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Gaucho Banking Redux

  • Gerardo della Paolera
  • Alan M. Taylor

Argentina's economic crisis has strong similarities with previous crises stretching back to the nineteenth century. A common thread runs through all these crises: the interaction of a weak, undisciplined, or corruptible banking sector, and some other group of conspirators from the public or private sector that hasten its collapse. This pampean propensity for crony finance was dubbed gaucho banking' more than one hundred years ago. What happens when such a rotten structure interacts with a convertibility plan? We compare the 1929 and 2001 crises the two instances where rigid convertibility plans failed and reach two main conclusions. First, a seemingly robust currency-board can be devastated by an ill-conceived approach to the problems of internal and external convertibility (or, to rephrase Gresham, bad inside money drives out good outside money'). Second, when modern economic orthodoxy collides with caudillo-style institutional backwardness, a desperate regime with its hands tied in both monetary and fiscal domains will be sorely tempted by a capital levy' on the financial sector (for, as Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, because that's where the money is).

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9457.

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Date of creation: Jan 2003
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Publication status: published as Gerardo Della Paolera & Alan M. Taylor, 2003. "Gaucho Banking Redux," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9457
Note: DAE IFM
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  1. Obstfeld, Maurice & Shambaugh, Jay C & Taylor, Alan M., 2004. "The Trilemma in History: Trade-offs Among Exchange Rates, Monetary Policies and Capital Mobility," CEPR Discussion Papers 4352, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. della Paolera, Gerardo & Taylor, Alan M., 2002. "Internal versus external convertibility and emerging-market crises: lessons from Argentine history," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 357-389, October.
  3. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Sergio L. Schmukler & Luis Serven, 2002. "Global Transmission of Interest Rates: Monetary Independence and Currency Regime," NBER Working Papers 8828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2004. "The Modern History of Exchange Rate Arrangements: A Reinterpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 1-48, February.
  5. 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.
  6. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 2004. "Government guarantees and self-fulfilling speculative attacks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 31-63, November.
  7. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
  8. 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.
  9. Michael Mussa, 2002. "Argentina and the Fund: From Triumph to Tragedy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa67.
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