Foreign Policy

The American and European press establishments are consistent in dismissing Argentina’s economic success over the last ten years. Writer Paul Katz has his own reservations about ‘kirchnerismo,’ but lays out an admirably objective defense of the policy.

“…Néstor Kirchner, an unknown governor of Argentina’s second-least-populous province, emerged to claim the presidency in 2003, promising to confront ”groups and sectors of economic power that benefited from unacceptable privileges during the past decade.” His budget stressed to the breaking point, Kirchner repaid the IMF, but he loudly ignored its demands for austerity and took a hard line renegotiating Argentina’s remaining debt. Western opinion leaders scolded, and global credit markets refused to lend.
“Kirchner cast these critics aside, pursuing his own heterodox recovery. He boosted government spending, subsidized fuel and transportation, and expanded manufacturing and exports. He distanced himself from the United State and kept the peso cheap to increase trade with other developing countries. Helped by rising commodity prices — especially for soy, the country’s new cash crop — Argentina experienced the sort of growth that even Tim Pawlenty wouldn’t dare to promise: nearly 9 percent a year between 2003 and 2007.
“In a ploy to avoid the constitution’s two-term limit, Kirchner decided to step aside in 2007 so that his wife (Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner) could run for the presidency in his stead. The boom times carried her to victory. Far from the political novice many of her critics portray, the former three-term senator has proven an adaptable leader. Two years ago, amid a temporary economic slowdown, kirchnerismo suffered a stark midterm defeat. In response — and especially since her husband’s unexpected death — Fernández moderated her combative tone, doubled down on her rhetoric of inclusion and strengthened her alliances, waltzing to easy reelection last week.”


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