All about metal by Norman Colton

By Norman Colton

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The program was approved a few weeks later by the Executive Board without incident. Its centerpiece was a combination of tax increases and spending cuts amounting to 3 per cent of GDP, which would bring the budget into surplus and, together with the cheaper baht, make a big dent in the current account deficit. In addition, important measures were to be taken in the financial sector, which was in a very poor state. After much discussion, the IMF staff had reversed their position on the granting of general guarantees by the government on bank deposits.

The experience is akin to delaying going to the dentist with a toothache because of the unpleasantness of the treatment that will follow. indd 29 7/15/2011 7:18:46 PM Fighting Financial Fires treatment. And so it went in Thailand. First there was an attempt to obtain credits from China and Japan. When this did not work, the Thai officials had no choice but to approach the IMF with its feared policy conditions. In the meantime, BoT Governor Rerngchai resigned. ” His central banking skills were quite modest, according to someone closely involved with the crisis.

The rate of the rupiah soon deteriorated spectacularly, falling quickly from 2,500 to the dollar to 8,000 as foreign capital dried up and wealthy Indonesian residents voted with their money. Eventually the exchange rate was to drop to a level of 16,000 rupiahs to a dollar. Adding to the gloom in Asia at the time were the peat fires that were burning in many places in Indonesia and Malaysia and causing very limited visibility. The visibility of what was actually happening in the economy was initially equally limited, once again greatly complicating the work of the IMF and World Bank staff members who had been called in to help.

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