DEFINITION of 'Contagion'

The likelihood that significant economic changes in one country will spread to other countries. Contagion can refer to the spread of either economic booms or economic crises throughout a geographic region.


Contagion has become a more prominent phenomenon as the global economy has grown and economies within certain geographic regions have become more correlated with one another. An infamous example is the "Asian Contagion", which occurred in 1997 and started in Thailand. The economic crisis in Thailand spread to bordering Southeast Asian countries and then eventually spilled over to Latin America.

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