John W. Head

Publication Date

Spring 2010

Document Type


First Page



In this contribution to the Review symposium on the Asian Financial Crisis, Professor Head examines how, in retrospect, we should view that tumultuous set of developments and the lessons they offered. After tracing the causes and triggers that set the crisis in motion in 1997, and identifying what paths toward recovery the three countries hardest-hit - Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea - took over the years that followed, Head focuses on certain international legal and institutional aspects of the crisis. He gives particular attention to the International Monetary Fund ("IMF"), first by summarizing the "cacophony of criticisms" directed at the IMF over its involvement in the Asian Financial Crisis and then by examining numerous ways in which the IMF has responded (or failed to respond) to those criticisms. Head closes with some observations about what lessons were "offered" and which lessons were "learned" as a result of the Asian Financial Crisis - and also with a cautionary note about the difficulties inherent in any international regime designed to respond to the unexpected.

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