Asian Financial Crisis: The Movie

  • Walden Bello


In the great tradition of art imitating life, Walden Bello presents Asian Financial Crisis: The Movie. The screenplay for the drama offers no hero, only villains and accomplices. Although crony capitalists have been painted as the principal villain, Bello is more inclined to give the role to foreign speculative investors. "Crony capitalism" were very much part of economic life in the three decades that East Asian countries were experiencing GNP growth. If, indeed crony capitalism was the chief cause of the Asian collapse, why did the crisis not strike much sooner? Bello contends that the central cause of the financial crisis, courtesy of foreign speculative investors, was the quick, massive flow of global speculative capital and bank capital into East Asia in the early 1990s and its even more massive and even swifter exit in 1997. Playing the critical role as accomplices were three institutional actors: the business press, the investment analysts, and the majority of academic specialists on East Asian economies and political systems who maintained the illusion of boom. And how will this film end? The region is likely to see the emergence of movements motivated by resistance not only to indiscriminate financial and economic globalization but to its cultural and political aspects as well.