The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper pursues several objectives. First, it presents a sketch of a positive (or real-world) theory of public sector intervention. Second, it analyzes in some detail the activity of the public sector in nine market economies of developing Asia and relates this activity to the growth of the foreign debt of these countries. It is argued that the relatively good performance of those countries was achieved at considerable and growing costs, especially in terms of external debt accumulation. Finally, the paper uses the experience of the Asian countries to draw some general lessons for the current debt strategy.