Thursday, March 19, 2009

Asia's conservative capitalists

Kishore Mahbubani crows over the relative solidity of Asian economies in the present crisis in a recent FT article. He ascribes it to their refusal to blindly imitate Anglo-Saxon capitalism and to a deeply ingrained caution among Asian policy makers. It is notable that China has been as wary of financial deregulation and innovation as India:
The desire for an orderly society is deeply ingrained in the psyche of all Asians, which helps explain why virtually all Asian states hesitated to copy America in deregulating their financial markets. Instinctively, they felt government supervision remained critical. This was equally true in India’s democratic system and in China’s Communist party system.

It is telling that, while Y.V. Reddy, India’s former central bank governor, was occasionally vilified by his country’s media for holding back on deregulation, he has now become a national hero. His stance saved India from the worst effects of this crisis. China was equally wary of deregulation. Indeed the Chinese leaders may have understood earlier than most that America was building a house of cards with its reckless creation of derivatives. Gao Xiqing, an adviser to Zhu Rongji, then Chinese premier, said in 2000 that “if you look at every one of these [derivative] products, they make sense. But in aggregate, they are bullshit. They are crap. They serve to cheat people.” Mr Gao said all this while Alan Greenspan, as chairman of the US Federal Reserve, was waxing eloquent about the economic value of derivatives.


K.R.Srivarahan said...

If the Chinese had understood that the Americans were only building a house of cards, why were they buying US Treasury bonds?

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