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Crisis, Adjustment, and Reform in Thailand's Industrial Firms

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  • Dollar, David
  • Hallward-Driemeier, Mary

Abstract

New data on Thailand's industrial firms shed light on the origins of the East Asian financial crisis and on the response of the manufacturing sector to the structural adjustment program supported by the international financial institutions. Before the crisis, Thai firms had declining profitability, but they nevertheless maintained high levels of investment, often in domestically oriented areas (notably the auto sector). Thai firms financed these investments with short-term borrowing from financial institutions, which in turn borrowed short term on foreign markets. That only 40 percent of firms provided audited financial statements to their banks meant that the financial sector had poor information for assessing the true riskiness of these investments. The financial structure was thus vulnerable even to small shocks. How well did the adjustment program deal with the crisis? Thai firms had difficulty increasing their exports quickly because of investment in the wrong sectors, a decline in regional demand, and bottlenecks that included red tape and poor customs administration. Because of the poor export response, the brunt of adjustment had to come through compression of demand and of imports. In retrospect, the macroeconomic program--which assumed quick export recovery--was too tight. Copyright 2000 by Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 15 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-22

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:15:y:2000:i:1:p:1-22

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  1. Steven Radelet & Jeffrey Sachs, 1998. "The Onset of the East Asian Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 6680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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