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Prospective deficits and the Asian currency crisis

  • Craig Burnside
  • Martin Eichenbaum
  • Sergio Rebelo

This paper argues that the recent Southeast Asian currency crisis was caused by large prospective deficits associated with implicit bailout guarantees to failing banking systems. We articulate this view using a simple dynamic general equilibrium model whose key feature is that a speculative attack is inevitable once the present value of future government deficits rises. This is true regardless of the government's foreign reserve position or the initial level of its debt. While the government cannot prevent a speculative attack, it can affect its timing. The longer the delay, the higher inflation will be under flexible exchange rates. We present empirical evidence in support of the three key assumptions in our model: (i) foreign reserves did not play a special role in the timing the attack, (ii) large reserves in the banking sector were associated with large increases in governments' prospective deficits, and (iii) the public knew that banks were in trouble before the currency crises.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-98-5.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-98-5
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  1. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Vegh, Carlos A., 1999. "Inflation stabilization and bop crises in developing countries," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 24, pages 1531-1614 Elsevier.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1995. "The Mirage of Fixed Exchange Rates," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 73-96, Fall.
  3. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sérgio, 1998. "Prospective Deficits and the Asian Currency Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 2015, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Burstein, Ariel Tomas & Neves, Joao C & Rebelo, Sérgio, 2001. "Distribution Costs and Real Exchange Rate Dynamics During Exchange-Rate-Based Stabilization," CEPR Discussion Papers 2944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Maurice Obstfeld, 1994. "The Logic of Currency Crises," NBER Working Papers 4640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Rebelo, S. & Xie, D., 1996. "On the Optimality of Interest Rate Smoothing," RCER Working Papers 427, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  8. Maurice Obstfeld, 1984. "Rational and Self-Fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," NBER Working Papers 1486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Giancarlo Corsetti & Paolo Pesenti & Nouriel Roubini, 1998. "Paper tigers? A model of the Asian crisis," Research Paper 9822, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Dupor, Bill, 2000. "Exchange rates and the fiscal theory of the price level," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 613-630, June.
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  12. Flood, Robert P. & Garber, Peter M., 1984. "Collapsing exchange-rate regimes : Some linear examples," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 1-13, August.
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  15. Maurice Obstfeld, 1984. "Speculative Attack and the External Constraint in a Maximizing Model of the Balance of Payments," NBER Working Papers 1437, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1996. "Models of currency crises with self-fulfilling features," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 1037-1047, April.
  17. van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1985. "Fiscal Deficits, Exchange Rate Crises and Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 87, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-25, August.
  19. Steven Radelet & Jeffrey Sachs, 1998. "The Onset of the East Asian Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 6680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Feenstra, Robert C, 1985. "Anticipated Devaluations, Currency Flight, and Direct Trade Controls in a Monetary Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 386-401, June.
  21. Giancarlo Corsetti & Paolo Pesenti & Nouriel Roubini, 1998. "What Caused the Asian Currency and Financial Crisis?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 343, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  22. Drazen, Allan & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Stabilization with Exchange Rate Management," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 835-55, November.
  23. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  24. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  25. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1987. "Balance of Payments Crises in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 19(1), pages 19-32, February.
  26. Koenig, Evan F, 1987. "The Short-run 'Tobin Effect' in a Monetary Optimizing Model," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(1), pages 43-53, January.
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