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Does East Asia Have a Working Financial Safety Net?

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Financial safety nets in Asia have come a long way since the Asian financial crisis (AFC) of 1997/1998. With Asian countries not wanting to rely solely on the IMF again, the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) was created in 2000. When the CMI also proved inadequate following the global financial crisis, it was first multilateralized (CMIM), and then doubled in size to US$240bn, while the IMF de‐linked portion was increased to 30 percent of the available country quotas. A surveillance unit, the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office, was set up in 2001. These are impressive developments, but are they enough to make the CMIM workable? Without clear and rapid‐response procedures to handle a fast‐developing financial emergency, we argue that it is unlikely that the CMIM will be used even as a complement to the IMF. To serve as a stand‐alone option, however, its size or the IMF de‐linked portion of funds needs to be further increased, as does its membership, to add diversity. Only if the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office can develop into an independent and credible surveillance authority would it then perhaps be in a position to lead the next rescue.
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Keywords: ASEAN+3; Asia; Asian monetary fund; Chiang Mai Initiative; F32; F33; F34; IMF; regional financial safety nets

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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