Cuadernos de economía
versión On-line ISSN 0717-6821
In 1989, Argentina entered a process of sweeping transformations of its economic institutions, which have provided for the recovery of economic growth and the taming of inflation. The Argentine experience with market oriented reforms has been regarded by the literature as a salient case of radical and `unconstrained' reform. Yet, a closer scrutiny of the process and of its outcomes portrays that the building and maintenance of a pro-reform coalition determined the pace, depth and characteristics of the `new economic institutions'. The idiosyncrasies of Argentina's political institutions in turn conditioned this coalition-building strategy. The argument we present in this paper is twofold. On the one hand, we contend that the 1989 economic crisis provided the incentives that led President Carlos Menem to initiate the reforms, and triggered a series of "delegation" patterns conductive to the adoption of a reformist agenda. On the other hand, we assert that the political and institutional process of implementing these reforms has left a heavy imprint on the outcomes. Even in the framework of a favorable partisan composition of the institutional structure, and with high concentration of political power, the coalition that combined economic interest groups with the electoral support of the peronist party set limits to the reforms. These limits were translated in concessions of design and sequencing, as well as in the use of signaling, exchanges and compensations that fostered the adoption and implementation of the agenda. Though many of the features associated with a state-led development model were dismantled, some `illiberal enclaves', such as the heavily regulated labor market, and provincial economies, survived. More so, we contend that it was through its the maintenance that the core of the reforms -privatization, liberalization and convertibility-, were made viable politically
Palabras clave : Political economy; economic reforms; Argentina; vote buying.