NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Prospective Deficits and the Asian Currency Crisis

Craig Burnside, Martin Eichenbaum, Sergio Rebelo

NBER Working Paper No. 6758
Issued in October 1998
NBER Program(s):   EFG   IFM

This paper argues that the recent Southeast Asian currency crisis was caused by large prospective deficits associated with implicit bailout guarantees to failing banking systems. We articulate this view using a simple dynamic general equilibrium model whose key feature is that a speculative attack is inevitable once the present value of future government deficits rises. This is true regardless of the government's foreign reserve position or the initial level of its debt. While the government cannot prevent a speculative attack, it can affect its timing. The longer the delay, the higher inflation will be under flexible exchange rates. We present empirical evidence in support of the three key assumptions in our model: (i) foreign reserves did not play a special role in the timing of the attack, (ii) large losses in the banking sector were associated with large increases in governments' prospective deficits, and (iii) the public knew that banks were in trouble before the currency crisis.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6758

Published: Burnside, Craig, Martin Eichenbaum and Sergio Rebelo. "Prospective Deficits And The Asian Currency Crisis," Journal of Political Economy, 2001, v109(6,Dec), 1155-1197. citation courtesy of

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