How much will ever be enough?

Discussion in 'Economics' started by stupid, May 16, 2007.

  1. stupid


    The Asian Financial Crisis being probably one of the most important events in the history of economic developments happened some ten years ago. Thus, it is now time we look back at it and evaluate whether or not the country affected in this crisis actually do learn from it and where do they stand presently?
    The Asian financial crisis started off with a speculative attack on the overvalued Thai baht in May 1997.

    When this happened, the Thai central bank can defend the pegged currency rate either in the spot market (absorbing the baht sales by speculators through purchases) or through intervention in the forward market (buying baht forward contracts from private banks). In any case, in the case of defending the value of the baht, the Thai central bank had to sell US dollars, thereby rapidly depleting their foreign reserves. Once, the limited reserves are depleted, the Thai central bank will have no other means of defending the value of baht and could only watch in despair as it continues to devaluate. The attack was fuelled by structural flaws in the country’s economy such as low transparency on bank and company’s operation, current account and budget deficit and also a large foreign debt. The crisis had a ripple effect and soon, countries with similar economic structures were affected as well. The result of it is an over-reaction and excessive outflow of investment which caused the collapse in the Asia currency and share market. In no time, Asia was described as “running out of an international lender of last resort”.

    During the financial crisis, countries in South-East Asia responded differently. For example, Indonesia and Thailand sort help from the International Monetary Fund to maintain their currency value whereby Malaysia and China pegged their currencies to the US dollar. In all, most of the countries started to build up large foreign reserve base so as to maintain their exchange rate.

    From the recent share market surges and the currency appreciation in Asia, one might say that Asia have come out of the recession.

    The recent financial and property market bubble might be caused by the large foreign reserve accumulation where the capital flow is not sterilized, created a massive growth of monetary base and of credit that feed of those bubbles which in turn generate inflationary pressure. The bubbles in both markets over time will eventually burst and might indeed trigger the beginning of the next financial crisis. This will inevitably happen as the sterilization cost of capital inflow is large for an ever increasing foreign reserve especially during period of capital inflow surge.

    According to the outgoing chief economist of IMF, Kenneth Rogoff, “Asia is now sitting on high foreign exchange reserve and the question is how much is enough?”

    Hanwei Fong
    Ho Peiyi Sylvia