An Overview of the Argentine Financial Crisis Essay

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The financial crisis in Argentina during the late 1990s and early 2000s resulted in severe issues with foreign debt, inflation, unemployment, and political turmoil for the country. Argentina not only suffered a currency crisis, but also suffered a political crisis. Fallout from the economic collapse was so severe the Argentinean population resorted to civil unrest and protest, which in turn exacerbated Argentina’s problems at the turn of the century. While other issues related to this financial crisis such as the impact on the lives of the Argentinean population or the political turmoil and corruption are certainly worthy of discussion, this paper will focus on the currency crisis and the Argentinean government’s role in this economic…show more content…
In an effort to move Argentina from an internationally isolated and state-dominated economy to one that encouraged international trade and foreign investments, Carlos Menem, in the early 1990s, initiated a wave of privatization, which included state-owned industries such as utilities (Feldstein, 2002). Following the examples of Chile and the emerging economies of Southeast Asian nations, Menem hoped this liberalization would foster growth in productivity and economic growth.
On April 1, 1991, Argentina’s Congress, with Domingo Cavallo as Minister of Economy, enacted the Convertibility Law (or Ley de Convertibilidad) legally adopting the currency board (Hornbeck, 2002). This legislation essentially pegged the Argentinean peso to the U.S. dollar. The government guaranteed the convertibility of the peso to U.S. dollar at a one-to-one exchange rate, limiting the printing of pesos to only those necessary to purchase dollars in the foreign exchange market. Thus, the central bank was required by law to hold foreign reserves to cover its peso liabilities (Hanke and Schuler, 2002). With this fixed exchange rate, the Argentinean government was hoping to preserve the value of their currency and stabilize inflation. The peg was initially successful, as it cured hyperinflation that occurred at the end of the 1980s and provided price stability needed for economic growth in the early 1990s. However, by the late 1990s,
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