Asian Currency Crisis the Objective Term Paper

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Resulting from the devaluation of China's currency was an exacerbation of problems throughout Asia.


In the summer of 1995, the reversal of the chronic weakness of the dollar resulted in the depreciation of the Japanese yen, which had been approaching an acute deflationary crisis with a steep fall in the stock market. (Makin, 2000; paraphrased)


The work of Williamson (1999) entitled: "Implications of the East Asian Crisis for Debt Management" relate that a countries debt can be viewed from four different external perspectives in terms of debt composition which include: (1) FDI; (2) Portfolio Equity; (3) Long-term loans; and (4) short-term loans. This is the ideal composition of a countries debts however the debt profile of countries in East Asia are known to profoundly differ from the foregoing profile in that they had too much short-term debt relative to long-term debt and as well too much debt as compared to equity.


On July 2, 1997 the devaluation of the Thai baht shocked the already struggling economies in the East Asian countries. This devaluation was an attempt to "defend an overvalued almost-fixed exchange rate even though much foreign debt had accumulated, the current account was in substantial deficit, and export growth had turned negative. This invited a series of speculative raids, which eventually exhausted the reserve stock and led to devaluation..." (Williamson, 1999) with an effect on the solvency of the financial system and the corporate sector that was devastating and only intensified the crisis. The economies of the East Asian countries attempted to conceal the problems by borrowing from the banks. The International Monetary Fund issued an ultimatum to South Korea which included: (1) cuts in domestic government spending; (2) doubling of unemployment from 4% to 8% (3) closure of twelve government-owned banks; (4) restrictions on foreign ownership of Korean banks to be terminated; (5) foreign firms would be allowed full access to the Korean government bond market; (6) foreign firms would be allowed a 100% share in top Chaebol firms, a jump from 25% previously; (7) Foreign firms must be allowed full access to insurance; and (8) the government chaebol link would be more transparent.


The Asian currency crisis has been described from the mainstream view, or that of 'cronyism' to be in the nature of a moral hazard illustrated by the fact that the East Asian businesses attempted to hide the expansion of foreign debt and over-extension of credit. Additionally explanations have been given which state over-liquidity and under-regulation combined with speculation in the financial markets explain the Asian Crisis. The work of Wade (1998) relates that it is agreed among most that "the sharp pullout of funds by investors across the region was the trigger, and that the pullout was panicky." (Wade, 1998) Furthermore, liberalization "permitted domestic agents to raise finance on foreign markets and gave foreign agents access to the domestic financial market." (Wade, 1998) Furthermore, liberalization results in governments giving up their capacity to coordinate foreign private borrowing. Due to a surge in investment in the region productivity and profits suffered and marginal companies were putting more and more investment into speculative and non-tradable ventures such as property and land. Wade states that the "whipsaw movement of capital inflows and outflows is the main proximate cause of the crisis." (1998) Things were made worse by the International Monetary Fund who misdiagnosed the problem "as a macroeconomic balance-of-payments problem rather than as a microeconomic debt inflation problem, and as a crisis of excess consumption rather than excess investment..." And finally the IMF's insistent on a "domestic austerity package and on fundamental structural reforms in return for bailout funds." (Wade, 1998) This reinforced the image of 'cronyism'. Wade relates that avoidance of these types of crises in the future requires integration of national economies even more fully into world capital markets." (Wade, 1998) Chalmers Johnson states that the crisis was caused "much more by under-regulation than by corruption or any other side effects of an overly close relationship between businesses and the government." (1998) Greater transparency and openness is stated to be a requirement in avoiding Asian type crises. Furthermore it is necessary that shareholders get a better deal and that a return on equity be more closely attended to. It will be necessary to break the grip of cronyism in countries such as Japan. Wong states that the crisis can be attributed to specific factors which include: (1) Banks in Japan and Europe were glad to lend overseas due to economic recession and the high profits of Southeast Asia; (2) the long-standing economic boom and low interest rates in the U.S. markets released a torrent of funds seeking higher yield in emerging markets; (3) the emergence of China as a major exporting nations in the region contributed to the worsening current account balance of some Southeast Asian economies; (4) the confidence of many Asian leaders eager to push their development plans with no regard for economic fundamentals and to use the liberalized financial markets in growing instant international financial centers was undertaken too early with the urge of international agencies, bankers and investors; and (5) Corrupt practices, outdated banking rules and weak supervision left many of the Asians ill-prepared to handle the flooding of foreign funds in a global capital market. (nd) it is certain that the common interests of the government and banking sectors is likely the most prominent contributor to the currency crisis in the Asian countries.


Banking System Developments in the Four Asian Tigers (1997) Economic Research and Data. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. 8 Aug 1997. Online FRBSF Economic Letter. Available at

Barro, Robert J. (1998) the East Asian Tigers Have Plenty to Roar About. Economic Viewpoint Business Week 27 Apr 1998. Online available at

Hughes, Christopher W. (1999) Japanese Policy and the East Asian Currency Crisis: Abject Defeat or Quiet Victory. 1999 February Online available at

Hughes, Christopher W. (1999) Japanese Policy and the East Asian Currency Crisis: Abject Defeat or Quiet Victory. CSGR Working Paper No. 24/99. February 1999. Online available at

Johnson, Chalmers (1998) Economic Crisis in East Asia: The Clash of Capitalism. Cambridge Journal of Economics 1998, 22.

Makin, John H. (2000) Two New Paradigms. 1 January 2000. Online available at American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research at

Sallstrom, Laura R. (1994) U.S. Withdrawal of Thailand's GSP Benefits: Real or Imagined? TDRI Quarterly Review. Vol. 9 No. 3 September 1994. Online available at

Wade, Robert (1999) From 'Miracle' to Cronyism: Explaining the Great Asian Slump. Cambridge Journal of Economics. 1998, 22.

Williamson, John (1999) Implications of the East Asian Crisis for Debt Management. Paper presented to a conference on 'External Debt Management' Organized by the Reserve Bank of India. 7-9 Jan 1999. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Online available at


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