The high rate of Argentine industrial growth between 1930 and 1970 took place under an umbrella of protectionism and government intervention in the economy that developed as a worldwide trend. During this era, Argentine scholars from across the political spectrum concluded that industrial growth could not take place on the global economic periphery without these interventionist policies. From populism to desarrollismo, the consensus claimed that industrialization and economic liberalism (that is, free trade policies coupled with a laissez-faire state) were incompatible. In this wide-ranging analysis of socioeconomic transformation in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Argentina, Fernando Rocchi questions this “canonical version” of Argentine industrial growth. He analyzes how these assumptions have led to contemporary historiography’s failure to grasp several crucial developments in turn-of-the-century Argentine economic life.

Rocchi contends that this canonical view of economic development was not based on empirical research. On the contrary, it was originally the institutional...

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