Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2003 (Revised January 2004)

The 2001 Crisis in Argentina: An IMF-Sponsored Default? (A)

by Rafael M. Di Tella and Ingrid Vogel

Abstract

At the end of 2001, Argentina's economy and society both appeared on the verge of collapse. Furious about controls imposed on the convertibility of their bank deposits into cash (the "corralito") and huge proposed government spending cuts amidst high unemployment and deteriorating social services, Argentines from all economic backgrounds took to the streets in protest. In violent rioting, stores were looted, buildings burned, and more than 22 people killed. The entire government was forced to resign. A succession of increasingly ineffectual presidents shuffled through the presidential palace, each seemingly more powerless to confront the crisis than the last. Meanwhile, the country's economic situation continued to deteriorate, and Argentina soon defaulted on its $141 billion in foreign debt outstanding in the largest sovereign default in history. On January 2, 2002, Eduardo Duhalde was selected interim president by Argentina's Congress—and would serve as Argentina's fifth president in two weeks. At the helm of Argentina's flailing economy, he had a number of important decisions to make. Among these were what to do with Argentina's decade-long peg to the dollar under the Convertibility Plan.

Keywords: Financial Crisis; Economic Slowdown and Stagnation; Banks and Banking; Problems and Challenges; Decision Choices and Conditions; Currency Exchange Rate; Economy; Government Administration; Crime and Corruption; Argentina;

Citation:

Di Tella, Rafael M., and Ingrid Vogel. "The 2001 Crisis in Argentina: An IMF-Sponsored Default? (A)." Harvard Business School Case 704-004, October 2003. (Revised January 2004.)