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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1760
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  1. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld, 1994. "The Logic of Currency Crises," NBER Working Papers 4640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Andrew K. Rose & Lars E.O. Svensson, 1993. "European Exchange Rate Credibility Before the Fall," NBER Working Papers 4495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1981. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. 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.
  9. 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.).
  10. Bensaid, Bernard & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "The instability of fixed exchange rate systems when raising the nominal interest rate is costly," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1461-1478, August.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  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. Paul R. Masson & Allan Drazen, 1994. "Credibility of Policies Versus Credibility of Policymakers," IMF Working Papers 94/49, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1995. "The Mirage of Fixed Exchange Rates," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 73-96, Fall.
  16. Maurice Obstfeld, 1991. "Destabilizing Effects of Exchange-Rate Escape Clauses," NBER Working Papers 3603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. Gulcin Ozkan & Alan Sutherland, . "A Currency Crisis Model with an Optimising Policymaker," Discussion Papers 96/11, Department of Economics, University of York.
  19. 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.
  20. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1986. "Rational and Self-fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 72-81, March.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
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