History and financial crises

Kee Cheok Cheong, Kam Hing Lee and Poh Ping Lee have an article entitled “Surviving Financial Crises: The Chinese Overseas in Malaysia and Singapore” at the JCA website that examines previously understudied aspects of financial and economic crises. What makes this article interesting is they look at the Great Depression and the Asian economic crisis of 1997-98. Here’s the abstract:

Most studies of financial crises focus on the impact on states, and the states’ responses. Few, if any, have focused on how these crises affect communities within the state which do not have control of the state apparatus. These groups, left out of decision-making processes and calculations by the state, suffer the most. In pre-war British Malaya and Malaysia, these groups were the Chinese overseas, Indians and some Malay minorities. A study of the impacts of the Great Depression and the Asian Financial Crisis on the Chinese overseas may help to illustrate how such groups, left on their own, coped with such crises. A study of the Chinese overseas is not insignificant because the community wielded considerable economic influence in the 1930s and in 1997. This paper argues that despite the obvious differences in circumstances, there are common threads to the narratives of both crises. These include the roles played by exchange rates and banking institutions which the Malayan Chinese helped to establish in the two countries.

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