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The Mexican Peso Crisis? How Much Did We Know? When Did We Know It?

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  • Sebastian Edwards

Abstract

The Mexican crisis of 1994 raised throughout the world a number of questions about the sustainability -- and even the merits -- of the market oriented reform process in Latin America and other regions. Understanding how events unfolded in Mexico during the early 1990s continues to be fundamentally important to assess the mechanics of currency crises. More importantly, perhaps, the eruption of the East Asian currency crises in the summer and fall 1997 has raised the question of whether the lessons from Mexico have indeed been learned by policy makers, private sector analysts and international civil servants. More specifically, as a result of the recent events in South East Asia many observers have argued that the international financial organizations -- the IMF and the World Bank -- and the governments of the advanced countries have failed to revamp the early warning system that was supposed to prevent a repetition of a Mexico-style crisis. This paper analyzes the causes behind the Mexican crisis, emphasizing the role of capital inflows, inflationary inertia and real exchange rate overvaluation. I also ask a number of questions regarding the predictability of the crisis: Should Wall Street analysts have known that things were getting out of hand? And if they did, why didn't they alert their clients? And, how much did officials at the US Treasury know about the depth of the Mexican problems? And, what was the role of the media? I conclude that although the US Treasury was fully aware of what was going on, most private sector analysts were unaware of the seriousness of the situation.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Edwards, 1997. "The Mexican Peso Crisis? How Much Did We Know? When Did We Know It?," NBER Working Papers 6334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6334
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edwards, Sebastian & Edwards, Alejandra Cox, 1991. "Monetarism and Liberalization," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226184890, July.
    2. Robert P. Flood & Peter Isard, 1988. "Monetary Policy Strategies," NBER Working Papers 2770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Jeffrey Frankel & Miles Kahler, 1993. "Regionalism and Rivalry: Japan and the United States in Pacific Asia," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fran93-1, July.
    5. Guillermo A. Calvo, 1995. "Varieties of Capital-Market Crises," Research Department Publications 4008, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    6. Oks, Daniel & van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1995. "Mexico after the debt crisis: is growth sustainable?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 155-178, June.
    7. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1993. "On Exchange Rates," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061546, March.
    8. Claudio M. Loser & Eliot Kalter, 1992. "Mexico; The Strategy to Achieve Sustained Economic Growth," IMF Occasional Papers 99, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Sebastian Edwards, 1989. "Structural Adjustment Policies in Highly Indebted Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Developing Country Debt and the World Economy, pages 249-262 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Helmut Reisen, 1995. "Managing Temporary Capital Inflows: Lessons from Asia and Latin America," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 34(4), pages 395-427.
    11. Guillermo A. Calvo & Enrique G. Mendoza, 1997. "Rational herd behavior and the globalization of securities markets," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 120, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    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.
    13. 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.
    14. McKinnon, Ronald I., 1982. "The order of economic liberalization: Lessons from Chile and Argentina," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 159-186, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mora, Ricardo & Siotis, Georges, 2005. "External factors in emerging market recoveries: An empirical investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 683-702, April.
    2. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 2000. "Measuring real economic effects of bailouts: historical perspectives on how countries in financial distress have fared with and without bailouts," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 81-167, December.
    3. Christina E. Bannier & Frank Heinemann, 2005. "Optimal Transparency and Risk-Taking to Avoid Currency Crises," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(3), pages 374-374, September.
    4. Etienne Gagnon, 2009. "Price Setting during Low and High Inflation: Evidence from Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1221-1263.
    5. Chowdhry, Bhagwan & Goyal, Amit, 2000. "Understanding the financial crisis in Asia," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 135-152, May.
    6. Broner, Fernando A., 2008. "Discrete devaluations and multiple equilibria in a first generation model of currency crises," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 592-605, April.
    7. Alejandro Diaz-Bautista & Cesar Alfredo Olivas Andrade, 2005. "Un Análisis de cointegración con corrección de errores de las Fugas de Capital y la Inestabilidad Política en México , An econometric model of capital flight in Mexico," International Finance 0511004, EconWPA.
    8. Virginie Coudert & Cécile Couharde, 2009. "Currency Misalignments and Exchange Rate Regimes in Emerging and Developing Countries," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 121-136, February.
    9. Osakwe, Patrick N. & Schembri, Lawrence L., 2002. "Real effects of collapsing exchange rate regimes: an application to Mexico," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 299-325, August.
    10. Richard Hemming & Axel Schimmelpfennig & Michael Kell, 2003. "Fiscal Vulnerability and Financial Crises in Emerging Market Economies," IMF Occasional Papers 218, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Christina Bannier, 2003. "The Role of Information Disparity in the 1994/95 Mexican Peso," International Finance 0310001, EconWPA.
    12. Arminio Fraga & Daniel L. Gleizer, 2001. "Constrained Discretion and Collective Action Problems: Reflections on the Resolution of International Financial Crises," Working Papers Series 34, Central Bank of Brazil, Research Department.
    13. Sebastian Edwards, 1999. "Crisis Prevention: Lessons from Mexico and East Asia," NBER Working Papers 7233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Christina E. Bannier, 2006. "The Role of Information Disclosure and Uncertainty in the 1994/95 Mexican Peso Crisis: Empirical Evidence," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(5), pages 883-909, November.
    15. Kohsaka, Akira, 2004. "A fundamental scope for regional financial cooperation in East Asia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 911-937, October.
    16. Arbache, Jorge Saba, 2004. "Do Structural Reforms always Succeed? Lessons from Brazil," WIDER Working Paper Series 058, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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