In February 1999, the New York Times ran an article on the economic crisis that 18 months earlier had led to the collapse of the Thai currency, before rippling through Asia and Russia and threatening Brazil and Latin America. The South-East Asian economic collapse had not only brought hardship in the South, the article pointed out, but had also caused thousands of small investors in the North to lose their hard-earned savings. The article cited the example of Mary Jo Paoni, a secretary from Cantrall, Illinois. Like many others, Mrs Paoni had no reason to suspect that her pension, which she had thought was safely invested in a secure US-based investment fund, would be affected by the collapse of the Thai economy. She could not have been more wrong. Quite unbeknown to her, Mrs Paoni?s future security rested in large part on the success or failure of a housing development in Bangkok of which, thanks to an investment decision taken by her pension fund manager, she had become part owner.
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