Know the story to have a better future

October 29, 2018 - By Joseph Taylor

One of the most influential economists of the twentieth century, John Maynard Keynes, once reported that Professor Max Planck, later Nobel Prize in Physics and one of the originators of Quantum Theory, had told him that as a young man he had considered studying economics, but I had given up trying to find her too difficult. Keynes reflected that certainly Professor Planck could comfortably master the main body of what is known as mathematical economics in a few days, so that was not where the difficulty resided. But the problem lay in the “amalgam of logic and intuition and extensive knowledge of the facts, most of which are not precise, all elements that are necessary for a correct interpretation of economic facts.”

Today, the study of economics has made enormous progress, supported by growing sophistication in the field of economic theory, based on increasingly advanced mathematical tools, as well as in the methods for accurately collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data. these reflections made by the English economist seem not to have lost relevance.

And it is due to this reason that the study of economic history continues to be maintained as a central discipline in the study of Economics, even though the importance assigned to this subject in the programs of the main educational centers of the world has not remained constant. the long of the time.

Among many others, there are two powerful arguments for the study of past events, as recently pointed out by one of the most notable historians and debaters today, Dr. Niall Ferguson, professor of the Faculties of History and also of the Business School from Harvard University. The first argument, that dead people outnumber live ones in a ratio of fourteen to one, so it is a real waste to ignore the accumulated experience of such an overwhelming majority, the current world population represents only 7% of all beings humans that once lived. The second, that the past, in the words of the Scottish historian, is our only source of knowledge, in relation to an ephemeral present (what Jean Paul Sartre masterfully defined as saying that “the present is not”) and the multiple possible futures of the which one will only happen.

In our country, for its part, the study of economic history has made very significant progress in the last 50 years, with the support of important advances made both in the field of economic theory and in the field of applied economics. Now, in the New Economic History of Argentina, published by editorial Edhasa, Roberto Cortés Conde and Gerardo della Paolera, together with an extended group of renowned historians and economists, have carried out a neat reconstruction of the main contributions made in this field during these years, beginning with the changes that took place in the universities after 1955, going through the famous essays by Carlos Díaz Alejandro in 1970 published originally by Yale University Press, until arriving at the most recent and novel contributions in this field. A contribution that will be of great interest and usefulness for those who want to venture deeper into this area of ​​knowledge.

Argentina, and its various historical antecedents, from the appearance of paper money in 1822 when the Bank of Discounts was created, had only during the 19th century something less than 30% of the total elapsed time with a convertible currency, and 47% without being in default of its debt (since the first external loan contracted by the Province of Buenos Aires in 1824). While a country like the United States had in 1900 the same level of prices as in 1774, in Buenos Aires only between 1836 and 1851, years of government of General Rosas, prices rose by 100%, while the exchange rate was depreciated by 250%.

To this strong instability, Argentina added as the next century progressed, a very poor pattern of growth that, after the mid-seventies, was transformed into a process of structural regression with the devastating political and social consequences that we experienced. until the present.

It is therefore, especially in countries like ours, where with all the differences that may occur, since history never repeats itself in the same way, it is that the study of our past is of particular importance. So that some day we can say with fairness that we learned from history and thus we were able to modify our future.

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