The Financial Sector and Growth in Emerging Asian Economies

Working Paper
15-5
March 2015

The financial sectors in Asian emerging-market economies are now relatively unlikely to provoke new financial crises, either because of reforms after the East Asian financial crisis in the later 1990s or because of the dominance of state-owned banks not subject to bank runs. Financial intermediation is surprisingly high and is consistent with higher rates of saving and investment and hence growth in the main economies of the region (as compared to, say, counterparts in Latin America). Nonetheless, there are sharply diverging patterns (e.g., high foreign ownership of banks in Korea versus minimal presence in China) and differing national structures (bank dominated, portfolio oriented, and diversified) within Asia. Cline recommends establishing long-term plans to improve efficiency in state-owned banks or reduce their dominance and pursuing bank capitalization targets at least as ambitious as those of Basel III. Cline also calls for ensuring adequate regulation of growing nonbank intermediaries, reversing a recent trend toward national barriers to foreign banks in some economies, and improving the legal security of bank regulators.

Data disclosure: The data underlying the figures in this analysis are available here [zip].