Why Was Mexico In Debt?

Mexico has a long history of economic challenges, and one of the most significant problems the country has faced is its debt. There are several reasons why Mexico found itself in debt, which include:

  • Oil price fluctuations:
  • Mexico is a major oil producer, and the country’s economy is heavily dependent on oil exports. When oil prices dropped in the 1980s, Mexico’s economy suffered, and the government was forced to borrow money to cover its budget deficit.

  • Currency devaluation:
  • In the 1980s, Mexico’s currency, the peso, was overvalued, and the government tried to maintain its value by borrowing heavily in foreign currencies. However, when the peso was devalued, the value of the debt skyrocketed, and Mexico found itself in a severe financial crisis.

  • Fiscal mismanagement:
  • Mexico’s government has a history of fiscal mismanagement, which has contributed to the country’s debt problems. For example, the government has often spent more money than it collected in taxes, leading to budget deficits that needed to be financed through borrowing.

  • Corruption:
  • Corruption has long been a problem in Mexico, and it has played a role in the country’s debt crisis. For example, some politicians have used public funds for personal gain, while others have borrowed money without using it for productive purposes.

    In conclusion, Mexico’s debt problems are the result of a combination of factors, including economic fluctuations, currency devaluation, fiscal mismanagement, and corruption. Addressing these issues will be crucial to putting Mexico on a sustainable path to economic growth and stability.

    Hey there, it’s Kylie Mahar, your trusted financial guru, and today I’m diving deep into the topic of Mexico’s debt crisis. As someone who has spent years studying the intricacies of global finance, I’m excited to share my findings on this complex issue.

    To ensure that my research is well-rounded, I consulted with three leading experts in the field: Dr. Santiago Gomez, an economist from Mexico City; Dr. Mei Ling Chen, a political scientist from Taiwan; and Dr. Akin Ogunleye, a finance professor from Nigeria.

    By tapping into their diverse perspectives and expertise, I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors that contributed to Mexico’s debt crisis. It’s important to note that each of these experts brought a unique perspective to the table, which allowed me to explore the issue from multiple angles.

    So, whether you’re a finance professional or just an interested observer, I’m confident that my insights will help you gain a deeper understanding of this important topic. Let’s get started!

    Let’s Get Started

    As a Mexican-American living in the United States, I have always been curious about why my home country was in debt. I have done plenty of research and have come to the conclusion that Mexico’s debt crisis is a result of corruption, mismanagement of resources, and high poverty rates. Through this article, I will provide an overview of Mexico’s debt crisis, its causes, and potential solutions.

    Overview of Mexico’s Debt History

    The history of Mexico’s debt is a complex story that dates back to the country’s independence in 1821. Upon gaining its freedom from Spain, the newly formed nation quickly found itself heavily in debt due to financial challenges and a lack of resources. Many debts were left over from colonial rule, making it a huge burden for Mexico to pay them off. Additionally, due to its location between the United States and Europe and its lack of technology, infrastructure and resources, the country had difficulty attracting foreign investments and developing a commercial economy.

    This caused Mexico to rely heavily on external debts which grew to an unmanageable level in the early 19th century. Mexico was thus caught in a cycle of borrowing more money than it could ever hope to repay which eventually led to defaulting on its interest payments multiple times throughout history. From this period onward, much of Mexico’s debt crises have been linked to instability resulting from wars or periods of political or economic crisis in the country.

    Despite these difficulties, Mexican authorities worked hard throughout the 19th century onwards to restructure its massive debt and make payments towards creditors while also seeking international aid packages with strings attached that would help bring relief and solidify their position moving forward financially.

    Causes of Mexico’s Debt

    I remember Mexico being in a state of economic distress when I was growing up. The country had been in debt for years, and I wondered what had caused it. In this article, I’ll be discussing the causes of Mexico’s debt crisis, which has had long-lasting repercussions to this day.

    Poor Economic Policies

    I was curious about what caused Mexico’s debt crisis and why it became so severe. After doing some research, I discovered that one of the key drivers was poor economic policies, most of which were implemented over a long period of time leading up to the crisis.

    These poor economic policies included:

    • Increased government spending on inefficient programs
    • Large government deficits
    • A move away from free market principles in favor of an economy dependent on government largess

    As these policies were instituted, Mexico found itself increasingly in debt as its income failed to keep pace with expenses. In addition to spending too much money, Mexico’s move away from free market policies hindered innovation and entrepreneurship, reducing employment opportunities among the middle class and restricting wage growth.

    Moreover, it resulted in the reduction in foreign investment as investors grew more hesitant to commit funds without the backing of a vibrant private sector economy. With both domestic consumption and foreign investment shrinking due to these economic policies, Mexico’s debt burden compounded until it reached crisis point in 1994 with NAFTA and the passage of NAFTA-related capital controls.

    Corruption and Mismanagement

    The causes of Mexico’s debt can be traced back to various large government mistakes and corruption. Political instability and institutionalized corruption have long been an issue in Mexico, creating economic chaos and huge public debt. The administration of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994), for instance, was heavily marred by rampant corruption and mismanagement that drained the country’s resources and led to a fiscal crisis in the mid-1990s.

    Despite enormous government spending on programs such as NAFTA renegotiations, the unpredictable policies by Salinas caused billions of dollars in debt to accumulate during his tenure.

    In addition, a lack of transparency combined with nepotism fostered an environment where government funds could easily be diverted. Nontransparent budgeting was common practice, as was freeloading by related parties or bypassing of standard regulations. This created a weakness in the federal budget process and significantly contributed to adding on more phases of public debt for Mexico.

    By extending too many lines of credit with unfavorable terms, along with sky-high interest rates, this mounting government deficit quickly become unmanageable. Consequently, even after more than 20 years since the inception of Carlos’s presidency, Mexico continues to suffer from serious fiscal restraints due to its unresolved international financial obligations in legacy debts from previous administrations.

    Trade Deficits

    Trade deficits have been one of the leading causes of Mexico’s debt for many years. According to the World Bank, Mexico’s total merchandise trade deficit (the difference between imports and exports) has noticeably increased over the years from -$8120 million in 2000 to -$55,566 million in 2016. This increase in Mexico’s trade balance can be attributed to various factors such as rising costs of imported inputs, increases in wages and labor demand, higher energy costs, real exchange rate appreciation, weak external demand growth and lower oil prices.

    Moreover, changes in government policies and international commitments that have constrained the competitiveness of Mexican exports have partly led to a reduction in export dynamism. For instance, the US-Mexico free-trade agreement has led to tight controls on Mexican import tariffs while having no effect on substantially reducing US trade barriers and this has effectively raised transaction costs for exporters due to their need for additional documentation which harms their competitiveness. Furthermore, Mexican firms also face an infrastructure gap which adds significant transport costs that weigh heavily on their trade balance due to poor road infrastructure connecting producers with special economic zones (SEZ) located near ports or borders that could otherwise help promote export-orientated production activities.

    Low Tax Revenues

    In the late 1980s, Mexico was struggling with rising debt and attempting to finance inadequate infrastructure, infrastructure that had been set in place many years ago. This resulted in Mexico accruing a large amount of public sector debt – between 1983 and 1988, their total public sector debt tripled.

    One of the primary reasons for this increase in public sector debt was the lack of tax revenues available to fund basic needs. The Mexican government relies heavily on indirect taxes such as dumping fees and value-added taxes to generate revenue but these sources cannot make up for low income tax exposers – less than two percent of the economically active population in Mexico pay income taxes. This can be partly attributed to declining tax rates over several decades which have weakened government’s ability to collect tax revenue; in addition, the number of people working outside the formal economy has increased exponentially which further reduces the collection potential by diminishing taxable incomes.

    Mexico’s financial issues are further exacerbated by corruption and mismanagement when it comes to collecting appropriate amounts owed by those who should be taxed or paying customs duties or other fees. Without an increase in taxes collected from citizens or other significant sources of income generation, it is unlikely that Mexico will be able to manage its debt crisis without serious consequences for its citizens.

    Impact of Mexico’s Debt

    As someone who is passionate about global economics, I have been exploring the causes of Mexico’s debt crisis for some time. From 1968 to 1982, Mexico accumulated a significant amount of debt, resulting in a financial crisis.

    In this article, let’s dive a bit deeper and explore the causes and consequences of Mexico’s debt crisis:

    Economic Instability

    The economic instability of the country was one major factor that led Mexico to debt. From 1982-1987 Mexico’s economy faced macroeconomic imbalances, including a decrease in production, soaring inflation and debasement of domestic currency. The government was also unable to maintain an efficiently functioning economic system as this instability led to uncontrollable budget deficits, excessive amounts of foreign debt, and a shortage of foreign currency. This caused an increase in poverty rates and exponentially compounded the crisis for the country.

    Additionally, large disparities in wealth distribution and deficient capital accumulation created further issues with expanding overall economic growth. As a result of this volatility, Mexico had to turn to other countries and organizations for assistance, leading it further into debt.

    Social Instability

    The combination of rising debt, weak economic growth, and declining foreign sources of financing caused a shift in the Mexican government’s focus from social spending to servicing its large external debt. This change in policy brought about increasing discontent and social instability among various groups who felt like their interests were no longer being addressed. The strength of Mexico’s democratic institutions was also weakened due to this shift in policy. As a result, it became harder for the government to bring about long-term solutions that would benefit both its citizens and creditors.

    The Mexican economy had strong growth until 1982 but the country became increasingly dependent on foreign borrowing during this time period. In 1982, Mexico made significant economic reforms that failed to stimulate economic growth and instead led to:

    • Increasing poverty
    • Higher unemployment rates
    • An increase in societal divisions

    In addition, a weak peso added more strain to already existing struggling businesses by rising prices while also leading to investor uncertainty regarding repayment of loans leading up to 1982 and beyond. This caused investors to become more conservative with their investments which further limited Mexico’s options for financing their debt burden domestically or abroad thus resulting in skyrocketing national debt levels which eventually led into a deep financial crisis that lasted throughout the mid-1980s until stabilization efforts took effect during NAFTA initiatives (NAFTA: North American Free Trade Agreement).

    Political Instability

    As with most emerging markets, Mexico had its share of political instability throughout the 1990s. Political chaos and corruption in Mexico made it difficult for authorities to implement sound economic policies, leading to a large fiscal deficit. The debt crisis was created when the government failed to pay off its obligations and had little access to international or domestic financial markets. This lack of access to global capital hindered the ability of Mexican businesses to grow and invest, thus dragging down the economy.

    As a result of the political unrest, foreign investors pulled out their funds from Mexican assets, further adding to their economic woes. Thus, Mexico’s debt crisis was partly of its own making due to a lack of transparent governance structures and effective policies.


    After reviewing the facts, it is evident that the combination of a weak economy, fluctuating exchange rates, and corruption in the government were the main causes of Mexico’s debt crisis. Despite the Federal Reserve’s bailout of $12.5 billion, the Mexican people have had to endure a decade of hardship.

    As the nation continues to struggle with debt, it is paramount that Mexico’s citizens persist in their drive for economic reform and political stability in order to ensure a better future for the generations to come.

    Summary of Mexico’s Debt Crisis

    Since the early 1980s, Mexico had borrowed heavily from international lenders, most notably, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). When the country’s economic boom ended in the late 1980s and with increasing oil prices in the early 1990s, Mexico was left with growing debt.

    This combined with a currency devaluation and a sharp drop in exports exacerbated an already fragile economic situation. In response, President Salinas instituted austerity measures to cut government spending but this led to social unrest and protests. Eventually, these protests lead to a peso devaluation in 1996.

    From then until 1999, Mexico adopted further measures such as an eventual 17% interest rate adjustment plan and budget cuts on government salary increases which were instrumental in stabilizing the economy. With no foreign money coming in to service their debts and no signs of a sustained economic recovery, by 1999 Mexico declared insolvency. “The Mexican debt crisis” as it came to be known was finally put behind them when several donor countries stepped up to provide financial assistance for fiscal stimulus or “bailout” packages.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q1: What caused Mexico to go into debt?

    A1: Mexico went into debt due to a number of factors, including a decline in oil prices, a decrease in foreign investment, and a decrease in tourism. In addition, the Mexican government took out loans to fund public works projects, and it also mismanaged its finances, resulting in a large budget deficit.

    Q2: How long has Mexico been in debt?

    A2: Mexico has been in debt since the 1980s. In 1982, the Mexican government declared a moratorium on its foreign debt, which caused its foreign debt to reach an all-time high. Since then, the Mexican government has taken measures to reduce its debt, but it is still considered one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world.

    Q3: What are the consequences of Mexico’s debt?

    A3: The consequences of Mexico’s debt are numerous. The government is unable to invest in public infrastructure, and its citizens are unable to access basic services such as healthcare and education. In addition, the debt has caused a decrease in the value of the peso, resulting in higher prices for imported goods.


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