Were Mauricio Macri’s mainstream policies doomed from the start?

“WHENEVER I VISIT a country they always say…here it is different,” Rudiger Dornbusch, a legendary economist, once told his students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Well, it never is.” For most countries, his words are a warning. For Argentina, they are a comfort. The country has lurched from one economic crisis to another, culminating in the recent reimposition of currency controls and rescheduling of debts. Its voters, who also lurch from populists to liberals and back, look poised to oust Mauricio Macri’s liberal government in October in favour of a populist duo, Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president. It is therefore easy to believe that Argentina is different. Just not in a good way.

Dornbusch’s words provide the epigraph for a new paper* by Federico Sturzenegger, a former MIT student and Mr Macri’s central-bank governor from when he took office in 2015 to mid-2018. It makes a contrarian defence of Mr Macri’s fiscal gradualism and inflation targeting. These policies worked elsewhere and could have worked in Argentina, he argues, had they been faithfully followed.

Mr Macri inherited a troublesome budget deficit. To avoid the austerity associated with previous right-leaning governments, he proposed to balance the books at a politically palatable pace. The...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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