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Bring it all together from a century ago – the migration, the wealth, the European influences and architectural aspirations (everyone had Paris envy), the public art, even the road widenings – and this is what you get:

wealth

There’s a big lesson here too, which came home to me quite powerfully as I was reading a history of Argentina while listening to the latest Trumpian news out of the States.  How could such a rich country as Argentina, as evident in the built legacy of Buenos Aires, decline so far, so fast?

I’m not the only one to have asked.

The economic history of Argentina is one of the most studied, owing to the “Argentine paradox“, its unique condition as a country that had achieved advanced development in the early 20th century but experienced a reversal, which inspired an enormous wealth of literature and diverse analysis on the causes of this decline.

Argentina possesses definite comparative advantages in agriculture, as the country is endowed with a vast amount of highly fertile land.[2] Between 1860 and 1930, exploitation of the rich land of the pampas strongly pushed economic growth …

Beginning in the 1930s, however, the Argentine economy deteriorated notably. The single most important factor in this decline has been political instability since 1930, when a military junta took power, ending seven decades of civilian constitutional government.

In macroeconomic terms, Argentina was one of the most stable and conservative countries until the Great Depression, after which it turned into one of the most unstable. Successive governments from the 1930s to the 1970s pursued a strategy of import substitution to achieve industrial self-sufficiency…

America First, America First.