Stress Test for Reforms: Transition and East Asian 'Contagion'
Posted: 24 Aug 1999
Contagion from East Asia imposed a severe "stress test" on the market-oriented reforms of transition economies. We find that the portfolio reallocations of investors differentiated sharply among these economies at the height of the East Asian turmoil, appearing clearly in the relative movements in interest rates and share prices. Those countries that appeared more vulnerable to contagion had large public or private sector imbalances and low reserve cover of short-term debt. The analysis, however, goes beyond macroeconomic and financial imbalances to link these weak fundamentals to inadequate structural and institutional reforms. We find that flaws in public finances together with weak enterprises and financial institutions were key underlying factors in the vulnerability to East Asian contagion. They were also key causes of the Russian crisis, which initiated a new round of contagion driven primarily by high exposures to Russian trade.
JEL Classification: E44, E62, F32, F36, P31, P33
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