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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           23   August  2011

Thailand could raise prime rate again

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Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) could lift the policy interest rate again on Wednesday to strike a more neutral stance, but growing risks in the US and Europe threaten to make future decisions more difficult.

The market fears a banking crisis on top of fiscal debt concerns about the euro-zone economies including Greece's debt crisis possibly compelling that country to exit the zone.

As well, a weak economic reading of the US and Standard & Poor's downgrade of sovereign debt for that country have led to a sharp downward revision by many research houses.

Concern is growing that the US may be facing another economic downturn.

But most analysts believe the National Economic and Social Development Board's recent downward revision of Thailand's full-year economic growth forecast is only a temporary effect of Japan's supply chain disruption in the wake of the March 11 disaster.

Usara Wilaipich, a senior economist at Standard Chartered (Thai), expects the MPC will increase the policy interest rate by a quarter-percentage point to 3.5 percent tomorrow and then hold it there.

Price pressures may ease in the coming months as economic growth moderates after last year's strong rebound.

"Strong domestic demand will lead the MPC to deliver this final rate hike," said Ms Usara.

"Inflation will peak worldwide in the third quarter, while oil prices are easing as people's fears about the world economy grow."

She said strong growth in bank lending, steady increases in farm incomes and enhanced political confidence are among the factors bolstering consumers' purchasing power.

The government is expected to fulfill election promises such as increasing the daily minimum wage and tackling inflation by, for example, reducing oil prices through eliminating the Oil Fund contribution.

If the MPC holds the policy interest rate steady after tomorrow's expected increase, then it will still remain in negative territory after inflation.

However, Ms Usara said the gap could narrow if inflation eases.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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