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Interest Rate and Capital Flight

Most investors are very risk-averse. This is demonstrated by the capital flight from developing countries that happen each time The Fed increase their interest rate. Rather than risking their money in uncertain developing economies (which have greater yield), they would settle for a more certain, albeit with lower gain, US bonds and treasury bills.

My views on this matter:

  • Debt and the promise of riskless return make people lazy. The creditors are guaranteed return (either in interest in performing loans or in selling collaterals in non-performing ones) regardless of what they do. Simply owning money is not a virtue. Putting it to work is. These people are also as cowardly as chicken. They are the first to run if they see problems. They want to have the upside but do not want to share the downside. They are not using their brains to do creative innovation to expand the economy.
  • Citizen of developing economies should be more exposed to their country because they live there. If their country is literally doomed, their return on the stock market is their least important concern (because they might have to literally run for their lives). Capital flight even provides favorable buying condition because of the triggered sell-offs while the company fundamentals are seeing no change.
  • Increase of financial depth is important to be more resilient from foreign shocks. This is the usual narrative of owning a piece of Indonesia by buying stocks. I suspect that capital is plenty in Indonesia, but are stockpiled either in less liquid forms (cattle, sheeps, houses, land) or in unproductive forms (cash, gold). People should have more money, and even after they have more money, they should invest higher fraction of it to own equity in Indonesia’s business to make the size of economic pie bigger. More goods and services will expand the economy and thus people could live better.


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