Chapter 11: Transparency and social capital
Jaeyeol Yee INTRODUCTION Five years have passed since the outbreak of the Korean crisis. Painful changes have taken place in the economy, and continue to this day. The country’s shattered ﬁnancial system has been rebuilt.1 The standard IMF policy package of stabilization, ﬁnancial restructuring and structural reform has been applied with only slight modiﬁcation. Reform politics have replaced growth-driven government initiatives. There has been a systematic effort to restructure the economy so as to render Korea more competitive in an increasingly interdependent and open global economy. Five sets of initiatives dominate the reform agenda: raising corporate transparency, strengthening the ﬁnancial sector, revamping the public sector, introducing labor market ﬂexibility and amicable labor relations, and creating a viable social welfare system. Compared to other South East Asian countries experiencing ﬁnancial crises, Korea has successfully reduced its debt overhang in a relatively short period of time by following the IMF’s prescriptions. Even before his inauguration, President-elect Kim Dae Jung played a key role in persuading the IMF to become involved in Korea. Market prescriptions have indeed contributed to the subsequent recovery of the economy.2 But while the objective of reform has been to strengthen market competition, the result after ﬁve years is not fully consistent with the goal. Whereas reform was equated with the elimination of excessive government intervention in the private sector, government agencies have continued to exert a strong inﬂuence over the operation of the Korean economy. Rule by law was the motto of the reformers, but personal...
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