Read President Javier Milei's Interview With TIME

The President of Argentina, Javier Milei, being interviewed in the Casa Rosada on April 25. Credit - Irina Werning for TIME

Read our full cover story on Javier Milei here. You can also read the transcript of the interview in Spanish here.

Argentina’s President Javier Milei sat down for an interview with TIME in his office at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires on April 25.

Milei, who won the presidency last November, discussed his first few months in office and the progress of his “shock therapy” program to pull the country out of its economic crisis. He also discussed the evolution of some of his campaign promises, including his pledge to dollarize the economy and refuse to deal with China’s Communist assassin” regime, as well as his alignment with the United States and Israel, his prolific use of social media, his meetings with former President Donald Trump and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and why he thinks his plan to “Make Argentina Great Again” will become a global blueprint.

Below is a transcript, lightly edited for clarity, of the interview between Milei and TIME Senior Correspondent Vera Bergengruen.

<span class="copyright">Photograph by Irina Werning for TIME</span>
Photograph by Irina Werning for TIME

TIME: You adopted the slogan "Make Argentina Great Again." When [Donald] Trump said it in 2016 in the United States, that slogan meant returning the country to a previous era. What does "Make Argentina Great Again" mean to you?

Javier Milei: Well, actually, in the year 1895, according to Angus Maddison, may he rest in peace, and his team's estimates, Argentina reached the highest GDP per capita in the world. In fact, Argentina was the leading global power. Argentina achieved this in 35 years.

What we call the “Generation of '37” drafted a Constitution that was very much aligned with that of the founding fathers of the United States. This Constitution, which was adopted in 1853, established an institutional order in Argentina in 1854, after Urquiza defeated Rosas in the Battle of Caseros, but it was not yet possible to include the Province of Buenos Aires.

After the Battles of Cepeda and Pavón, Argentina was established with the addition of the Province of Buenos Aires and the implementation of the Constitution began. This means that from 1860 onwards, Argentina went from being a barbarian country to becoming the leading global power in 35 years, embracing the ideas of liberty. Argentina stayed this way until the mid-1910s, when the Unión Cívica Radical (Radical Civil Union) came to power with Hipólito Yrigoyen, and Argentina faced its first case of populism.

After that came the liberal government of Marcelo T. de Alvear, but then Yrigoyen returned. In fact, because of the populist measures he was taking, especially regarding the Rental Law, he was ousted because people could see he was clearly infringing on private property rights. In that context, the coup of 1930 took place. Basically, that was when Argentina adopted a fascist regime, which I call a two-legged fascist regime.

On the one hand, you had corrupt politicians; on the other hand, you had crony businessmen. In that arrangement between crony businessmen and corrupt politicians facing the Great Depression, they implemented a set of measures that worked against the population. The most emblematic case, for example, was the creation of the Central Bank in 1935, precisely to save businessmen who had made bad decisions regarding debt from going broke.

As the terms of trade worsened and they found themselves in debt with strong pesos backed by gold, the Central Bank was established to facilitate devaluation, saving those businessmen and making the Argentine population pay for those costs.

Excuse meSo for you, "Make Argentina Great Again" means returning to that-

Milei: Returning to Argentina's libertarian roots. Look, this is an important historical fact. Let me give you at least some historical context. This is my vision. Many institutions were created to save crony businessmen. Of course, this was done with the connivance of politicians. All those measures worked against the people. That generated a lot of resentment in Argentina toward businessmen. In the United States, businessmen are treated as heroes.

At least until recently. So, this created a lot of resentment because if you did well financially, surely you had done something shady. Perón captured that resentment. Perón created this three-legged fascism. He seated the workers at the table alongside businessmen and the state. He fed on the resentment born during the conservative regime of 1930, and that's when wild populism began.

When we came to power, Argentina ranked 140th in the world. The idea of "Making Argentina Great Again" involves rebuilding libertarian values, which we call "liberal" in Spanish.


Milei: That's why I use the term libertarian—returning to those libertarian values that made Argentina the leading global power. In that context, I initially got involved in the cultural battle and then ended up getting involved in politics.

I specialize in economic growth, and there is something called convergence, which means that underdeveloped countries grow faster than developed ones; at some point, you catch up. "Make Argentina Great Again" means to make Argentina a global power again based on the fundamentals of economic growth, and that economic growth will go hand in hand with institutions, which implies embracing the ideas of freedom again. You see, wasn't that little detour worth it? I just told you, I don't know, like almost 150 or 200 years of Argentine history in a nutshell.

Quite brief. Let's go back to the present. You said that the Argentine people would experience [these austerity measures] as a "V" and that the hardest part would happen between March and April. Now it's almost May. Is the worst part over?

Milei: Exactly. Yes. Let me give you some context. If you have twin deficits representing four points of GDP, that’s a yellow alert. If you have twin deficits representing eight points, you are on the verge of a major crisis. We inherited twin deficits of 17 points of GDP. Of those 17, 15 were fiscal deficit: 5 in the Treasury, and 10 in the Central Bank.

The capital control measures in place led to an exchange rate gap of 200%—a three-to-one relationship between the market exchange rate and the official one. We had negative net international reserves, the agreement with the International Monetary Fund had fallen through, and we had monetary liabilities in the Central Bank equivalent to three times the monetary base, which were due within a day, meaning the amount of money could be quadrupled in a single day.

When we took office, inflation was running at an annual rate of 7,500%, which later translated into a 54% increase in the wholesale price index. Annually, this would amount to 17,000. Interestingly, today, this figure stands at 5%. We have slashed the inflation problem by 90%. There is still a long way to go, but we are on the right track. That's the context we had when we came in.

What happens? When implementing an adjustment, to prevent it from being recessive –it could even be expansive–the increase in savings resulting from the adjustment must be matched by an increase in investment.

We knew that given all the mismanagement under Kirchnerism, the unsuccessful experience of Macrism, and the composition of Congress, we knew that, potentially, we couldn't-- I'll show you the facts later. We knew that we wouldn't be able to change the regulatory framework to quickly stimulate investment. That increase in savings without a corresponding increase in investment would cause a significant decline in economic activity.

You know what was most interesting? We did that from the start. At the beginning-- As you can see, we took office on Sunday, the 10th, and by the 13th, we were already making announcements. Why did it take until the 13th—three days? Basically, because we hadn't appointed the governor of the Central Bank yet. We needed the nominations to move forward; otherwise, we couldn't start the program. Can you imagine not being able to make--?

I spoke about this with your Economy Minister yesterday.

Milei: It started on the 13th when we announced the zero-deficit program and the Central Bank cleanup process, and we conducted an exchange rate market adjustment for a more realistic exchange rate. We do all of this in one go. This is crucial. First, there was no other option but to go for the shock approach because, when you look at all the adjustment programs in Argentina, gradualism has always ended badly, while every shock program, except one, ended well. That's the first point. Except for the one in 1959, all the others were expansive. Activity increased, employment rose, real wages rose, and inflation decreased. Empirical evidence supported the shock strategy.

The other thing is that gradualism requires financing. Argentina faced a country risk of nearly 2,900 basis points. Argentina had no financing, so you didn't have any other alternative. You had to stop the money printing press, which meant addressing the fiscal deficit and the Central Bank's issues. So, our approach was doing it from day one.

Why is this important? Because the strongest impact took place between January and February, but during January and February people are usually on vacation. We made the biggest adjustment in the history of humanity because, in the first quarter, we adjusted 13 of the 15 points. There is no historical record of such a thing, not only in Argentine history but also in world history. The International Monetary Fund itself acknowledges it, and we did it in three months.

When the worst happened, people were away on vacation. When March came, they were faced with this shock. What started to happen in April? What did we start seeing? First, inflation started decreasing, and now wages are starting to outpace inflation, leading to the recovery of real wages that will help restore consumption. That's the first point.

Second point. Relative prices became more realistic. As a result, previously stagnant sectors are seeing a strong expansion. You can now see a strong expansion in mining, gas, oil, and agriculture. That's the recovery. On the other hand, when you look at consumption indicators, the consumption indicators for non-durable goods have not moved much.

I always say durable goods are characteristic of the economic cycle. What we're witnessing today is that all those items that had previously shown a decline are either stable or their rate of decline has been significantly reduced. You start to see how the economy is strongly bouncing back. In other words, the economy is getting ready for a significant rebound. In fact, anyone would say it's incredible that mortgage loans have returned in Argentina in the past week.

So, if we were to graph it, it would be like this part of the V.

Milei: We are going through the bottom of the V.


Milei: Then, not only will we experience a rebound, but also, when we release the currency controls, we'll have an additional rebound push. Also, what will happen considering Argentina is very undercapitalized and has little capital? The return of capital. When something is scarce, it becomes very valuable, which means it has high returns. That favors investment, even with the institutional framework we have.

Also, the fiscal adjustment implies 15 points of savings because these points are no longer used by the parasitic state and are redirected to a productive private sector. So, you have another growth push there. If we can start adding structural reforms at some point, Argentina is in a position to grow at rates between 7% and 10% per capita annually.

Look, when we sent the emergency decree to Congress, which is still effective, they couldn't overturn it, and court rulings in our favor are starting to come out. And combined with the Ley de bases (Bases Law), Argentina could jump 90 positions in the Index of Economic Freedom, reaching Germany. In those first 30 days, we sent 1,000 structural reforms, which is considerably more than what was achieved throughout the entire 20th century, when you think about it.

Not only that, but also, I don't know how many of the reforms we've proposed will remain, but If we achieve good electoral results in 2025 and manage to change the composition of Congress, not only will we finish sending the reforms that were not passed, but we could also send 3,000 more.

Because it’s not that we want to resemble Germany in terms of economic freedom; we want to resemble Ireland, Switzerland, or the freest countries in the world. In other words, we want to achieve a GDP per capita that's 50% higher than that of the United States in the long term.

You have executed a significant fiscal consolidation, but looking ahead, how much does the continuous improvement of fiscal accounts depend on Congress approving structural reforms?

Milei: Structural reforms contribute to long-term economic growth, not the current economic situation. That's why we have room to maneuver. That's why, given this rebound, the removal of currency controls, and our initial undercapitalization, we still have much to grow and expand on, even without the structural reforms. Also, we can expect a significant acceleration once we implement these reforms.

Besides, growth does not happen instantaneously, and one of the things we encourage is considering investment in terms of real options that allow you to adjust your project and capitalize on growth opportunities without risking everything. You will strongly boost the economy in the short term and lay the groundwork for coming out on top once the economic laws have been passed.

Dollarization was one of the emblems of your campaign. In January, you said you were "very close," in your words, to achieving that. Are you still considering the idea of dollarizing the economy, or how would you describe the timeline?

Milei: Things are different; "dollarization" is just the term they're using to describe it. We have always talked about currency competition; it's just that--

That was the term you used in the campaign, not because people-

Milei: It's how--We also represented the cut in public spending with a chainsaw. The question is, are we doing it or not? Yes, we have completed 13 points of the adjustment; it's not like we aren't working on it. The central aspect of our argument revolves around the nature of the Central Bank. The fundamental question is, do you support theft?

Me? I don't think anyone supports theft.

Milei: Well, but when the Central Bank prints money, it's scamming you. This means you lose the purchasing power of the money you have in your pocket, which is theft. In other words, printing money and putting it on the market is theft; it's counterfeiting; it's fraud.

The first argument against the existence of the Central Bank is that it is theft, fraud, and a mechanism by which politicians steal from good people. Then, you have the technical argument: can it be done or not?

The truth is that there are different ways to implement these mechanisms, but then there’s the political issue. In other words, the proposal I made for dollarization of the five we had was viable and is the only one that remained standing. Still, the problem was that I needed to take the Central Bank's public bonds and turn them into market bonds. Of course, that was going to trade at a discount similar to what it was when we took office, when the bonds were priced at around $18, $20, trading at 18%, 20%, let's say 20%.

Today, Argentine bonds trade at 60. If I had implemented dollarization at that time, I would have been in jail because most of the political caste would have accused me of selling something worth 60 at 20. In fact, I would argue that with this level of fiscal adjustment, if we had implemented dollarization, the bonds would not be valued at 60 today; they would be worth at least 80.

So, imagine a 300% gain, which means multiplying by four. Today, I would be in jail. Argentinian politicians would have put me in jail because, anyway, they are the big beneficiaries of this theft. Just to give you an idea, the previous government stole 28 points of GDP from Argentinians through seigniorage. Of those 28 points of GDP, 13 were stolen during the last year, which means they issued a lot of money to try to win the elections.

That's why we have to make the adjustment we have to make.

I've been talking to many people on the street here [in Buenos Aires]. At your inauguration, you said that you asked two things from the Argentine people: trust and patience, mainly patience.

Milei: I also said that the road would be tough, but that this time it would be worth it.

I was about to say that you also stated it would be a challenging period, and people voted for you knowing that. But still, in recent months, through X [formerly known as Twitter], you have belittled and, at times, mocked Argentinians who oppose your measures. In the end, they are the ones who bear the consequences, and, of course, it’s difficult for them. I wanted to ask if you are extending Argentines the same patience that you asked them for.

Javier: I'm here to do my job; they voted for me to decrease inflation, reignite growth, and put an end to insecurity. I'm getting rid of inflation, laying the groundwork to grow again, and the streets are safe. I'm doing my job; I'm doing my work. How I handle my social media is my own business. Go to my X profile and check it out. What does it say in the description?

The bio of your personal account?

Milei: What does it say?

I think it just says, "Javier Milei's personal account," doesn't it?

Milei: Exactly, it says, "Javier Milei. Economist."

It's not the Casa Rosada's account.

Milei: If you want the official versions, read the official versions. I handle my X account just like any other citizen, or do I have fewer freedoms than other Argentinians just because I'm the president?

But many feel quite targeted in that sense.

Javier: I don't know who feels targeted. Tell me, who feels targeted?

For example, there was the issue of the university demonstration.

Milei: Look, I explained it on Twitter. Let me tell you what the argument was. The argument is that the demonstration was built on a big straw man fallacy. They accused us of saying things we never said. It's as if I told you, "You said you like kicking walls," and then they start accusing you of kicking walls when you never said that.

You never said that. They accuse us of saying things we never said, and then they attack us for those things we never said and someone else invented.

[To you] it was a political demonstration.

Because in that sense, if we transfer funds to universities-- It's not true that we want to close them; it's not true that we want to strip them of funds. All we said was that they need to be audited. If you're allocating public resources, you have to audit them, or are you against auditing funds? Because an honest person wouldn’t mind being audited. The ones who mind being audited are the thieves.

Disclosure principle. Why don't you want them audited? I wouldn't speak badly of you if you were against auditing them. We just said that the funds are there, they were transferred, and all we want to do is audit them to ensure that the education system gets the resources it needs and that they're not stolen for political purposes. If you don't want to be audited, it's because you're dirty. That's the truth.

What did they do? Since they don't want to be audited, they made up a lie, which led society to march for it. Now, it’s very interesting because who do you think went to the demonstration? Do you want to tell me what the CGT (General Confederation of Labor) and the union members have to do with the supposed legitimate and noble claim that a university student can make?

Do you want to tell me what the picketers have to do with this? Do you want to tell me what La Cámpora, Sergio Massa's Frente Renovador , or the Unión Cívica Radical have to do with a person like Lousteau, who shamefully votes for his own salary increase while trying to play innocent?

You’re defending all of them. Because, just so you know, what that demonstration exposed was the fact that they used students, they took advantage of a noble cause for a political purpose. What do the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have to do with it? What does Pérez Esquivel have to do with this demonstration? Are you in favor of a group that, because they lost the elections, tries to stage a coup?

The reason I was asking is because-

Milei: That's all there is to it. Those people who are complaining, they are the same ones who sank Argentina, regardless of the university issue, and everything we're accused of is false.

People who are not in Argentina, and who don't know much about what's going on here, know a lot about you through your social media.

Milei: I communicate directly with-

That's how you ran the campaign. That's how people got to know you.

Milei: My social media has much more traffic than all the news channels in Argentina.

I think you might be the world's most active leader on social media.

Milei: In fact, the impact of the nationwide broadcast we did on the economy's overview during the first three months, not counting social media, reached a peak rating of 46 points-- That's almost half of the Argentinians. Should I be worried about a politically motivated group from the capital? Do you understand what I'm saying?

Just so you know, my Twitter post got four times more mentions than anything those politicians posted about the protest. That's it. Tell me, where do you think the public stands?

You've kept that level of activity during your presidency. There's a website that records how much time you spend on X.

Milei: The other thing they should consider, first, is that I'm a hyperactive person. I wake up around 6:00 AM and go to bed around midnight.

You sleep six hours a night?

Milei: Yes. That's the first point to consider. The second point is, when do I use social media? The moments I use it are very clear and defined. I use it in four moments. One is in the morning; if you're here early, you'll see me having breakfast, phone in hand.

I also use it at noon, if there's no work lunch, and I use it in the afternoon during teatime. Then, I use it at night, after dinner. It doesn't interfere with my work, and in the meantime, I work all day.

I'm not saying it interferes. I'm saying that the rest of the world knows you through your social media, and it's interesting because it's a bit like what Donald Trump did in 2016, when it wasn't common for a president to have such a personal connection with the outside world.

Milei: But I connect directly with people because you can see that the vast majority of Argentine journalists are liars; it's a sewer.

You want to speak directly to the people.

Milei: I speak directly with the people. I say, "Why do I need an intermediary if I can talk directly with the people?" I say, "Direct dialogue with the people." I don't need intermediaries who, by the way, are mostly liars and have turned this country into a sewer. Let me tell you, there were many journalists who, despite knowing the truth about the demonstration, still spread lies. What kind of journalists would they be if they gave the green light to a lie? Are they journalists or political operatives? They're extortionists.

Because many of them come and tell you that if you speak ill of them, if you don't give them money, they'll crush you. Such lovely people. That's a big part of Argentine journalism, and you know what happens to them? We cut off their government advertising revenue, and that makes them really nervous. And the more dependent they are on advertising and see that their business is in danger, the worse they speak of us. Why would I beg them for something if I could speak directly with the people?

As I said, one of the first people to do this was Donald Trump. You've said you're a big Trump admirer. You have been clear that you agree with him on many positions.

Milei: Especially in his fight against socialism.


Milei: He's one of those who best understood the fight against socialism.

Speaking of that, you've called President Biden a socialist. A "moderate socialist," that's what you said.

Milei: If you look at my Davos speech, you’ll see I assess socialism in great detail.

I heard it, but to be direct: do you want Trump to win the elections in November?

Milei: Well, the most important thing is to understand that I consider the United States a strategic ally, regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans win. I have an excellent relationship with the Biden administration and with many of its officials.

But that's regardless of my preferences. In this case, my preferences hold the twenty-fifth place among my priorities. Why? Because I work as the president of Argentina, my relationship is with the United States, regardless of my preferences.

Because you met Trump before you were president.

Milei: No, it wasn't a formal meeting when I met Trump. We met in a hallway.

Behind the stage. Yes.

Mieli: Exactly. That's outside protocol.

So that was a personal meeting; you weren't speaking for Argentina.

Milei: No, I ran into him in a hallway. Of course, I was going to greet him.

How was that meeting?

Milei: It wasn't a meeting.

Well, how was it then? The meeting, conversation--?

Milei: It was fun.

Clearly, you've known each other for some time and have admired each other's ideas.

Milei: I've always said that I praise Trump's work in his fight against socialism.

Are you in touch with people from Trump's circle? Because many of them say they admire you.

Milei: Given my current role, I handle things cautiously. Because, again, my connection is with the United States. I have connections with the Democratic Party, and I have connections with the Republican Party because my connection is with the United States.

Speaking of connections, you've been very clear that you want to align with the United States and Israel and that you're going to change the-

Milei: I believe I was clear.

Quite clear.

Milei: In fact, the world has recognized that we have taken the clearest position on Israel, unlike anyone else.

You've said that Israel hasn't committed "a single excess" in its military actions in Gaza, which have left more than 30,000 dead. After six months, do you still believe that? You said a few weeks ago that Israel hasn't committed any excesses in this war.

Milei: I've always defended Israel's right to legitimate defense. Israel and the things they do are in line with international rules. I can assure you that Israel doesn't deviate from that at all. If Israel deviated from that at all, it would be hard to deal with the counteroffensive. I know for a fact how meticulous Israel is. The thing is, if you'd asked at the demonstration the other day why they were waving the Palestinian flag, their answer would obviously be nonsensical.

Even in universities in the United States, they persecute Jews. There's a lot of hostility toward Judaism, and there's a wave of anti-Semitism that makes people look at the situation biasedly or have bad intentions. If it really was as bad as some say, they would have been condemned by now.

Many around the world condemn it.

Milei: No, I mean effective condemnations or effective trials where these things are discussed seriously. Not from people who play biased games in an anti-Semitic way.

You've said that, as president, you wouldn't “do business with murderers." And when you spoke about China, you said that trading with China was like "trading with murderers." Has your position changed?

Milei: I said I don't talk to communists.

You said, "Trading with murderers."

Milei: As I said, trading is linked to the private sector. It is linked to the private sector and the decisions they make in the private sector. In my case, I don't align politically with communists.

You haven't changed your position on China from what it was during your campaign?

Milei: My position is that people can do whatever they want. They can trade with whomever they want. I just don't form strategic alliances with communists.

I think the foreign minister is about to visit China, right? What do you expect from those meetings? What would you like to get out of that kind of trip?

Milei: The foreign minister carries out the trade agenda. It's a commercial agenda, and that has to do with how the relationship has been constructed. To maintain a trade link. That's why she does what she does.

A week ago, you met with Elon Musk in Texas.

Milei: A marvelous meeting.

You discussed investments and many other topics, and you also mentioned a big event in Argentina that would "promote the ideas of freedom." Could you fill me in on what was discussed?

First, I thought he was an extraordinary person with a remarkable level of spirituality and depth. We discussed, let's say, three topics. We discussed potential business opportunities in Argentina with our ambassador, Gerardo Werthein, who talked about our different possibilities in Argentina.

I explained everything we are working on regarding investments, how we treat both local and international investment so that the state won't expropriate the private sector, the mechanism, how it is done, and all that. Then, there was a spiritual part with my rabbi, Axel Wahnish, our ambassador in Israel.

They discussed current issues related to the teachings of Judaism. Then, we discussed demographic issues for a good while. I explained everything related to demography, growth, and technological progress. In fact, I participated in the demography and growth panel at the first meeting I attended at the WEF, so I know a lot about that topic.

We were very excited about that conversation. Based on the integration of demography, technological progress, and growth, I proposed that he come to Buenos Aires to talk about these topics and hold a major congress on the subject. He loved the idea. That's where the picture of us shaking hands and sealing a verbal pact was taken.

Did he say yes?

Milei: Sure, of course. Yes.

That will be very interesting.

Milei: Yes, because we'll also invite specialists in the field from all over the world and meet with technological leaders soon. In fact, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni invited me to participate in the G7 on artificial intelligence topics. We're going to work on some very interesting things, and we are very optimistic about it.

You agree with Musk, Trump, and others on the concept of "culture wars."

Milei: Absolutely.

Would you say that some of the things you've done [on this front], such as banning gender-inclusive language, serve as a distraction from larger issues that only antagonize people?

Milei: Let's see. Let’s take a different direction. Our government operates along three lines. There's an, let's say, economic battle, a political battle, and a cultural battle. We believe post-Marxism jeopardizes Western values and could lead the world to ruin.

The thing is that in order to understand that, you need to read a lot of Mises and Hayek. You have to understand the issue of polarity that Mises raises, where you basically have two systems of truth, which are free-market capitalism and socialism.

What Hayek says in The Road to Serfdom is that any intermediate solution tends towards socialism. This means it creates a vicious feedback loop, a vicious circle of intervention, which deteriorates the economy and leads to more intervention. This results in more extensive intervention measures, which ultimately destroy a country. The concept of social justice is like the Trojan horse in this scenario. If you want an example of how these ideas destroyed a rich country, just look at Argentina.

I'm asking you this because you also need as much support as possible from the public.

Milei: I removed obligations and pressure from people. Language is the spontaneous construction of human beings. It will evolve as cultural matters develop. Language is one of them, and I think nobody should violently impose it by force.

The real question is, why would you agree to someone from the government coming and using state violence to force you to speak in a way that's not normal? One that is the whim of a few simple minds.

How are you denied from exercising [your] freedom? What I'm saying is, don't let some bureaucrat force you to speak in a certain way. I mean, the truth is, I'm the one advocating for your freedom. It's the person who tries to enforce that sort of thing that actually takes away your freedom. That's a socialist. My point is, let culture flow in whatever way people want. Someone in a comfortable position shouldn't use the state's repressive machinery to force you to speak in a certain way.

Speaking of personal freedom, a group of legislators from your party, La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances), presented a bill to penalize abortion, punishing women with up to three years in prison. Do you support that initiative?

Milei: What a legislator decides to do on her own has nothing to do with my stance on abortion. I'm clearly pro-life, and I have biological, philosophical, and moral arguments that support that. I even have mathematical arguments. However, that's not being debated in Argentine society nowadays. What the legislator did was self-motivated, but it didn't lead to anything.

Do you see yourself as a reformer or a revolutionary?

Milei: I want Argentina to embrace the "chair of freedom" [a concept that symbolizes limited government and personal liberty] again. That's what I want to do. For that, we have to dismantle a lot of restrictions and regulations that have been created over time. In fact, with the emergency decree and the Bases Law (Ley de bases), we aim to restore individual freedoms to citizens, restore freedom, and make markets more competitive.

These are pro-competitive reforms, not pro-business. They are pro-competitive, and we also propose reforms to end the shady and dirty business of politics. Probably, the most resistant measure is the latter because politicians don't want to stop stealing.

I asked this because when I talked to several of your officials, including the Economy Minister, they said they were impressed by the number of people who call you from all over the world. People are fascinated by what is happening here; it's like a massive economic experiment. Has the same thing happened to you? Has anyone surprised you?

Milei: I'm surprised by how many people that I look up to from around the world express their admiration for what we're doing. That really surprises me.

Like who?

Milei: In fact, a few days ago, Federico Sturzenegger sent me a picture from Harvard. He had raffled one of my books, The Path of the Libertarian, among his students. All the students were taking pictures when they received the prize. It's very interesting because he went to have a drink at the bar and ran into Robert Barro. Robert Barro said he was fascinated by the reforms I was making, supported me, and even admired me. I mean, I'm the one who deeply admires Robert Barro, but he acknowledges me.

Look, I've had some great experiences with Robert Barro. The first one was when I read his original book on macroeconomics. In fact, I liked it so much that I had both the first and third editions. I also read some of his speeches during the Lionel Robbins lectures. Then I read a wonderful book he wrote with Xavier Sala-i-Martin called Economic Growth, which was so enjoyable. Reading it was amazing and so personally satisfying.

Later, he released a new book on macroeconomics, which is structured around a growth model. As I mentioned earlier, he delves into the labor market; the same model is used but applied to the capital market. Of course, who hasn't read Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?, his famous 1974 article.

A lot is going on. Picture getting that WhatsApp message; it's fantastic. Someone I really look up to, Oded Galor, wrote this amazing book called Unified Growth Theory, where he maps the Malthusian equilibrium and endogenous growth. It's a masterpiece. Of course, I read his foundational articles. He follows me on Twitter, which is wonderful.

The transition was very quick. You went from being an economist, someone who discussed these topics academically, to putting them into practice—it must be a dream come true for an economist, right?

Milei: Yes, crossing from the laboratory into the real world is marvelous. It’s fantastic.

Do you believe Argentina will become a model for other countries, or the world?

Milei: Argentina will become a model for how to transform a country into a prosperous nation and showing how embracing the "chair of freedom" will significantly improve people's well-being.

Are you convinced it will happen?

Milei: Have no doubt, it will happen. I've always said, "I know what needs to be done, I know how to do it, and I also dare to do it." But above all, this is possible because I'm convinced that the only way out is to embrace the "chair of freedom."

I'd also like to know how your life has changed–you say you’ve always liked to work, but what do you do to unwind?

Milei: I like to work.

Yes, but you must do something else, right? Or are you thinking about economics 24/7?

Milei: Yes.

I've always been a hard worker. I'll admit I'm addicted to work. I treat this job like any other. That's crucial because when I make decisions, I think of them as part of my job, not as electoral arithmetic. As for my free time, I read, but I read popular economics or applied economics.

For example, I love this author called Steven Landsburg. The first book I read by him was called The Armchair Economist. The last one I read—besides the two others he wrote—is called More Sex is Safer. It's wonderful; he's a wonderful author. I could spend all day reading things like that.

There are two great books by Walter Block titled Defending the Undefendable. There's a first book and a second book. I like the first one better than the second. Picture this: before I got into politics, I had a 1.5-meter by 1-meter photo of Gary Becker in the middle of my living room, making the deduction of the...temporal equation that explained how consumption decreases when interest rates go up.

To relax, you read economic texts?

Milei: Of course. Gary Becker has taken economic analysis to amazing levels. His doctoral thesis, which is related to economic discrimination, and his treatises on family, human capital, rational addictions, the economic approach to human behavior, and social economics are wonderful. Everything you read by Gary Becker, like law and economics, which he called Crime and Punishment, is wonderful.

These days, you must have a little less time.

Milei: Yes, I have less time, but that's why I don't read the academic versions; I read the popular versions.

And a bit of Twitter.

Milei: Yes, Twitter as well.

Write to Vera Bergengruen at