1997 Asian Currency Crisis Main Term Paper

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(Richter, 2002, p. 126)

The Asian currency crisis put a heavy toll on the Asian economic paradigm sweeping across economies of Singapore, Taiwan and Korea. For instance, the implication of the regional crisis on Korea has been acute. It was compelled to approach the IMF for emergency credit and received $57 billion aid package with 7.5% of the Korean employable people without jobs by July 1998. Labor problems surfaced across the nation and the economy went limp by 5.3% during the initial half of the year. The Asian currency crisis caught everybody unaware particularly those who visualized Asia crafting for itself a new road to capitalist development. After all, the crisis put its highest impact in some of the economies which were earlier commended as part of the Asian economic miracle. This is especially true of Thailand, where the crisis struck for the first time. The then Prime Minister Chuan Leepai acknowledged that the nation has fallen. The social outcomes of this will be acute and have triggered a process of de-development, wherein a lot of the income and other benefits of the better periods are in jeopardy due to the looming recession. Till the middle period of 1998, when the Asian financial crisis shaped in a recession and, then appeared like a crisis of global capitalism and the causes were misalignments, weak F.I.s, decline in exports and 'moral hazard'. (Robison; Beeson; Jayasuriya; Kim, 2000, p. 83)

Next it was Thailand's turn where the recently ongoing perception of its emergent economy and its "good" management practice underwent a radical change during the beginning of the Asian economic crisis during 1997. Thailand's economy went into disarray. There was a collapse of the exchange rate after the decision to float the currency in July 1997 and IMF agreed to be the savior. This resulted in the breakdown of the overall confidence of the nation's economic institutions. Every industry witnessed a significant decrease in volume of output. (Richter, 2000, p. 131) view held in that there was nothing intrinsically incorrect with the East Asian economies that have been traditionally faring exceeding well. These economies experienced a surge in capital inflows to finance high yielding investments that rendered them vulnerable to financial alarm. That alarm coupled inadequate policy responses fueled a financial crisis across the region and the economic disruption that came after that. Besides, the economic shocks were not followed by normal cyclical downturn, however some ascribe as 'runs' on the financial systems and currencies. These runs displayed a classic financial alarm which did not show poor economic policies or institutional arrangements. Since it is properly known that even well-managed banks or financial intermediaries remain vulnerable to alarms, since they over the years remain occupied in maturity transformation. This means banks accept deposits with short-term maturities for instance three months to finance loans having maturities of longer period for instance a year or more. (Moreno, 1998, p. 25)

It is important to note that maturity transformation is good as it is able to make more funds available to productive long-term investors compared to what they would otherwise get. Under normal circumstances, banks do not experience problems while managing their portfolios in order to meet expected withdrawals. It has been pointed out by Radelet and Sachs in 1998 that the East Asian FIs has incurred a considerable amount of external liquid liabilities which were not completely backed by liquid assets, rendering them susceptible to panics. Because of this maturity transformation, some otherwise solvent financial institutions might definitely have become insolvent as they were not able to deal with the abrupt interruption in the global flow of funds. (Moreno, 1998)

The Asian threshold limit for very high levels of debt, in some instances as much as five times equity is no more wanted or sustainable in post-crisis scenario where the identical measure of international companies would be upsetting at debt of two times equity. High private sector debt levels rendered the whole economies vulnerable to collapse since their short-term creditors were alarmed as their domestic medium-to-long-term financial intermediaries continually nurtured non-performing loans till they were decently given the face-saving chance to enforce central bank closure. Till equity markets replace debt markets as a competitive source of funds, levering up will continue to be the main mode of finance in Asia, although the things financed are smaller and less diversified in their operations compared to the onset of the financial crisis. Dependence on debt militates against wealth creation is construed in the Western nation as maximizing shareholder's wealth at the expense of other stakeholders. Dependence on debt also flourishes on relationship, confidence and extremely privileged information. However, it is by its very nature, not transparent. (Bush, 2005, p. 38)

The distinctive aspect of the Asian currency crisis and its implications on the Asian economic paradigm is that not like the earlier crisis, for instance in case of the Latin American crisis during the 80s, the bulk of the debt is considered to be corporate, as against the state-oriented or sovereign forms of debt, and the price of making changes in the government-business structural links to guarantee transparency is considered to be bigger compared to the other forms of crises. The main factor of the crisis is just not money matters; instead it is considered to be a management crisis arising from the elements of "crony capitalism," low forms of economic surveillance as also the political fragile decision-evolving mechanism as also dismal financial as also institutions of regulation. The worst hit was due to the loss of reputation of the Asian form of government and business links wherein collusive practices of business worked against complete market forms of transparency. Hence, simply giving monetary support at each of the distressed Asian forms of economies in the shape of IMF capital infusions was unsuccessful to deal with the basic challenge relating to the crisis i.e. ineffective and red tape economic forms of management. It is not only the financial system which needed restructuring, recapitalization and proper management. These nations should try to have reforms to instill confidence to the effect that all of the parties are competing on a playful arena 'leveled' by the benchmark of economic efficacy. In order to instill confidence, corporations as well as need to adopt efficient as also transport mechanisms along with the structures relating to economic forms of management. (Snyder; Solomon, 1998)

The East Asian crisis of 1998 was significant in effect that it arrived soon following the public declaration of the efficiency of the economic models of the Asian tiger economies. The consequences of the crisis has not just resulted in the correction in the structural deficiencies of the Asian economies however also resulted to the correction relating to the academic literature examining the flaws of the Asian currency model. Notwithstanding the final explanation of the immediate causes for the crisis, it seems an overall agreement that the crisis mirrored some institutional inefficiency within the Asian economies. Massive lending that were politically motivated, slack banking supervision, insufficient mechanisms for dealing with bankruptcy are cited as some of the characteristics that underscore the defects with the economies of these Asian nations. Even though majority of the central banks appear to have leaned the lesson of not coming up with imprudent monetary policies, major hindrances continue to remain in the path of cleaning up the banking system and liberating the capital markets from the clutches of implicit controls. (Chowdhury; Goyal, 2000, p. 140)


Bush, Sharon L. 2005. Asian Financial Crises-regional recapitulation or re-direction" Journal of Third World Studies. 17(2): 38-42.

Chowdhury, Bhagwan; Goyal, Amit. 2000. Understanding the financial crisis in Asia.

Pacific-Basin Finance Journal. 8(1):135-152

Das, Dilip K. 1999. Asian economic and financial crises: causes, ramifications and lessons.

Economic Analysis and Research Division: Asian Development Bank. [Online]. Available:

http://igcc.ucsd.edu/pdf/afc/afc_das.pdf[23 December 2007].

Einhorn, Bruce; Shari, Michael. 2000. Asian Currency Crisis, Part Two? Business Week, pp:

Ito, Tim. 1999. Broken Economies: The Turmoil in Asia.

Washington Post, pp: 7-8.

Jao, Y.C. 2001. The Asian Financial Crisis and the Ordeal of Hong Kong.

Quorum Books.

Moreno, Ramon. 1998. What caused East Asia's financial crisis. FRBSB Economic Letter,

Online]. Available:

http://www.frbsf.org/econrsrch/wklyltr/wklyltr98/el98-24.html[23December 2007].

Nanto, Dick K. 1998. 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. CRS Report for Congress. [Online].


http://www.fas.org/man/crs/crs-asia2.htm[23 December 2007].

Richter, Frank-Jurgen. 2002. Redesigning Asian Business: In the Aftermath of the Crisis.

Quorum Books.

Richter, Frank-Jurgen. 2000. The Asian Economic Catharsis: How Asian Firms Bounce…[continue]

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