The Currency and Financial Crisis in Southeast Asia: A Case of 'Sudden Death' or Death Foretold'?
Almost all existing studies on the causes, consequences and policy implications of the economic and financial crisis faced by East Asia have provided only a cursory discussion of broad data at best, or have fallen into the trap of merely stating the weaknesses in the economies as a â€˜matter of factâ€™ at worst. Ex-post facto analysis is of little value. In this paper, limiting our focus to the Southeast Asian economies (viz. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines), we carefully scrutinise the available economic data in a systematic manner, with a view to determining whether there were possible indications of discernible deterioration in economic â€˜fundamentalsâ€™ that might have been indicative of an impending crisis. In other words, we aim to determine whether the crisis was a â€˜death foretoldâ€™ (i.e. â€˜an accident waiting to happenâ€™) as most observers seem to assume, or a quick and â€˜sudden deathâ€™ as Sachs et al. (1996b) have suggested of the Mexican crisis of 1994- 95. We take pains to focus solely on the policies/factors that seemed to have a direct impact on the crisis. To get a sense of proper prospective, both trends in the various indicators of the Southeast Asian economies from 1990 to 1996 (just prior to the onset of the crisis in mid-1997) is considered, as well as compare their performance to the Latin American economies of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.[Working Paper No.1]
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