The 1998–2002 Argentine Great Depression was an economic depression in Argentina, which began in the third quarter of 1998 and lasted until the second quarter of 2002. It almost immediately followed the 1974–1990 Great Depression after a brief period of rapid economic growth.
The depression, which began after the Russian and Brazilian financial crises, caused widespread unemployment, riots, the fall of the government, a default on the country's foreign debt, the rise of alternative currencies and the end of the peso's fixed exchange rate to the US dollar. The economy shrank by 28 percent from 1998 to 2002. In terms of income, over 50 percent of Argentines were poor and 25 percent, indigent; seven out of ten Argentine children were poor at the depth of the crisis in 2002.
Argentina's GDP exceeded pre-crisis levels by 2005, and Argentine debt restructuring that year were resumed payments on most of its defaulted bonds; a second debt restructuring in 2010 brought the percentage of bonds out of default to 93%, though holdout lawsuits led by vulture funds remained ongoing. Bondholders who participated in the restructuring have been paid punctually and have seen the value of their bonds rise. Argentina repaid its International Monetary Fund loans in full in 2006, but had a long dispute with the 7% of bond-holders left. In April 2016 Argentina came out of the default when the new government decided to repay the country's debt, paying the full amount to the vulture/hedge funds.
|1998–2002 Argentinegreat depression|
Argentina's many years of military dictatorship (alternating with weak, short-lived democratic governments) had already caused significant economic problems prior to the 2001 crisis, particularly during the self-styled National Reorganization Process in power from 1976 to 1983. A right-wing executive, José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, was appointed Economy Minister at the outset of the dictatorship, and a neoliberal economic platform centered around anti-labor, monetarist policies of financial liberalization was introduced. Budget deficits jumped to 15% of GDP as the country went into debt for the state takeover of over $15 billion in private debts as well as unfinished projects, higher defense spending, and the Falklands War. By the end of the military government in 1983, the foreign debt had ballooned from $8 billion to $45 billion, interest charges alone exceeded trade surpluses, industrial production had fallen by 20%, real wages had lost 36% of their purchasing power, and unemployment, calculated at 18% (though official figures claimed 5%), was at its highest point since the 1929 Great Depression.
Democracy was restored in 1983 with the election of President Raúl Alfonsín. The new government intended to stabilize the economy and in 1985 introduced austerity measures and a new currency, the Argentine austral, the first of its kind without peso in its name. Fresh loans were required to service the $5 billion in annual interest charges, however, and when commodity prices collapsed in 1986, the state became unable to service this debt.
During the Alfonsin administration, unemployment did not substantially increase, but real wages fell by almost half to the lowest level in fifty years. Prices for state-run utilities, telephone service, and gas increased substantially.
Confidence in the plan, however, collapsed in late 1987, and inflation, which had already averaged 10% per month (220% a year) from 1975 to 1988, spiraled out of control. Inflation reached 200% for the month in July 1989, peaking at 5000% for the year. Amid riots, Alfonsín resigned five months before the end of his term; Carlos Menem took office in July.
After a second bout of hyperinflation, Domingo Cavallo was appointed Minister of the Economy in January 1991. On 1 April, he fixed the value of the austral at 10,000 per US dollar. Australs could be freely converted to dollars at banks. The Central Bank of Argentina had to keep its US dollar foreign-exchange reserves at the same level as the cash in circulation. The initial aim of such measures was to ensure the acceptance of domestic currency because after the 1989 and 1990 hyperinflation, Argentines had started to demand payment in US dollars. This regime was later modified by a law (Ley de Convertibilidad) that restored the Argentine peso as the national currency.
The convertibility law reduced inflation sharply preserved the value of the currency. That raised the quality of life for many citizens, who could again afford to travel abroad, buy imported goods or ask for credit in dollars at traditional interest rates. The fixed exchange rate reduced the cost of imports, which produced a flight of dollars from the country and a massive loss of industrial infrastructure and employment in industry.
Argentina, however, still had external public debt that it needed to roll over. Government spending remained too high, and corruption was rampant. Argentina's public debt grew enormously during the 1990s without showing that it could service the debt. The IMF kept lending money to Argentina and extending its payment schedules.
Massive tax evasion and money laundering contributed to the movement of funds toward offshore banks. A congressional committee started investigations in 2001 over accusations that Central Bank Governor Pedro Pou, a prominent advocate of dollarization, and members of the board of directors had overlooked money laundering within Argentina's financial system. Clearstream was accused of being instrumental in this process.
Other Latin American countries, including Mexico and Brazil (both important trade partners for Argentina) faced economic crises of their own, leading to mistrust of the regional economy. The influx of foreign currency provided by the privatization of state companies had ended. After 1999, Argentine exports were harmed by the devaluation of the Brazilian real against the dollar. A considerable international revaluation of the dollar directly weakened the peso relative to Argentina's trading partners: Brazil (30% of total trade flows) and the eurozone (23% of total trade flows).
After having grown by over 50% from 1990 to 1998, Argentina's GDP declined by 3% in 1999 and the country entered what became a three-year-long recession. President Fernando de la Rúa was elected in 1999 on a reform platform that nevertheless sought to maintain the peso's parity with the dollar. He inherited a country with high unemployment (15%), lingering recession, and continued high levels of borrowing. In 1999, economic stability became economic stagnation (even deflation at times), and the economic measures taken did nothing to avert it. The government continued its predecessor's economic policies. Devaluing the peso by abandoning the exchange peg was considered political suicide and a recipe for economic disaster. By the end of the century, complementary currencies had emerged.
While the provinces of Argentina had always issued complementary currency in the form of bonds and drafts to manage shortages of cash, the scale of such borrowing reached unprecedented levels during this period. They became called "quasi-currencies", the strongest of them being Buenos Aires's Patacón. The national government issued its own quasi-currency, the LECOP.
In a 2001 interview, journalist Peter Katel identified three factors that converged "the worst possible time" that made the Argentine economy unravel:
The 2002 crisis of the Argentine peso, however, shows that even a currency board arrangement cannot be completely safe from a possible collapse. When the peso was first linked to the U.S. Dollar at parity in February 1991 under the Convertibility Law, initial economic effects were quite positive: Argentina's chronic inflation was curtailed dramatically and foreign investment began to pour in, leading to an economic boom. Over time, however, the peso appreciated against the majority of currencies as the U.S. Dollar became increasingly stronger in the second half of the 1990s. A strong peso hurt exports from Argentina and caused a protracted economic downturn that eventually led to the abandonment of the peso-dollar parity in 2002. This change, in turn, caused severe economic and political distress in the country. The unemployment rate rose above 20 percent and inflation reached a monthly rate of about 20 percent in April 2002. In contrast, Hong Kong was able to successfully defend its currency board arrangement during the Asian financial crisis, a major stress test for the arrangement. Although there is no clear consensus on the causes of the Argentine crisis, there are at least three factors that are related to the collapse of the currency board system and ensuing economic crisis:
While the currency crisis is over, the debt problem has not been completely resolved. The government of Argentina ceased all debt payments in December 2001 in the wake of persistent recession and rising social and political unrest. In 2004, the Argentine government made a ‘final’ offer amounting to a 75 percent reduction in the net present value of the debt. Foreign bondholders rejected this offer and asked for an improved offer. In early 2005, bondholders finally agreed to the restructuring, under which they took a cut of about 70 percent on the value of their bond holdings.
When a short boom in the early 1990s of portfolio investment from abroad ended in 1995, Argentina became reliant on the IMF to provide the country with low-interest access to credit and to guide its economic reforms. When the recession began in 1999, the national deficit widened to 2.5% of GDP, and its external debt surpassed 50% of GDP. Seeing the levels as excessive, the IMF advised the government to balance its budget by implementing austerity measures to sustain investor confidence. The De la Rúa administration implemented $1.4 billion in cuts in its first weeks in office in late 1999. In June 2000, with unemployment at 14% and projections of 3.5% GDP for the year, austerity was furthered by $938 million in spending cuts and $2 billion in tax increases.
GDP growth projections proved to be overly optimistic (instead of growing, real GDP shrank 0.8%), and lagging tax receipts prompted the government to freeze spending and cut retirement benefits again. In early November, Standard & Poor's placed Argentina on a credit watch, and a treasury bill auction required paying 16% interest (up from 9% in July, the second-highest rate of any country in South America at the time.
Rising bond yields forced the country to turn to major international lenders, such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the US Treasury, which would lend to the government below market rates if it complied with conditions. Several more rounds of belt-tightening followed. José Luis Machinea resigned in March 2001. He was replaced with Ricardo López Murphy, who lasted less than three weeks in office before being replaced with Cavallo.
Standard and Poor's cut the credit rating of the country's bonds to B– in July 2001. Cavallo reacted by offering bondholders a swap: longer-term, higher-interest bonds would be exchanged for bonds due in 2010. The "megaswap" (megacanje), as Cavallo referred to it, was accepted by most bondholders, and it delayed up to $30 billion in payments that would have been due by 2005; but it also added $38 billion in interest payments in the out years; of the $82 billion in bonds that eventually had to be restructured (triggering a wave of holdout lawsuits), 60% were issued during the 2001 megaswap.
Cavallo also attempted to curb the budget crisis by instituting an unpopular across-the-board pay cut in July of up to 13% to all civil servants and an equivalent cut to government pension benefits, De la Rúa's seventh austerity round—triggering nationwide strikes, and from August, it paid salaries of the highest-paid employees in IOUs instead of money. That further depressed the weakened economy, the unemployment rate rose to 16.4% in August 2001 up from a 14.7% a month earlier, and it reached 20% by December.
Public discontent with the economic conditions was expressed in the nationwide election. De la Rúa's alliance lost its majority in both chambers of Congress. Over 20% of voters chose to give blank or defaced ballots rather than indicate support of any candidate.
The crisis intensified when, on 5 December 2001, the IMF refused to release a US$1.3 billion tranche of its loan, citing the failure of the Argentine government to reach its budget deficit targets, and it demanded budget cuts, 10% of the federal budget. On 4 December, Argentine bond yields stood at 34% over U.S. treasury bonds, and, by 11 December, the spread jumped to 42%.
By the end of November 2001, people began withdrawing large sums of dollars from their bank accounts, turning pesos into dollars, and sending them abroad, which caused a bank run. On 2 December, the government enacted measures, informally known as the corralito, that effectively froze all bank accounts for twelve months, allowing for only minor sums of cash to be withdrawn, initially $250 a week.
The freeze enraged many Argentines who took to the streets of important cities, especially Buenos Aires. They engaged in protests that became known as cacerolazo (banging pots and pans). The cacerolazos began as noisy demonstrations but soon included property destruction, often directed at banks, foreign-owned privatized companies, and, especially, big American and European companies.
Confrontations between the police and citizens became common, and fires were set on Buenos Aires avenues. De la Rúa declared a state of emergency, but the situation worsened, precipitating the violent protests of 20 and 21 December 2001 in Plaza de Mayo, where clashes between demonstrators and the police ended up with several people dead and precipitated the fall of the government. De la Rúa eventually fled the Casa Rosada in a helicopter on 21 December.
Following the presidential succession procedures established in the Constitution of Argentina, the Senate chairman was next in the line of succession in the absence of the president and the vice-president. Accordingly, Ramón Puerta took office as a caretaker head of state, and the Legislative Assembly (a joint session of both chambers of Congress) was convened.
Politically, the most heated debate involved the date of the following elections. Proposals ranged from March 2002 to October 2003, the end of De la Rúa's term.
Rodríguez Saá's economic team came up with a scheme designed to preserve the convertibility regime, dubbed the "Third Currency" Plan. It consisted of creating a new, non-convertible currency, the Argentino, that would coexist with convertible pesos and US dollars. It would circulate as cash, or but not in checks, promissory notes, or other instruments, which could be denominated in pesos or dollars. It would be partially guaranteed with federally managed land to counterbalance inflationary tendencies.
Argentines having legal status would be used to redeem all complementary currency already in circulation; their acceptance as a means of payment was quite uneven. It was hoped that convertibility would restore public confidence, and the non-convertible nature of this currency would allow for a measure of fiscal flexibility (unthinkable with pesos) to ameliorate the crippling recession. Critics called the plan merely a "controlled devaluation" but its advocates countered that since controlling a devaluation is perhaps its thorniest issue, that criticism was a praise in disguise. The plan had enthusiastic supporters among mainstream economists (the most well-known being perhaps Martín Redrado, a former Banco Central de la República Argentina president) citing technical arguments. However, it was not implemented because the Rodríguez Saá government lacked the required political support.
Rodriguez Saá lost the support of his own Justicialist Party and resigned before the end of the year. The Legislative Assembly convened again, appointing Peronist Senator Eduardo Duhalde of Buenos Aires Province, who had been the runner-up in the 1999 race for the presidency.
In January 2002, after much deliberation, Duhalde abandoned the fixed exchange rate that had been in place for ten years. In a matter of days, the peso lost a large part of its value in the unregulated market. A provisional "official" exchange rate was set at 1.4 pesos per US dollar.
In addition to the corralito, the Ministry of Economy dictated the pesificación; all bank accounts denominated in dollars would be converted to pesos at an official rate. That angered most savings holders and attempts were made to declare it unconstitutional.
After a few months, the exchange rate was mostly a floating exchange rate. The peso further depreciated, which prompted increased inflation. Argentina depended heavily on imports but then could not replace them locally.
Inflation and unemployment worsened during 2002. Then, exchange rate had reached nearly 4 pesos per dollar, and the accumulated inflation since the devaluation was about 80%, considerably less than predicted by most orthodox economists. The quality of life of the average Argentine was lowered proportionally. Many businesses closed or went bankrupt, many imported products became virtually inaccessible, and salaries were left as they were before the crisis.
Since the supply of pesos did not meet the demand for cash (even after the devaluation), complementary currencies kept circulating alongside them. Fears of hyperinflation as a consequence of devaluation quickly eroded their attractiveness. Their acceptability now ultimately depended on the state's irregular willingness to take them as payment of taxes and other charges.
While the regional currency was frequently accepted at the same value as the peso, Entre Ríos Province's Federal fared among the worst, discounted by an average 30% as even the provincial government that had issued them was reluctant to accept them. There were also frequent rumors that the first state would banish complementary currency overnight, leaving their holders with useless printed paper.
Aerolíneas Argentinas was one of the most affected Argentine companies, canceling all international flights for various days in 2002. The airline came close to bankruptcy but survived.
Several thousand homeless and jobless Argentines found work as cartoneros, cardboard collectors. An estimate in 2003 had 30,000 to 40,000 people scavenging the streets for cardboard to sell to recycling plants. Such desperate measures were common because of the unemployment rate, nearly 25%.
Argentine agricultural products were rejected in some international markets for fear that they might have been damaged by the chaos. The US Department of Agriculture put restrictions on Argentine food and drug exports.
Duhalde eventually stabilised the situation somewhat and called for elections. On 25 May 2003, Néstor Kirchner took office as the new president. Kirchner kept Duhalde's Minister of Economy, Roberto Lavagna. Lavagna, a respected economist with centrist views, showed a considerable aptitude at managing the crisis, with the help of heterodox measures.
The economic outlook was completely different from that of the 1990s ds. The devalued peso made Argentine exports cheap and competitive abroad and discouraged imports. In addition, the high price of soybeans in the international market produced massive amounts of foreign currency; China became a major buyer of Argentina's soy products.
The government encouraged import substitution and accessible credit for businesses, staged an aggressive plan to improve tax collection, and allocated large sums for social welfare but controlled expenditure in other fields.
The peso slowly rose, reaching a 3-to-1 rate to the dollar. Agricultural exports grew and tourism returned. The huge trade surplus ultimately caused such an inflow of dollars that the government was forced to begin intervening to keep the peso from rising further, which would have adversely affected budget balances by limiting export tax revenues and discouraged further reindustrialisation. The central bank started rebuilding its dollar reserves.
By December 2005, foreign currency reserves had reached $28 billion (they were later reduced by the payment of the full debt to the IMF in January 2006). The downside of this reserve accumulation strategy is that US dollars had to be bought with freshly issued pesos, which risked inflation. The Central Bank sterilized its purchases by buying Treasury letters. In this way the exchange rate stabilised to about 3:1.
The currency exchange issue was complicated by two opposing factors: a sharp increase in imports since 2004, which raised the demand for dollars, and the return of foreign investment, which brought fresh currency from abroad, after the successful restructuring of about three quarters of the external debt. The government set up controls and restrictions aimed at keeping short-term speculative investment from destabilising financial markets. The country faced a potential debt crisis in late July 2014, when a New York judge ordered Argentina to pay hedge funds the full interest on bonds it had swapped at a discount rate during 2002. If the judgement proceeded, Argentina argued, the country would become insolvent and have a second debt default.
Argentina's recovery suffered a minor setback in 2004, when rising industrial demand caused a short-lived energy crisis. Argentina continued to grow strongly, however, and GDP jumped 8.8% in 2003, 9.0% in 2004, 9.2% in 2005, 8.5% in 2006 and 8.7% in 2007. Though wages averaged a 17% annual increase from 2002 to 2008, and rising 25% in the year to May 2008, inflation ate away at the increases: 12.5% in 2005; 10% in 2006; nearly 15% in 2007, and over 20% during 2008. The government was accused of manipulating inflation statistics, and The Economist began to turn to private sources instead. The surveying volume prompted the government to increase export tariffs and to pressure retailers into one price freeze after another in a bid to stabilize prices but with little effect.
While unemployment has been considerably reduced (it has hovered around 7% since 2011), Argentina has so far failed to reach an equitable distribution of income. Nevertheless, economic recovery after 2002 was accompanied by significant improvements in income distribution: in 2002, the richest 10% absorbed 40% of all income, compared to 1.1% for the poorest 10% (36 times); but by 2013, the former received 27.6% of income, and the latter, 2% (14 times). surveying. That level of inequality compares favorably to levels in most of Latin America and, in recent years, the United States as well.
Living standards recovered significantly after growth resumed in 2003. Even using private inflation estimates, real wages rose by around 72% from their low point, in 2003, to 2013. Argentina's domestic new auto market recovered especially quickly from a low of 83,000 in 2002 (a fifth the levels of the late 1990s) to a record 964,000 in 2013.
During the economic collapse, many business owners and foreign investors sent their money overseas. As a result, many small and medium enterprises closed for lack of capital. The majority of their workers, faced with a sudden loss of employment and no source of income, decided to reopen the closed facilities on their own as self-managed cooperatives.
Worker cooperatives include the factory Zanon (FaSinPat), the four-star Hotel Bauen, the suit factory Brukman, and the printing press Chilavert. In some cases, former owners sent police to remove workers from the workplaces; that was sometimes successful but in other cases, workers defended occupied workplaces against the state, the police, and the bosses.
A survey by an Buenos Aires newspaper found that around a third of the population had participated in general assemblies. The assemblies used to take place in street corners and public spaces, and they generally discussed ways of helping each other in the face of eviction arouriver or organized such as health care, collective food buying, or food distribution programs. Some created new structures of health care and schooling. Neighborhood assemblies met once a week in a large assembly to discuss issues that affected the larger community. In 2004, The Take, a documentary, was released on the assemblies.
Some businesses were legally purchased by the workers for nominal fees, but others remain occupied by workers who have no legal standing and sometimes reject negotiations. The government is considering a Law of Expropriation that would transfer some occupied businesses to their worker-managers.
Although GDP grew consistently and quickly after 2003, it did not reach the levels of 1998, the last year before the crisis, until late 2004. Other macroeconomic indicators followed suit. A study by Equis, an independent counseling organization, found out that two measures of economic inequality, the Gini coefficient and the wealth gap between the 10% poorest and the 10% richest among the population, grew continuously from 2001 to March 2005.
The adjacent table shows statistics of poverty in Argentina, in percent of the population. The first column shows the date of the measurement (note that the method and time changed in 2003; poverty is now measured each semester). Extreme poverty is here defined as not having enough money to eat properly. The poverty line is set higher: it is the minimum income needed for basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, and studies.
Similar statistics are available from the World Bank.
When the default was declared in 2002, foreign investment stopped and capital flow ceased almost completely. The government faced severe challenges in trying to refinance its debt.
The government reached an agreement in 2005 by which 76% of the defaulted bonds were exchanged for other bonds at a nominal value of 25 to 35% of the original and at longer terms. A second debt restructuring in 2010 brought the percentage of bonds out of default to 93%, but some creditors have still not been paid. Foreign currency denominated debt thus fell as a percentage of GDP from 150% in 2003 to 8.3% in 2013.
The IMF accepted no discounts in its part of the Argentine debt. Some payments were refinanced or postponed on agreement. However, IMF authorities at times expressed harsh criticism of the discounts and actively lobbied for the private creditors.
In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September 2004, Kirchner said, "An urgent, tough, and structural redesign of the International Monetary Fund is needed, to prevent crises and help in [providing] solutions." Implicitly referencing the fact that the intent of the original Bretton Woods system was to encourage economic development, Kirchner warned that the IMF today must "change that direction, which took it from being a lender for development to a creditor demanding privileges."
During the weekend of 1–2 October 2004, at the annual meeting of the IMF/World Bank, leaders of the IMF, the European Union, the Group of Seven industrialised nations, and the Institute of International Finance (IIF), warned Kirchner that Argentina had to come to an immediate debt-restructuring agreement with creditors, increasing its primary budget surplus to slow debt increases and imposing structural reforms to prove to the world financial community that it deserved loans and investment.
In 2005, turned its primary surplus into an actual surplus, Argentina began paying the IMF on schedule, with the intention of regaining financial independence. On 15 December 2005, following a similar action by Brazil, Kirchner suddenly announced that Argentina would pay the whole debt to the IMF. The debt payments, totaling US$9.810 billion, were previously scheduled as installments until 2008. Argentina paid it with the central bank's foreign currency reserves. The payment was made on 6 January 2006.
In a June 2006 report, a group of independent experts hired by the IMF to revise the work of its Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) stated that the assessment of the Argentine case suffered from manipulation and lack of collaboration on the part of the IMF; the IEO is claimed to have unduly softened its conclusions to avoid criticizing the IMF's board of directors.
But this approach has failed for more than four years, as the economy remains mired in a depression, with a loss of more than 20 percent of GDP since the last business cycle peak in 1998.
(...) Furthermore, the crisis was not caused by fiscal profligacy: the worsening of the central government's fiscal balance from 1993 to 2002 was not a result of increased government spending (other than interest payments). Rather, there was a decline in government revenue due to the recession, which began in the third quarter of 1998. More importantly, Argentina got stuck in a debt spiral in which higher interest rates increased the debt and the country’s risk premium, which led to ever higher interest rates and debt service until its default in December of 2001. The interest rate shocks came from outside, starting with the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise short-term rates in February of 1994, and on through the Mexican, Asian, Russian, and Brazilian financial crises (1995–1999).
(...)GDP has declined at a record 16.3 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2002. Unemployment stands at 21.5 percent of the labor force, and real monthly wages have declined by 18 percent over the course of the year. Official poverty and indigence rates have reached record levels: 53% of Argentines now live below the official poverty line, while 25% are indigent (basic needs unmet). Since October 2001, 5.2 million Argentines have fallen below the poverty line, while seven out of ten Argentine children are poor today.
(...)While this is the worst economic crisis in Argentine history, there are a number of reasons to view the economy as poised for a rapid recovery, and one that can take place without external financing. Most importantly, Argentina is running a large current account and trade surplus. Primarily a result of the devaluation, the export sector has vastly expanded as a share of the economy (see below), and is considerably more competitive internationally.
(...)The second major private outflow, which coincides with the Asian, Russian, and Brazilian crises, sent the economy into a recession from which it has never recovered.
In 1998, Argentina entered what turned out to be a four-year depression, during which its economy shrank 28 percent.
Abstract in 1998–2002, Argentina experienced what the government described as a "great depression" (...) Although it started more slowly than the U.S. Great Depression, the 1975–90 great depression in Argentina lasted longer and resulted in a larger deviation in output from potential as measured by the 2 percent growth path. Figure 2 shows that between 1974 and 1990, real output per working-age person fell by almost 44 percent compared to the 2 percent growth path, with a decline of almost 25 percent in the first decade. Notice that this economic performance was horrible even ignoring the trend—real output per working-age person fell 23 percent, making the period 1975–90 in Argentina a great depression by any reasonable definition. Over the period 1990–98, except for a brief downturn in 1995 associated with the Tequila Crisis, Argentina boomed, with cumulative growth almost 17 percent more than the 2 percent growth path (37 percent ignoring the trend). Starting in 1998, however, Argentina entered yet another great depression, with real output per working-age person falling by more than 29 percent by 2002, compared to the 2 percent growth path (23 percent ignoring the trend). As noted by the Argentine government in the earlier quotation, the decline was particularly severe in 2001 and 2002.
In 1998, Argentina entered what was to become a savage depression. Like Britain, it had previously been a poster boy for free-market capitalism. (…) As in Britain, the crisis of 1998–2002 was predominantly one of debt. It began once credit markets froze – in Argentina's case this followed currency crises in Russia and Brazil which spooked the market. Argentina's crisis ought to have been a shallow one. Instead, a series of spectacular misjudgments ensured that its economy shrank 28pc, the peso fell to a third of its pre-crash value against the dollar, inflation hit 41%, unemployment reached one quarter of the workforce, real wages fell 24pc, and over half of the population fell below the poverty line.
Argentina's current economic expansion is now more than five and a half years old, and has far exceeded the expectations of most economists and the business media. Despite a record sovereign debt default of $100 billion in December 2001 and a financial collapse, the economy began growing just three months after the default and has enjoyed uninterrupted growth since then.
Residential property prices in Argentina have gained an average of 60 percent since 2002, lifted by four straight years of economic growth of more than 8.5 percent, said Armando Pepe, founder of the country's Real Estate Chamber. The central bank predicts growth next year of 7.5 percent. Argentina's economy shrunk by 11 percent in 2002, its worst recession ever, after the country defaulted on $95 billion of bonds in late 2001.
The nation produced five straight years of +9% GDP growth through 2007, and even managed to eke out gains during the global recession.
Argentina's unemployed number 2.3 million, 16.4 percent of the workforce.
After three years of recession, Argentina's unemployment rate is now 14.7%.
The Russian financial crisis (also called Ruble crisis or the Russian Flu) hit Russia on 17 August 1998. It resulted in the Russian government and the Russian Central Bank devaluing the ruble and defaulting on its debt. The crisis had severe impacts on the economies of many neighboring countries. Meanwhile, James Cook, the senior vice president of The U.S. Russia Investment Fund, suggested the crisis had the positive effect of teaching Russian banks to diversify their assets.2001
was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2001st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 1st year of the 3rd millennium, the 1st year of the 21st century, and the 2nd year of the 2000s decade.
2001 was designated as International Year of Volunteers.Adolfo Rodríguez Saá
Adolfo Rodríguez Saá (born 25 July 1947) is an Argentine Peronist politician. Born in a family that was highly influential in the history of the San Luis Province, he became governor in 1983, after the end of the National Reorganization Process military dictatorship. He remained governor up to 2001, being re-elected in successive elections.
President Fernando de la Rúa resigned in that year, amid the December 2001 riots, and the Congress appointed Rodríguez Saá as president of Argentina. In response to the 1998–2002 Argentine great depression, he declared the highest sovereign default in history and resigned days later amid civil unrest. The Congress appointed a new president, Eduardo Duhalde, who completed the term of office of De la Rúa. Rodríguez Saá ran for the 2003 and 2015 presidential elections but did not win.Aluar
Aluar is the only aluminium smelter in Argentina and one of the largest in South America.Apagón
Apagón (in Spanish, literally, blackout) is a form of protest that was employed several times in some large cities of Argentina, during the economic crisis at the beginning of the 2000s. The justification for a blackout as a form of protest was a rejection of the proposed increase of fees of electricity and other basic services.Argentine economic emergency law
The Argentine economic emergency law was sanctioned in 2002, during the presidency of Eduardo Duhalde. As a result of the 2001 economic crisis, the law set a state of emergency on the national economy. The law allowed the president to do things that are usually set to the Congress, such as influence the exchange rate, turn debts in US dollars into debts in Argentine pesos, set the price of taxes and tariffs, renew contracts with the providers of public services, set the price of some products, and taxes on oils, among other things.Initially, the law was expected to be in force for two years. However, the governments of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner always asked the Congress to renew it for two more years. It was renewed for the last time in December 2015, nearing the end of the presidency of Cristina Kirchner. President Mauricio Macri did not ask for such renewal in December 2017, and so the law ceased to be in force in the first days of 2018, 16 years after its initial sanction.Bandana (pop band)
Bandana is an Argentine pop girl group formed in 2001. Following the international trend of teen pop girl groups established by the Spice Girls, the five members of Bandana — Ivonne Guzmán, Lourdes Cecilia Fernández, Valeria Gastaldi, Virginia Da Cunha and María Elizabeth Vera — were selected on the TV show Popstars and were a carefully marketed product that became a phenomenon in the country, particularly among young girls.Channel 9 (Argentina)
Channel 9, known by its brand name El Nueve, is an Argentine free-to-air television network based in Buenos Aires with programming centred on general entertainment.Convertibility plan
The Argentine Currency Board pegged the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar between 1991 and 2002 in an attempt to eliminate hyperinflation and stimulate economic growth. While it initially met with considerable success, the board's actions ultimately failed. In contrast to what most people think, this peg actually did not exist, except only in the first years of the plan. From then on, the government never needed to use the foreign exchange reserves of the country in the maintenance of the peg, except when the recession and the massive bank withdrawals started in 2000.Corralito
Corralito (Spanish pronunciation: [koraˈlito]) was the informal name for the economic measures taken in Argentina at the end of 2001 by Minister of Economy Domingo Cavallo in order to stop a bank run, and which were fully in force for one year. The corralito almost completely froze bank accounts and forbade withdrawals from U.S. dollar-denominated accounts.
The Spanish word corralito is the diminutive form of corral, which means "corral, animal pen, enclosure"; the diminutive is used in the sense of "small enclosure" and also "a child's playpen". This expressive name alludes to the restrictions imposed by the measure. The term was coined by the journalist Antonio Laje.Crédito
The Crédito was a local currency started on 1 May 1995 in Bernal, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a garage sale, which was the first of many neighbourhood barter markets (mercados de trueque) that emerged in Argentina during the economic crisis.
The operator of this currency was the Red Global de Clubes de Trueque Multirecíproco (RGT),
literally "Global Network of Multi-Reciprocal Exchange Clubs" or more simply the "Global Exchange Network" (GEN).
The currency started as a Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) system but was soon replaced by a number of printed currencies and, after further experimentation with a LETS called nodine (from no dinero, "not money"), finally became the Crédito, a printed currency again.The RGT was organized as a chaordic network of barter clubs, which had a clientele from a well-educated middle class that had fallen into unemployment during the Argentine recession of the late 1990s.
The clubs of the RGT had no central organ, no central administration and no legislation. Clubs decided for themselves to accept the Créditos of other clubs and not all clubs issued their own Créditos. Clubs that did usually issued between 30 and 50 Créditos per participant. In a later phase some of the clubs joined zones or networks and zones became the issuers of Créditos instead of individual clubs. The chaordic structure allowed the system to grow quickly but also left the system vulnerable to fraud.
The Crédito was an interest-free currency and was pegged to the Argentine peso, which in turn was pegged to the U. S. dollar at the time. An estimated $400 million in goods and services were traded in 2000. A survey conducted by members of the economics department of Harvard University reports a personal exchange rate of about two Créditos for one peso during 2002-2003 by individuals who offered goods or services in both currencies.By July 2002 the unemployment rate in Argentina was in excess of 20% and approximately 7% of the population participated in the RGT. Argentina had already had a high unemployment rate of about 17% for six years previously.
The system was used all over Argentina and worked reasonably well for a time but, as things worsened in the formal economy, more and more people joined the RGT clubs, and a growing percentage of people spent their Créditos without offering sufficient skills or trade in return. The system suffered
from hyperinflation and from counterfeiting. Between 2002 and 2003 the government made unemployment insurance available to 2.5 million people, compared to 0.2 million people previously, and thereby increased the availability of the peso to the population stratum using the Crédito, which had an 89% preference for Pesos over Créditos.
Other complementary currencies in Argentina at that time were the Patacón, the LECOP and the Argentino. The Argentino was never implemented.Hard currency
Hard currency, safe-haven currency or strong currency is any globally traded currency that serves as a reliable and stable store of value. Factors contributing to a currency's hard status might include the long-term stability of its purchasing power, the associated country's political and fiscal condition and outlook, and the policy posture of the issuing central bank.
Safe haven currency is defined as a currency which behaves like a hedge for a reference portfolio of risky assets conditional on movements in global risk aversion.Conversely, a soft currency indicates a currency which is expected to fluctuate erratically or depreciate against other currencies. Such softness is typically the result of political or fiscal instability within the associated country.LECOP
The LECOP was a bond issued by Argentine national government. LECOP (sometimes written as a common word, Lecop), stands for Letra de Cancelación de Obligaciones Provinciales ("Letter of Cancellation of Provincial Obligations").
These bonds were circulated at a substantial discount from their face value, so anybody accepting was bound to experience devaluation (or inflation). While LECOPs were intended as a means to replace legal currency (Argentine pesos) at a time when cash was scarce, there were occasions in which LECOPs were not accepted as valid means of payment — most notably, most taxes could only be paid in pesos, or only partly paid in LECOPs. Public utility companies generally restricted the percentage acceptable to a 70-30 ratio, sometimes further limiting LECOP usage to 15% of the total bill.
Other complementary currencies in Argentina at that time where the Crédito, the Patacón and the Argentino.Megacanje
The Megacanje was an Argentine program that refinanced the Argentine foreign debt in 2001, during the 1998–2002 Argentine great depression. The payment of 30,000 millions of dollars was delayed to 2005, in exchange of a 14% interest rate.The president Fernando de la Rúa and the minister Domingo Cavallo were trialed for this case, and declared innocent on October 6, 2014.Patacón (bond)
The Patacón (officially called Letra de Tesorería para Cancelación de Obligaciones de la Provincia de Buenos Aires) was a bond issued by the government of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, during 2001. The patacones were used to pay government bills, including state employees' salaries during a period when the economic crisis caused regular currency (Argentine pesos) to be scarce. Patacones then circulated in the economy in much the same way as pesos.
First issued during the peso/U.S. dollar convertibility regime, just like other complementary currency Patacones could be attractive due to a revenue scheduled for payment in 2003 in pesos (practically equivalent to dollars). When the convertibility was abandoned amid fears of hyperinflation, the attractiveness of this revenue practically disappeared. The basis for the acceptability of complementary currency shifted to their use to pay taxes.
However, the value of Patacones became eroded as the series "B" was issued because as a way to put pressure on the Government to cancel a large debt, the company that printed them eliminated many safety features deemed too expensive, thus making them easier to counterfeit. Also, the revenue of series "B" was scheduled for payment just in 2006. The economic importance of Buenos Aires province ensured the acceptability of Patacones because there were plenty of large companies that found use for them as payment of provincial charges. Patacones were accepted outside the Buenos Aires province and eventually circulated (albeit informally) in border areas of neighboring countries.
The name patacón is derived from a former Argentine national currency, and had been used in various places as a variant name for the Peso. It was colloquially or jokingly used as a synonym of "money". The popular comic hero Patoruzú had revived the use of this word -a wealthy, generous Indian ever ready to hand large heaps of bank notes to anyone in need, urging them to accept "these Patacones".
Other complementary currencies in Argentina at that time were the Crédito, the LECOP and the Argentino.Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina
The Revolutionary Communist Party (Spanish: Partido Comunista Revolucionario) is a Maoist communist party from Argentina.South American economic crisis of 2002
The South American economic crisis is the economic disturbances which have developed in 2002 in the South American countries of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
The Argentinian economy was suffering from sustained deficit spending and an extremely high debt overhang, and one of its attempted reforms included fixing its exchange rates to the US dollar. When Brazil, as its largest neighbor and trading partner, devalued its own currency in 1999, the Argentinian peg to the US dollar prevented it from matching any of that devaluation, leaving its tradeable goods to be less competitive with Brazilian exports.
Along with a trade imbalance and balance of payment problem, the need for credit to finance its budget deficits made Argentina's economy vulnerable to economic crisis and instability. In 1999, the economy of Argentina shrank by 3.4%. GDP continued to decline: 0.8% in 2000, 4.4% in 2001, and 10.9% in 2002. One year before, in Brazil, low water level in hydroelectric plants, combined with a lack of long-term investment in energy security, forced the country to do an energy rationing program, which negatively affected the national economy.Superpowers law
The Superpowers law is the informal name given in Argentina to a change in the law of financial administration, which allows the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers to make changes to the Government budget, without requiring authorization from the Congress. It is named that way because it increases the attributions of the executive power, taking attributions from the legislative power.
It was sanctioned in 2001, during the 1998–2002 Argentine great depression, and it was meant as a temporary measure. However, it was renewed several times, despite the end of the crisis. It was made permanent in 2006, during the presidency of Néstor Kirchner.