"The message from APEC is that there is a serious crisis in Asia, but if everybody takes the necessary, and in some cases painful, steps, there won't be an Asian meltdown," says TIME White House Correspondent Jay Branegan. "They're saying 'The Asian miracle is not over, the Asian miracle is taking a breather,' and they hope it'll be a relatively short breather, because the economic fundamentals remain sound."
On the up side for Washington, the crisis weakened Asian resistance to extending free trade agreements, resulting in liberalization of trade in nine additional sectors. But, says Branegan, the harsh austerity and privatization programs that accompany IMF loans carry are likely to cause "a long period of political turmoil in Asia." Which means that it may be some time before the tigers again strut their stuff.