Sebastian Alvarez reports on his move to Oxford

Sebastian Alvarez reports on his move to Oxford


On September 3rd2018, I moved with my family from Geneva to Oxford to start a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Faculty of History at the invitation of Prof. Catherine Schenk. I have been sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to work on the project “British banks and the Latin American debt crisis of 1982,” –  an extension of the research I have been doing for the past two years. The idea of developing this project in Oxford, has grown out of my interactions with other members of the UPIER project and will help to consolidate the relationship between the research teams of the partner universities.  

79440 0 faculty of history gardens

Faculty of History, Oxford University (from the backyard)

This new stage of my career promises to be a very stimulating and fruitful experience and comes with a charged schedule and an interesting research agenda.

  1. Last June, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia to visit the archives of Banco do Brasil and the Brazilian Central Bank. The purpose of the visit was to collect new historical material to revise my paper on the internationalization of Brazilian banks and the debt crisis of 1982, that had been based on secondary source material gathered during my visiting to EESP-FGV in June-August 2017. Archival visits in Latin America often  carry an element of the unexpected, and an unexpected consequence of this visit has been that the Brazilian Central Bank has published part of the material that I requested on line.

The minutes of the meetings of the National Monetary Council (CMN), which I will use to revise my paper, are now available to any researcher here:!/t/CMNATASREUN

  1. Whilst working in Oxford I hope to develop a broader perspective of Latin American banks. During the 3rdUPIER Workshop recently held in Stockholm, Prof. Stefano Battilossi, from UCIII-Madrid, discussed the potential of doing some collaborative research on the role of Latin American banks in dealing with international wholesale liquidity during the first half of the 1980s. By marrying Stefano’s expertise on US and European money markets and financial history, with my detailed knowledge of Latin American banks, we hope to develop a joint working paper on the activities of Latin American banks in the US money markets—and the implications this held for monetary policy in their home countries.
  2. Writing my first book “Mexican Banks and International Finance: from Internationalization to Financial Crisis, 1973-82” will keep me busy during the next few months. Derived from my doctoral thesis, the book analyses the involvement of Mexican banks with international finance during the 1970s and its implications for the creation of the Latin American financial crisis in 1982, and the subsequent renegotiation of sovereign debt. It has been commissioned by Palgrave MacMillan and I have promised to deliver the manuscript for publication by the end of the year.
  3. Over the forthcoming months I will also be conducting archival research. As part of my project, I will visit the historical archives of the “Big Four” British banks, with special focus on Lloyds and Midland Bank, since they had the largest exposure to the Latin American crisis. This will provide me with new material to improve my work in progress and, hopefully, to embark on a new book.

I am very excited about my new life here in Oxford and I look forward to working with my UPIER colleagues Prof. Catherine Schenk and Dr. Wilfried Kisling.

Now, with so many things to do I had better get back to work!

Sebastian Alvarez

Oxford, October 2018