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Some Events cancelled in Bangkok, but normal bank operations continue

The Stock Exchange of Thailand has cancelled all activities to take place during March 12-14, on concerns over inconvience of visitors and their safety.

Boris Sullivan

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The Stock Exchange of Thailand has cancelled all activities to take place during March 12-14, on concerns over inconvience of visitors and their safety.

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Events cancelled, but normal bank operations continue

Tomorrow, the SET originally planned to host a number of company interviews under the Opportunity Day programme at the exchange’s building, as well as a seminar on the Board of Investment’s measures to promote the capital market at Dusit Princess Srinakarin Hotel.

Cancelled also included the training courses on financial products on Saturday and Sunday. Its library will be closed on the weekend.

Public investment will expand only slightly next year as the Thai Kem Kaeng Program will just about compensate for the reduction in the government’s on-budget investment in 2010.

The medium-term outlook is sobering, with growth expected at 3.5 percent in 2010 and likely remaining below potential for the next three years. Because the Thai economy is largely dependent on final demand in advanced economies, a return to pre-crisis rates of economic growth (a full recovery vs. a rebound to pre-crisis levels) will require a combination of (a recovery of demand from advanced economies and a rebalancing of the sources of growth to reduce Thailand’s dependence on demand from advanced economies. Neither process is likely to be swift. Recovery from a financial crisis is a lengthy process that involves the rebuilding of balance sheets, and the IMF estimates that half of the losses in the financial system in advanced economies are yet to be recognized.

Automotive exports – the second largest item in the country?s exports after electronics – fell sharply early this year by about 45 percent from a year before. (During 2009, exports slumped through May before rebounding in the third quarter, although data of late suggest some leveling off of foreign demand.) Compared with electronics, automotive exports are half as large in value but have twice as large value-added per unit of output, leaving the contributions of both sectors to GDP about equal.

Shipments to emerging East Asia already surpassed the 2008 peak level but those to EU, Japan and ASEAN are slow.
The key risk to the global recovery lies in the need to get the timing of withdrawing fiscal and monetary stimulus just right. Withdrawal of fiscal stimulus too early may lead to another negative demand shock and a negative expectations spiral, whereas withdrawing the stimulus too late may lead to high inflation, further weakening of the US dollar, and possible asset price bubbles. In Thailand, for example, more than ten years since the 1997/1998 financial crisis banks still have bad loans in their books and the government still holds a large amount of debt related to the recapitalization of financial institutions. Given the expected length of recovery, it is important not to withdraw stimulus programs too soon, before the recovery is on a firm footing. On the other hand, macroeconomic imbalances are accumulating and eventually fiscal and monetary authorities, especially in the US, must consolidate their fiscal position and withdraw liquidity.

The export collapse in 2009 has been the most severe in Thailand’s recent history. The magnitude of the decline has been unprecedented. Since 1957, there have been nine episodes where exports contracted for at least six consecutive months. Losses to date are more than double those in the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and the 2001 “dot.com” bubble turmoil. Thailand’s export performance tracked developments in world merchandise trade, which dropped around four and eight percent in the 1997 and 2001 meltdowns, respectively, but 22 % so far during the current global financial crisis.

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