In 2009 we marvel at Chinese growth, and wonder if it can be emulated. In 1909 we marvelled at Argentina. Though it had just two thirds the income of the US or UK, it was growing at three times their rate. Forty years previous it was an economic backwater. Of the settler economies, the future was Argentina’s, not Canada or Australia.
Then things fell apart.
Argentina has one of the most fascinating economic histories in the world, a lesson in the risks of purely export-led development, and the ties between economic shocks and political chaos.
What to read in the English language?
Victor Bulmer-Thomas’ volume is the best general Latin American history I have read.
Carl Solberg’s Prairies and the Pampas takes a comparative look at Canada versus Argentina, and tries to explain the disparity. The staple theory of development is old fashioned and mostly ignored these days, but I think still hugely helpful for understanding development in commodity rich countries. See some of Ricardo Hausmann’s work for a modern incarnation.
I suppose one should read Carlos Diaz Alejandro, but few volumes are still available.