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The East Asian Currency Crisis: Causes And Lessons

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  • MASAHIRO KAWAI

Abstract

Financial deregulation and capital-account liberalization preceded speculative currency attacks in Thailand. A combination of de facto fixed exchange rates and high rates of interest generated excessive capital inflows, which led to too much liquidity chasing bad investments. The under-supervised and over-guaranteed financial sector extended loans excessively, particularly for non-productive, speculative purposes. Non-transparent practices, in the form of weak disclosure of institutions' true balance sheets and insider relations, masked these poor investments. The buildup of short-term, unhedged debt left East Asian economies vulnerable to a sudden collapse of confidence. Currency attacks ran down official foreign exchange reserves. Rapid capital outflows and the consequent depreciation of currencies exacerbated the strains on private sector balance sheets. The policy lessons are to (i) use macroeconomic policy to avoid excessive capital inflows and currency overvaluation, (ii) strengthen the financial system, with proper disclosure and accounting requirements, stringent loan classification and provisioning rules, and capital adequacy requirements, prior to capital-account liberalization, (iii) stabilize exchange rates based on currency baskets that reflect trade and investment linkages, and (iv) develop regional. financial cooperation with regional surveillance and peer pressure to maintain policy discipline. Copyright 1998 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • Masahiro Kawai, 1998. "The East Asian Currency Crisis: Causes And Lessons," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(2), pages 157-172, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:16:y:1998:i:2:p:157-172
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    Cited by:

    1. Kawai,Masahiro & Newfarmer,Richard S. & Schmukler,Sergio L., 2001. "Crisis and contagion in East Asia : nine lessons," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2610, The World Bank.
    2. Thomas Ziesemer, 1999. "Long-Run Aspects of the Asian Debt Crisis," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 68(1), pages 94-102.
    3. Kaliappa Kalirajan & VenkatachalamAnbumozhi & Kanhaiya Singh, 2010. "Measuring the Environmental Impacts of Changing Trade Patterns on the Poor," Trade Working Papers 22727, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    4. Paul Louis Ceriel Hilbers & Alfredo Mario Leone & Mahinder Singh Gill & Owen Evens, 2000. "Macroprudential Indicators of Financial System Soundness," IMF Occasional Papers 192, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Andres Gallo & Juan Pablo Stegmann & Jeffrey Steagall, 2006. "The Role of Political Institutions in the Resolution of Economic Crises: The Case of Argentina 2001-05," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(2), pages 193-217.
    6. Kawai, Masahiro & Takagi, Shinji, 2000. "Proposed strategy for a regional exchange rate arrangement in post-crisis East Asia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2503, The World Bank.
    7. Carlos Esteban Posada, 1999. "La Tasa de Intérés en una Economía Pequeña con Movilidad Imperfecta de Capitales: El Caso Colombiano del Siglo XX (1905-1997)," Borradores de Economia 113, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    8. Masahiro Kawai & Richard Newfarmer & Sergio L. Schmukler, 2005. "Financial Crises: Nine Lessons from East Asia," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 185-207, Spring.
    9. Sungsup Ra, 2005. "Bad Credit Equilibria with the Abnormally Utilized Commerical," Finance 0503012, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Khalid, Ahmed M. & Kawai, Masahiro, 2003. "Was financial market contagion the source of economic crisis in Asia?: Evidence using a multivariate VAR model," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 131-156, February.

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