Familiar Tune

Argentina talks about austerity

President Raul Alfonsin was determined to be convincing. "A time bomb," he declared, "is planted in the middle of Argentine society." In a 30-minute television address last week, Alfonsin resorted to such dire imagery to convey a sense of emergency and justify a drastic new austerity program. To cure the country's economic ills -- runaway inflation of more than 100% so far this year, a foreign-debt burden of $55 billion and a current budget deficit of $5.6 billion -- the President offered a radical prescription: wage-price freezes, tax increases for middle- and upper-income earners and a currency devaluation of 11.8% to...

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