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Crisis eats away $50trn from financial assets' value

Developing Asia has suffered more than other emerging markets. (REUTERS)

By Reuters

The global financial crisis slashed the value of financial assets worldwide by $50 trillion (Dh183.6trn) last year, a study commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said yesterday.

Financial asset losses in developing Asia, which suffered more than other emerging markets, totalled $9.6trn, or just over one year's worth of developing Asia's gross domestic product, the study said.

"The previous sense of strength and invulnerability is now gone," said the study, noting that "there were concerns about the effect of a shallow recession in the US, but the general perception was that Asia, the largest regional emerging market group, was doing well".

"The loss of financial wealth is enormous," said the study titled "Global financial turmoil and emerging market economies: major contagion and a shocking loss of wealth".

"As noted earlier, the loss of wealth at a worldwide level may amount to an astounding $50trn, or one year's worth of GDP. Such losses will have an enormous impact on domestic expenditure."

Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB President, said Asia was hit harder than other parts of the developing world because its markets have expanded more rapidly.

The ratio of financial assets to GDP rose to 370 per cent of GDP in developing Asia in 2007 from 250 per cent in 2003, the study said.

In comparison, Latin America's ratio only rose by a modest 30 per cent with the result that estimated losses on financial assets were a much lower $2.1trn, or 57 per cent of GDP.

Based on the study, the estimates measure the losses in equity and bond markets, including those based on mortgages and other assets, and the depreciations of currencies against the US dollar.

The estimates did not include financial derivatives such as credit default swaps that further multiplied the size of the financial markets.

The data provides clear proof of the close connections between the markets and economies around the world, leaving few, if any, countries immune to financial or economic fallouts elsewhere, the study said.

"This is by far the most serious crisis to hit the world economy since the Great Depression," Kuroda said at the opening of the two-day forum on the impact of global economic and financial crisis at the ADB headquarters in Manila.

Another ADB-commissioned study said South Asian countries could weather the financial crisis by taking both short- and long-term measures to stimulate their economies.

The sub-region has been hit by capital outflows and weaker commodity prices, and faces a sharp slowdown in exports and remittances as global troubles worsen.

The study suggested a number f measures to cushion the impact of the crisis, including rate reductions in India and Sri Lanka. It also urged India and other countries in the sub-region to consider incentives to encourage overseas workers to remit money home, such as special savings instruments and possible currency swap arrangements to keep financial systems stable.