Asian Crisis versus US - Do as I say, not as I do...
Bloomberg has a good story about Korea during the Asian financial crisis of the 90s.
"The U.S. is doing most of what it told Asia not to.(emphasis mine) It counseled higher interest rates, stronger currencies, fiscal belt-tightening, avoiding fresh asset bubbles and limits on bailing out investors. These days, the U.S. is reminding the world it's better at giving economic advice than taking it. "
According to the article, weak banks were allowed to fail. Korea came out of the crisis first.
Another note about what I know about Korean culture from my interaction with a Korean family. Korea doesn't have the social support programs that the US has. The further I get in life, the more I disagree with the social programs that we have, Canada and the US. I think people should be required to put money into a pension plan and it should simply be frozen until old age or serious illness. But, none of this lumping everything together and creating an expectation that you are owed more than you've paid. If it is in an account where you can see what you put in, then you have no such expectations.
The mother in the family said that Koreans believe that you need at least $100k in the bank for emergencies in terms of lifestyle, a serious illness, etc. The fact that they don't have the social programs means that they save and they take responsiblity for their lives. They cut middle men and tend to not buy insurance, but save the money themselves. The insurance middlemen in America suck the economy dry and the insurance companies don't live up to what they promise. The mother in the family that I knew thought that having a quarter of a million saved was better. She said that that could be gone with just one partner in the family facing a serious illness, and then there were the saving for retirement concerns.
Anyway, being savers makes a nation stronger and American policy encourages a nation of debtors. I don't think America has a hope of coming out of this the way Korea did because of the social policy that encourages debt. Killing the ability to deduct mortgage interest and giving tax breaks on the first $5k of investment income would go a long way to correct American thinking.