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May 28, 2007

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Nurhisham Hussein

Didn't the IMF issue a mea culpa in the aftermath of the Asian crisis? Let me see if I can dig up some references.

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Isn't the post-crisis mean growth rate smaller than the pre-crisis mean growth rate in this graph ?

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There's two ways of looking at that - (1) the crisis affected the growth path of the economies affected i.e. despite the crisis being largely financial, the 'real' economy was affected as well (there goes the recessions-are-good-for-you argument, at least for developing economies); and (2) the emergence of China as a manufacturing base diverted investment and production away from the crisis economies.

There's evidence for both factors at work here. See Cerra and Saxena (2003) IMF Working Paper 03/48 for the former.

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It has been clear time and time again that fixed exchange rate regimes require a significant commitment (financial and political) in the face of turbulence. This is usually not worth it unless it exists to prevent a significant pre-existing condition (high inflation) like in Brazil. But as time passes, the training wheels need to come off for any significant economy. A central bank needs to learn to manage the economy if the country wants to attract foreign capital.

As a counter-example, Venezuela will do fine with its fixed exchange rate exactly because of its draconian capital controls. But since it is an oil economy, this will not do much to curtail private investment, but will prevent any sudden-stop or liquidity crises. This is, of course, ignoring the "resource curse" effects there.

How many open economies of any significance can maintain such a rigid monetary system in the face of a crisis? At the very least, the choice of which currency to fixed your exchange rate to, or which monetary policy to "import", should be a careful consideration. Argentina did badly by ignoring Brazil's devaluation given their significant economic ties.

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I am not surprised that the program loan offerings of the IMF did not yield long term results, as Taka Ito claims.

For more that 25 years, our government is still tied with the loan conditions imposed; and I must say, most of these conditions do not anymore fit with the current economic situation.

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Perhaps the problem is with the misnomer "developing country". Countries that don't have the basics of "peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice" may well indeed be caught in a Malthusian trap where greater national income gets translated into high population but not per capita GDP.

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This is, of course, ignoring the "resource curse" effects there.

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