In February 2014, the Economist published an analysis of Argentina, with the subtitle "One hundred years ago Argentina was the future. What went wrong?": "The country ranked among the ten richest in the world, after the likes of Australia, Britain and the United States, but ahead of France, Germany and Italy."

It offered two competing theories: Either Argentina had not managed to make the transition to a modern economy in the early 20's century, or the military coups of 1930, 1943, 1955, 1962, 1966 and 1976 continuously undercut the country's economic dynamism. A subsequent flurry of letters to the editor failed to settle the matter.

Looking at the development of Argentina with New Economic Metrics suggests that the dominant reason is the former - our data starts in 1963 and shows a strongly lagging complexity incompatible with that of a developed country. The trajectory from 1963 to 2010, shows the standard evolution of a developing country…. but the starting Fitness (1963) is very low.  Already in the early 60's the fitness was too low, leading to potential instabilities.


We conclude that the military coups may conceivably have been the consequence, but not the plausible main cause of Argentina's loss of competitiveness.