Sree's Stories

TAKING IN THE SITES / By SREENATH SREENIVASAN

Sorting Out the Economic Turmoil in Asia

Monday, January 19, 1998
Pg. D4


The economic crisis in Asia has generated a great deal of interest in
news about the region, and many people are increasingly turning to the
World Wide Web for timely information.

As in most recent crises, the turmoil in Asia highlights the best of
the Internet (global reach, firsthand sources, instant access) and the
worst (irrelevant search results, selective updates, repetitive data,
inaccurate rumors). As with most subjects, it is best to have a map and
some experts to help you out.

"The Web has been most useful for keeping track of the crisis," said
Nouriel Roubini, a professor of international economics at the Stern
School of Business at New York University. "The amount of data and
information available is quite impressive."

Professor Roubini maintains a site for his class that even people
without an M.B.A. will find helpful in learning about the crisis. What the
site lacks in fancy design it makes up in analysis, extensive links and a
detailed chronology. The main question his site tries to answer: "What
caused Asia's economic and currency crisis and its global contagion?"

Even economists who suffer from information overload can find the Web
has a purpose when it comes to the crisis. "You are going to pick up a
wider range of perspectives with the Internet than with other systems,"
said Ronald R. Reuss, chief economist for Piper Jaffray, a brokerage firm
based in Minneapolis. He uses the Web mainly to supplement the more
sophisticated information resources -- like Bloomberg News and Reuters --
he has at his disposal.


Rajiv J. Chaudhri, a former Goldman, Sachs semiconductor analyst and
now president of Digital Century Capital, a technology hedge fund, keeps a
close eye on the events in Asia. "For me, the Web is a very important
research tool," he said. "I need to know what is happening there because
it impacts a lot of technology companies here." His Web visits include
English-language papers published in Asia.

Several news sites, both here and abroad, offer good starting points.
For example, The New York Times on the Web has a section on its site
dedicated to the topic. It has articles dating back to December as well as
opinion articles and forums in which visitors can discuss the crisis.

The search engine Yahoo offers a collection of the latest news items
relating to the situation. An on-line news agency based in London called
Out There News has a handy country-by-country guide so you can see that
despite being called the "Asian financial crisis," it has not yet affected
the entire continent.

Several Asia-based news sites worth visiting are linked from the Times
site. Also, check out the site of The Far Eastern Economic Review, the
Hong Kong-based publication owned by Dow Jones & Company, which provides
coverage of different sectors of the economy. Articles from The Asian Wall
Street Journal are available on The Wall Street Journal's Web site -- for
a fee.

To go beyond the headlines, some sites provide tools to analyze the
data. Indonesia Net Exchange carries stock quotes, research reports and
links to listed companies and the Jakarta Stock Exchange. And Bloomberg's
site offers some resources that are accessible without paying the $1,200 a
month for a dedicated terminal. For instance, an on-line calculator gives
rates for more than 215 currencies. So visitors can find out how the
Malaysian ringgit is doing against the South Korean won or even the Cape
Verde escudo.

To learn about how the crisis is affecting the United States, a site
called the Dismal Scientist, which bills itself as the "Web's
authoritative source for economic information," has a section dealing with
the effect of the crisis on different regions of the country.

The sites of the international organizations that are such crucial
players all have Web sites, but they vary in usefulness.

The International Monetary Fund site has a section called "I.M.F.
Bailouts: Truth and Fiction" that answers critics unhappy with the
assistance packages provided to South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. The
World Bank basically has an archive of news releases and statements by its
top executives on the crisis. The Bank for International Settlements, a
sort of central bank for the world's central banks, has comprehensive
reports on the assets and liabilities of banks of the affected countries.

Getting worthwhile information from the pertinent institutions in Asia
is difficult because the sites do not have easy-to-find sections on the
subject at hand. A visit to the Asian Development Bank in Manila, the Bank
of Thailand in Bangkok or the South Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy
in Seoul yields little that is current or that has been updated in recent
days.

For another perspective on the situation in Asia, check out The
International Workers Bulletin, the journal of the World Socialist Web
site. It addresses "the urgent need for a revolutionary socialist response
to the crisis of the world capitalist system," and has a series of
articles about the consequences of the situation for workers.

Asia Online, a site on the Asian Buying Consortium, has a forum
specifically to discuss "Asian market rumors" where advice is freely
offered by other Web surfers.

The difficulties in Asia are sure to be a major topic at the annual
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The conference attracts some
of the biggest names in business and government, and its Web site may be
worth keeping an eye on when the conference starts on Jan. 29.

WHERE TO GO
PROF. NOURIEL ROUBINI'S ASIA PAGE
http://www.stern.nyu.edu/~nroubini/asia/AsiaHomepage.html

ASIAHOMEPAGE.HTML
Out There News' country-by-country guide
http://www.megastories.com/seasia/crisis/crisis.htm

FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW
http://www.feer.com

INDONESIA NET EXCHANGE
http://www.indoexchange.com

THE DISMAL SCIENTIST
http://www.dismal.com

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
http://www.imf.org

THE WORLD BANK
http://www.worldbank.org

BANK FOR INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS
http://www.bis.org

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
http://www.asiandevbank.org

SOUTH KOREA'S MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND ECONOMY
http://www.mofe.go.kr/enfin_0.html

BANK OF THAILAND
http://www.bot.or.th

INTERNATIONAL WORKERS BULLETIN
http://www.socialequality.com/publichtml/frontpg.htm