Like Greece, Buenos Aires had swallowed the textbook analysis – backed by the IMF and the consensus of academic economists and domestic politicians – which said its problem was not an overvalued currency and unsustainable debts, but too much public spending.Heather Stewart draws out the comparisons between Argentina and Greece and argues for the default option.
As the economists Roberto Frenkel and Martin Rapetti put it in a study of the Argentine crisis for the CEPR, the theory was that "fiscal discipline would entail stronger confidence, and consequently the risk premium would fall and bring interest rates down. Therefore, domestic expenditure would recover and push the economy out of the recession. Lower interest rates and an increased GDP would, in turn, re-establish a balanced budget, and thus close a virtuous circle."
It didn't work. In fact, drastic public spending cuts made the downturn worse, while the dollar peg prevented the devaluation that eventually helped Argentina to get back its competitiveness.
Similarly, Athens – locked into the euro – is unable to devalue, or control its own interest rates, and the solution being pressed on Greece by its eurozone neighbours involves privatisation, liberalisation and drastic public spending cuts.