【英语财经】军事戒严令给泰国经济造成更大压力 Martial Law Another Strain on Thailand’s Economy

  • 【英语财经】军事戒严令给泰国经济造成更大压力 Martial Law Another Strain on Thailand’s Economy已关闭评论
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2014-5-20 16:30

小艾摘要: Thailand's past decade of political upheaval has strained society, but the economy has by and large kept on humming. Until now, perhaps. News this week the economy shrank 0.6% on-year in the first qu ...
Martial Law Another Strain on Thailand's Economy
Thailand's past decade of political upheaval has strained society, but the economy has by and large kept on humming.

Until now, perhaps. News this week the economy shrank 0.6% on-year in the first quarter and by 2.1% from the final quarter of 2013 has shaken the belief that Thailand's economy is somehow immune to political fighting on the streets of Bangkok, the capital.

The imposition of martial law on Tuesday adds to concerns over the economy.

Previous bouts of instability have had surprisingly muted impacts. In 2010, anti-government protests brought Bangkok to a standstill for three months, ending in an army crackdown that killed scores of people.

At the time, economic growth slowed, to 6.6% on year in third quarter from 9.2% in the second, but still a strong clip.

During 2006 -- when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed in a military coup, laying the seeds of the current dispute -- and 2007, which saw bombings around Bangkok and school burnings in rural Thailand, the economy didn't skip a beat, with quarterly growth ranging from a low of 4.4% to a high of 6.1%.

Thailand's economy contracted for four straight quarters from late 2008, but it's difficult to separate out the effects of political protests that fall -- which included the temporary takeover of Bangkok's airport -- from the global economic turmoil that followed the Lehman Brothers collapse that year.

So, what's different this time? For one, the current turmoil has lasted seven months, longer than other periods of upheaval. And there's no end in sight.

The military on Tuesday imposed martial law to stop protests spilling over into violence. It denied the action was a precursor to a coup, providing little clarity on how the crisis can be resolved. Elections tentatively scheduled for July 20 seem unlikely to go forward after the country's Election Commission recently said the situation was too chaotic for a vote.

The turmoil, although largely contained in Bangkok, has pushed Thai consumer confidence to a 12-year low. Vehicle sales are expected to plunge by a quarter this year. Monday's GDP data showed broad-based weakness that spanned consumer demand, investment and even exports.

Even Thai officials are concerned. The government repeatedly has lowered its growth targets since the crisis began, and on Monday cut them again -- to 1.5%-2.5% for this year, well off Thailand's trend pace. And that may not be the last revision.

'As protests have become more frequent over the last few years it has undermined investor confidence, undermined Thailand's competitiveness,' Capital Economics analyst Krystal Tan said.

Nor is Thailand in a position to counter the downturn with public spending. Economists had been betting on multi-billion-dollar outlays on rail projects and other infrastructure to lift the economy. But these are on hold because Parliament isn't functioning, meaning the nation's budget is stuck.

Some observers saw a silver lining to the imposition of martial law on Tuesday if it helps break the impasse between Thailand's governing party and the opposition.

'It may even help to break Thailand out of the political deadlock of the past six months, by which the two sides have failed to agree on arrangements for new elections,' said Andrew Colquhoun, Fitch Ratings' head of Asia-Pacific sovereigns, in a statement.

Others point out that Thailand is still known as an easy place to do business for foreign investors, with solid infrastructure and supply chains. 'That will not change about the country,' Barclays Capital analyst Rahul Bajoria said.

Still, the longer the turmoil persists, the bigger the risk as investors put off plans to open factories in Thailand. Foreign direct investment fell to 262.6 million in February, its lowest level in eight months and much lower than monthly levels over $1 billion for most of the past year.

'The worry for Thailand is that foreign investment flows suffer a kind of permanent or persistent hit,' said Tim Condon, an economist at ING in Singapore.

Analysts for now are waiting to see how martial law plays out, and what upcoming data show. Trade data is due Friday and industrial production on May 28.

Other parts of Asia recently have seen an uptick in exports as recovery in the West begins to show up in terms of stronger demand. Monday's GDP data showed trade was a net positive for Thailand's growth in the first quarter, but that was mostly because imports fell so sharply as domestic demand languished -- a Pyrrhic victory for trade.

'So far trade figures for the rest of the region have been quite positive. Let's see if Thailand is going to see that too,' Capital Economics' Ms. Tan said. 'If it doesn't, then it seems like all engines are down.'






2006年,泰国前总理他信(Thaksin Shinawatra)在一次军事政变中被迫下台,给目前的争端埋下隐患;2007年,曼谷附近发生爆炸事件,泰国农村的学校也发生纵火事件。但这两年间,泰国经济并未停滞,季度经济增速从4.4%至6.1%不等。

2008年末以来,泰国经济连续四个季度下滑,但很难区分是受当年秋季的政治抗议行动(包括曼谷机场被短暂占领)影响,还是受当年雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)破产后的全球经济危机所影响。


泰国军方周二宣布实施戒严令,以防止示威抗议发展成暴力活动。军方否认这一举动是政变的先兆,几乎没有阐明如何能够解决危机。鉴于泰国选举委员会(Election Commission)近日称当前局势过于混乱,无法举行选举,原定于7月20日的大选似乎也不太可能进行。



凯投宏观(Capital Economics)分析师Krystal Tan表示,由于过去几年示威活动越来越频繁,投资者信心和泰国的竞争力已经遭受打击。



惠誉国际评级(Fitch Ratings)亚太主权评级部门主管科洪(Andrew Colquhoun)在一份声明中说,戒严令甚至可能有助于泰国打破持续了六个月的政治僵局,在此期间执政党和反对派未能就新选举有关安排达成一致。

其他人指出,对海外投资者来说,泰国依然可以被称作是一个很适合做生意的地方,有可靠的基础设施和供应链。巴克莱(Barclays)的分析师Rahul Bajoria表示,动荡不会改变泰国的基本情况。


荷兰国际集团(ING)驻新加坡的经济学家康登(Tim Condon)称,围绕泰国的担忧在于外资流入受到永久性或持续性的冲击。




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