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When the State is Untrustworthy: Public Finance and Private Banking in Porfirian Mexico

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  • MAURER, NOEL
  • GOMBERG, ANDREI

Abstract

All sovereign governments face a commitment problem: how can they promise to honor their own agreements? The standard solutions involve reputation or political institutions capable of tying the government s hands. Mexico s government in the 1880s used neither solution. It compensated its creditors by enabling them to extract rents from the rest of the economy. These rents came through special privileges over banking services and the right to administer federal taxes. Returns were extremely high: as long as the government refrained from confiscating all their assets (let alone repaying their debts) less than twice a decade, they would break even.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 64 (2004)
Issue (Month): 04 (December)
Pages: 1087-1107

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:64:y:2004:i:04:p:1087-1107_04

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  1. Jeremy A.Rogoff Bulow & Kenneth, 1986. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 43, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  2. J. Bradford De Long & Andrei Shleifer, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 4274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1986. "The Pure Theory of Country Risk," NBER Working Papers 1894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Scholarly Articles 12491028, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Haber, Stephen H., 1991. "Industrial Concentration and the Capital Markets: A Comparative Study of Brazil, Mexico, and the United States, 1830–1930," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(03), pages 559-580, September.
  6. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  7. Michael D. Bordo & Carlos A. Vegh, 1998. "What If Alexander Hamilton Had Been Argentinean? A Comparison of the Early Monetary Experiences of Argentina and the United States," NBER Working Papers 6862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Eugene White, 2001. "France's Slow Transition from Privatized to Government-Administered Tax Collection: Tax Farming in the Eighteenth Century," Departmental Working Papers 200116, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Stephen Haber, 2008. "Differential Paths of Financial Development: Evidence from New World Economies," NBER Chapters, in: Understanding Long-Run Economic Growth: Geography, Institutions, and the Knowledge Economy, pages 89-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2014. "Tax farming and the origins of state capacity in England and France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 1-20.
  3. Stephen H. Haber & Aldo Musacchio, 2013. "These Are the Good Old Days: Foreign Entry and the Mexican Banking System," NBER Working Papers 18713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stephen Quinn, 2008. "Securitization of Sovereign Debt: Corporations as a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism in Britain, 1694-1750," Working Papers 200701, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.
  5. Noel D., Johnson & Mark, Koyama, 2012. "Standardizing the fiscal state: cabal tax farming as an Intermediate Institution in early-modern England and France," MPRA Paper 40403, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Enrico Perotti & Marcel Vorage, 2010. "Bank Ownership and Financial Stability," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-022/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 11 Sep 2010.
  7. Enrico Perotti, 2013. "The Political Economy of Finance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-034/IV/DSF53, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Noel Maurer & Stephen Haber, 2007. "Related Lending: Manifest Looting or Good Governance? Lessons from the Economic History of Mexico," NBER Chapters, in: The Decline of Latin American Economies: Growth, Institutions, and Crises, pages 213-242 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Stephen Haber & Enrico Perotti, 2008. "The Political Economy of Financial Systems," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-045/2, Tinbergen Institute.

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