Not only did New Spain’s Mexico City hold the hemisphere’s first printing press but it also acquired, for the Spanish Crown, its first mint. That’s how we started this week’s session of Connect with Mexico, by explaining why Mexicans call their currency “peso,” which means “weight” in Spanish.
We also learned that while peso bills were printed by a US company until the 1970’s, the Mexican Government Mint now produces all of our currency and that of several other countries, including Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Peru, and Thailand.
We then engaged in a quick overview of the Mexican presidents from 1958 to the present. As in most democracies, they play an oversized role in economic matters, and they did so especially during the reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The big lesson of the day is that as Mexicans started realizing their dream of a true democracy, in 1997 and especially in 2000, they also demanded that federal administrations do a better job of keeping inflation low, avoiding an exorbitant foreign debt, using oil resources more efficiently, and making sure the economy remained stable from one presidential administration to the next. That has been the case since 2000. And that is the expectation for 2024, when a new president will be inaugurated on 1 October.
Free trade agreement had to play a role in our discussion, so we reviewed what the new USMCA (called T-MEC in Spanish) was doing for North American trade. We learned that Mexican labor laws had to be updated to comply with the text of the new agreement, which formally improved the rights of Mexicans workers.
After looking at the competitiveness rating of each of the 32 Mexican states, as provided by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), we ended our class this week by looking at efforts by Mexico to welcome companies that no longer wish to risk manufacturing in China, after the struggle with supply chains and US trade relations with that nation suddenly going south.