Many models of the Indonesian economy cannot generate the large collapses in output and exchange rate experienced in 1997–98. The model in this paper was able to replicate the actual events by adding several new links. One new link is between the depreciation of the exchange rate and the deterioration of the balance sheets of firms, which are in turn linked to decline in investment. Another new link is between decline in output and decline in business confidence, leading to possible increased capital outflow and exchange rate collapse. The IMF's high interest rate policy did not succeed in strengthening the rupiah because it inflicted such severe damage on the net worth of Indonesian firms that it caused capital flight to accelerate, turning what was originally just a financial crisis into a major recession.

Two alternative counterfactual policy packages are examined: (1) a lower interest rate policy and (2) a lower interest rate policy combined with a partial write-down of the external debt. The model indicates that the country's macroeconomic conditions would have fared better if the prolonged high interest rate policy had been avoided. The results suggest that early actions should have been undertaken to address the mounting private foreign debts. The delayed handling of private debts had prevented other policies from working effectively. The two counterfactual policies also would have resulted in a more favorable outcome for income distribution and poverty incidence. The model revealed a close correlation between worsening (improving) income distribution and increasing (declining) interest rates.

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