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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 - JC History Essay Notes

What were the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Economic Development after Independence
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Asian Financial Crisis

The aftermath of the regional currency crisis
In view of the causes that explain how the Asian Financial Crisis began, it is important to examine its consequences. This includes the government responses that varied between Southeast Asian nations, such as the bail-out loans by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), crisis response packages and stringent financial regulatory measures.

Immediate government responses
After the Asian Financial Crisis happened, governments played a critical role in introducing immediate responses to arrest the situation.

For instance, the Thai government tried to maintain the peg by tapping on its reserves to prevent further currency depreciation, which was caused by speculative attacks. From 1997 to 1998, it was estimated that nearly US$30 billion was spent to maintain the baht.

Unfortunately, their efforts proved futile, such that the abandonment of the fixed exchange rate led to rapid currency depreciation. On 2 July 1997, the baht was allowed to float, resulting in the depreciation of the currency value by 18%. By January 1998, the value had fallen to US$1 to $55 baht.

Given the economic interconnectedness of Southeast Asian markets, the Thai economic crisis spread to other neighbouring economies, which was known as the contagion effect.

Crisis Response Measures
Another important consideration was the introduction of crisis response measures to contain the economic crisis. These measures involved large government spending to stimulate the markets and facilitate recovery.

For example, the Malaysian government formed the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) in 1998 to pursue economic stabilization. One method included the imposition of capital controls to stabilize the ringgit.

Additionally, the national asset management company, known as Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Berhad, was in responsible for relieving the banking system of its non-performing loans (NPLs) and assets. By 30 September 2005, the Danaharta had resolved all of its NPLs. It was reported to have met its recovery target of RM30.35 billion.

In fact, Danaharta was one of the three-pronged strategy that the Malaysian government introduced to achieve stabilization of the banking system. It also included Danamodal Nasional Berhad and the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee (CDRC).

Acceptance of IMF Bail-out Loans
Lastly, the IMF also offered to provide bail-out loans to affected Southeast Asian economies. These conditional loans required governments to accept an IMF-imposed set of policies. In particular, the IMF required recipient countries to engage in fiscal austerity (spending cuts) to correct their balance of payment deficits. Yet, these governments were not running budget deficits, thus worsening the economic slowdown.

“I thought this was a mistake. For one thing, unlike the Latin American nations, the East Asian countries were already running budget surpluses. In Thailand, the government was running such large surpluses that it was actually starving the economy of much ­needed investments in education and infrastructure, both essential to economic growth. And the East Asian nations already had tight monetary policies, as well: inflation was low and falling. (In South Korea, for example, inflation stood at a very respectable four percent.) The problem was not imprudent government, as in Latin America; the problem was an imprudent private sector­­ – all those bankers and borrowers, for instance, who’d gambled on the real estate bubble.”

Former World Bank Chief Economist, Joseph Stiglitz, New Republic, 17 April 2000 – Source: https://bit.ly/2GIk2cp

For example, Indonesia accepted the IMF bail-out reluctantly. By the time the third agreement was introduced, the government acceded to IMF’s demands to remove subsidies on essentials, like food, medicine and fertiliser.

This proved to be disastrous, given that the loss of state support raised the cost of living and worsened socio-economic conditions. As a result, the skyrocketing basic commodity prices resulted in a surge in inflation rate. Poverty rate increased from 11% before the crisis to nearly 60% afterwards.

Furthermore, the economic instability had severe socio-political consequences that culminated in the resignation of Suharto.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that governments of Southeast Asian economies were responsible for the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have learnt the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis, it is imperative that you apply your knowledge to A Level History essay questions. You can sign up for our JC History Tuition to find out how you can organise your content and form well-analyzed essays to ace the GCE A Level History examination.

Furthermore, we conduct other useful JC tuition classes, like GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to sign up now.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What caused the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 - JC History Essay Notes

What caused the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Economic Development after Independence
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Asian Financial Crisis

What exactly is the ‘East Asian Crisis’?
In July 1997, the markets in East and Southeast Asian were affected by a financial meltdown that began in Thailand. Due to a mix of factors, such as financial speculation and inadequate regulatory measures, the Thai government was forced to float the baht. This caused market pessimism, which led to the outflow of capital. In view of the inter-connected markets within the Southeast Asian region, the economic problems in Thailand began to spread to other neighbouring countries, like Thailand. This was known as a ‘financial contagion‘.

1. Unregulated financial liberalization
One possible factor for the Asian Financial Crisis was the unregulated liberalization. Partially, this was the result of the increased liberalization of the financial sector in the 1980s. As foreign investments were welcomed as major sources of economic growth, there were minimal regulations to stem the flow of capital.

As such, the sustained economic growth boosted market sentiments, thereby creating the optimistic outlook that Southeast Asia was a potential for future growth. Thus, foreign investors funded investment activities in the region. However, financial liberalization exposed several weaknesses.

In Thailand, the Bangkok International Banking Facility (BIBF) enabled banks and finance companies to access short-term credit with low interest rates. The credit was lent to Thai borrowers to finance long-term projects with high interest rates. Therefore, the ease of credit access resulted in the expansion of BIBF loans that amounted to nearly $115 billion baht.

2. The shortcomings of a fixed exchange rate system
The second contributing factor relates to the use of a fixed exchange rate system in some of the SEA economies. A fixed exchange rate system meant that governments could determine the external value of money. Currency stabilization was an ideal consideration as it raises market confidence to promote investment and trading activities.

However, a large pool of foreign reserve was needed in order for governments to intervene in the foreign exchange (i.e. ‘forex’ in short) market and maintain the exchange rate.

Initially, the Thai baht was pegged to the American dollar (USD) at 25 baht : 1 USD. Yet, the inability to maintain the currency value had left the economy vulnerable to speculative attacks that began in November 1996. Thailand’s reserves of US$39 billion declined to US$2 billion by June 1997.

Eventually, the inability to maintain the currency peg led to the eventual floating of the baht on 2 July 1997, thus losing 17% of its value relative to the USD. Consequently, there was a plunge in investor confidence, resulting in the withdrawal of foreign capital from the regional markets.

3. Speculative attacks
The third contributing factor relates to foreign currency speculation. Short-term capital flows created exchange rate instability, which was exacerbated by market pessimism. Therefore, the outflow of capital resulted in currency depreciation.

In Thailand, foreign investors sold their baht, causing a sharp fall in the currency value. By end 1997, the baht lost 80% of its value relative to the USD. There were lingering perceptions that the neighbouring economies were also susceptible to market volatility.

Therefore, this dampened investor confidence, resulting in the subsequent outflow of capital in other economies, like Indonesia. By February 1998, the Indonesian rupiah lost 76% of its value relative to the USD.

How did the financial crisis affect the Southeast Asian economies?
In general, the massive currency devaluation led to a significant economic downturn that hampered the development of many economies in Southeast Asia, including Singapore and Indonesia.

With currency depreciation, some of these economies experienced higher unemployment and inflation rates. For instance, Indonesia was adversely affected by the Thai financial crisis. The unemployment rate in Indonesia surged beyond 6% in 1999. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate was at -15% in 1998. In Malaysia, the GDP growth rate was at -5.8% in the same year.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 was the result of currency speculation? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have examined the possible contributing factors that gave rise to the Asian Financial Crisis, it is important to apply this knowledge by answering similar practice questions. You can also join our JC History Tuition. We provide additional learning resources, such as summary notes, essay outlines and case study materials.

Additionally, we offer other related JC tuition programmes, like GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to join now!