Universidad del Centro de Estudios Macroeconómicos de Argentina (UCEMA), Buenos Aires
Argentina has more than twice the total debt of India whilst the latter has twenty-eight times more population in roughly equivalent territories. It was once a prosperous haven for poor Europeans, with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, but now half its population is underneath the poverty line. It has perpetrated the greatest default in world economic history, yet if the foreign assets of its private individuals are included in the national accounts, the country is still a net creditor. These gross asymmetries and apparent inconsistencies suggest that Argentina's financial troubles must be attributed to her own political processes rather than to adverse circumstances or foreign scapegoats. Indeed, severe property rights violations were committed by the state itself in 1975, 1982, 1985, 1989 and 2001-02, as a consequence of successive financial crises. This paper analyses the long-term deterioration of federal institutions, the atomization of power, and the erosion of governability that ensued. It attempts to sketch a systemic theory of parasitical state dynamics and behaviour. Endemic evils such as corruption and mafiastyle political practices jump to the forefront as a consequence of institutional breakdown, conforming a society that seems systemically doomed to destroy itself whilst becoming a burden for the world.