Economists have long warned that boom-and-bust financial markets are the Achilles' heel of capitalism. Building on his previous dissection of the IMF, Blustein's vivid and intelligent case study of economic tragedy indignantly recounts how indulgent international creditors first undermined Argentina's financial discipline and then precipitated a painful collapse. A seasoned business journalist, Blustein honors Cassandras whose prescient warnings were overruled by "misfeasance, nonfeasance and even malfeasance" and paints unflattering portraits of Horst Köhler, Paul O'Neill, John Taylor, and investment bankers Joyce Chang and David Mulford. Yet Blustein's central contention -- that the IMF and the U.S. Treasury should have coordinated a pre-emptive strike to force an early debt write-down -- underestimates the willpower of Argentine financial wizard Domingo Cavallo. Blustein understands but sometimes downplays the tough tradeoffs and institutional constraints that make international economic policymaking high art. The current team in Buenos Aires, engaged in confiscatory debt write-downs and heady antiglobalization rhetoric, will welcome this account.
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