Precarious credit equilibria: reflections on the Asian financial crisis

BIS Working Papers No 64
March 1999
This paper examines some of the origins of the recent East Asian financial crisis. It is composed of three parts. The first considers the role of moral hazard in the crisis, specifically the influence of implicit and explicit government guarantees which may have contributed to excess borrowing in East Asia, similar to what occurred in Latin America during the 1980s. We then consider the role played by weaknesses in prudential regulation and supervision of both banks and non-bank financial intermediaries. Insufficient official oversight and poor corporate governance arguably were at the root of the limited financial transparency which prevented the correct assessment of risks by market participants. The combination of these two factors can be argued to have shifted credit markets from an equilibrium with excess borrowing to one with excessive credit rationing, resulting in a severe liquidity crisis. Comparisons are made with the micro-financial vulnerabilities which eventually led to earlier financial crises in Latin America and the Nordic countries.