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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     14 October  2011                    

Foreign sell-off could hurt Asian economies

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that a sell-off by foreign investors in developed markets could trigger a loss of faith in the capital markets in emerging nations across Asia, including Indonesia.

“A sudden liquidation of these positions could trigger a loss of confidence, and contagion could spread from bond and equity markets to currency and other markets,” the fund said in its economic outlook for the Asia-Pacific, released on Thursday.

Since 2009 investors from advanced economies have built up substantial positions in Asian markets, the IMF said. As of this month, foreign ownership in Indonesian bonds is 31 percent of the total, one of the highest rates of foreign ownership in sovereign bonds among Asian nations.

Jeff Tan, head of research at local brokerage Sinar Mas in Jakarta, said that the IMF’s concerns were real. He believed two elements were important for maintaining confidence in Indonesian capital market: the stability of the currency and the supply of dollars.

“If we lose those two ... we can lose market confidence. It will create negative feedback. So, Bank Indonesia has to be vigilant and on guard all the time,” he said.

A combination of capital outflow and the central bank’s intervention has sent Indonesia’s foreign reserves down 8 percent to $115 billion in September from a month earlier. The costly effort helped to stabilize the rupiah, bonds and stocks.

The IMF also trimmed its economic growth forecasts for Asia on Thursday because of financial turbulence in Europe and a possible slowdown in the United States.

Asia’s economic growth is forecast to average 6.3 percent in 2011, rising to 6.7 percent in 2012. That’s lower than the IMF’s April forecast of nearly 7 percent in both years.

Repeating what it had stated in its World Economic Outlook report released in September, Indonesia’s economic growth is projected to slow to 6.3 percent in 2012 from 6.4 percent this year.

The somewhat weaker growth forecast for Asia mainly reflects the deteriorating outlook for exports to advanced economies, the IMF said.

The impact would be smaller for domestic-demand based economies, such as China, India, and Indonesia, and larger for highly open economies that specialize in income-sensitive, high-tech consumer and investment goods, such as South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, it said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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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.

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