The Mexican Peso break: causes, consequences and recovery

Vol. 21 No. 3 (2001)

Jul-Sep / 2001
Published July 1, 2001
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Kessler, Timothy. 2001. “The Mexican Peso Break: Causes, Consequences and Recovery”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 21 (3):489-513.

The Mexican Peso break: causes, consequences and recovery

Timothy Kessler
Associate director of the Partnership for Policy Dialogue based at Stanford University and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Stanford/CA, U.S.A.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 21 No. 3 (2001), Jul-Sep / 2001, Pages 489-513


This article traces the ways in which political, economic, domestic, and international factors converged to provoke a massive financial crisis in Mexico in 1994/5, as well as the consequences of this crisis for future reform efforts. The author argues that the maintenance of an overvalued exchange rate prior to the crisis enabled the ruling PRI party to appeal to a broad range of domestic interests. International investors, who held an unprecedented $34 billion in Mexican equities in 1994, were equally adamant in defending the anchored exchange rate. However, in attempting to appease both domestic and foreign interests, the Salinas administration lost control of the macroeconomic fundamentals. While the combination of a massive multi-lateral loan and the shift to a floating exchange rate paved the way for Mexico’s rapid economic recovery, a main legacy of the crisis was the political demise of the PRI. Although political liberalization was certainly not part of the PRI’s original game plan, thanks to its own reckless policy errors, a main legacy of the peso crisis was the advent of more open politics in Mexico. Because of this, the politics of economic policymaking under the new Fox administration may not be as neatly packaged as under the PRI, but there are already unprecedented signs of debate, accountability, and compromise.

JEL Classification: F31; F32; F62.

Keywords: Currency crisis Mexican peso crisis globalization