But as growth falters in a number of developing nations, economists and regulators have become increasingly worried about the consequences of this borrowing frenzy and the risk that the mutual funds and hedge funds that have largely replaced more stable commercial banks as global financiers might all decide to rush for exits at the same time.
"It's fair to say that the market got a little overexuberant," said Scott A. Mather, the head of global portfolio management at the mutual fund giant Pimco. "Many years of private sector credit growth have created serious vulnerabilities."
Analysts point out that compared to the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the borrowing binge this time is being funded largely by global bond investors and includes companies outside Asia as well. Unlike two decades ago, governments of developing countries have built up substantial foreign exchange reserves and are better able to weather any crisis.
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