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The Mexican economic crisis: alternative views


  • Marco A. Espinosa-Vega
  • Steven Russell


The authors of this article suggest that many of the explanations for the 1994 crisis are based on questionable assumptions and dubious analysis. They contend that, when trying to explain the crisis, most authors have concentrated on the wrong economic "fundamentals." They challenge the conventional view that the crisis was caused by a combination of flawed fiscal, monetary, and exchange rate policies. Their explanation for the crisis belongs in an alternative camp that emphasizes the vulnerability of the Mexican financial system to swings in expectations and investor confidence. ; In their view, the Mexican financial crisis was an expectations-driven liquidity crisis that shares many similarities with the financial panics that afflicted the U.S. economy during the late nineteenth century. The immediate cause of the Mexican crisis was political turmoil that created concern among foreign lenders about the safety of their investments. Mexican borrowers' "over-reliance" on short-term liabilities made both individual borrowers and the financial system extremely vulnerable to the adverse political events that shook the confidence of foreign investors. ; This article's principal policy recommendation is for the Mexican government to set up a system of term-graduated multiple reserve requirements for banks ("circuit breakers"). These would give financial institutions (and direct borrowers) strong incentives to lengthen the average term of their debts and make the country's financial system less susceptible to liquidity crises. The average term of the government's liability portfolio would also increase, reducing its own vulnerability to liquidity crises.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco A. Espinosa-Vega & Steven Russell, 1996. "The Mexican economic crisis: alternative views," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Jan, pages 21-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:1996:i:jan:p:21-44:n:v.80no.1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
    2. Harold L. Cole & Timothy J. Kehoe, 2000. "Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(1), pages 91-116.
    3. Owen F. Humpage & Jean M. McIntire, 1995. "An introduction to currency boards," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 2-11.
    4. Sachs, Jeffrey & Tornell, Aaron & Velasco, Andres, 1995. "The Collapse of the Mexican Peso: What Have We Learned?," Working Papers 95-22, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    5. Neil Wallace, 1996. "Narrow banking meets the Diamond-Dybvig model," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 3-13.
    6. William Roberds, 1995. "Financial crises and the payments system: lessons from the National Banking Era," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Sep, pages 15-31.
    7. Espinosa-Vega, Marco A, 1995. "Multiple Reserve Requirements," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(3), pages 762-776, August.
    8. Carlos E. Zarazaga, 1995. "Argentina, Mexico, and currency boards: another case of rules versus discretion," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q IV, pages 14-24.
    9. Rudiger Dornbusch & Alejandro Werner, 1994. "Mexico: Stabilization, Reform, and No Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 253-316.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mathur, Ike & Gleason, Kimberly C. & Singh, Manohar, 1998. "Did markets react efficiently to the 1994 Mexican peso crisis? Evidence from Mexican ADRS," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 39-48, January.
    2. Moreno-García, Elena, 2007. "Análisis y clasificación de las explicaciones a la crisis financiera mexicana de 1994," eseconomía, Escuela Superior de Economía, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, vol. 0(15), pages 29-52, tercer tr.
    3. Bustelo, Pablo, 2000. "Novelties of financial crises in the 1990s and the search for new indicators," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 229-251, November.
    4. Michael J. Chriszt, 2000. "Perspectives on a potential North American monetary union," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q4, pages 29-38.


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