Statistical miracle : Thailand divides by 5 its trade deficit

Revision. It’s sometimes an unvoidable word when you deal with economic data…

And Thailand is surely not an exception (exports, but also land transactions, Foreign Direct Investment, and of course… tax collections… it’s a festival and it makes my life miserable).

It’s not the first time, I’ve noticed some striking revisions…

Question : do you think it’s normal end of december 2008… to revise the value of exports in january to Sweden by +9,8 % ? Or in may to Australia by +10 % ?

This is exactly what happened.

But it’s normal policy. The BOT says : “Monthly figures of the first half of the year are revised at the end of December. Monthly figures of the entire year are revised again at the end of June of the following year.

However, this time, they went further than first half, because they revised july, august and september too.

So to summarize :

-with the data for 2008 provided on october 30, plus the figures for november and december… The trade deficit of Thailand was 4,14 billions USD.

-but on december 30, the datas were revised from january to september. In one way only (up) and for exports only. Result : the trade deficit is now 800 millions USD

From january to september, the total monthly value of exports in USD were revised (up) by an average of 2,5 %. It’s an average. All the countries are affected, but with various percentages (from 0,1 % to 21 % (yes Greece, for august 2008, 8 millions USD were added).

Why the exports – imports (trade balance) is important ? Well… because it has a direct effect on the GDP.

Anyway. Of course, none of the journalists (even Bloomberg) were able to detect the issue.

Speaking about journalists, you have problably seen the headline “thai exports drop by 14,5 % in december”, right ? And you have seen, “drop by 12,5 %” on ThaiCrisis. What’s the hell ? Did I lose my edge ?

It’s very simple : they are wrong. They compare oranges with bananas… exports FOB (Free on board) in december 2007 and exports non FOB for december 2008… therefore the percentage y-o-y is false.

-december 2007 FOB : 13 652,68 millions USD
-december 2007 non FOB : 13 258,36 millions USD

(source BOT)

The figures given on january 20 for december 2008 are non FOB (the first amount published is always non FOB), at 11 610 millions USD. Therefore, the % of difference year on year is -12,43 %, not -14,50 %.

We will get the FOB figures only at the end of the month (published also by the BOT).

As for the trade balance (in the sense balance of payment with exports FOB – imports CIF), it was 2,8 billions USD from january to november, and… 258 millions after the revision. An even greater factor…

Anyway, and in other words… we will have to wait next june, to get the final data for 2008.

1 Response to “Statistical miracle : Thailand divides by 5 its trade deficit”


  1. 1 jeplang 25 January 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Surely ,my friend,you remember the injunction of Lord Bauer not to believe government statistics.Bauer was referring to statistics published by the government of India when the British had an empire and we celebrated Empire Day and were told “British was Best” in the home of mediocrity [Australia].


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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.


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