The government’s second Bt400-billion borrowing bill, now pending in Parliament, is facing increased uncertainty, due to the country’s delicate political situation.
Thailand’s banks and finance companies were at the heart of the country’s 1997 collapse
Though sovereign rating agency Fitch says Thai financial institutions are much better positioned and provisioned to deal with the current global slowdown than they were during the Asian financial crisis. In particular, local banks were only marginally exposed to the toxic sub-prime mortgage derivative products that have driven several once prestigious Western banks into insolvency. While several US and European banks collapsed, Thai banks in 2008 recorded a higher average return on assets (ROA) compared to a year earlier, rising from 0.3% to 1.1%.
Direct cash was pumped into the grass roots economy, including cash 2,000 baht handouts to nine million civil servants and workers nationwide
Rural Thais’ numerical superiority, coupled with their unofficial ‘right’ to sell their votes, was experienced by urban middle-class voters, especially in Bangkok, as ‘the tyranny of the rural majority’, which allowed the unscrupulous and rapacious electocrats from the country to misrule the city and mismanage the economy. Meanwhile, the liberal principle of property rights and the city’s greater purchasing power and undemocratic economic freedom to trade, invest, consume, overspend, exploit and pollute were in turn regarded by the rural folk as constituting an ‘urban uncivil society’, which dispatched hordes of avaricious government officials to plunder the countryside. This ‘tale of two democracies’, rural versus urban, made for a divided society that sustained and reproduced the electocracy, and yet was powerless to control it.