Informality and Monetary Policy in Japan: The Political Economy of Bank Performance

By Adrian Van Rixtel | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

'… why do covert instruments such as moral suasion often receive a substantial emphasis in the actual operation of monetary policy whereas they are discussed as an afterthought in most textbook accounts of monetary policy?'

J.F. Chant and K. Acheson (1986)


1.1 Aims

During the 1980s and first half of the 1990s, the economic success of a significant number of Asian countries attracted a great deal of scientific attention. Many studies were conducted that tried to explain this success, often resulting in claims that these economic 'miracles' happened mainly because of some peculiar characteristics of these countries' economic systems and the role of government – i.e. economic policy (see, for example, Wade 1990; Chowdhury and Islam 1993; World Bank 1993; Abegglen 1995; Johnson 1995c; Weiss and Hobson 1995; Aoki et al. 1996; Fruin 1998; Weiss 1998). Against the background of these claims it is not surprising that some studies came up with concepts such as 'Asian Capitalism' or 'Asian Network Capitalism' as possible alternatives to Western capitalist systems (Johnson 1993, p.65; Fruin 1998; Research Project Team for Japanese Systems 1992). Informality was often mentioned as characteristic of these Asian economies: informal forms of industrial organisation, informal networks to organise business and informal factors in the formulation and implementation of government economic policy. Examples of such informality are the informally organised business groups that dominate the Japanese and Korean economies (the keiretsu and chaebol, respectively), the informal business networks of the overseas Chinese and informal networks for policy co-ordination between public and private spheres (Song 1990; Gerlach 1992; World Bank 1993; Abegglen 1995; Fruin 1998).

In more recent years, however, after the major crisis that hit most countries in Asia in the late nineties, a reverse pattern can be identified, in its

-1-

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