The Wobbly Triangle: Economic Relationships among Europe, Asia, and the U.S. after the Asian Crisis

Vinod K. Aggarwal

After the Asian Crises: Implications for Global Politics and Economics, 2000

Discussion of the potential conflict among three actors ⎯ Japan, Europe, and the United States ⎯ has been a popular topic among academics, policymakers, and popular commentators. More recently, China has replaced Japan in this role. Less pessimistically, there have also been cooperative efforts among different regions ⎯ or what I term transregional arrangements. These include the formation of the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum that ties North America to Asia, the Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM), the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA) linking North and South America, and EU-Mercosur agreement. Thus, at least in theory, the three poles in the global economy might be able to stabilize and lead the world economy together, particularly if cooperative arrangements develop among major regions.

The recent Asian crisis, however, has thrown this three-legged stool into a wobbly crisis, and speculation that Asia is now ‘finished’ because of mismanagement, gross corruption, poor state planning, and the like rule the day. Yet reports of Asia’s demise recall what a healthy Mark Twain cabled in 1897 upon reading his obituary: The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

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