By Martin Hayes, R. H. Stewart

The existence and occasions of Britains such a lot notorious son. Occultist, genius, poet, prophet, mountaineer, drug and free-love pioneer, undercover agent, student, and all-round undesirable egg. Summoner of demons and loser of associates. A prophet who desired to keep mankind yet ended his days referred to as “The Wickedest guy within the World.”

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The previous populist and military regimes left a legacy of hyperinflation, inefficient bureaucracies, and stateowned companies dependent on subsidies for survival. 4 Menem and his finance minister, Domingo Cavallo, declared a two-part economic program to reduce inflation and revive the Argentine economy. The first part was a currency convertibility plan that pegged the peso to the dollar. The second part was an aggressive privatization program. 5 Menem made it known that he wanted oil as an “economic resource,” not a “sovereign resource,” and this approach culminated in YPF’s candidacy for privatization.

The military government was run by staunch conservatives eager to reduce government control of business and encourage foreign investment. 2 The government also continued the old practice of setting domestic oil prices below the world market rate. The next military dictator, General Leopoldo Galtieri, continued these oil policies. By the beginning of Galtieri’s regime in 1981, YPF had accumulated $4 billion of debt, and with the extra burdens of the government’s oil policy, the investment and expansion necessary for YPF to become self-sufficient were impossible.

Unlike other Latin American state oil companies, however, YPF never attained anything more than marginal operational or financial success. As Latin America’s oldest state oil company with the region’s third-largest oil reserves, YPF is a perfect case for examining the costs and benefits of privatization. In 1907, government construction workers discovered oil in Comodoro Rivadavia, Patagonia. The 1853 Argentine Constitution allowed the government to claim ownership of subsoil materials only on lands located in the national territories (which includes Patagonia), but not in the provinces.

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