Your Gateway to the History of the Federal Reserve System
The Asian financial crisis, also called the "Asian Contagion," was a sequence of currency devaluations and other events that began in the summer of and spread through many Asian markets. The currency markets first failed in Thailand as the result of the government's decision to no longer peg the local currency to the U. As a result of the devaluation of Thailand's baht, a large portion of East Asian currencies fell by as much as 38 percent. International stocks also declined as much as 60 percent. Luckily, the Asian financial crisis was stemmed somewhat due to financial intervention from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. However, the market declines were also felt in the United States, Europe, and Russia as the Asian economies slumped. As a result of the crisis, many nations adopted protectionist measures to ensure the stability of their currencies.
Typically countries experienced rapid devaluation and capital outflows as investor confidence turned from over-exuberance to contagious pessimism as the structural imbalances in the economy became more apparent. Due to the financial instability, the IMF was requested to intervene. Unlike the debt crisis in Latin America, the debt crisis in East Asia stemmed from inappropriate borrowing by the private sector. Due to high rates of economic growth and a booming economy, private firms and corporations looked to finance speculative investment projects. However, firms overstretched themselves and a combination of factors caused a depreciation in the exchange rate as they struggled to meet the payments. Severe Recession.
On July 2, , Thailand devalued its currency relative to the US dollar. Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia also allowed their currencies to weaken substantially in the face of market pressures, with Indonesia gradually falling into a multifaceted financial and political crisis. Hong Kong faced several large but unsuccessful speculative attacks on its currency peg to the dollar, the first of which triggered short-term stock market sell-offs across the globe. And severe balance-of-payments pressures in South Korea brought the country to the brink of default. Across East Asia, capital inflows slowed or reversed direction, and growth slowed sharply.
The Asian financial crisis, like many other financial crises before and after it, began with a series of asset bubbles. Growth in the region's export economies led to high levels of foreign direct investment , which in turn led to soaring real estate values, bolder corporate spending, and even large public infrastructure projects. Heavy borrowing from banks provided most of the funding. Ready investors and easy lending often lead to reduced investment quality, and excess capacity soon began to show in these economies. The U.