External Debt and Macroeconomic Performance in South Korea
Susan M. Collins, Won Am Park
During 1980-1986, South Korea went from being the world's fourth largest debtor country, in the midst of an economic crisis, to a model of successful adjustment, with high growth rates and a current account surplus. This paper summarizes the findings of an in depth analysis of Korea's performance, focusing on the experience with external debt. We argue that the explanations for Korea's recovery are closely linked to the explanations for Korea's very rapid growth during the 1960s and 1970s. The centerpieces have been a comprehensive export focused investment plan with external borrowing wed to supplement domestic savings in financing the investment and an active, interventionist government policy.
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