Rescuing Asia

It's the most complex financial bailout ever, with a price tag of more than $100 billion. At stake: Global economic health

The suddenness of the move surprised everyone. On Thursday, Oct. 30, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin called in top Treasury and White House officials to say he had agreed to American participation in an International Monetary Fund bailout of Indonesia. Just a month ago, nobody was predicting that a confident Indonesia would agree to the tough terms proposed by IMF negotiators--or that America would ever get involved. Then again, nobody thought the Indonesians would need up to $40 billion to calm their frantic markets. Three days later, in the first sign of compliance, Indonesian officials abruptly shuttered 16 troubled banks and posted armed guards at the doors. It was the culmination of two weeks of tough talk among Indonesian technocrats, the IMF, and Japanese and U.S. troubleshooters.

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