DISCURSO DEL EMBAJADOR ARTURO SARUKHAN DURANTE LA PRESENTACION DE LA ORDEN DEL AGUILA AZTECA AL VICEPRESIDENTE DEL BANCO DE LA RESERVA FEDERAL DE NY, TERRENCE CHECKI
Mr. Terrence Checki,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are gathered here to honor a highly distinguished individual and friend of Mexico, and to bestow upon him the Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca, the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle in Degree of Insignia.
The Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca was established in 1933 and is the highest decoration awarded by the Mexican Government to foreign nationals, whose work or actions have benefited Mexico and Mexicans.
It is thus very fitting that tonight we recognize Terrence J. Checki with this decoration, for the critical role he has played in helping our country build strong macroeconomic foundations through the establishment of mechanisms of financial cooperation between Mexico and the United States. Mr. Checki is one of the few individuals who have witnessed first-hand the evolution of the economic and financial relationship between our two countries for over two decades. But during this time, he has been more than a mere spectator; he has been a key actor in allowing Mexico and the U.S. to engage constructively with and understand one another, particularly at some of the most critical junctures Mexico has faced. At each of these moments he has demonstrated a profound understanding of and commitment to Mexico and its well-being.
The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. And from his position at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mr. Checki has always nurtured a close relationship with Mexican financial authorities. Through this constant interaction with them, he has developed a network of contacts based on trust and friendship enabling him in turn to translate it into speedy and effective policy responses.
Mr. Checki’s commitment to understanding Mexico’s perspective and to working hand in hand with our country has been particularly notable in two specific moments in which Mexico’s financial stability faced significant challenges. First, during the debt crisis of the 1980s, he was instrumental in keeping open the channels of communication between Mexico and U.S. financial authorities and the private banking sector in an effective way, many times operating behind the scenes. Mr. Checki’s actions helped pave the way first for a solution to Mexico’s involuntary debt service suspension, and later to the resumption of our country’s ability to make payments and to receive new financing.
Terrence J. Checki once again played a starring role during Mexico’s financial crisis in late 1994 and early 1995, contributing to the process of securing the appropriate support from the U.S. Government. As we all know, this financial package helped both nations avert a more serious crisis and contagion in international financial markets.
His experience, leadership and vision allowed this international troubleshooter of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to see and understand the significance of the growing interdependence between Mexico and the United States well before many others did.
Throughout his tenure at the NY Fed, his actions and commitment have been based on the conviction that the interaction between the Mexican and U.S. economies would eventually demonstrate that a rising tide would lift boats on both sides of our common border. They are also a testament to his understanding of the importance and strategic nature of the bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States.
He has long-known that what is good for Mexico is good for the United States. With this in mind, Mr. Checki has been able to bridge the interests and concerns of authorities and private actors on both sides of our border, ensuring that all understand that U.S. and Mexican interests can and should go hand in hand.
It is therefore unsurprising that what brings us here tonight is our desire to honor and celebrate Mr. Checki’s remarkable record of service. On behalf of President Felipe Calderón, and of the people of Mexico, it is therefore a distinct honor and privilege, as Mexican Ambassador to the United States, to bestow upon Mr. Checki the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle,
Mr. Checki: please step forward.
For the great service you have performed in deepening and fostering the understanding between our two nations, the Government of Mexico decorates you with the Insignia of the Aztec Eagle.
. . .
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Seventeen years ago, NAFTA entirely reshaped Mexico-U.S. relations. It deepened and expanded our trade and investment ties and transformed our economies, making them more interdependent and integrated. Now, more than ever before, it is clear that no other bilateral relationship is more important for the security and prosperity of the United States than its relationship with Mexico, much the same way that the well-being of the Mexican people is inextricably tied to the well-being of Americans.
The success of our recent bilateral engagement has certainly contributed to allow us today to look back, and to feel proud of the long way that Mexico has come from the days of deep debt and recurring cycles of boom and bust. Over the past years, Mexico has experienced a remarkable transformation. It has become a country fully committed to free trade and open markets. It has signed Free Trade and Preferential Access Agreements with over 40 countries, and is one of the nations with the largest number of FTA’s in the world.
Moreover, beyond a generally steady rate of economic growth, there has been a remarkable and general improvement in Mexico's quality of life. Many more Mexicans have joined the ranks of the middle class in the past two decades, while education levels and life expectancy have also risen. Additionally, more than fifteen years of progressive social policy have paid off, as poverty levels have fallen steadily for more than a decade.
With globalization, however, financial crises have become more diverse in nature, greater in scope, and increasingly rapid in their ability to spread. Who would have thought that in 2008 Mexico would be experiencing the consequences of a financial crisis that originated North as opposed to South of the border! This was certainly a new experience compared to the crises Mexico faced in the 20th century. So, while we don’t know with precision when and how the next financial crisis will emerge, we can certainly be better prepared. And what we DO know is that together, Mexico and the United States are better prepared today than they have ever been before.
Mexico’s remarkable turnaround would certainly not have been possible without macroeconomic stability. For nearly two decades now, Mexico has been fully committed to sound economic management, and to staying the course of macroeconomic discipline. Terrence J. Checki has stated in the past that “If the history of financial crises has taught us anything, it is that money can buy time, but only sound policy can bring stability.” By fostering financial coordination, he has contributed to design the sound policies that have helped Mexico achieve such solid fundamentals.
Individuals like Terrence Checki set the best example of what building co-stakeholdership between all sectors of society and government on both sides of the border should look like. Thanks to the efforts of visionaries like him, today Mexico and the United States understand each other better, engage in real-time communication to confront future challenges, and have built levees of certainty within an uncertain world. British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery once said that “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” Terrence Checki’s leadership in influencing and fostering the well-being and prosperity of both Mexico and the U.S. will continue to remind us that, when it comes to our bilateral relationship, it is possible to identify a common purpose, and that knowing when to do the right thing, doing the right thing, and selling the right thing, also means accomplishing a smart thing.