A detailed overview of Argentina’s political and economic history, from the colonial era to the present.
Molano (The Logic of Privatization, 1997), in this history of one of South America’s largest economies, makes a complex, sprawling topic coherent and understandable. The book begins in the early days of European settlement of the region and traces the origins of the modern Argentine economic structure to the relationship among the Spanish monarchy, the Catholic Church and local elites as they each sought to take advantage of the region’s natural resources—particularly its substantial silver deposits. As Argentina and Spain’s other South American colonies gained independence, they explored new political configurations, finally settling into the international boundaries seen on today’s maps. However, Molano addresses other South American nations only as they relate to Argentina’s economy; mainly, he focuses on the Argentine landowners who gained and retained political power in the 18th and 19th centuries by maintaining control of agricultural land and mineral rights. As the book moves into the 20th century, it looks at the country’s international relations (including Argentina’s neutrality during both world wars and its reliance on foreign investment) and internal political turmoil (including military coups in the 1930s and ’40s, the rise of Peronism and the rapid turnover of five presidents in two weeks in 2001) and how they relate to the country’s recent cycles of growth, inflation and economic collapse. The book largely avoids detailed explanations of economic concepts, and it doesn’t expect readers to have a complete knowledge of, for example, import substitution or corporatist governance; as such, the book is readily accessible to nonexperts. The book concludes by tracing the evolution of Argentina’s relationship to the global economy from 2001 to the present and leaves readers with an engaging sense of the complexities and challenges of managing an economy and governing a country.
A comprehensive, accessible look at Argentina’s political and economic evolution.