Now that Thailand is slowly getting back to something approaching civility, there’s time for an accounting.
More than 90 people dead in the nine-week protest, most at the hands of the military, at the government’s orders, hundreds more wounded or injured, with blame attached to everyone involved.
Offices, banks and the stock exchange re-opened gradually yesterday. The market fell and the growth forecast for the year was cut as well by the country’s planning agency.
A lot of unquantifiable damage done to the country’s reputation by the disorder, which was the third outbreak of unrest in a year, and nothing resolved.
We won’t find out until much later in the year if the economic fabric of the economy has been affected.
All the figures so far released are historical, reflecting past economic performance.
The most up-to-date were the economic growth numbers from the Bank of Thailand yesterday for the March quarter.
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The surge in exports that saw the central bank lift its 2010 growth rate three weeks ago, has boosted first-quarter growth.
Gross domestic product rose 12% per cent year-on-year in the three months to March.
While that included some of the protests, which started on March 10, the really serious fighting and deaths happened from late April into this month.
But the sharp rise from the March quarter of a year ago is misleading: the start of 2009 was (like the rest of the world) depressed by the impact of the global credit freeze and recession.
Quarter-on-quarter the rise from the December three months was a still impressive 3.8%.
It was the best growth since 1995.
That was better than forecast and due mostly to the improvement in exports.
Manufacturing jumped 22.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, thanks to the exports surge, compared with a 9.9% rise in the previous three months.
Early this month the central bank lifted its forecast for full-year growth to 4.3%-5.8% from 3.3%-5.3%, mostly on the back of the rising level of exports.
But Reuters reported yesterday that the state planning agency said the 2010 growth forecast was forecast at 3.5%-4.5%, after having been cut 1.5 percentage points by the political crisis.
Cars and car parts to countries such as Australia are a major export and although there have been cuts by Toyota and Honda at their factories in the country, they are expected to be restored this week.
Tourism, which accounts for about 6.5% of the economy will take a hit, but we don’t know how deep it will be.
Moody’s Investors Services has maintained its “negative” outlook on Thailand’s “Baa1” credit rating.
The group has left the rating after reportedly deciding not to downgrade the sovereign rating.
Moody’s noted that the yield on long-term government bonds has actually fallen recently, reflecting market confidence in the country’s future.
Japan, Singapore and Taiwan last week reported growth in their economies accelerated last quarter.
The second quarter is likely to see another strong quarter of exports, but investment and tourism will be very poor and will drag down growth.