Capitalism receives criticism from

by David Hyland

For University graduate student Yeon-Taek Ryu, a Thursday forum on the Asian economic crisis brought him essential information about the financial hemorrhaging in his native country.
“I don’t know much about the current crisis, I do not know what is happening in my country,” said Ryu, a South Korean native.
The forum — which featured experts on Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea — didn’t offer personal answers to students like Ryu, but gave a broader context of the economic calamity.
With 100 people in attendance, speakers criticized capitalism and the poor guidance on the part of Asian governments, the United States and international financial institutions.
Panelist Jim Glassman, a University doctoral student in the geography department, emphasized the “economic structural weaknesses” and the large discrepancies between rich and poor in Thailand.
“Clearly, the same people who paid the largest price in terms of repressed wages and dangerous working conditions,” he said, “are now the ones paying the sharpest price.”
The same is true in South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. The four countries account for 457,000 foreign exchange students who come to the United States.
The economic crisis could impact Ryu’s pursuit of a degree in geography. Because the exchange rate between South Korea and United States has doubled, Ryu will soon no longer be able to afford tuition.
“Everyday I have to think about what I should do,” Ryu said.
The crisis has caused more than concern outside the University community as well. Rioting and civil unrest, most recently in Indonesia, have broken out because of economic and political difficulties related to the devastated financial situation.
Meredith Woo-Cumings, a Northwestern University professor, called the Asian situation “the largest economic crisis in the post-World War II era.”
For instance, South Korea, which was the 11th largest economy, is now seeking a bailout of $57 billion from the International Monetary Fund.
In total, the world aid organization has allotted more than $100 million to ailing nations. U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said Thursday that Japan must step forward to help fellow Asian nations. But a recession of its own could stymie it.
“Despite the welcome signs of stability now emerging (in Asia) … we must guard against complacency,” Rubin told a monetary fund committee.

–This article contains information from the Associated Press.