Power & Market

Argentina: Mises and Milei, 65 Years Apart

Buenos Aires, 1959

Ludwig Von Mises gave six lectures in 1959 in Buenos Aires, Argentina where, “he spoke in nontechnical terms suitable for his audience of business professionals, professors, teachers, and students. He illustrates theory with homespun examples. He explains simple truths of history in terms of economic principles. He describes how capitalism destroyed the hierarchical order of European feudalism and discusses the political consequences of various kinds of government.

He analyzed the failures of socialism and the welfare state and shows what consumers and workers can accomplish when they are free under capitalism to determine their own destinies.” This is a quote from introduction page viii of the publication, “Economic Policy Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow” Third Edition available as a downloadable pdf file from The Mises Institute web site in English, Hungarian and Spanish.

The six lecture titles were Capitalism, Socialism, Interventionism, Inflation, Foreign Investment and Politics and Ideas. Mises’s speeches to the audience in Buenos Aires were opposite their 1959 socialist economy. They were hearing economic truth that was a breath of fresh air amidst the smog of economic socialism. Mises’s inflation lecture stated the German Reich policy in 1933 was: “The government simply borrowed money very indirectly from the central bank. The government did not have to ask how the central bank would find and deliver the money. The central bank simply printed it.Mises clearly understood central banks are not your economic friend.

Argentine President Juan Peron’s nationalizations of British-owned railroads and other property antagonized business leaders and caused investment to evaporate in the 1950’s. Inflation soared to 40 percent and real wages plunged. His popular first lady, Eva’s, known as “Evita,” death in 1952 weakened him further. Labor strikes paralyzed the country and the Argentina’s military intervened again to send Peron into exile in 1955. The average annual inflation was 30.3 percent between 1950-1959.

Argentina declared sovereign government debt defaults in 1989, 2001, 2014 and 2020. Approximately 40 percent of the population lives in poverty in 2023 with annual inflation near 100 percent. The federal government was consistently spending money above incoming tax revenues. The government owned many companies from the airline to crude oil production where each one was a drain on the treasury.

Javier Milei was elected President of Argentina and took the oath of office on December 10, 2023, in Buenos Aires. He pursued the office espousing Austrian economic principles must be applied to save Argentina from hyperinflation, socialism and other central government induced social ills beginning in the 1930’s with the Peron administration. One campaign promise was to abolish the central bank when its money printing is a cause of their current inflation.

He has been in office over one hundred days with some policy success. Milei was born in 1970 so he did not meet Mises in person. Milei began reading the writings of Mises and Murray Rothbard and over time began to understand and decide Austrian economic principles make sense when history shows socialism is an abject failure. He has published several books and articles and he mentions book titles by Hayek, Mises and Rothbard when interviewed on Argentine television.

Here are two famous men where one was a flag bearer for Austrian economics in the early to mid 20th century and another is President of a nation in the early 21st century seeking to apply Austrian economic policies to his nations failing socialism economy. It is interesting to note Mises laid the groundwork for Milei to implement.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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