Volume 44, Number 173,
April-June 2013
Towards a New Development Model?
from a Regulatory Perspective. Argentina 2003-2010
Ignacio de Angelis, Mariana Calvento and Mariano Roark

The origin of the Argentinean neoliberal development model dates back to the 1970s, during the last military dictatorship. The National Reorganization Process ushered in a period of extreme economic volatility and recurring crises, ending the Import Substitution Industrialization model (1930-1976). By the 1980s, the principal international credit organizations and the United States Department of the Treasury were pushing a series of requirements as a necessary condition for economic development, known as the Washington Consensus. The main principles – laid out in the three-part logic of deregulate, liberalize and privatize – were applied almost dogmatically in Argentina during the government of Carlos Menem starting in 1989. As a result, the neoliberal model consolidated during the 1990s and the national economic structure underwent a transformation, altering the social fabric and undermining the credibility of the policy, which resulted in an inevitable implosion with a multi-factor crisis in 2001

. A few principal elements of this model are notable: the self-imposed State limit on its traditional role in production, provision of services and planning, the decentralization of responsibilities and deregulation of the economy. At the same time, financial revenue was given priority over productive income, displacing industry, which used to be the dynamic backbone of development (it went from representing 25% of gdp in the 1970s to a mere 17% by the end of the 1990s), and redirecting capital to the financial market, with the consequent surge of speculation. A new specialized productive structure arose in this framework, based on natural-resource-intense activities that mainly benefited the major national economic groups and multi-national corporations. Another specific feature was the concentration and foreignization of the productive structure and foreign commerce, a result of new alliances among local economic groups and foreign capital. Consequently, a new international profile of the productive structure was forged during this time period, characterized by accelerated commercial openness, which together with exchange rate inequities, led to dependency and vulnerability.

Likewise, the privatization process was carried out with multiple irregularities, and State actions – through policy decisions – fostered the formation of monopolies and oligopolies that “were based on one of the central attractions of the privatization business” (Thwaites Rey and López, 2004: 8). Corporate conglomerates sprouted, made up of the major local economic groups (partners of the State since 1976), which joined with foreign companies and banking representatives, giving rise to power groups with strong influence over economic and policy planning (Colombo, 2004: 39).

As a result of strengthening the financial accumulation that began in the 1970s, as well as precarious labor conditions, low labor market flexibility and the inefficiency of social policies, the neoliberal development model was further consolidated throughout the 1990s. From there, the rapid transformation that this model imposed on the economic, political and social structure was expressed in the drastic increase in unemployment, poverty, indigence and inequality.

While unemployment had been at 6.9% at the beginning of the 1990s, it reached its peak in 2002, climbing to over 20%. At the same time, the drop in employment and salaries resulted in a significant increase in poverty levels. According to the indec, in 2002, more than 50% of the population was in conditions of poverty, of which 24.8% were indigent. Income distribution, expressed by the Gini coefficient, showed an important increase in economic concentration, going from 0.47 in 1995 to 0.53 in 2002. Along the same vein, the gap between the wealthiest 10% of the population and the poorest went from a factor of 15 times to 24 by 1997.

Taken as a whole, these factors indicate the contradictory conditions of a model that resulted in the 2001-2002 implosion and crisis.


The 2001-2002 crisis paved the way to transform the development model by changing the institutional forms that comprised the regulation mode and conditioned the production and consumption systems. With this premise in mind, our goal is to identify the existence of enough factors to conceptualize this transformation as a new development model by studying the five fundamental institutional forms of the regulation mode.

Institutional Forms: Monetary Regime

The monetary regime and form is the means by which actors make commercial relations possible in a certain country and time period. For our period of analysis of this institutional form, the end of convertibility and the establishment of a real competitive exchange rate will be the key factors to examine.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 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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