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Why has China survived the Asian crisis so well? What risks remain?


  • John G. Fernald
  • Oliver D. Babson


China's strong growth in the midst of the Asian crisis is striking. We explore features of China's financial system that helped insulate it from the crisis, and then try to assess whether China has avoided crisis or simply deferred it. We argue that regardless of whether the Asian crisis resulted from weak fundamentals or from "country runs" by investors, it is not surprising that China has survived so far. In a market-oriented system, pressures generally force rapid adjustment when institutions are, or are perceived to be, insolvent; these mechanisms do not operate fully in China. In addition, China's external accounts remain strong. Even in the absence of capital controls, the strength of these external fundamentals would plausibly preclude a self-fulfilling "country run" on China. Whatever their other effects, capital controls may have played a role in preventing Chinese financial institutions from borrowing excessively abroad, and hence may have helped keep China's external fundamentals strong. Clear risks remain for China's outlook.

Suggested Citation

  • John G. Fernald & Oliver D. Babson, 1999. "Why has China survived the Asian crisis so well? What risks remain?," International Finance Discussion Papers 633, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:633

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel H. Rosen, 1999. "Behind the Open Door: Foreign Enterprises in the Chinese Marketplace," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 23.
    2. Morris Goldstein, 1998. "The Asian Financial Crisis," Policy Briefs PB98-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    3. Michael Mussa & Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Barry J. Eichengreen & Enrica Detragiache, 1998. "Capital Account Liberalization; Theoretical and Practical Aspects," IMF Occasional Papers 172, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Fernald, John & Edison, Hali & Loungani, Prakash, 1999. "Was China the first domino? Assessing links between China and other Asian economies," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 515-535, August.
    5. John Fernald & John H. Rogers, 2002. "Puzzles In The Chinese Stock Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 416-432, August.
    6. Steven Radelet & Jeffrey Sachs, 1998. "The Onset of the East Asian Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 6680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. John G. Fernald & Hali J. Edison & Prakash Loungani, 1998. "Was China the first domino? assessing links between China and the rest of emerging Asia," International Finance Discussion Papers 604, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. Bonin, John P. & Huang, Yiping, 2001. "Dealing with the bad loans of the Chinese banks," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 197-214.
    2. Vincent Bouvatier, 2010. "Hot money inflows and monetary stability in China: how the People's Bank of China took up the challenge," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(12), pages 1533-1548.
    3. Vincent Bouvatier, 2006. "Hot Money Inflows in China : How the People's Bank of China Took up the Challenge," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00111153, HAL.
    4. Cheung, Yin-Wong & Steinkamp, Sven & Westermann, Frank, 2016. "China's capital flight: Pre- and post-crisis experiences," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 88-112.
    5. Fernald, John & Edison, Hali & Loungani, Prakash, 1999. "Was China the first domino? Assessing links between China and other Asian economies," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 515-535, August.
    6. Rod Tyers & Iain Bain & Yongxiang Bu, 2008. "China'S Equilibrium Real Exchange Rate: A Counterfactual Analysis," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 17-39, February.
    7. Françoise Lemoine, 2000. "FDI and the Opening Up of China's Economy," Working Papers 2000-11, CEPII research center.
    8. Yin-Wong Cheung & Risto Herrala, 2014. "China's Capital Controls: Through the Prism of Covered Interest Differentials," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 112-134, February.
    9. Françoise Lemoine, 1999. "Les délocalisations au cœur de l'expansion du commerce extérieur chinois," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 326(1), pages 53-70.
    10. Carsten Hefeker & Andreas Nabor, 2005. "China's role in East-Asian monetary integration," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 157-166.
    11. Alan G. Ahearne & John G. Fernald & Prakash Loungani, 2001. "Countering contagion: Does China's experience offer a blueprint?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 38-52.
    12. Barbara Stallings, 2004. "Financial Liberalization, Crisis, and Rescue: Lessons for China from Latin America and East Asia?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 48078, Inter-American Development Bank.
    13. Wink Joosten, 2004. "The Asian Financial Crisis in Retrospect: What Happened? What Can We Conclude?," CPB Memorandum 87, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    14. Francois Gurtner, 1999. "The stability of the Renminbi in the wake of the Asian financial crisis," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;German National Library of Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 34(3), pages 135-143, May.
    15. Rod Tyers & Jane Golley, 2006. "China's Growth to 2030: The Roles of Demographic Change and Investment Risk," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2006-461, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    16. Rod Tyers & Jane Golley, 2006. "China's Growth to 2030: The Roles of Demographic Change and Investment Premia," PGDA Working Papers 1206, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
    17. Zhang, Jing & Pezeshkan, Amir, 2016. "Host country network, industry experience, and international alliance formation: Evidence from the venture capital industry," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 264-277.

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