Skip top navigation

Latin American Debt Crisis of the 1980s


During the 1980s—a period often referred to as the “lost decade”—many Latin American countries were unable to service their foreign debt.

Protest Against the Mexican Government and the International Monetary Fund (Photo: Sergio Dorantes/Sygma/Getty Images)

by Jocelyn Sims, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Jessie Romero, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

  • 1

    Money-center banks are banks that borrow from and lend to governments, large corporations, and other banks on national and international financial markets.


Aggarwal, Vinod K. “Exorcising Asian Debt: Lessons from Latin American Rollovers, Workouts, and Writedowns.” In Private Capital Flows in the Age of Globalization: The Aftermath of the Asian Crisis, edited by Deepak Dasgupta, Uri Dadush, and Marc Uzan, 105-39. Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2000.

Carrasco, Enrique R. “The E-Book on International Finance and Development.” Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems 9, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 116-26. 

Devlin, Robert, and Ricardo Ffrench-Davis. “The Great Latin America Debt Crisis: A Decade of Asymmetric Adjustment.” Revista de Economia Politica 15, no. 3 (July-September 1995): 117-42.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Research and Statistics. “The LDC Debt Crisis.” Chap. 5 in History of the Eighties--Lessons for the Future, Volume I: An Examination of the Banking Crises of the 1980s and Early 1990s. Washington, DC: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 1997.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “Meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.” June 30-July 1,1982.

Ferguson, Roger W., “Latin America: Lessons Learned from the Last Twenty Years,” Speech given to the Florida International Bankers Association, Inc., Miami, FL, February 11, 1999.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. “International Policy Coordination: The Case of the Developing Country Debt Crisis.” In International Economic Cooperation, edited by Martin Feldstein, 233-78. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Written as of November 22, 2013. See disclaimer.