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Volume 63 / Social Sciences

POLITICAL ECONOMY: ARGENTINA, PARAGUAY, URUGUAY


JANE E. MARCUS-DELGADO, Associate Professor and Coordinator, International Studies Program, College of Staten Island, City University of New York (CUNY)

IN LATE 2001 ARGENTINA SUFFERED a political economic crisis that led to the resignation of President Fernando De la Rua, financial catastrophe, and violent street protests. Many of the selections in this section recount and analyze these events, which resulted in the return to power of the Peronist Party, traditionally the nation's strongest political group. The writings tend to blame Argentina's collapse on weak institutions, external interference, and the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s.

Three accounts of Argentina's political economic crisis stand out for their rigor and excellence. The first of these is Novaro's edited volume, El derrumbe politico: en el ocaso de la convertibilidad, which contains well-researched contributions from the nation's foremost scholars and analysts (item #bi2005005683#). Since this work discusses the situation from a strictly social scientific perspective, it provides an interesting contrast to the second book, Armony and Schamis' report, Repensando la Argentina: antes de diciembre de 2001 y más allá de mayo de 2003 (item #bi2005005675#). Their work documents proceedings from a one-day conference in which a diverse range of experts from various disciplines—from economics to literature—provide unique perspectives on the nation's political economic problems. Finally, Bruno's relatively brief collection of essays, Argentina: un lugar en el mundo, thoughtfully sheds light on global influences on the contemporary Argentine economy (item #bi2005005673#).

Other noteworthy publications on both Argentina and Uruguay address issues of decentralization, federalism, and regional disparities. One interesting example is Lousteau et al.'s Hacia un federalismo solidario: la coparticipación y el sistema previsional, which examines Argentina's highly centralized system of tax collection and proposes alternatives for fiscal reform (item #bi2005005674#). Contributions by Marcoleri (item #bi2005005681#), Massolo (item #bi2005005587#), and Porto (item #bi2005005678#) provide useful insight into several of the nation's understudied poorer regions, and to the challenges and opportunities created by decentralization. In the case of Uruguay, one recommended book on the subject is Marsiglia's Desarrollo local en la globalización (item #bi2005005682#).

In general, political economic analyses of Uruguay and Paraguay—which continue to be woefully sparse and inadequate—focus on strengthening and redefining public institutions, decentralization, and improving state-societal relations. The dearth of scholarship on Paraguay's political economy is especially alarming. This shortcoming notwithstanding, however, one interesting edited volume does shed some light on the subject: Orue Pozzo's Paraguay, analizando el presente, construyendo el futuro (item #bi2005005676#).

Finally, one English-language book is a "must-read" for scholars of the region's political economy: Nicola Phillips' The Southern Cone Model: The Political Economy of Regional Capitalist Development in Latin America (item #bi2005000039#). This well-written, thoughtful work provides a much-needed regional perspective that includes valuable contextual and historical material—a very worthwhile contribution to the existing body of scholarship in this field.


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