Resilient Asia watches US in turmoil

SINGAPORE, September 28, 2008 (AFP) – “Bailout” is back as a buzzword 11 years after the Asian financial crisis, but this time the tables are turned: the US is scrambling to rescue ailing banks while a healthy Asia watches.

The ramparts built after the 1997-1998 Asian crisis helped blunt the impact of turbulence that ripped through America’s financial heartland this month, economists said.

Asian stock markets plunged after a wide-ranging shakeup on Wall Street that included the bankruptcy of investment bank Lehman Brothers and the takeover of its counterpart Merrill Lynch.

Economists say Asia’s exports are expected to take a hit, leading to slower economic growth this year and in 2009.

But the region is now on a stronger footing than in years gone past, they add.

“Asia will not be able to avoid some impact for sure,” senior Asian Development Bank (ADB) economist Cyn Young-Park told AFP, adding she did not think the US financial turmoil can cause a severe crisis similar to 1997.

“So far, emerging Asia has been weathering the storm relatively well.”

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in an interview with The Straits Times newspaper that Asia was