Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Ignorance and Influence: U.S. Economists on Argentina’s Depression of 1998-2002



Economists in the United States wrote reams of commentary on Argentina’s recession-turned-depression of 1998-2002. Most ignored basic facts that were readily available. As a result, they committed important errors, including mistaking Argentina’s central banking system for a currency board and claiming that Argentina’s exports were uncompetitive when in fact Argentina’s share of world exports was growing. The faulty analysis of U.S. and other economists provided justifications for decisions by the Argentine government in early 2002 to devalue the Argentine peso and forcibly convert U.S. dollar assets and liabilities into pesos. Argentina’s depression deepened and exports failed to revive quickly.