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The Future of Argentina
Wednesday, May 8, 2002; Page A20
I read the May 3 front-page article about my home country. The story realistically depicts Argentina's chaotic economic situation and includes opinions from economists and experts.
Yet if we Argentines don't crumble as a country, Argentina will produce this year almost 100 million tons of food, enough to feed its own population of 37 million plus the U.S. population. Despite assertions that Argentina has no production, the country's 2001 exports reached more than $26 billion. Exports in 2002 are expected to be more than $35 billion, enough to pay the country's $140 billion debt in slightly less than four years. So what went wrong?
The real cause of our problems is that Argentina, for the past 60 years, has almost always been governed by incompetent, xenophobic and corrupt politicians. Most Argentine politicians say the country is a shambles because of the failure of the "neo-liberal model." But since the mid-1940s, Argentina has been run on two models: the "reckless currency model," which, after knocking out 13 zeroes from the Argentine peso (each zero equals 1,000 percent inflation), collapsed in the 200 percent monthly inflation between 1989 and 1990. The second model is the "reckless foreign indebtedness model," which has resulted in the present economic situation. Since 1946 both models have been used to fuel the "reckless government spending model" and the "unsustainable immense public deficits model."
I may be labeled as a traitor by many in my country, but I concur with the two economists who recommend sending a team of experts to run this country. (Not that there are no capable Argentines to properly run the country, but the "political caste" in power will never let them.)
With honest management and its current modern production infrastructure, Argentina could be on its feet in two years. But if we keep the status quo, Argentina could disappear in the same period of time.
Ingeniero Maschwitz, Argentina
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