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Potent peso is put through its paces


Gil Diaz

Not long ago, it looked as if the Mexican peso was becoming the new Swiss franc. Backed by huge capital inflows and underpinned by a fast-growing economy, the currency could do no wrong.

In 2001, the peso was one of just five currencies in the world to appreciate against the US dollar, outperforming in this race upwards the Czech koruna, Polish zloty, Hungarian forint and Peruvian new sol. At the year-end, the Mexican currency had become the strongest in the world, making a total gain of almost 6% against the dollar.

Even by the middle of last year, no-one could quite believe it. "The peso outperformed all our expectations," says Douglas Muzyka, president and general manager of the DuPont chemical company's operations in Mexico. "We were waiting for it to fall in value, and it appreciated."

This year it is expected to lose value, depreciating to above Ps10 to the dollar, currency strategists say.

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