I was looking at a chart of Venezuela's currency (the Bolivar) the other day, which was a pretty discouraging sight. (I would post a
picture of it, except it would make sensitive readers cry.) In 1980 the Bolivar was
around 4.25 to the dollar and yesterday it was around 1500 to the dollar. Looking at the price history of a currency can really sober
you up if you pick the right one!
Anyway, I thought I'd post the price charts of the currencies from four "Asian Tigers" (Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia) during their great Crisis in 1997.
Japan's Ministry of Finance has a nice report on the Crisis posted here if you're interested in reading their take on it.
We lived in Hongkong from 1998 to 2000 which was really fascinating, and we got to see the effects of the Crisis first-hand, though Hongkong itself escaped relatively unscathed.
In 1998 things were quite gloomy, but it was interesting to see the clouds lift over the next couple of years as optimism returned.
I also lived in China in 1990-91 (my junior year abroad) and again in 1992-93 (a year of post-grad. study) so I'm very familiar with the exchange rates in China, both official and black market, from that time (see chart below).
I rarely exchanged money at the official rate not only because that rate was so low, but also because it was more interesting to change money on the black market.
I did a lot of transactions in
smokey back rooms with shifty men accompanied by their ugly women (or shifty women accompanied by their ugly men)... where the rapid tapping on the calculator keys competed with the clicking
of mah-jongg tiles, and the deal was always sealed by everyone cheerfully downing a large glass of Erguotou, which is some of the most vile liquor
I've ever had the displeasure of drinking (and throwing up).
I don't know how much China's official devaluation in 1994 contributed to the Asian Currency Crisis, but it was obviously a factor. The Federal Reserve Bank of
San Francisco points this out in a short report from 1998.
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