It’s not just countries that are at risk of contagion.
Economic history appears to be rhyming once again in Latin America. Perennial credit-basket-case Argentina was one of the first countries to suffer a major currency crisis this century. Now, its government has asked the IMF for a brand-new bailout. But if this classic last-gasp fix was meant to calm the markets, it isn’t working.
Previous Latin American debt crises have taught us two things:
- The direct impact on the general populace, already suffering from sky-high poverty rates, is devastating;
- Once the first domino falls, contagion can spread like wildfire.
The debt crisis of the early 1980s, which spread to virtually all corners of the region, famously paved the way to Latin America’s “lost decade.” Mexico’s Tequila Crisis of 1994-5 at one point became so serious that it almost brought down some of Wall Street’s biggest banks...