Archive for December, 2008

Industrial output at seven-year low

Industrial output in November fell to its lowest level since its beginning in 2002 with capacity utilisation down to nearly 50%, reflecting business operators’ concerns about the impact of the global economic slowdown.[…]

The industrial production index for November was 168.39, down 8.36% from 183.76 a year earlier. The index also declined in October, but by only 0.9%.

The ministry began compiling the index in 2002, from a base of 100. It peaked at 189 points in 2006 at a time when industrialists were still confident about future earnings despite the political tensions that culminated in a military coup in September of that year.

Production capacity utilisation in November this year dropped to 56.21% from 60.8% in October, in contrast to levels approaching 100% in some sectors a few years ago when the economy was making a healthy recovery after the 1997-98 crisis period.

Average output increased by 11.5%, 9.4% and 5.8% respectively in the first three quarters of this year, but a decline is likely in the last quarter. (Bangkok Post)

It’s perfectly in line with the fall of exports in november.

It’s now a fact : the thai economy is following all the others… down.

The vicious circle of an economic slowdown (at best) has now started : lower exports leads to lower production, leads to lower profits, leads to higher unemployment, leads to lower consumption, leads to lower lending… etc.

The old priority of the new ICT minister : to block websites “insulting the monarchy”

The good point with thai politics is that the more it changes, the less it changes. đŸ˜‰

The new ICT Minister, who has by the way some very weird opinions about economy (look at my special gallery of Frankenstein ministers here) has announced her “new” priorities. Exactly like… the previous government.

The new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) minister has vowed to make it a priority to block websites insulting the monarchy.

Ranongrak Suwanchawee told senior ICT officials that most of the websites originated outside the country and would be blocked, as would sites considered obscene and those offering online games and gambling.

She said her predecessor in the post mistakenly believed that little could be done to control sites originating overseas. (Bangkok Post)

Laos has 3G mobile phone systems… Thailand doesn’t. The country prefers to pursue some absurd crusade against “websites insulting the monarchy”.

Well done Abhisit, with miss Ranongrak you have a real winner.

[by the way, if you want to know why 3G is blocked in Thailand, read this article from Bangkok Post]

Airports traffic dropped in november (and no, the blockade was not the only reason)

As expected November passenger traffic through six airports managed by Airports of Thailand showed declines exceeding 27%, down by more than 1.4 million passengers.

The official air traffic report, released by Airports of Thailand for November, revealed the extent of damage caused by the closure of the two Bangkok airports over the last five days of the month.

Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports were closed from 25 November until 5 December. […]

Suvarnabhumi Airport. Closed for five days aircraft movements plunged 18.87% from 21,288 to 17,272 —international, down 18.78% , domestic down 19.29%. Passengers in November shrank 26.05% from 3,526,794 to 2,608,199 — international passengers down 28.81% while domestic fell 12.21%. (TR Weekly)

We need to compare orange with orange, and a month of 25 days with a month of 25 days (Suva was closed during the evening).

And passengers data are better than aircraft movements (because year on year, airlines have canceled some routes, and reduced their capacities).

Last year, average per day was 3 526 794 / 30 =117 559. Times 25 = 2 938 975. So this is our comparison point.

Therefore, without the blockade, the number of passengers Suvarnabhumi Airport dropped by 11 %.

Which is perfectly in line with the… figures for october (a drop of 11 % read here).

The report of TR Weekly contains other interesting figures for Don Muang and the regional airports (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket).

The domestic traffic has suffered a lot.

Why TMB (and maybe other banks) limits cash withdrawals to 5,000 THB with foreign cards ?

A thread on ThaiVisa Forum catched my attention. Some people report that “something is wrong” with their foreign credit cards… Cash withdrawals seem limited to 5,000 THB with ATM in Thailand.

One individual took even a picture of an ATM from TMB (Thai Military Bank) with a very explicit sign.

atmtmb2

I can confirm this with TMB (one of my business contacts called his TMB branch manager).

There is no clear reason given, excepted that “it’s BOT regulations“… And of course, there is no official announcement on BOT’s website.

So I repeat, I confirm the report of a limit of 5,000 THB per withdrawal with ATM from TMB. It means, you can take 2 x 5,000 THB for instance, during the same day.

But other banks (according to people on ThaiVisa) seem affected too.

The question now is : why ?

I’m baffled. I don’t see any logic in such regulation (since you can take several times 5 000 THB).

Is it just to count more… fees ? And why this opacity ? And if it was a regulation, why it doesn’t affect all the banks, and all the ATMs ?

A rather strange story.

[we would need more details on the type of cards too… Debit, credit cards]

Abhisit Santa Claus : the rescue package could reach 300 billions (or 200, or 180)

Santa Claus ? The new Prime Minister says now that the rescue package for the thai economy would reach 200 billions THB… or 300 billions… Last week, it was 180 billions.

Anyway, no one really knows, and probably even Abhisit himself doesn’t know. And it’s not relevant.

The thai politicians are just catching up with the global hysteria of “bailouts” and other “stimulus packages”…

Abhisit felt compelled to have his own… Even though the Bank Of Thailand, under heavy psychedelic drugs, sees thateconomic sentiment and confidence in Thailand have begun to revive after the new government has been installed and is beginning to take action“. đŸ˜‰

This whole story is turning like a (bad) Benny Hill Show. With Abhisit in the leading role.

Thailand’s new government plans to spend 200 billion baht ($5.8 billion) early next year to boost the sagging economy and prop up falling commodities prices, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday.

“Our economic measures will come out after our speech to parliament,” he told reporters after his first cabinet meeting.

“They will cover all sectors — agriculture, employment, tourism and business. They are all urgent tasks,” he said, without giving details.

Abhisit is due to deliver his maiden speech to parliament on Dec. 29, and is constitutionally barred from revealing details of his policies before then. (Rehttp://in.reuters.com/article/asiaCompanyAndMarkets/idINBKK7815220081223uters)

And the last version :

Abhisit said the government would expand its planned stimulus package to 300 billion baht ($8.6 billion) as it aims to boost its economy teetering on the brink of recession.

The spending will come from additional budget increases, loans from state banks to shore up commodities prices and re-allocation of unspent funds from local governments. (Reuters)

re-allocation of unspent funds ? It’s grotesque.

This “plan” is an absurd and lilliputian version of all the other plans in the US, Europe etc.

The BOT needs “more data” but sees an improvement of the confidence…

It’s only Christmas Day. Not April Fools’ Day. But we could wonder…

The economic sentiment and confidence in Thailand have begun to revive after the new government has been installed and is beginning to take action, according to the central bank.

Bank of Thailand (BoT) senior director for the domestic economy Amara Sripayak said the central bank continues to gather data on various segments of the economy to assess economic conditions in the fourth quarter of this year again because economic figures are so volatile.

However, many factors had begun to improve as could be witnessed by the lower interest rate, the oil price decline, and accelerated budget disbursements.

Given these factors, she said, domestic local economic performance might turn positive in the following period while the global economy would continue to slow.

Mrs. Amara viewed the budget disbursement would continue accelerating in a clearer manner.

Regarding export figures, the bank still needs more data from the Ministry of Commerce for consideration in due course.

She said the Fiscal Policy Office has projected that the economy in fourth quarter of this year would contract in comparison to the same quarter of 2007. (TNA)

They need “more data“. đŸ˜‰ It’s really laughable.

And as usual, the wishful thinking… We have a new government (of very… high quality by the way), so it’s magic, confidence is back… It’s like a winning lottery ticket.

Sure oil could be soon cheaper than water… But many other indicators show that the thai’s economy is already suffering. And a contraction of GDP on Q4 seems already booked…

Property market : the Boiler Room announces a recovery in… 2011

From “everything is fine” to “we are in deep shit 1997 style”… in a snap of a finger.

Impressive.

But wait, there is more : the Boiler Room announces us the… date of the recovery !

Ladies and gentlemen, not 2009, not 2010… but 2011. đŸ˜‰

I feel like in a fish market.

Thailand’s property market cannot be expected to recover from the present slump until 2011, according to Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of international property agency CB Richard Ellis (Thailand).

She said the slump began in the final quarter of this year with demand in Thailand’s property market plummeting under the shadow of the global economic crisis.

“When we saw demand in the property market dropping, we suggested to our customers that they wait and see [what happens]. As a result our customers suspended investments of between Bt4 billion and Bt5 billion in the last quarter of this year,” Aliwassa said last week.

The company’s research shows that transactions have fallen in all property segments in the current quarter, some of them significantly, others slightly. This is a sign that the property market may fall by 10 to 20 per cent next year, the steepest tumฌble since the financial crisis in 1997, she said. (Nation)

That sounds great and quite reasonable.

Even more when we remember what the same company, CB Richard Elli, was saying exactly 2 months ago :

Thailand’s property market is well insulated from the global financial crisis as it is far less dependent on debt than most property markets, said real estate firm CB Richard Ellis Thailand.

I know, it’s tasty. I know, you love it, like I do. đŸ˜‰

I told them that this statement would be their curse. Like “our banking system is sound ” from Bush, Bernanke and Paulson last august…

And you can count on me : I will repeat it, over and over.

Anyway, let’s be fair. Only fools and stupid people are unable to change their mind. And CB Richard Ellis is certainly not stupid.

But, you know… it’s difficult to change. I mean really. Aliwassa did start on a good foot. But soon after, she… lost it.

We believe that this recovery cycle will be faster than that after the 1997 financial crisis because global leaders such as the US, UK, Europe, Japan and China have launched measures to solve the problem. Meanwhile, Thailand’s property developers and finance firms are healthier, financially, than they were in 1997,” she said.

You see… It’s pathologic. The magic of the words, the force of the incantations, the power of the verb… But nothing substantial behind. Emptiness.

There is another expression to describe this devastating bias : wishful thinking.

See you in 2011…

Okay… Aliwassa is not paid to say “I don’t know”. But that would be refreshing.

“We don’t know. The crisis is so severe, so global, so pervasive, so… We have no clue. The historical points of reference don’t apply anymore. It’s impossible to foresee the future. Be patient. Stay on alert. Collect data. Take time to analyse all the differents views. And more importantly : stay humble.”

This is what I would like to hear from the Boiler Room.

[I wish you a happy Christmas. Time for a few days of rest. See you soon. Crisisfully Yours.]


Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.