Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Field Trip to the Museum of Foreign Debt

Apparently this story is serious [thanks to BrianF for the link]:

Three years after staging the largest debt default in modern history, Argentina has opened what may be the first Museum of Foreign Debt to teach people the perils of borrowing abroad.

The subject is heavy but the museum's creators have tried to make the mood light and the displays accessible to everyone, especially schoolchildren.

In one corner, a pink, doll-sized play kitchen represents the recipes of the International Monetary Fund, which Argentines blame for encouraging the heavy borrowing in the 1990s that led to the catastrophic economic collapse in late 2001.

"We chose a play kitchen because we are always so innocent and believe in magic recipes from abroad," museum designer Eduardo Lopez said.

"Look, we open the freezer and the oven and there is no food."

But the museum in the University of Buenos Aires economics department does not dwell only on the latest debt crisis: it goes back to Argentina's first default in the early 1800s and gives a detailed account of the last 30 years, when the country's foreign debt woes snowballed.

I can hardly imagine what economic analysis lies behind these displays. I realize it is always convenient to blame foreigners for a country's overspending; lord knows, the Canadian opposition to foreign investment throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s exemplifies this behaviour. At the same time, I hope the museum points out that when there is more capital, the marginal product of labour rises (along with wages).

I find it appropriate that the appliances contain no food. The whole thing smacks of empty rhetoric to me.
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