The Origins and Legacy of a Currency Board in Argentina

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This is a qualitative case study of the adoption of a currency board in Argentina in 1991. It presents a discursive analysis and intellectual history of four overlaying and mutually influencing stories of Convertibility’s adoption. It is (1) the story of how Menem aligned himself to the Washington Consensus as a means to win a Presidential election. This ideological alignment influences and is influenced by a (2) reconstitution of the Peronist Party’s historically entrenched identity. This in turn re-fashion the whole system of interest articulation and relative power of interest groups in Argentina. The adoption of a currency board also marks the pace of (3) the entrenchment neoliberal interests across a domestic network of neoliberal think-tanks, technocrats, politicians, and “technopoles” articulating neoliberal interests outside of the Washington Consensus, within an International Neoliberal Network. Argentina’s adoption of a currency board falls in line with the Corner Solutions, a neoliberal doctrine promoted to influence developing countries to adopt two forms of exchange rate regimes that allow for less government involvement, including a currency board. Argentina starts as a test country and then becomes (4) an ideological stepping stone to help promote the creation of currency boards across more “developing” countries. These stories are not sequential but concurrent, and they help advance an alternative critique of neoliberalism that focuses on specifics to induce case-specific lessons versus a theory claiming to provide any universal truth.