Using discourse institutionalism this article traces how Asian think tanks have provided valuable input for informing and articulating alternative economic narratives in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2007–2008. Starting with the AFC, think tanks began to cultivate a move away from dominant western economic policy approaches towards more ‘Asian’-style solutions. These solutions included new policy programmes focused on creating ‘sustainable and balanced’ economic growth and protecting vulnerable populations from the negative impacts of financial downturns. Regulatory and institutional changes reflecting these new narratives helped shelter the Asian financial sector during the GFC a decade later. The GFC also created additional critical junctures permitting think tanks to coordinate new policy solutions concerning financial regulation and foster an emerging regional economic identity.