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Malaysia´S September 1998 Controls: Background, Context, Impacts, Comparisons, Implications, Lessons

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  • JOMO K.S.
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    Abstract

    Unlike the other East Asian economies which sought IMF emergency credit facilities after borrowing heavily from abroad, the Malaysian authorities simply never had to go to the Fund as prudential regulations introduced earlier had limited foreign borrowings, especially short-term credit. Instead, its crisis was due to massive portfolio investment inflows into the stock market. With the crisis, currency depreciation and stock market declines formed a vicious cycle, exacerbated by contagion and policy responses as well as official rhetoric undermining market confidence, especially in the latter half of 1997. From December 1997, the adoption of more orthodox pro-cyclical policies made the downturn worse. Before mid-1998, new fiscal measures were adopted to reflate the economy, later augmented by the currency and capital control measures from September. Looking at the crisis in August 1998, when the United States still showed little inclination to do anything to improve the situation, the Malaysian measures made good sense. The September 1998 Malaysian controls were undoubtedly well designed and effective in closing down the offshore ringgit market without discouraging greenfield foreign direct investment. The Malaysian experience shows that imposing emergency capital controls on outflows did not have the disastrous effects its opponents claim it would. But, coming 14 months after the crisis began, they were too late to stem capital flight, which had already taken place, resulting in the 80 per cent collapse of the stock market index. The capital controls were amended in February 1999 and ended in September 1999. They prevented more capital from leaving owing to the uncertainty induced by the economic and political developments of early September 1998. All the crisis economies turned around from late 1998, while Malaysia took longer, recovering from the second quarter of 1999. The recovery was stronger than in Thailand and in Indonesia in 1999 and 2000, although it lagged behind that in the Republic of Korea. The Governments of the Republic of Korea and Malaysia were bolder in their fiscal reflationary efforts, and also worked faster at bank re-capitalization and corporate restructuring. The pre-Y2K demand for electronics helped Malaysia and the Republic of Korea more than the others. Malaysia also benefited from higher petroleum and palm oil prices, while the depth of the 1998 recession in Southeast Asia was partly due to El Nino weather effects on agricultural output, and not just the currency and financial crises.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in its series G-24 Discussion Papers with number 36.

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    Date of creation: 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:unc:g24pap:36

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    1. Ethan Kaplan & Dani Rodrik, 2002. "Did the Malaysian Capital Controls Work?," NBER Chapters, in: Preventing Currency Crises in Emerging Markets, pages 393-440 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. John Williamson, 1999. "Implications of the East Asian Crisis for Debt Management," CSGR Hot Topics: Research on Current Issues, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick 05, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick.
    3. Ghani, Ejaz & Suri, Vivek, 1999. "Productivity growth, capital accumulation, and the banking sector - some lessons from Malaysia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2252, The World Bank.
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    8. Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Enrica Detragiache, 1998. "The Determinants of Banking Crises in Developing and Developed Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 81-109, March.
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    11. Boorman, Jack & Lane, Timothy & Schulze-Ghattas, Marianne & Bulir, Ales & Ghosh, Atish R. & Hamann, Javier & Mourmouras, Alex & Phillips, Steven, 2000. "Managing financial crises: the experience in East Asia," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-67, December.
    12. Michael P. Dooley, 1996. "A Survey of Literature on Controls over International Capital Transactions," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 43(4), pages 639-687, December.
    13. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2000. "Capital Market Liberalization, Economic Growth, and Instability," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1075-1086, June.
    14. Jason Furman & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1998. "Economic Crises: Evidence and Insights from East Asia," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 1-136.
    15. Andrew Berg & Paolo Mauro & Michael Mussa & Alexander K. Swoboda & Esteban Jadresic & Paul R. Masson, 2000. "Exchange Rate Regimes in an Increasingly Integrated World Economy," IMF Occasional Papers 193, International Monetary Fund.
    16. Rawi Abdelal & Laura Alfaro, 2003. "Capital and Control: Lessons from Malaysia," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 46(4), pages 36-53, July.
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