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International Overborrowing: A Decomposition of Credit and Currency Risks

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  • Ronald I. McKinnon
  • Huw Pill
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Abstract

February 1998 The severity of the financial crises enveloping the ‘tiger’ economies of South East Asia in 1997 came as a surprise to many observers. This paper uses a simple Fisherian model of the ‘overborrowing syndrome’ to compare the Asian crises of 1997 with earlier overborrowing episodes in Mexico and Chile. While important similarities exist, the crises in South East Asia have been exacerbated by the unhedged foreign exchange positions of Asian banks. These open currency positions not only imposed significant additional losses on the banks following devaluation, they also magnified the scale of overborrowing during the cycle’s initial boom phase. Failure to limit the exposure of banks to foreign exchange risk therefore increased the magnitude of the boom - bust overborrowing cycle both ex ante and ex post. The paper highlights the importance of effective regulation and supervision of capital markets, with a focus on limiting the speculative currency positions of banks, especially those that form the core of the domestic payments system and therefore enjoy a (possibly implicit) public guarantee. Improving the institutional infrastructure of financial supervision is the only effective way of mitigating the macroeconomic costs of overborrowing. JEL Classification: O16, F32, F34, E44. Keywords: Overborrowing, capital flows, financial crises, sectoral credit.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 98004.

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Date of creation: Feb 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:98004

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Keywords: Overborrowing; capital flows; financial crises; sectoral credit;

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  1. McKinnon, Ronald I & Pill, Huw, 1997. "Credible Economic Liberalizations and Overborrowing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 189-93, May.
  2. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela, 1999. "The twin crises: The causes of banking and balance of payments problems," MPRA Paper 14081, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. McKinnon, Ronald I., 1982. "The order of economic liberalization: Lessons from Chile and Argentina," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 159-186, January.
  4. Maurice Obstfeld, 1995. "Models of Currency Crises with Self-Fulfilling Features," NBER Working Papers 5285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rudiger Dornbusch & Alejandro Werner, 1994. "Mexico: Stabilization, Reform, and No Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 253-316.
  6. Michael Gavin & Ricardo Hausmann, 1996. "The Roots of Banking Crises: The Macroeconomic Context," Research Department Publications 4026, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  7. Peter M. Garber & Subir Lall, 1996. "Derivative products in exchange rate crises," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 206-231.
  8. Conley, John P. & Maloney, William F., 1995. "Optimal sequencing of credible reforms with uncertain outcomes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 151-166, October.
  9. Diaz-Alejandro, Carlos, 1985. "Good-bye financial repression, hello financial crash," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-24.
  10. Cho, Yoon Je, 1986. "Inefficiencies from Financial Liberalization in the Absence of Well-Functioning Equity Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(2), pages 191-99, May.
  11. Maurice Obstfeld, 1994. "The Logic of Currency Crises," NBER Working Papers 4640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. repec:fth:inadeb:318 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Kurz, Mordecai, 1994. "On the Structure and Diversity of Rational Beliefs," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(6), pages 877-900, October.
  14. Ronald I. McKinnon & Huw Pill, 1996. "The overborrowing syndrome: are East Asian economies different?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 322-355.
  15. Fukuda, Shin-ichi & Hoshi, Takeo & Ito, Takatoshi & Rose, Andrew, 2006. "International Finance," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 455-458, December.
  16. Ronald I. McKinnon & Huw Pill, 1996. "Credible Liberalizations and International Capital Flows: The “Overborrowing Syndrome”," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Deregulation and Integration in East Asia, NBER-EASE Volume 5, pages 7-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Frankel, Jeffrey A, 1992. "Measuring International Capital Mobility: A Review," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 197-202, May.
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