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The Shrimp that Became a Tiger

Transformation Theory and Korea’s Rise After the Asian Crisis

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Bernhard Seliger

South Korea underwent a dramatic change in the last one and a half decades, from being considered a «tiger in trouble» in the wake of the Asian crisis to a showcase of economic development. The judgment of 1998 was itself a complete reversal of the previous enthusiastic reviews of world record-high growth for several decades, from the 1960s to the 1990s. Korea, once considered a shrimp between two mighty whales, Japan and China, veritably made a jump to become a tiger. And, after the steep decline of 1998, this tiger again showed its claws. This book deals not with the causes of the crisis in retrospect, but rather with the implications for the development of a new economic model in South Korea. It argues that the crisis and the following institutional change can best be understood by applying the theory of economic transformation.

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Table 1: A Comparison of GDP Levels in Transformation States in 1989 and 1998 ............................................................................................. 50 Table 2: Task of Transformations – Two Diverging Views ............................. 55 Table 3: Comparison of Korean and Japanese conglomerates ....................... 113 Table 4: Top 40 companies by subsidiaries and total assets (in brackets 2010) ................................................................................................ 124 Table 5: Growth Rate of GDP ........................................................................ 128 Table 6: GDP Per Capita (Current Prices) ..................................................... 129 Table 7: GDP Per Capita (Using PPP of 2005) .............................................. 130 Table 8: Domestic Investment and Savings Ratios Before the Crisis ............ 131 Table 9: Domestic Investment and Savings Ratio After the Crisis ................ 132 Table 10: Korea’s External Economy – Trade and GDP Before the Crisis ...... 133 Table 11: Korea’s External Economy – Trade and GDP After the Crisis......... 133 Table 12: Current Account of Korea ................................................................ 134 Table 13: Unemployment Rates in Korea ........................................................ 135 Table 14: Consumer prices in Korea 1980-2011 .............................................. 150 Table 15: Changes in the Bank of Korea Act in the Sixth Revision, December 31, 1997 .......................................................................... 152 Table 16: Measurement of Political Independence According to Bade and Parkin (1985) ................................................................................... 157 Table 17: Ranking of South Korean Central Bank Independence According to Bade and Parkin (1985) ............................................................... 158 Table 18: Ranking of South Korean Central Bank Independence According to Eijffinger and Schaling (1993) ..................................................... 158 Table 19: Measurement of Political Independence According to Grilli, Masciandaro and Tabellini (1991) ................................................... 159 Table 20: Ranking of South Korea central bank independence according to Grilli, Masciandaro and Tabellini (1991) ......................................... 159 Table 21: Measurement of Economic Independence According to Grilli, Masciandaro and Tabellini (1991) ................................................... 159 Table 22: Ranking...

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