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Argentina's COVID Miracle

Unlike the United States, which could spend one-quarter of its GDP protecting its economy from the COVID-19 fallout, Argentina entered the pandemic with the deck stacked against it. Yet, thanks to the current government’s policies to strengthen the real economy, the country has been enjoying a remarkable recovery.

NEW YORK – Although COVID-19 has been hard on everyone, it has not been an “equal opportunity” disease. The virus poses a greater threat to those who are already in poor health, many of whom are concentrated in poor countries with weak public-health systems. Moreover, not every country can spend one-quarter of its GDP to protect its economy, as the United States did. Developing and emerging economies have faced hard financial and fiscal constraints. And because of vaccine nationalism (hoarding by rich countries), they have had to scrounge for whatever doses they can get.

When countries suffer such acute pain, officeholders tend to receive more blame than they deserve. Often, the result is a more fractious politics that makes addressing real problems even harder. But even with the deck stacked against them, some countries have managed to deliver strong recoveries.

Consider Argentina, which was already in a recession when the pandemic hit, owing to a large extent to former President Mauricio Macri’s economic mismanagement. Everyone had seen this movie before. A right-wing, business-friendly government had won the confidence of international financial markets, which duly poured in money. But the administration’s policies turned out to be more ideological than pragmatic, serving the rich rather than ordinary citizens.

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