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What if Blair is right? – 01/01/2019

Mario Blejer will have said it with his unspeakable Cordovan melody that looks like a sign of origin for 70 years: "The fact that Argentina is a rich country is another fable because it is not". The phrase earned the title of the interview in La Nación on Wednesday and was filled with an explanation. "Rich countries are the ones that can offer a high standard of living to their citizens. Because, if rich, it means we have natural resources, Switzerland would be bad. There are natural resources you need to know how to use them, but that is not the only one. "

The troublesome definition created an exchange of activities on Twitter among some famous economists. It was an exchange, not a debate, because the participants showed their consent.

Media José Luis Espert was the most expressive: "I think 2,000,000 years ago I did not agree with Marito as much as this phrase," he wrote. Political scientist Andrés Malamud with a schedule in which Brazil and Chile, among other things, seem better than Argentina, comparing the wealth of their natural resources per capita; and Eduardo Levy Yetati added the World Bank card with the same unsatisfactory reality, as well as its conceptual contribution: "The real curse of natural resources when we reassess them and think about our policies based on imaginary income".

As has been seen, not only a few economists share the idea. And it's old too. In 2006, Jorge Todesca published the book "Myth of the Rich Country" and in his prologue he did not question: "A large number of Argentina – perhaps most – believe that Argentina is a rich country. (…) This is undoubtedly the wrong idea".

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

The immediate answer is simple: when Argentina was the world bakery basket. But more than a century has passed since the reality justifies this definition, the country suffered repeated economic crises, and today more than 30% of the population live in poverty.

However it seems that the idea of ​​natural wealth loses pregnancy (that its opposite "we are not rich" deserves the title of the interview, confirms its exception) and links that Argentina might be similar to Australia (without knowing the details very well, but associating it with prosperity) and the ironic but unforgettable definition of Duhalde that "we are condemned to success".

There is no need to talk about whether economic statistics confirm or reject data, or a number of reasons for repeated crises, but an attempt to revise some of the ideas that make up common sense. Argentina has great resources, but it is not the same as faith in wealth as a natural attribute.

Last note. The sad reader wrote yesterday: "What's happening with Blair? The country is (rich) and a lot … Only people who live are not doing it, starting with politicians …". It is clear that the political leadership bought all the figures in the drawing of responsibility. But it is also a question of questioning national wealth with a deep-rooted conviction that goes beyond the truth of statistics.

The last question would be: if, as Blejer says, the wealth of Argentina is a fable, are we ready to stop believing in it?

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