By Alejandro A. Tagliavini *
Argentina was rich, its per capita income – in 1992 dollars – was US $ 3,797 in 1913, above France (3,452) and Germany (3,134). Today is poor. Although it started earlier, the fall deepened with Perón. Now, nobody is more Peronist than the «anti-Peronists» who attribute to the leader such an omnipotence that he alone caused this debacle.
Peronism, which has dominated local politics for 70 years, would return to power after winning the presidential elections Alberto Fernández supported by Cristina Kirchner. But does it really come back … or never left? «It’s not that we are so good,» Perón said, «but the rest are worse.»
Raúl Alfonsín, Fernando de la Rúa and Mauricio Macri are the only “non-Peronist” presidents since the restoration of democracy in 1983. Alfonsín, beset by hyperinflation, chaos and the state of siege, resigned in 1989. He was replaced by Carlos Menem . In 1999 Fernando de la Rúa was elected who, in 2001, also resigned in the middle of another strong crisis.
Macri would end his term on December 10. How did he lose the elections? Some Peronists voted for him – his candidate for vice president was an historical Peronist – and Fernández was voted by some non-Peronist. Macri lost because he is leaving a shattered country, with less individual freedom, boasting to increase spending on welfare and with more state employees and companies. In other words, the return of «official» Peronism is only continuity, with other nuances.
Macri, the son of an entrepreneur – rich from state «privileges» – with his misleading «pro market» speech – when he had shown himself otherwise – enchanted businessmen, presidents and state bureaucrats like those of the IMF who lent him US $ 57,000 million -48% of everything provided by the agency today – to continue to enlarge the State.
For more confusion, Macri was supported by conservatives that call themselves “liberals”, but with little real attachment to freedom, whom insist on the same «clasical idea» – just like the IMF – of an impractical “adjustment”: lowering state spending by cutting salaries, employees and retirement, which would be a bomb because, given the current situation, unemployment and marginality would grow.
Before that, a strong deregulation should be done so that the economy expands, especially the labor system so that the market can absorb the unemployed, state properties must be sold, which would allow to obtain resources, save expenses and transfer employees and thus solve the fiscal deficit. But, first the fascist union system must be deregulated otherwise these unions – strongly politicized – will impede any movement, something that Macri and these «liberals» never proposed.
Kirchner’s previous government raised spending from 25 to 48% of GDP, but was lucky and left a country growing at 2.7% per year. Macri increased that expense in relative terms, achieving a strong recession to the point that the GDP will fall this year -3.1%, increased fiscal pressure, debt taking interest to 70%, and inflation to 57.3% annually – surpassed only by Venezuela and Zimbabwe – of the 27% that he found. He leaves more than 35% of the population in poverty and 10% in unemployment – from the 9.2% he found – with 50% of workers in the informal market and of the remaining, formal, 15% are state employees and only 35% are from the private sector with whose taxes support the State that, among other things, finances assistance and salaries to 21.6 million people.
* Member of the Advisory Board of the Center on Global Prosperity, of Oakland, California