India and Indonesia: Lessons Learned from the 2013 Taper Tantrum

Author: M. Chatib Basri (Minister of Finance of Indonesia 2012-2014), published on Journal Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies Volume 53, 2017 - Issue 2

In May 2013, the US Federal Reserve began to talk about the possibility of ending its program of quantitative easing. This tapering talk had a significant impact on five main emerging-market countries—Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey (the ‘Fragile Five’)—whose exchange rates weakened dramatically and whose stock and bond markets were hit hard. This series of events is now known as the ‘taper tantrum’. In response to the tantrum, these five countries each took a series of macroeconomic policy measures to relieve pressure in their financial markets. Indonesia and India handled the problem in the shortest time (about seven months) and achieved macro-economic stabilisation. This article examines how Indonesia and India managed to remain relatively unscathed by the taper tantrum and escape the Fragile Five. It looks at which policies the two countries adopted at the time, and why they chose them, as well as why India’s economy performed better than Indonesia’s after the tantrum.

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