Asia Should Give Up The Blame Game

Asia's currency crisis is bringing out the worst atavistic proclivities of many of its political leaders. Indeed, the mismanagement of the crisis has been as astonishing as its quick spread throughout the region. Recent converts to free markets and foreign investment appear to be returning to the anti-Western, protectionist attitudes of their revolutionary youth. There is even a touch of ethnic race-baiting back in the air, as bitter talk against "speculators" turns from foreign money managers to local Chinese bankers and business people. This tone has been absent from the booming economies of Southeast Asia for nearly two decades. Its reemergence is counterproductive to the success of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. If political leaders hope to rebuild their economies, they will have to stop making matters worse by resorting to currency, trading, and import controls while demonizing market forces. They should also take responsibility for their own mistakes of the past and replace their recent bluster with a degree of modesty.

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