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Asean Affairs  19 November 2010

A Loy Krathong weekend

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     19 November 2010

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This weekend Thailand ushers in one of its quintessential holidays, Loy Krathong, when Thais create small floats and place them on the water to “ship their troubles away.” It’s a particularly romantic holiday, especially for couples. In other countries, such as Cambodia, adjoining Thailand, the Sunday holiday takes on a different name, the Water Festival.

There are many reasons for Thais to welcome Loy Krathong as it has been a good, although somewhat difficult year for Thailand.

The difficult part was the two-month old Red Shirt protest that ended in violence and loss of life on May 19. The good part was the economy that put up high numbers as exports soared and continued to soar. In October exports were up 15.7 percent over the same month in October 2009. The value of the Thai baht has maintained itself in the 29-30 baht per US dollar for the past few weeks and Thai economists suggest that it will eventually reach 28 baht.

Many of the major companies located in Thailand, such as GM and others that export their products are concerned as the higher baht also makes their exports more expensive on the world market. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has also expressed his concern about the strength of the baht.

Projections for the Thai economy for next year are that growth of Thailand’sGDP will level off in the 4 percent to 6 percent range and this should take some pressure off the baht’s surge but capital inflows will probably continue into the first quarter of 2011.

In any event the Loy Krathong weekend ushers in the start of the end of the year celebratory season that continues with the celebration of His Majesty the King’s birthday , December 5, and then Christmas later in the month, which in its nonreligious and material aspects seems to have traction in many countries such as Thailand, that is predominately Buddhist. Perhaps the jingle of cash registers (do cash registers still jingle?) is the growth factor here, rather than the jingle of Christmas bells.

In any event, we hope readers can ship away their troubles this weekend, wherever they may live.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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