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Lessons from Finland's Depression of the 1990s: What Went Wrong in Financial Reform?

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  • Pekka Ahtiala

Abstract

The role of economic policy in Finland's depression of the 1990s is analyzed with a simple model of an open economy, and the conditions for a successful financial reform derived: Let the system adjust after the removal of interest rate ceilings, and the domestic interest rate then be aligned with foreign rates before liberalizing international capital flows. In Finland, the financial system was liberalized simultaneously with international capital movements, with the domestic shadow interest rate initially considerably higher than the international market rates. A capital inflow the size of the monetary base followed, leading to the 'crazy years' of 1987-89. With a large current account deficit, the Bank of Finland tightened money sharply, causing a banking crisis practically wiping out the savings bank sector. The GDP declined by 13%. Several lesser policy measures aggravated the crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Pekka Ahtiala, 2006. "Lessons from Finland's Depression of the 1990s: What Went Wrong in Financial Reform?," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 25-54.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jpolrf:v:9:y:2006:i:1:p:25-54
    DOI: 10.1080/13841280500512995
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    References listed on IDEAS

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