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The Mexican Peso Crisis: Sudden Death or Death Foretold?

  • Jeffrey Sachs
  • Aaron Tornell
  • Andres Velasco

We argue that allowing for the possibility of a self-fulfilling panic helps in understanding several features of the recent Mexican crisis. Self-fulfilling expectations became decisive in generating a panic only after the government ran down gross reserves and ran up short-term dollar debt. We present a simple model to explain how and why multiple equilibria can occur for some levels of reserves or debt, but not for others. Lastly, we argue that the imperfect credibility of Mexican exchange rate policy made it advisable to follow more contractionary fiscal and monetary policies in 1994. Our model formalizes the reasons why this is so.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1760.

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Date of creation: 1996
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1760
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  1. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1995. "The Mirage of Fixed Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 5191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Guillermo A. Calvo & Enrique G. Mendoza, 1996. "Mexico's balance-of-payments crisis: a chronicle of death foretold," International Finance Discussion Papers 545, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Maurice Obstfeld, 1991. "Destabilizing Effects of Exchange-Rate Escape Clauses," NBER Working Papers 3603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Svensson, Lars E O, 1994. "Fixed Exchange Rates as a Means to Price Stability: What Have We Learned?," CEPR Discussion Papers 872, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. Allan Drazen & Paul R. Masson, 1993. "Credibility of Policies versus Credibility of Policymakers," NBER Working Papers 4448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1988. "Servicing the Public Debt: The Role of Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 647-61, September.
  8. Maurice Obstfeld, 1994. "The Logic of Currency Crises," NBER Working Papers 4640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Velasco, Andres, 1987. "Financial crises and balance of payments crises : A simple model of the southern cone experience," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1-2), pages 263-283, October.
  10. de Kock, Gabriel & Grilli, Vittorio, 1993. "Fiscal Policies and the Choice of Exchange Rate Regime," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(417), pages 347-58, March.
  11. Bensaid, B.B. & Jeanne, O., 1995. "The Instability of Fixed Exchange Rate Systems when Raising the Nominal Interest Rate is Costly," Papers 9536, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  12. 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.
  13. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-25, August.
  14. Rose, Andrew K & Svensson, Lars E O, 1993. "European Exchange Rate Credibility Before the Fall," CEPR Discussion Papers 852, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Guillermo A. Calvo & Pablo E. Guidotti, 1990. "Credibility and Nominal Debt: Exploring the Role of Maturity in Managing Inflation," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 37(3), pages 612-635, September.
  16. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  17. Ozkan, F. Gulcin & Sutherland, Alan, 1998. "A currency crisis model with an optimising policymaker," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 339-364, April.
  18. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1986. "Rational and Self-fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 72-81, March.
  19. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
  20. Cukierman, Alex & Leiderman, Leonardo & Spiegel, Yossi, 1994. "Choosing the Width of Exchange Rate Bands - Credibility vs. Flexibility," CEPR Discussion Papers 907, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Ozkan, F Gulcin & Sutherland, Alan, 1995. "Policy Measures to Avoid a Currency Crisis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 510-19, March.
  22. Flood, Robert P. & Garber, Peter M., 1984. "Collapsing exchange-rate regimes : Some linear examples," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 1-13, August.
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