February 16, 2005
And the Money Kept Rolling in (and Out)by Paul Blustein
In the 1990s, few countries were more lionized than Argentina for its efforts to join the club of wealthy nations. Argentina's policies drew enthusiastic applause from the IMF, the World Bank and Wall Street. But the
The dramatic, definitive account of the most spectacular economic meltdown of modern times exposes the dangerous flaws of our global financial system.
In the 1990s, few countries were more lionized than Argentina for its efforts to join the club of wealthy nations. Argentina's policies drew enthusiastic applause from the IMF, the World Bank and Wall Street. But the club has a disturbing propensity to turn its back on arrivistes and cast them out. That was what happened in 2001, when Argentina suffered one of the most spectacular crashes in modern history. With it came appalling social and political chaos, a collapse of the peso, and a wrenching downturn that threw millions into poverty and left nearly one quarter of the workforce unemployed.
Paul Blustein, whose book about the IMF, The Chastening, was called "gripping, often frightening" by The Economist and lauded by the Wall Street Journal as "a superbly reported and skillfully woven story," now gets right inside Argentina's rise and fall in a dramatic account based on hundreds of interviews with top policymakers and financial market players as well as reams of internal documents. He shows how the IMF turned a blind eye to the vulnerabilities of its star pupil, and exposes the conduct of global financial market players in Argentina as redolent of the scandals-like those at Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing- that rocked Wall Street in recent years. By going behind the scenes of Argentina's debacle, Blustein shows with unmistakable clarity how sadly elusive the path of hope and progress remains to the great bulk of humanity still mired in poverty and underdevelopment.
Author Biography: Paul Blustein, a staff writer at the Washington Post, has covered business and economic issues for more than twenty-five years. He has also worked at Forbes Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. His work has won several prizes, including business journalism's most prestigious, the Gerald Loeb Award.
February 16, 2005
Financial Times, February 17, 2005
The Washington Post
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This is a very readable, lively presentation of the story of how Argentina overcame decades of monetary mismanagement and put itself on the path to economic growth during the early 1990s only to descend again into economic chaos. We recommend this book to those interested in international finance, although it suffers slightly from a moralistic tone, as author Paul Blustein points an accusing finger at international banks and brokerage firms. One might also have hoped for a bit more insight into what happened to the billions of dollars that flowed into Argentina during its brief boom years. But Blustein¿s expert analysis (organized around metaphorical references to the musical `Evita¿) says much about the dark side of globalization and points to some severe, apparently recurring problems in the international financial system. Most instructive is his observation that elements of Argentina¿s experience are now apparent in the flow of funds to emerging markets newly favored by international investors. Therefore, this book unfortunately may be a harbinger of things to come.