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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 of the attack, (ii) large losses 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 crisis.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6758.

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Date of creation: Oct 1998
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Publication status: published as Burnside, Craig, Martin Eichenbaum and Sergio Rebelo. "Prospective Deficits And The Asian Currency Crisis," Journal of Political Economy, 2001, v109(6,Dec), 1155-1197.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6758
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  1. 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.
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  7. Burnside, C. & Eichenbaum, M. & Rebelo, S., 1998. "Prospective Deficits and the Asian Currency Crisis," RCER Working Papers 458, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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  12. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1996. "Models of currency crises with self-fulfilling features," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 1037-1047, April.
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  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. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carlos A. Vegh, 1999. "Inflation Stabilization and BOP Crises in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 6925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Allan Drazen & Elhanan Helpman, 1987. "Stabilization with Exchange Rate Management," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 835-855.
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  26. Timothy D. Lane & Marianne Schulze-Gattas & T. M. Tsikata & Steven Phillips & Atish R. Ghosh & A. Javier Hamann, 1999. "IMF-Supported Programs in Indonesia, Korea and Thailand," IMF Occasional Papers 178, International Monetary Fund.
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