The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Dictatorship, Democracy, and Globalization

Dictatorship, Democracy, and Globalization

Argentina and the Cost of Paralysis, 1973–2001 Klaus Friedrich Veigel
  • Copyright: 2009
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 248 pages
  • Illustrations: 2 b&w illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03464-5
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03465-2
“Veigel’s book addresses an issue that has been at the center of much research in the past. What does explain the steady economic decay of Argentina, particularly from the 1970s onward? Many scholars ascribe the recurring economic crises of that country to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s imposition of misguided policies. Veigel’s thesis challenges this view, as it contends that the seeds of the Argentine decline rest in the socioeconomic disintegration that began to affect that country from the 1940s on as vested interest groups engaged in a zero-sum-game struggle. If things went terribly wrong in Argentina in the twentieth century, it is not because that country was the victim of an international conspiracy. Instead, much of the blame is to be placed squarely on the Argentine political and economic elites. Through the use of new archival data and personal interviews, Veigel traces the historical evolution of Argentine policymaking as resulting primarily from endogenous rather than external factors. Veigel’s work is an excellent contribution to the scholarship on the political economy of Argentina and will make an important point of reference for future works on this controversial subject.”
Dictatorship, Democracy, and Globalization melds several compelling strands: trend-break changes in the world economy, the interaction of domestic and international politics in the United States, and Argentinean relations with the international financial community. The integration of these themes is subtle, convincing, and innovative. Veigel’s critical take on globalization and the political economy of development, along with his thoughtful insights into Argentinean economic history and politics, sets a new benchmark for appraising the rise (and decline) of the so-called Washington consensus.”
“This book should appeal strongly to anyone interested in Latin American political economy, the role of international financial institutions in the 1980s debt crisis, or recent Argentine history more generally.”
“The publication of Klaus Veigel's book comes at an opportune time, for it provides a valuable guide through the complexities of contemporary Argentinean economic history--in particular the politics of economic policy making from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s. This book should appeal not only to country specialists but also to a wider cohort of readers. . . .

[Veigel's] book goes farther than most previous works in connecting domestic trends with international conditions as the narrative tacks skillfully between politically divided Argentina and global players like the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank.

Dictatorship, Democracy and Globalization ultimately offers a cautionary tale about Argentina's economic trajectory and future prospects, one that reaches conclusions not all readers will share but that is thoroughly researched and worth considering carefully.”

The collapse of the Argentine economy in 2001, involving the extraordinary default on $150 billion in debt, has been blamed variously on the failure of neoliberal policies or on the failure of the Argentine government to pursue those policies vigorously enough during the 1990s. But this is too myopic a view, Klaus Veigel contends, to provide a fully satisfactory explanation of how a country enjoying one of the highest standards of living at the end of the nineteenth century became a virtual economic basket case by the end of the twentieth. Veigel asks us to take the long view of Argentina’s efforts to re-create the conditions for stability and consensus that had brought such great success during the country’s first experience with globalization a century ago.

The experience of war and depression in the late 1930s and early 1940s had discredited the earlier reliance on economic liberalism. In its place came a turn toward a corporatist system of interest representation and state-led, inward-oriented economic policies. But as major changes in the world economy heralded a new era of globalization in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the corporatist system broke down, and no social class or economic interest group was strong enough to create a new social consensus with respect to Argentina’s economic order and role in the world economy. The result was political paralysis leading to economic stagnation as both civilian and military governments oscillated between protectionism and liberalization in their economic policies, which finally brought the country to its nadir in 2001.

Klaus Friedrich Veigel lives and works in Washington, D.C.


List of Figures and Tables

Author’s Note and Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations


1. The Crisis of the 1970s and the Search for a New Economic Order

2. Global Markets and the Military Coup

3. The Origins of the Foreign Debt

4. The Self-Destruction of the Military Dictatorship

5. The International Debt Crisis and the Return to Democracy

6. Can Democracy Feed a Nation?

7. False Dawns: Failed Stabilization Plans, 1985–1991

8. From Miracle to Basket Case, 1991–2001

Conclusion: The Cost of Paralysis



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