Blog Post

Will Europe’s crisis reconcile Asia with the IMF?

There is something very awkward in the idea that still-poor Asia will help rescue the still-rich euro area. Asia remembers very well that when in trouble in the late 1990s, it was ruthlessly advised to turn to the International Monetary Fund. Yet it may happen. Europe is bound by an extraordinary series of self-imposed constraints […]

By: Date: December 23, 2011 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

There is something very awkward in the idea that still-poor Asia will help rescue the still-rich euro area. Asia remembers very well that when in trouble in the late 1990s, it was ruthlessly advised to turn to the International Monetary Fund.

Yet it may happen. Europe is bound by an extraordinary series of self-imposed constraints – no common taxation, no mutual guarantees, no monetary financing, to name the main ones – and European countries have now pledged to contribute to the IMF so that it can intervene in Europe. The desire for matching contributions from the rest of the world was unequivocally expressed by the European leaders on 9 December. The questions are: should Asia follow suit, and what would be the consequences?

Asia has two reasons to offer such support: to protect itself from Europe, and to protect itself from the US.

In the short term, the fallout in Asia of a further aggravation of the European crisis would be serious. This is partly because Europe is a large export market but also because European banks are big players in Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as major providers of trade finance. The IMF’s Spillover Report reckons that through these channels financial stress in Europe could seriously dent Asian growth.

In the medium term, financial turmoil in Europe would also deprive China and the rest of Asia from an important hedge against a depreciation of the US dollar. Furthermore, before the outbreak of the crisis, the euro was a successful regional currency en route to becoming the second global currency. For those in Asia who believe that the world’s natural evolution is towards a multipolar global economy, it provided a natural building block for a multipolar currency system. Should it disappear, the transition to a multi-currency system would be lengthier and bumpier.

But Asia does not trust Europe enough to invest much directly, so it is likely to opt for the detour through Washington. The IMF is certainly still viewed with much suspicion in Asia, where its failings in Indonesia or Korea are vividly remembered. But at least it is equipped with a governance system in which Asia has a voice, and is bound to gain weight faster if it becomes a major contributor.

It may well take a European crisis to reconcile Asia with the IMF. And ironically, we may well soon be hearing Asians lecturing Europe on the need to turn to the Fund.

A version of this column was also published in the Financial Times opinion section FT A-list.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

A silver lining for ageing Asia

An ageing population is generally bad news for growth prospects, but Japan and Taiwan offer important lessons.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: December 8, 2020
Read article Download PDF
 

Policy Contribution

COVID-19’s reality shock for external-funding dependent emerging economies

COVID-19 is by far the biggest challenge policymakers in emerging economies have had to deal with in recent history. Beyond the potentially large negative impact on these countries’ fiscal accounts, and the related solvency issues, worsening conditions for these countries’ external funding are a major challenge.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Elina Ribakova Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: May 28, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

Singapore's experience in dealing with COVID-19

A conversation with Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, on how this city-state has tackled the coronavirus.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 19, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

The Sound of Economics Live: Singapore's experience in dealing with COVID-19

A conversation with Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, on how this city-state has tackled the coronavirus.

Speakers: Vivian Balakrishnan, Giuseppe Porcaro and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 19, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

China’s economy after COVID-19

The first country to be hit by the current pandemic, China has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. What have been its impacts on the Chinese economy? What does it represent, more broadly, to the global economy? Are global supply chains really starting to be put into question? Today, Giuseppe Porcaro is joined by Alicia García-Herrero and Yiping Huang, Professor of Economics and Finance at the Peking University.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 6, 2020
Read article More on this topic
 

Opinion

Why are some stock markets in Asia less affected by coronavirus?

While Asian markets are in a sea of red, mainland China, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all defying the gravity.

By: Alicia García-Herrero, Gary Ng and Bruegel Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 31, 2020
Read article More on this topic
 

Opinion

Epidemic tests China’s supply chain dominance

Much has been written on the Wuhan coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease Covid-19, but very little is known yet about its impact on the global economy and, in particular, the global value chain. Still, one thing is clear: The shock is bigger than that caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), for the simple reason that China is much more important for the global economy than it was then.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Bruegel Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: February 17, 2020
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Book/Special report

Megatrends: Key Forces Forging Our Future

A vision for Europe to prosper and best serve its citizens

By: Rebecca Christie and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: February 3, 2020
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Japanese economy: Déjà vu – but worse

It is difficult to imagine how Japan can undertake any major economic reform if it has taken five years to increase the consumption tax and has needed two strong fiscal packages.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Bruegel Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: December 12, 2019
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

EU-Asia trade and investment connectivity

The Asia Europe Economic Forum (AEEF) was established in 2006 as a high level forum for in-depth research-based exchanges on global issues between Asian and European policy makers and experts. This year, the AEEF will be hosted by Bertelsmann Stiftung on 28-29 November, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, and it will focus on “EU-Asia trade and investment connectivity”.

Speakers: Aart de Geus, Guntram B. Wolff, He Fan, Alessia Amighini, John Beirne, Nicolaus Heinen, Jae-Young Lee, Cora Jungbluth, Alicia García-Herrero, Xin Yuan, Andreas Esche, Ken Wu, Sébastien Jean, Amb. Karsten Warnecke and Bruegel Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bertelsmann Representative Office, Unter den Linden 1, 10117 Berlin Date: November 28, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Working Paper

How does China fare on the Russian market? Implications for the European Union

China’s economic ties with Russia are deepening. Meanwhile, Europe remains Russia’s largest trading partner, lender and investor. An analysis of China’s ties with Russia, indicate that China seems to have become more of a competitor to the European Union on Russia’s market. Competition over investment and lending is more limited, but the situation could change rapidly with China and Russia giving clear signs of a stronger than ever strategic partnership.

By: Alicia García-Herrero, Jianwei Xu and Bruegel Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 18, 2019
Read article More on this topic
 

Opinion

HK, Taiwan divergence result of economic policies

While the effect of the ongoing unrest on the Hong Kong economy is obvious, Taiwan was already doing better before the protests started.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Bruegel Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 5, 2019
Load more posts