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A FATAL FLAW: DOMESTIC BANKS AND MEXICO’S INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATING POSITION IN THE 1982 DEBT CRISIS

Sebastian Alvarez ()

Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, 2018, vol. 36, issue 3, 337-362

Abstract: The recent European debt crisis has renewed interest as to why debtor countries honour their foreign debts and subscribe to respectively burdensome rescheduling conditions. While the cost of defaulting in a domestic financial system has been recognised as a main motive for repayment, the factors that cause sovereign states to refrain from debt repudiation are not fully understood. This article investigates the reasons behind the repayment decision and weak negotiating position of the Mexican government following the 1982 debt crisis. It shows that leading commercial banks had considerable amounts of external loans in their books, and that Mexican policymakers lacked the foreign exchange access they needed to secure the stability of the domestic banking system. The high exposure of domestic banks to Mexican debt and their heightened dependence on foreign capital worked as mechanisms that allowed international creditors to enforce their claims and deterred Mexico from declaring a unilateral default.

Date: 2018
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