International Organization

The Political Economy of Debt

Lessons from the past: capital markets during the 19th century and the interwar period

Albert Fishlow

On Friday, 13 August 1982, Finance Minster Jesus Silva Herzog of Mexico made a series of visits to the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Reserve, and the U.S. Treasury. His message to each was the same: Mexico could no longer continue to service its debt. Thus began a dramatic weekend of negotiations that marked the end of the preceding decade's buoyant expansion of developing country debt and the start of a still continuing response to the sudden collapse.