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NAFTA and Mexico's Less-Than-Stellar Performance

  • Aaron Tornell
  • Frank Westermann
  • Lorenza Martinez

Mexico, a prominent liberalizer, failed to attain stellar gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the 1990s, and since 2001 its GDP and exports have stagnated. In this paper we argue that the lack of spectacular growth in Mexico cannot be blamed on either the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the other reforms that were implemented, but on the lack of further judicial and structural reform after 1995. In fact, the benefits of liberalization can be seen in the extraordinary growth of exports and foreign domestic investment (FDI). The key to the Mexican puzzle lies in Mexico's response to crisis: a deterioration in contract enforceability and an increase in nonperforming loans. As a result, the credit crunch in Mexico has been far deeper and far more protracted than in the typical developing country. The credit crunch has hit the nontradables sector especially hard and has generated bottlenecks, which have blocked growth in the tradables sector and have contributed to the recent fall in exports.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10289.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10289
Note: IFM
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  1. Gelos, R. Gaston & Werner, Alejandro M., 2002. "Financial liberalization, credit constraints, and collateral: investment in the Mexican manufacturing sector," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 1-27, February.
  2. Aaron Tornell & Gerardo Esquivel Hernández, 1997. "The Political Economy of Mexico's Entry into NAFTA," NBER Chapters, in: Regionalism versus Multilateral Trade Arrangements, NBER-EASE Volume 6, pages 25-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc J & Yeaple, Stephen R, 2003. "Export versus FDI," CEPR Discussion Papers 3741, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Martinez, Lorenza & Werner, Alejandro, 2002. "The exchange rate regime and the currency composition of corporate debt: the Mexican experience," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 315-334, December.
  5. Cheung, Yin-Wong & Lai, Kon S, 1993. "Finite-Sample Sizes of Johansen's Likelihood Ration Tests for Conintegration," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 55(3), pages 313-28, August.
  6. Markusen, James R., 2002. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MPRA Paper 8380, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Aaron Tornell & Frank Westermann & Lorenza Martinez, 2003. "Liberalization, Growth, and Financial Crises: Lessons from Mexico and the Developing World," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(2), pages 1-112.
  8. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
  9. Aaron Tornell & Frank Westermann, 2003. "Credit Market Imperfections in Middle Income Countries," CESifo Working Paper Series 960, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Assaf Razin & Ashoka Mody & Efraim Sadka, 2003. "The Role of Information in Driving FDI Flows; Host-Country Transparency and Source-Country Specialization," IMF Working Papers 03/148, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Nora Lustig, 2001. "Life Is Not Easy: Mexico's Quest for Stability and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 85-106, Winter.
  12. 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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