Saturday, November 28, 2009
China replaces America
In 1900, Argentina was a happy member of the worldwide British Empire, supplying its beef demand and absorbing British capital. Later, the Americans expulsed British companies and banks and took over. The Americans explored the land and founded a local oil industry. In the sixties, after an epic political battle led by Arturo Frondizi, the American "seven sisters" were expulsed from Argentina and their nationalized holdings were consolidated into the YPF, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales.
The century ending, nationalism lost its magic and YPF was sold to Repsol, a Spanish company owned by catalan La Caixa and Sacyr, a real estate developer. Now YPF is being sold to the CNPC, the Chinese oil monopoly, for 14 billion dollars. Argentine oil industry is at the margins of the world economy, but I think that it reveals what is happening in general. And the final outcome of the 19th Century as shown in this case study is the expulsion of the Americans from their "empire" and their replacement by the dynamic Chinese People's Republic. I am not the first to notice this trend, but I am familiar with YPF and the mass movement that brought about its creation.
Illustration: General Mosconi on how the Americans created (stole, according to the author) the Argentine oil industry. The book was published by the prestigious Circulo Militar and started the process that led to the creation of YPF. I wonder what he would say now.