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Post-1990s East Asian economic growth

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Immediately after 1997 the Asian economies were viewed to be catastrophes of financial excess, corporate and political misgovernance, and diminishing returns to over-investment. But they are now freshly restored as the world’s economic powerhouses, just as before the 1997 financial crises they were the growth miracles and poster children of a then-emerging consensus on managed economic development. From the perspective of global growth and income distribution, the economic successes of East and Southeast Asia are striking: Poverty alleviation in China alone has recently accounted for 100% of that for all of humanity. Even if still relatively small in size, the current contribution to world economic growth from East and Southeast Asia already matches that of economies many times larger. When the rest of the world economy has temporarily slowed, East and Southeast Asia have provided a stabilizing force in world business cycles. How have underlying fundamentals for economic growth changed since 1997? Is the current growth path sustainable; and if so, what has brought that about? What role has China played in driving economic growth throughout East and Southeast Asia? Have patterns of trade changed towards greater global balance? This paper finds that in the main productivity growth has improved since 1997. Increasing inequality is no obstacle to poverty reduction provided economic growth is sufficiently rapid. Finally, international trade patterns have shifted towards greater exchange within just the region itself.

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