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Volume 61 / Social Sciences

POLITICAL ECONOMY: ARGENTINA, PARAGUAY, AND URUGUAY


JANE E. MARCUS-DELGADO, Assistant Professor, International Studies Program, College of Staten Island, City University of New York


WRITINGS ON ARGENTINA'S political economy focus on the aftermath of the 1990s' neoliberal reforms, with additional attention paid to economic integration through Mercosur, the Southern Cone Common Market. Discussions of the former tend to be critical, especially in light of the dramatic downturn at the decade's end, followed by the political economic crises of the years that followed. Analyses of Argentina's reforms can be divided into three broad categories: privatization, labor relations, and region- or industry-specific treatises. Also included are several historical overviews, political interpretations of events, and contributions on the costs and benefits of globalization.

Two accounts of the privatization process stand out for their rigor and excellence. The first is Margheritis' Ajuste y reforma en Argentina (item #bi2002003909#). The author's meticulous documentation of the process is essential reading for students of Argentine political economy. The second is Thwaites Rey's case study on the national airline, Alas rotas (item #bi2002003924#), which complements Margheritis' work as a specific example of the privatization program's consequences. The centrality of Argentina's labor movement is also well-reflected in the chapter's selections. Interesting analyses of the economic reform program's effect on the sector include Forni and Angélico's edited volume, Articulaciones en el mercado laboral (item #bi2002003922#), and the most scathing indictment of Menem-era reforms is labor leader Lozano's El trabajo y la política (item #bi2002003934#).

More general analyses include Sidicaro's La crisis del estado (item #bi2002003945#), Heymann and Kosacoff's La Argentina de los noventa (item #bi2002003929#), and Basualdo's Sistema político y modelo de acumulación en la Argentina (item #bi2002003947#). The latter includes commentaries by outstanding Argentine social scientists, which thoughtfully complement the work. Also extremely useful is Figueras and Díaz Cafferata's extensive Lecturas de política económica argentina (item #bi2002003914#). Muchnik's Plata fácil (item #bi2002003927#) and Argentina modelo (item #bi2002003943#), as well as Fernández Novoa and Giarone's Voces claras (item #bi2002003941#) tirelessly attack the neoliberal model from journalists' perspectives. FIEL (an economic think tank) provides a more pro-free market analysis in its two-volume Crecimiento y equidad (item #bi2002003946#).

Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay are all members of Mercosur (with Brazil), and Argentina's turn-of-the-century economic crisis had a profound effect on the other two member countries. Two solid works describe the union's structure and functions, as well as its effect on discrete conomic sectors: Ermácora's El MERCOSUR de la gente (item #bi2002003938#) and Solanas and Vazquez's Mercosur (item #bi2002003915#).

Despite Uruguay's dramatic economic upheaval of recent years, matched by Paraguay's political roller coaster, both countries remain woefully under-represented in political economic scholarship. As the smaller partners in the Mercosur alliance, both were directly affected by their neighbors' economic ups and downs of the past decade. Uruguay's banking system experienced unprecedented levels of capital flight during the Argentine collapse of 2001, while unemployment, inflation, and the external debt rose. These economic woes have challenged the nation's traditional role as a highly developed welfare state, testing the strength of its leaders and durability of its democratic institutions.

For its part, Paraguay continues to struggle with the legacy of its authoritarian past, as well as its current problems of lawlessness and corruption, a huge and unwieldy informal sector, and weak democratic institutions. Since the 1999 assassination of its vice president, followed almost immediately by President Cubas' resignation, the nation has struggled to stabilize itself politically. As Borda and Masi's Los límites de la transición (item #bi2002003919#) and Borda's Presupuesto, política fiscal y desempeño económico en la transición (item #bi2002003920#) describe, much work still remains for Paraguay to consolidate its democracy and overcome the last vestiges of the Stroessner regime.


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