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The country that said no: Argentina’s path out of austerity

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Argentina’s government defaulted on odious debt and instead spent the money on investments and social services. Argentine workers took over their factories rather than let them be shut. That path was not an easy one, but Argentina’s economy was the Western Hemisphere’s fastest growing while wages rose and poverty declined.

On a daily basis, we are bombarded with messages in the corporate media that any European Union country defaulting on its debt would constitute armageddon. Greece/Ireland/Spain/choose your country must pay back the banks in full, no matter the social cost, we are told ad infinitum.
I would ask readers to contemplate the unthinkable, except for the fact that not sacrificing entire countries for the sake of investment bankers’ bonuses, speculators’ profits and corporate windfalls is not really unthinkable. Countries have done it. One that did, a decade ago, was Argentina. I hope I will not induce any sudden heart attacks, but armageddon was not the result. No fire fell from the sky.
Quite the contrary, Argentines soon were far better off by saying no to the pitiless austerity that had been imposed on them.
There are lessons to be learned, with the usual caveats that every country is different. Other countries might not do as well as did Argentina, and Argentines did suffer considerable short-term pain. But, as people in other countries today ask: Could anything have been worse than endless austerity?
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