Cover: Financial Crises and Contagion in Emerging Market Countries

Financial Crises and Contagion in Emerging Market Countries

Published 1998

by Julia F. Lowell, C. Richard Neu, Daochi Tong

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Explores why some financial crises appear to be contagious, and why some financial markets in emerging market countries appear to be vulnerable to contagion whereas others are not. The authors analyze multicountry crisis episodes from January 1989 to August 1997 and develop four informal models of transition mechanisms: (1) "Economic linkages" describes the case where a foreign financial crisis acts as a common shock to countries with strong economic linkages to the country in crisis; (2) "heightened awareness" suggests that investors with incomplete information may ignore poor economic conditions in some countries until a crisis occurs somewhere else, at which point they dump their investments in those countries; (3) "portfolio adjustment" describes what happens when liquidity-constrained portfolio managers sell off other countries' assets in order to meet an expected increase in redemptions from a country in crisis; (4) "herd behavior" is probably the most widely accepted view of contagion, suggesting that investors abandon their investments largely in response to what they think other investors are doing. Finally, case studies of Argentina, South Africa, and Thailand illustrate the usefulness of the models.

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