EP3389: Man Called X: Contraband

Herbert Marshall
The Man Called X goes to Mexico to break up a contraband smuggling ring.
Original Air Date: August 29, 1948
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  1 comment for “EP3389: Man Called X: Contraband”

  1. Denise
    March 3, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    As always, thank you for your thought provoking commentary. Regarding the comments at the end concerning the rational given for the ban on “luxury” imports in Mexico not making sense to listeners today:

    It would have,however, likely made sense to anyone in the US reading the newspapers of 1946-1948. The troubles in the Mexican economy, and the measures adopted in 1947 to try and stop the hemorrhaging by the Bank of Mexico’s reserves, received frequent national coverage.

    At the time the ban on “luxury” imports was instituted, there was a fixed rate of exchange for the Mexican peso and the US dollar. At the end of WWII, the Bank of Mexico had gold and foreign currency reserves of somewhere around $344 million as a result of a wartime boom economy. However due to the extreme outflow in the balance of payments after the war when there were no longer war related contracts for exports (as well as other factors, such as a major outbreak in Mexico of hoof and mouth disease that closed the US border to Mexican cattle) and the increase in imports (as the US economy returned to a peacetime production of consumer goods, some of which had been unavailable during the war years) and as the price of imports went up (due to relaxed war time price and wage controls in the US) these Bank of Mexico reserves dropped by around $121 million in just 1946 and continued to drain away at an alarming rate. Inflation was rampant in Mexico (at least according to contemporary newspaper reports in the US) and the peso was seen as heading towards a crisis.

    The “luxury” imports bans (which included food by the way) put in place in July of 1947 were just one of the measures intended to protect Mexico’s foreign exchange reserves and stabilize the economy but they were one of the more highly publicized ones in the States and so probably a highly recognizable thing by contemporary listeners.

    As an aside, the timing of this episode is interesting since the Bank of Mexico reserves had continued to drain (albeit not quite as fast) and it basically gave up the fight to maintain the exchange rate, with the fixed rate of exchange having been abandoned about a month before the episode’s air date with the devaluation of the peso bringing it all back in to the headlines. A few weeks after the episode aired, Mexico announced a host of new measures to stabilize the peso and boost the Mexican economy with the US government backing President Aleman’s efforts and supplying aid largely argued as necessary to keep Mexico (and therefore the US) “safe from Communism”. So it fit nicely in to the Man Called X ideology.

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