Abstract: From Local to Global Markets: Notes on the Role and Function of Commercial Networks in the Export Boom of Argentina, 1890-1930
Without intermediation, it is difficult for trade to take place. In this paper, I explore the centrality of local agents in the export boom at the beginning of the twentieth-century in Argentina, a country that ranked among the top five exporters of wheat in the world. Agrarian expansion was the motor of the economic growth of Argentina and it was part of a wider economic process that included other Latin American rural areas that developed forms of commercial agriculture. Rural merchants have been a driving force behind rural-led economic development in the Argentinean pampas. I am interested in analyzing not only the role of local agents but also the configuration of informal regional networks among different types of firms such as retailers, banks, importers, and grain exporters. The way in which commercial networks are organized varies over time and across space, and I concentrate on one of the margins of the pampeana region (the National Territory of La Pampa). My focus is the history of a family firm, Casa Torroba Brothers, which was the most important commercial house in La Pampa Territory, and whose long-standing commercial activity has made it one of the few cases of continuity and sustained commercial growth.