Public Policies in East Asian Development: Facing New Challenges

By F. Gerard Adams; William E. James | Go to book overview

2
Policy Challenges to Revive the East Asian Miracle

F. Gerard Adams

A time when the headlong rush to development of East Asia has hit a roadblock is an appropriate point to consider what happened in East Asia and what kind of policies can revive the East Asian miracle. While the IMF claims some success for its structural adjustment approach, some economists ( Sachs, 1997; Feldstein, 1998) argue that the IMF's approach is wrongheaded and that the type of stabilization policy promoted by the IMF imposes too heavy a burden. 1 Are policies needed beyond the traditional stabilization measures to give the East Asian economies a jump start and to set the East Asian growth process back into rapid motion? What kinds of policies will serve that purpose?

In this chapter, first I ask what went wrong in East Asia and how that is likely to affect future economic and social prospects. Short-term prospects are quite dire, particularly for Indonesia, but there is basis to remain moderately optimistic about the long-run viability of the region. Then, I turn to policy. What are the challenges for policy? What are the basic stabilization policies, the elements of the IMF conditionality package? What, if anything, can be done about the social and employment problems resulting? Finally, I turn to policies for the longer run. What policy approaches will help to put East Asian development back on track? Our discussion deals in detail with Thailand, though we note its applicability to other East Asian countries.


WHAT WENT WRONG?

The crisis began "officially," so to speak, with the devaluation of the Thai baht on July 2, 1997. This event came as a big surprise to financial markets. Not until August did the crisis hit Indonesia and still later in the year engulf Malaysia and

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