IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

How the full opening of the capital account to highly liquid financial markets led Latin America to two and a half cycles of ‘mania, panic and crash’

Listed author(s):
  • Palma, J. G.

Latin America has recently experienced three cycles of capital inflows, the first two ending in major financial crises. The first took place between 1973 and the 1982 ‘debt-crisis’. The second took place between the 1989 ‘Brady bonds’ agreement (and the beginning of the economic reforms and financial liberalisation that followed) and the Argentinian 2001/2002 crisis, and ended up with four major crises (as well as the 1997 one in East Asia) — Mexico (1994), Brazil (1999), and two in Argentina (1995 and 2001/2). Finally, the third inflow-cycle began in 2003 as soon as international financial markets felt reassured by the surprisingly neo-liberal orientation of President Lula’s government; this cycle intensified in 2004 with the beginning of a (purely speculative) commodity price-boom, and actually strengthened after a brief interlude following the 2008 global financial crash — and at the time of writing (mid-2011) this cycle is still unfolding, although already showing considerable signs of distress. The main aim of this paper is to analyse the financial crises resulting from this second cycle (both in LA and in East Asia) from the perspective of Keynesian/ Minskyian/Kindlebergian financial economics. I will attempt to show that no matter how diversely these newly financially liberalised Developing Countries tried to deal with the absorption problem created by the subsequent surges of inflow (and they did follow different routes), they invariably ended up in a major crisis. As a result (and despite the insistence of mainstream analysis), these financial crises took place mostly due to factors that were intrinsic (or inherent) to the workings of over-liquid and under-regulated financial markets — and as such, they were both fully deserved and fairly predictable. Furthermore, these crises point not just to major market failures, but to a systemic market failure: evidence suggests that these crises were the spontaneous outcome of actions by utility-maximising agents, freely operating in friendly (light-touched) regulated, over-liquid financial markets. That is, these crises are clear examples that financial markets can be driven by buyers who take little notice of underlying values — investors have incentives to interpret information in a biased fashion in a systematic way. ‘Fat tails’ also occurred because under these circumstances there is a high likelihood of self-made disastrous events. In other words, markets are not always right — indeed, in the case of financial markets they can be seriously wrong as a whole. Also, as the recent collapse of ‘MF Global’ indicates, the capacity of ‘utility-maximising’ agents operating in unregulated and over-liquid financial market to learn from previous mistakes seems rather limited.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 1201.

in new window

Date of creation: 03 Jan 2012
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1201
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2000. "Capital Market Liberalization, Economic Growth, and Instability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1075-1086, June.
  2. Raghuram G. Rajan, 2005. "Has financial development made the world riskier?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 313-369.
  3. Carlota Perez, 2002. "Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2640.
  4. McKinnon, Ronald I & Pill, Huw, 1997. "Credible Economic Liberalizations and Overborrowing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 189-193, May.
  5. Geoff Harcourt, 2011. "The Crisis in Mainstream Economics," Discussion Papers 2011-12, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1201. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jake Dyer)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.