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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. 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.
  2. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1986. "Rational and Self-fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 72-81, March.
  3. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1997. "Destabilizing effects of exchange-rate escape clauses," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1-2), pages 61-77, August.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Rose, A.K. & Svensson, L.E.O., 1993. "European Exchange Rate Credibility Before the Fall," Papers 542, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  10. Svensson, L.E.O., 1993. "Fixed Exchange Rates As a Means to Price Stability: What Have we Learned?," Papers 553, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  11. Jeffrey Sachs & Aaron Tornell & Andres Velasco, 1995. "The Collapse of the Mexican Peso: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Allan Drazen & Paul R. Masson, 1994. "Credibility of Policies Versus Credibility of Policymakers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 735-754.
  13. 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.
  14. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Mendoza, Enrique G., 1996. "Mexico's balance-of-payments crisis: a chronicle of a death foretold," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-4), pages 235-264, November.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Maurice Obstfeld, 1994. "The Logic of Currency Crises," NBER Working Papers 4640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
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