ISBN: 9788776940409

Fiery Dragons: Banks, Moneylenders and Microfinance in Burma

by NIAS

Sean Turnell

2009, 416 pp.

This book tells the story of Burma’s financial system—of its banks, moneylenders and “microfinanciers”—from colonial times to the present day. It argues that Burma’s financial system matters, and that the careful study of this system can tell us something about Burma—not least about how the richest country in Southeast Asia at the dawn of the twentieth century became the poorest at the dawn of the twenty-first. While financial systems and institutions matter in all countries, the book argues that they especially count in Burma. Events in the financial and monetary sphere have been unusually, spectacularly, prominent in Burma’s turbulent modern history. From the Chettiars and the alienation of the land, to the backlash against the foreign moneylender. From the great state banks of the democracy years, to the Orwellian “people’s banks” of the Burma way to socialism. From Burma’s bizarre demonetization experiences, to the rise and crash of the entrepreneurial bankers. And from the money launderers to the practitioners of microfinance. The story of Burma’s financial system and its players is one that has shaped the country. It is a dramatic story, and it is an important story.

Sean Turnell is an economist and former central banker with a long time interest in Burma&rsqo;s financial system. He helped establish and is co-editor of Burma Economic Watch. He is currently Associate Professor of Economics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.