PPT doesn’t usually quote from the business media. Yet a post at International Financing Review Asia (IFR Asia), which claims to be “Asia’s most authoritative capital markets magazine,” seemed worthy of comment.
I visited Bangkok recently, and returned with a sense that the city’s vibrancy has dimmed. Hotels seemed barely occupied. The street hawkers on Silom road had been culled back, and I discerned less of the famous Thai smile on the thoroughfares. Of course it’s low season, but past visits have never seemed quite this low. It was as if someone had dimmed the lights to save on their electric bill.
It’s not just about anecdotal evidence. The Thai baht has fallen this year against the dollar to its lowest level in six years, and the country’s stock market has reeled amid talk of mass capital flight. Offshore real money pulled almost US$800m out of Thai stocks last month. Local bankers cite declining corporate earnings for the offshore institutional selling, although the real issue seems to be the sense of an impasse in government policy.
Rogers speculates on several items related to these economic problems, succession and Yingluck Shinawatra’s trial. In fact, the military dictatorship has more problems than this, and has actively erected barriers to economic growth and distribution.