Donald Trump and Argentina's President Mauricio Macri didn't get off to the most auspicious start: According to a book by Macri's father, the 45th U.S. president once broke Macri's golf clubs over his legs, one by one.
But depending on one's politics, Argentina's president resembles his American counterpart, at least in the sense that each is a former real estate developer who promised an economic boost and presided over a big stock rally in 2017.
But, sorry Donald, Mauricio's was bigger. Bigly bigger.
"Argentina is becoming the rising star in the whole [South American] region, and that is because of the change in politics and economics from President Macri," said Alfredo Coutino, an economist at Moody's Analytics. "The free-market model is something Argentina was missing."
Argentina's benchmark stock index rose 77 percent last year. The key was a series of fundamental reforms to make the economy more free-market-oriented, which investors and lenders have cheered. The emergence of smaller technology and energy companies that bolster Argentina's traditional strength in agriculture has also led to additional market gains.
But can it last?
Like Trump, Macri is a real estate developer with a rich father who set out to turn his country's economy around. But his challenge was not to implement populist measures, but to reverse decades of populism dating to strongman Juan Peron, first elected president in 1946. From here the path of the Merval, the primary Argentine stock market index, will turn on whether Macri's shift in politics proves to be the right approach.