Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

The political price of recession


As journalists, we spend a lot of time watching politicians and policies to guage their impact on financial markets and economies. Now, as recession takes an inexorable hold in the Asia-Pacific region, we’re watching for the impact on politicians themselves.

 So far there has been no repeat of the political upheaval triggered by Asia’s economic crisis a decade ago, which culminated in the ignominious resignation of President Suharto in Indonesia and the ouster of Thailand’s prime minister (see previous blog). There are no food riots as there were back then, and Asians are not crowding at  banks’ doors to rescue their savings.

The Economist magazine argues this week that Asia’s economic downturn will be milder than the one it endured a decade ago, when Asian governments begged households to be hand over their jewellery to be melted down to bolster official reserves.

That seems to be the consensus view. The president of the Asian Development Bank, for instance, argued in a speech this month that the region was well positioned to weather the global downturn and predicted that it should “avoid a full-fledged financial crisis”.