chapter  8
15 Pages

Misleading theoretical models of economic crises

In a review of the aftermath of the Asian crisis, the World Bank (2000b: 86) wrote that “the record on sales to foreigners is sobering.” As part of the explanation for this unexpected crisis outcome, Chapter 7 presented a range of material factors in support of an “external” interpretation of limited American FDI in Korea and Thailand. The role of ideas and theoretical frameworks is another important factor in understanding the consequences of emerging market crises for foreign economic interests. The relatively low flow of US foreign investment into post-crisis developing Asia stands out, in large part, because of the manner in which leading theories framed global economic interests and pressures and in particular misconceived the interests of US capital and US foreign economic policy. Thus, another important explanation for the disjuncture between descriptions of rampant American opportunism and the more measured subsequent behaviour of US economic actors rests with the influence of theoretical models themselves. The themes of opportunism and resistance attained powerful positions in scholarly and wider public discourses, thereby shaping expectations about crisis outcomes. When the misconceptions of the strong American power model, in particular, are drawn out, the outcome of the Asian crisis is less of a surprise.