Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012
The Third Peronist Government’s Economic Plan.
Gelbard’s Term (1973-1974)1
Cecilia Vitto *
Date submitted: November 12, 2011. Date accepted: March 7, 2012

The third Peronist government (1973-1976) carried out a profound restructuring of Argentinean capitalism, initially by implementing an ambitious structural program that sought to foster national development, establish comprehensive economic planning and encompass multiple aspects of economic life. In this framework, this work seeks to analyze the economic policy developed by Treasury and Finance Minister José Ber Gelbard (May 1973 to October 1974). This study aims to examine the project of structural reform and short-term economic policy, evaluate the main consequences of the policies implemented in terms of how key economic indicators evolved and reflect on the major weaknesses of the economic program.

Keywords: Peronism, Gelbard, Triennial Plan for National Reconstruction and Liberation, national bourgeoisie, economic policy.

The economic policy implemented during the term of the third Peronist government in Argentina (1973-1976) must be analyzed in the framework of its historical context, which involves the events of the second stage of the accumulation regime based on import substitution industrialization. This occurred starting at the end of the 1950s, when Frondizi’s government fostered a policy that resulted in a massive flow of foreign capital into the country, with the supposed goal of increasing production and productivity that would in turn drive economic growth and resolve the external gap.

During this stage, foreign predominance in the economic process was consolidated, as it controlled the technical and economic nuclei of the central productive chains, forming an oligopolistic industrial structure in which the largest firms had the ability to define the structure of relative prices (Azpiazu, Basualdo and Khavisse, 2004).

The local economy evolved based on the short-term cyclical behavior of the product, with key stop and go phases (Braun and Joy, 1981; Diamand, 1977). However, during the second phase of substitution industrialization, two clearly different stages emerged with diverging growth rates (Brodersohn, 1973; Basualdo, 2006). While the short-term cycles resulted in a drop in the product in real terms in the falling phase up to and including 1963, between 1964 and 1974, the gross product enjoyed constant growth, based on a short cycle of accelerations and decelerations of the growth rate. This change in the cycle is associated with the maturity of investments starting from when foreign capital was incorporated, which in turn had an effect on the presence of relatively more complex and intense technological activities in the use of capital, and resulted in a significant change in the foreign trade situation, mainly seen in an increase in total exports, specifically industrial exports (Basualdo, 2006).

In the framework of this structural situation, the initial economic program of the third Peronist government fundamentally rested on implementing the Triennial Planfor National Reconstruction and Liberation. This plan established integral economic planning that sought to foster national development and encompassed multiple aspects of economic life. It also sought full social justice to guarantee a high quality of living, reconstruct the State, reconfigure the power relationships in agriculture and industry and recover economic independence regarding foreign investment and financing in the country’s development.

Likewise, income policy was one of the main pillars of the economic plan. The so-called “Social Pact” was essentially one of the central pieces of Gelbard’s economic policy, which consisted of a policy oriented towards unions (the cgt), national companies (the cge) and the State and included, following an initial increase in salaries, freezing salaries and prices.

In this framework, the objective of this work is to analyze the economic policy implemented during the third Peronist government, specifically during José Ber Gelbard’s term (May 1973 — October 1974), and evaluate this policy’s major weaknesses in promoting national development.

This article is made up of five sections. The first analyzes the main features of the economic program and the projects implemented, as well as income policy and prices. The second considers some of the main structural measures, related to the profuse legislation approved during this time period and the implementation of the Triennial Plan. The third evaluates the major consequences of the policies implemented, in terms of how key economic indicators evolved. The fourth investigates the economic program’s major weaknesses. Finally, the fifth section presents some reflections on this work.

1 Special appreciation for valuable comments from Daniel Azpiazu and Eduardo Basualdo, relieving them of any responsibility for possible errors or omissions.

* Fellow of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research (flacso, Argentina). E-mail: ceciliavitto@gmail.com

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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