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Press Releases

Asian Finance: Speech by Mr Joseph Yam

In a speech entitled "Asian Finance" delivered at the International Centre for Banking and Monetary Studies of the Swiss National Bank in Geneva today (9 November), Mr Joseph Yam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority referred to six general characteristics and challenges involved in Asian Finance:

  1. the increasing financial significance of Asia, as reflected in its substantial foreign reserve holdings and high savings rate;
  2. by contrast, a lack of sophistication in domestic financial intermediation;
  3. enthusiasm in embracing financial openness with a view to strengthening competition and development of the financial system;
  4. a resulting recycling of Asian funds through the developed markets back into Asia for funding domestic investments;
  5. a consequent volatility in fund flows, which in turn has presented challenges for the maintenance of monetary and financial stability in the region; and finally
  6. the emergence of "flexible" exchange rate regimes in Asia in the sense of exchange rates being determined flexibly with the aim of building up sufficient foreign reserves as ammunition for coping with any recurrence of financial crisis.

Mr Yam suggested that monetary and financial co-operation in the region should be strengthened to address the above challenges.

Mr Yam also talked about measures for market reform in Mainland China, which was facing the dilemma of pursuing financial openness on the one hand and maintaining financial stability on the other. "With a high savings rate, rapid economic growth, and the attraction of an emerging market of mammoth dimensions and ample opportunities, the Mainland of China can afford to adopt a cautious approach to financial liberalisation," said Mr Yam. He noted, however, that, in the long road towards a market economy, there would be conflicts or anomalies that required pragmatism in doing things by trial and error, including the use of administrative measures to effect the necessary macro-economic adjustments. He added that, although administrative measures were sometimes blunt, they were usually quick in producing results. "By and large, the measures are working. And about two weeks ago these were interestingly buttressed by increasing interest rates and further liberalisation in the determination of deposits and lending rates. This is another encouraging development in market reform," said Mr Yam.

For further enquiries, please contact:
Jasmin Fung, Manager (Press), at 2878 8246 or
Kevin Ip, Manager (Press), at 2878 1687

Hong Kong Monetary Authority
9 November 2004

Last revision date: 1 August 2011
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