Revisiting the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-1998: Neoliberalism, global economic crises, and the role of the nation-state
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As the global economic recession generated by the Wall Street financial crisis deepens, this thesis revisits the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98 in an attempt to draw lessons to overcome this crisis from the Asian experience and to explore underlying causes of the large scale economic crisis, which is essential to forestall future crisis. By inquiring into noticeable shifts in the economic policy of South Korea during the years of preceding crisis, this thesis, challenging traditional interpretations of the root cause of the crisis, argues that rapid neoliberal turn of the Korean economy, in particular premature financial market liberalization, under the close interplay between domestic and international forces is responsible for the economic catastrophe and resulting social unrest. In addition, while neoliberal critics identify the Asian crisis with the failure of the East-Asian model, this thesis addresses that it was the retreat of the Asian model--that is, the limitation of the role of the state--that led to the crisis, underscoring the role of the nation-state as an active mediator between international and domestic markets. This thesis also counters the legitimacy of the IMF conditionality by illustrating the way how the IMF-led reform, despite immediate efficacy of its emergency funds, rendered the Korean economy more vulnerable to external shocks, limiting growth potential in long term perspective. Finally, this thesis suggests that the role of the nation-state as the final locus to resist neoliberal orthodox and promote stable, sustainable, and more equitable growth, which neoliberal globalization threatens, has to be reconstituted.