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What if Blejer is right? – 30.01.2019

Mario Blejer will say this with his unmistakable Cordovan tune, which for 70 years looks like a sign of origin: "If Argentina is a rich country is another story, because it is not", The phrase yesterday deserved the title of the interview in the newspaper La Nación, and was complemented by an appropriate explanation. "Rich countries are the ones that can offer their citizens a high standard of living, because if rich means having natural resources, then Switzerland would be poor, there are natural resources that you must know how to exploit them, but that is not the only thing.

The worrying definition created an agile exchange on Twitter among some well-known economists. It was an exchange, not a debate, because the participants showed their agreement.

The most impressive was José Luis Espert's media: "I think I agreed with Marita 2,000,000 years ago, like this phrase," he wrote. Politologist Andrés Malamud grabbed a graph in which Brazil and Chile, among other countries, agree better with Argentina than the wealth of their natural resources per capita; and Eduardo Levy Yetati added the World Bank map with the same disappointing reality plus its conceptual contribution: "The real curse of natural resources comes when we overlook them and we think our policy is based on imaginary income."

As noted, the idea is shared by a few economists. And it's old. In 2006, Jorge Todescu published the book "Myth About the Rich Land", and in his own lifeline did not leave any doubt: "A large number of Argentines – perhaps the majority – believe that Argentina is a rich country (…) This is without a doubt the wrong idea".

There are two possible keys to stopping: the idea of ​​a rich country is wrong; However, most people still believe in it. The question would be, why?

The immediate reaction is simple: when Argentina was the bread bread in the world. But more than a century has passed since reality justified this definition, the country has suffered a recurrent economic crisis and today more than 30% of the population lives in poverty.

However, It seems that the idea of ​​natural wealth does not lose pregnancy (that his opposite "we are not rich" deserves the headline of the interview confirms his exceptionality) and the relationship with that Argentine can be like Australia (not knowing the good details but linking it with prosperity) and the ironically but unforgettable definition of the Duhalde that we are " ".

It is not about discussing whether economic statistics confirm or deny data, or multiple reasons for repeated crises, rather than trying to revise some of the ideas that shape widespread common sense. Argentina has great resources, but it is not the same as belief in wealth as a natural feature.

Last message. A painful reader yesterday wrote: "What happens to Blejero? The country is rich (rich) and a lot … Only people who live do not succeed, starting with politicians …". It is clear that political leadership has bought all the numbers in that lottery of responsibility. But also the question of national wealth is briefly linked to a deeply rooted belief that surpasses the statistical truth.

The last question would be: if, as Blejer says, Argentine wealth is a fairy tale, are we willing to stop believing?

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