A Tale of Two Crises: Indonesia’s Political Economy
The global financial crisis caused major economic problems in many countries. Indonesia was obviously affected by this crisis; its export growth declined significantly. Nevertheless, the impact of the crisis on the Indonesian economy was relatively limited compared to other countries in the region, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. This situation leads to the question of why was the impact of the global crisis on the Indonesian economy relatively limited? This was, after all, not the first time that Indonesia had experienced a financial crisis. In 1998, the Asian financial crisis had a very bad effect on Indonesia. An interesting question to ask is why the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis, which in terms of magnitude was much larger than the 1998 crisis, were relatively limited? This paper argues there are, at least, four differences between the 1998 crisis and the 2008 crisis: the origin of the crisis, the exchange rate regime, policy responses and the overall political economy situation. In addition, this paper argues that the structure of trade played an important role in the 2008 crisis. Indonesia survived the global financial crisis thanks to two factors: good policy and good luck. While highlighting these factors, this paper focuses primarily on the role of Indonesia’s domestic political economy during these two crises. Lest it leaves an unduly optimistic picture of Indonesia’s economic future, the paper closes with an assessment of several major hurdles that Indonesia must deal with in the coming years.
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