Information flows during the asian crisis: evidence from closed-end funds

BIS Working Papers No 97
December 2000
A salient feature of the Asian crisis of 1997 was a collapse of stock markets that took place over several months. The dynamics of this collapse raises the question of what information was driving the markets. This paper examines a key aspect of this question: did information flow from the domestic Asian markets to overseas markets, or vice versa? We test for the direction of this information flow by comparing daily returns in several Southeast Asian equity markets with daily returns on US-based closed-end funds that invest in those markets, exploiting the fact that there is no overlap between the trading hours in the two regions. We find that while information flows between local and US markets tended to be roughly evenly balanced before the crisis, US market returns assumed a more important role during the crisis. This is the case both for the level of daily returns and for the volatility of those returns. We also find that fund returns were more closely tied to broad US market returns during the crisis period. This suggests that the shift in causation between the US and Asia reflected a greater role for US market sentiment, rather than for the news that became known during US trading hours.