de Janeiro and University of Pavia (Italy). He has been a consultant of several international organizations including UN, ILO, UNCTAD, UNDP, ECLAC, and he has also worked for the OECD Development Center, IDB, UNIDO and the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and Uruguay. He was Undersecretary Chief of Economics Advisors to the Ministry of Finance (1985-89) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (1999-2003) both in Argentina. He is a member of the Board of the World Institute for Development Economic Research (WIDER), United Nations University. He was a member of the UNDP Advisers Group. He published numerous books and articles in academic journals on macroeconomic theory and policy, money and finance, inflation and stabilization policies and labor market and income distribution, with special focus on Argentina and Latin America.