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By Seung-Il Jeong (auth.)

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Extra info for Crisis and Restructuring in East Asia: The Case of the Korean Chaebol and the Automotive Industry

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There undoubtedly existed significant problems and weak fundamentals in the Asian economies before the crisis. Export growth was falling and current account deficits rising by 1995 and 1996. There were also poor banking supervision, poor corporate governance, excessive lending and reckless investment, to name but a few. However, these factors were not severe enough to warrant a financial crisis of the magnitude of the one that took place in late 1997 (Radelet and Sachs 1998). It could only have been financial panic among international banks and investors that brought East Asia to its knees.

This argument attributes the economic crisis to domestic causes such as moral hazard, crony capitalism, industrial policy, and ultimately government failure. The crisis resulted from deep-rooted weaknesses in the national institutions of the Asian countries that created moral hazard among their financial and industrial enterprises, leading to reckless risktaking, inefficient investment, large external deficits, and property and stock market bubbles (see also IMF 1997b, 1998c; Corsetti, Pesenti and Roubini 1998a, 1998b).

12 On the demand side, banks and firms in Korea and Southeast Asia rushed to borrow abroad because it cost roughly half as much as borrowing domestically. There was an assumption, of course, that their currencies would remain fixed to the US dollar. From 1990 to 1997, the volume of private capital flow to developing countries rose more than sixfold, from US$42 billion in 1990 to US$256 billion in 1997 (World Bank 1998: p. 5). While world trade grew by about 5 per cent annually, private capital flow grew by nearly 30 per cent annually.

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