It’s enough to give a financial journalist a case of the bends.
In 1997, I covered the collapse of Asia’s emerging economies and the end, it seemed, to the “authoritarian” model for development. The intrusive hand of the state, which for years subsidized export-driven growth at the expense of consumer spending, had given way to fatal levels of corruption and dollar-denominated debt. With the help of the International Monetary Fund, which offered bail-out packages conditioned on painful reforms–dismantled trade barriers, banking and currency reform, privatization–the situation stabilized.
Western journalists, including this one, reported Asia’s turnaround as vindication of the “Washington Consensus,” the reform model championed by the U.S. Treasury Department. A few years later, I was in the Middle East, writing critically about how Arab economies were slipping toward the same abyss that nearly swallowed their Asian counterparts.
Stephen Glain is a freelance writer with extensive experience as a foreign correspondent in Asia and the Middle East.
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