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TWN Global Economy Series no. 20

The Post-Crisis Changes in the Financial System in Korea: Problems of Neoliberal Restructuring and Financial Opening After 1997

By KANG-KOOK LEE

Publisher: TWN (ISBN: 978-967-5412-12-7)

Year: 2010   No. of pages: 72

ABOUT THE BOOK

This paper looks at the structural changes in the South Korean financial system over the years and how they have influenced the course of development in one of East Asia’s largest economies.

For some 30 years from the early 1960s, a state-led financial system played a key role in propelling Korea’s rapid economic growth by allocating financial resources in line with the government’s industrial policy priorities. However, this system unravelled in the 1990s as the government implemented financial liberalization measures – measures which would give rise to financial fragility culminating in a severe financial crisis in 1997.

After the crisis, still more extensive financial sector deregulation and capital account liberalization were undertaken by the government as part of a sweeping neoliberal economic restructuring programme agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, this paper finds that Korea’s economic performance under this post-crisis market-oriented regime has been disappointing, characterized by stagnant growth and worsening poverty and income inequality. Especially marked is a decline in investment levels crucial to catalyzing long-run growth. The volatility of liberalized capital flows has also exposed the Korean economy to a heightened risk of financial shocks, as the recent turmoil triggered by the global financial crisis so vividly illustrates.

The Korean experience examined in this paper amply underscores the dangers of reckless financial liberalization and the consequent need to effectively regulate the financial system and exercise caution in relation to financial market-opening.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KANG-KOOK LEE is an Associate Professor at the College of Economics in Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan.

Contents

1    INTRODUCTION                                                                     

2    FROM MIRACLE TO DEBACLE: THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THE 1997 FINANCIAL CRISIS                                                       

      Economic Miracle under Financial and Capital Controls                  

      Financial Liberalization, Opening and the 1997 Crisis                       

3    FINANCIAL OPENING AND LIBERALIZATION AFTER THE FINANCIAL CRISIS       

      Neoliberal Economic Restructuring and Changes in the Political Economy                  

      Restructuring the Financial Sector after the 1997 Crisis                 

      Post-Crisis Capital Account Liberalization and Financial Opening  

      Recent Developments in Financial Deregulation                           

4    THE VULNERABLE FINANCIAL SYSTEM AND WEAK ECONOMY IN POST-CRISIS KOREA           

      Stagnant Growth and Worsening Income Distribution                    

      Investment Decline and Malfunctioning Financial System              

      Increase in Foreign Investment and Its Problems                          

      Financial Opening and Difficulties in Macroeconomic Policy Management     

5    RECENT FINANCIAL INSTABILITY IN THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS      

      The Recent Global Financial Crisis and the Korean Economy        

      Looming Financial Turmoil in Korea                                            

      The Government Response and Future Prospects                         

6    CONCLUSIONS                                                                     

REFERENCES          

PRICE

US$10.00 for First World countries

US$8.00 for Third World countries

RM10.00 for Malaysia

Prices are inclusive of postage costs by airmail.

How to Order the Book

Visit our TWN Online Bookshop or contact Third World Network at 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.

Tel: 604-2266159

Fax: 604-2264505

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