The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism

By Paul H. Lewis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
The Role of Foreign Capital

Argentine industry underwent considerable change between 1955 and 1973. First, there was a shift from labor-intensive to capital-intensive methods of production. Second, the average industrial enterprise became larger. Third, technological progress and growth in size, while felt in all branches of manufacturing, were especially true of such fields as iron and steel, chemicals, petroleum derivatives, rubber, automobiles, and machine building. Those were known as "dynamic" industries, to distinguish them from more "traditional" industries like food processing, tobacco, textiles, clothing, leather, and woodworking. Fourth, most of those changes occurred as a result of foreign investment, often by multinational corporations. Tables 13.1 and 13.2 illustrate some of these trends.

Although Perón may have initiated some of those changes when he opened the country to foreign capital in 1954, table 13.1 shows that the general effect of his rule was to increase the number of small, labor-intensive establishments. By 1954 the average industrial enterprise was smaller and had less installed horsepower than in 1943. After 1954 there was a slowdown in the appearance of new establishments, and indeed there was a sharp contraction in their numbers after 1964. The industrial labor force continued to grow, but at a slower pace; still, the average factory was larger in 1974 than it had been in the previous twenty years. The greatest gain was in installed horsepower, however. The average amount per establishment, and the ratio of horsepower to hand labor increased dramatically.

Larger firms were playing a more dominant role in industry as employers of labor and producers of goods. Those employing more than 200 workers constituted only six-tenths of one percent in 1964, just as they had in 1946; yet in that interval they raised their portion of the total industrial labor force from 29 percent to 40 percent and that of the total value of industrial production from one-third to one-half.

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