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Is the Asian currency crisis over?

There are two possible models that throw light on this question. Thailand and the other Asean countries affected by sell-offs of their currencies and stock markets over the summer might follow the pattern of Mexico in the peso crisis of January 1995. Mexico returned quickly to economic growth on the back of a big injection of capital from the IMF (and the US government), by selling most of its banks - after bailing them out with public money - to foreigners, and by forcing ailing companies to disappear. Companies that survived thrived as the devalued peso made them more competitive.

In some respects, south-east Asia is following that pattern. Thailand has received a large bail-out package from the IMF and (after some false steps) has closed down all its bankrupt finance companies.

But the signs are that south-east Asia is following a more worrying model for recovery - that of Japan circa 1990. When Japan's boom economy ground to a halt, the authorities refused to recognize the problem. As successive waves of problems hit (bank bad debts, company bankruptcies, a real-estate crash), each time the government responded with palliative measures and propped up any institutions that got into trouble.

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