9781572460751 / 157246075X

Subsurface wealth: The struggle for privatization in Argentina


Publisher:Foundation for Economic Education



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About the book:

In 1865, only seven years after the oil business was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, the first attempt at oil exploration was made in the province of Jujuy, Argentina. In contrast with the extraordinary development and growth that the U.S. oil industry experienced, early attempts by oil pioneers in Argentina were met by a brick wall- public property of the subsurface and the resulting state intervention in the industry. In the U.S., the prospect of striking oil fueled the dreams and guided the actions of thousands of landowners, investors, and independent prospectors. The oil business quickly expanded in the United States, bringing prosperity to apparently barren and desert areas. No development of this sort took place in Argentina. Public ownership of the subsurface discouraged all incentives for risk-taking, investment, and technological innovation. The regions with oil potential were doomed to oblivion and poverty; their inhabitants migrated to more prosperous areas.

This book exposes and analyzes the institutional framework that restrained the development of the oil industry in Argentina, and develops a proposal for radical change- giving surface owners title to the subsurface.

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