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Will There Be Another Asian Economic Meltdown?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
October 15, 2013

A pawn shop worker sorts through gold jewellery at Easy Money Pawn shop in Bangkok on August 27, 2013. Faced with rising living costs and unable to wait until pay day, growing numbers of Southeast Asians are putting their gold jewelry and designer watches in hock, creating a boom in pawnshops across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thailand's largest private pawnshop operator, Easy Money, has seen a 15-20 percent rise in the number of customers in recent months, especially in areas near Bangkok, said Managing Director Sittiwit Tangthanakiat. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters) A pawn shop worker sorts through gold jewellery at Easy Money Pawn shop in Bangkok on August 27, 2013. Faced with rising living costs and unable to wait until pay day, growing numbers of Southeast Asians are putting their gold jewelry and designer watches in hock, creating a boom in pawnshops across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thailand's largest private pawnshop operator, Easy Money, has seen a 15-20 percent rise in the number of customers in recent months, especially in areas near Bangkok, said Managing Director Sittiwit Tangthanakiat. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters)

Since the middle of this summer, emerging markets, particularly in Asia, have witnessed massive sell-offs of their bonds, enormous slides in their stock markets, and investors dumping their currencies as fast as they can. Many Asian and foreign analysts of Asian nations now worry that the easy credit masked huge problems in the foundations of emerging economies, and that Asia could witness an economic and financial crisis similar to the devastating meltdown that crushed the region in the late 1990s. This time, such a crisis would be even tougher for the world to withstand: emerging markets are far larger than they were 15 years ago, and a crisis in Asia could take down the entire international economy.

Read more of my piece on the emerging markets crisis and the potential global economic recession here.

 

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