September 12, 2000


Overall, U.S. consumers benefited from cheaper imports in the wake of the Asia crisis, while the nation’s domestic production and employment were largely unhurt, according to James Harrigan, a senior economist at the New York Fed.

Harrigan states that the large currency devaluations experienced by Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia beginning in mid-1997 raised concerns that imports from these countries would soar while demand for U.S. exports weakened, causing U.S. industries to suffer. However, his industry-level analysis of the devaluations’ impact reveals that these industries generally experienced little or no pain.

Harrigan also finds that:

  • Manufactured imports from the four countries rose only slightly, and the decline in U.S. exports was not large enough to significantly affect trend output for most industries.
  • The steel industry was the one exception to this pattern: sharply rising imports and falling exports led to a drop in output and prices.

Harrigan’s article--The Impact of the Asia Crisis on U.S. Industry: An Almost-Free Lunch?--will be published in the Bank’s Economic Policy Review.

Contact: Douglas Tillett or Steven Malin

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