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Corporate Performance in the East Asian Financial Crisis

  • Claessens, Stijn
  • Djankov, Simeon
  • Xu, Lixin Colin

The sharp decline in the once-stellar performance of East Asian corporations following the 1997 financial crisis has sparked an intense debate. Some observers argue that external shocks, including a drop in aggregate demand and a shortage of working capital, explain the corporate sector's poor performance. Others assert that the difficulties were apparent well before the crisis and that the risky financial policies pursued by these firms left them vulnerable. A survey of the literature shows little microeconomic evidence to support either view. This article compares the growth and financing patterns of East Asian corporations in the years before the crisis with those in other countries. It finds little microeconomic evidence that corporate growth was weakening but some support for the argument that many firms had a weak financial structure that left them vulnerable to an economic downturn. Based on a sample of more than 850 publicly listed firms in the four crisis countries--Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand--and two comparators, Hong Kong (China) and Singapore, it appears that firm-specific weaknesses already in existence before the crisis were important factors in the deteriorating performance of the corporate sector. Copyright 2000 by Oxford University Press.

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

Volume (Year): 15 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 23-46

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:15:y:2000:i:1:p:23-46
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