Argentina’s financial crisis: An opportunity to reform

By Joseph Ganitsky

Argentina’s financial crisis: An opportunity to reform

By Joseph Ganitsky
Joseph Ganitsky, a professor in the Miami Business School, examines the financial crisis facing Argentina.

The steep depreciation of Argentina’s peso (above 50 percent this year and higher than Turkish Lira’s 43 percent), makes exports from the United States more expensive, and imports from Argentina cheaper. The magnitude and timing of its impact is uncertain: 

In the short-term, low-cost Argentinean beef and other commodities could benefit consumers. In addition, the deep-dive in investors’ confidence will favorably affect our financial and real estate markets as wealthy Argentineans look for more stable financial markets and a safe place to be, far from uncertainty and risk. Some may even start new businesses here. Yet, fewer Argentineans will come, impacting negatively our tourism and retail sectors. U.S. corporations with regional or global headquarters in our area may find it more difficult to do business in Argentina. 

In the medium-term, as economic adjustments affect more Argentineans, fewer may be able to come and invest in our area, and more U.S. businesses may decide to reduce or even cancel their operations in Argentina, negatively affecting most sectors of our economy. 

In the long-term, if Argentina’s uncertainty and risk were to spread to other Latin American nations experiencing high debt-levels and the inability to balance their budgets, as the world moves to an era of more expensive cost-of-funds, a disastrous economic contagion would take place, as it happened during the “lost-decade” of the 1980s. In such case, the above negative impact for Miami would magnify. 

To avoid this contagion from happening, governments must cut waste, reduce (rather than increase) debt, and focus on their top priorities while eliminating everything else. They must use their limited funds to offer to their people affordable access to jobs and services (foremost education, health, security and transportation). This is the only way for them to regain their people and investors’ trust. 

One would think that the easiest way to regain trust would be by eliminating corruption. Yet, this has proven to be very hard. Fortunately, Latin America is experiencing an anti-corruption wave. The people are tired of seeing their limited resources being taken by unethical leaders. Some are in jail already. Many others will follow. If leaders regain their people’s trust, private investors will have a greater role to play. They will leverage their creativity and innovation, as well as their funds and risk-taking behavior, in transforming the region’s challenges into profitable new ventures. 

The University of Miami Business School has always seen Argentina as a major player in the Latin American arena.Academic exchanges have been a part of this professional collaboration. Dean John A. Quelch has been an advisor to Argentina's Austral University, and Universidad Austral's former president, Dr. Fernando Fragueiro, is a member of the Business School’s "Latin American and Caribbean Initiative" Advisory Board. As the country moves it improve its economy, UM will always be a faithful partner.    

Joseph Ganitsky is a professor of professional practice in the Miami Business School Department of Management and director of the UM Center for International Business Education and Research.