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Asean Affairs  25  January 2011

The world’s economic cycles

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     25 January 2011

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The global economy, the Asian economy, the European economy, the Chinese economy-all go through their up and down cycles not only making for interesting news but also producing a few ulcers, particularly if one is an investor. Economic milestones are beginning to unfold in 2011. U.S. President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address, which reportedly will focus on economic matters, will be followed by the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, January 26-30.

The mood in Davos this year will be decidedly different as reports are that Wall Street executives and the world’s bankers will arrive filled with greater confidence over the economic turnaround. The Davos meeting comes when the results of a Bloomberg Quarterly Poll of its subscribers indicate that the U.S. was named the best country to invest their money in over the next year. Correspondingly, the poll showed greater confidence in Obama’s leadership, although Chinese President Hu Jintao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel got the highest marks from poll respondents for their economic policies.

In Asia, investors are less upbeat than last year in the poll. Investment sentiment in China is not as strong as 20 percent of investors say China stocks will have the worst returns in the coming year, according to the Bloomberg poll.

Inflation fears are still a concern in most Asean countries. These fears as well as political street protests sparked a 4.26 percent drop in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and a depreciation of the Thai currency on Monday. The drop on the market continued a 7 percent decline since the beginning of the year as opposed to a 41 percent gain in 2010. At mid-day today the SET was up recovering some of its losses from Monday.

If this month is any indication, the rest of the year looks to be a challenging year for Asean economies.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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