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Thursday, November 06, 2003

Just Love the Thai Food

Back to Thaksinomics and other matters: in the mail box I have this from Eddie

Interesting to note the interest in Thailand. It's just amazing how this virtuous circle that daniel lian talks about turns things around so completely.

Noticed preliminary estimates that the Thai govt budget will be in surplus this year! Understand that they had initially intended to cap the deficit at about 2% of GDP. Here's how a Thai govt official explained to me:

'The budget balance turns out the surplus since the government revenue outperforms the planned figure by more than Bt 100 bn. The main reason is the more-than-anticipated economic condition.'

and here's what my Thai friend mailed to me:

'My feeling is that....this government moves fast and thinks like businessman. Previous government, they are
just like lawyers....too busy thinking about law...legal issues...etc. I think this government has done numbers of things for the country. Income for poor (farmers) as well as middle class people are better. I think people are regaining their
wealth back. The property boom leads to higher employment. Industries related to property as building materials are better too. The poor get higher income from the one-tumbon one-product (OTOP). I heard that they can sell those low-tech products worth around Bt17bn this year'

When I look at Thailand .. what I see is ... whatever Thaksin's motives maybe, for now he's done what the govt here has failed to do ... lift the people's spirits. Could a country in times of a crisis ask for more?

Joerg's & your point about the lump of structural reform fallacy ... there's something in it. When and what are the returns for the sacrifice? Is there a balance to be found? Where would Thailand be today if they had taken a different road? Thaksin is a populist .. but didn;t the country benefit from it?

The other thing about Thailand I;ve noticed is that their exports have actually done pretty well in the past year... relatively better than Spore and Malaysia. They have certainly benefitted from commodity exports, but 'high-tech' exports have also done well. Why is the question. Is it because the Baht devalued more than the Ringgit & Spore dollar? They appear to have benefited from outsourcing, despite china. (Actually, many of the smaller electronic
manufacturers in Spore have done well too. Those that have a niche that's nicely plugged into the supply chain of the MNCs)

Sustaining Thailand's remarkable recovery despite theuncertain global climate is a question mark. Inflation is still low in Thailand and so are interest rates. So despite the recovery, they have not reached a point where they feel comfortable (or are able) to raise interest rates. When the next global downturn comes, Thailand got to keep going on yesterday's momentum. It's something to watch.

Anyway, on the topic of Thailand, I'm planning to head up there in December for a holiday.up north to the villages and chiang mai. just love Thai food.

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