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Much recent analysis of the political economy of development in East Asia focuses on questions of market liberalization and the adequacy of the international institutions involved in the economic crisis of the 1990s. Focusing on political institutions, this article urges an emphasis on liberal constitutionalism as a long-term strategy. Authoritarian regimes with markets and currencies that were protected fared reasonably well. Democracies with liberal institutions were resilient. The combination of authoritarian developmentalism and market liberalization fared the worse. But authoritarian developmentalism is not sustainable. Constitutionalism, if properly conceived, may provide the institutional reliability and accountability upon which sustained development depends.