Globalization & L and O

Globalization & L and O - Globalization The Lexus...

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Globalization & ‘The Lexus and the Olive Tree’ To introduce us to globalization, Thomas Friedman begins The Lexus and the Olive Tree with a synopsis of the Asian Crisis of 1997/1998 and how it resulted in the first global financial crisis of the new era of globalization. Before the Asian crisis, Thailand's finance houses would borrow U.S. dollars and then lend those dollars out to Thai businesses. The financial houses thought that they were safe with their practices because they thought that the Thai government was going to hold the baht, Thai currency, at a fixed rate against the U.S. dollar. When global speculation against the baht mounted and the Thai government failed to keep the rate fixed, the financial houses quickly learned that they should have more thoroughly considered the risks associated with the arrangement, such as those discussed by Robert Simon in "How Risky is Your Company?". Businesses could not pay the financial houses, who were then unable to repay their foreign loans. In 1997, the defaults resulted in the virtually overnight closing of 56 out of 58 of the top finance houses in Thailand. This initiated a rush of investors looking to pull capital out of practically every emerging market in Southeast Asia. As the leading consumer of gold, copper, aluminum, and crude oil, Southeast Asia's resulting recession triggered a worldwide commodity price drop, which, in turn, sent Russia into crisis, as they were heavily dependent on export sales. Hedge funds invested in Russia began encountering substantial losses. In an effort to compensate for their losses, hedge fund managers started liquidating any assets possible, including those in financially stable countries, which transmitted the crisis to other emerging world markets, Brazil in particular. As Brazil saw frightened investors pulling out of their markets, they raised the interest rates to keep the capital inside of their borders. As emerging markets worldwide were in decline during the Asian Crisis, people rushed to the low-risk protection of U.S. Treasury Bonds. As the demand grew, so did the value of U.S. T-bond, which pulled down the associated interest rate. The drop of the interest rate crushed more hedge funds and investment banks.
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