News Release

While Clinton Offers Reassurances in Hong Kong, Some Critics Dispute His Economic Assumptions

WASHINGTON — President Clinton hopes that his public statements in Hong Kong on Friday will help to soothe jitters about economic turmoil in Asia. But some policy analysts in the United States are raising fundamental questions about the recent upheaval that has roiled the economies of many Asian nations.

Despite assurances from U.S. officials, critics are calling for a re-examination of assumptions about economic globalization. Among those available for comment are:

KEVIN DANAHER
Mr. Danaher, the editor of 50 Years Is Enough: The Case Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, contends that this year’s massive economic turbulence in Asia is largely the result of policies still in effect. “In all of the criticism of what caused this Asian economic meltdown,” Mr. Danaher says, “we hear nothing about systemic causes — about how the root of the crisis lies in the neo-liberal model itself. If small countries open their financial markets to global market forces capable of overwhelming their economies, it is only a matter of time before this kind of disaster will occur. South Korea is a good example. During the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, South Korea had tight capital controls and did not experience financial crisis. But in the 1990s, when they liberalized their financial markets – – under pressure from Washington — that’s when the financial crisis struck.”

NJOKI NJOROGE NJEHU
Ms. Njehu, outreach coordinator for the 50 Years Is Enough Network, comments: “The IMF’s image as the fire department of the global economy has been discredited by the Mexican peso crash, the East Asian crash and 18 years of structural adjustment programs in 80 countries where — by the IMF’s own admission — per capita income stagnated during the adjustment period. The IMF is revealed, instead, to be the pyromaniac of the global economy. In addition to cuddling dictators from Indonesia to Zaire and the Philippines, the IMF’s trickle-down economic policies invariably favor multinational corporations and rich foreign investors over the working poor and middle-class people in poor countries. In many countries, legislators and civil society organizations continue to demand accountability and transparency from the IMF, an incredibly secretive organization.”

For more information, contact Sam Husseini or Theresa Caldwell at the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.