Chartchai Parasuk, PhD, is a freelance economist.
Inflation is, and will be, the number one economic issue of 2022. All countries are facing rapid rises in consumer prices which is threatening not only their economic recovery from the Covid outbreak but also the stability of many governments. The US consumer price index (CPI) hit a 39-year high at 7% in December 2021, prompting Goldman Sachs to predict that the Federal Reserve Board might raise interest rates four times this year.
I am sure that almost everybody has heard about cryptocurrencies. Some might even be investing in them. But few understand what are they really for and, most importantly, how should they be valued? As of Dec 15, one Bitcoin had a market price of US$48,144 (slightly over 1.6 million baht per coin).
The emergence of a new Covid-19 variant -- Omicron -- has caused quite a stir globally just as many nations are on the recovery track from the Delta variant. Scientists worry that the latest strain first detected in South Africa has as many as 50 mutations, 32 of them on the spike protein which theoretically makes it much more transmissible than the Delta variant.
On Nov 10, there was a drama in the international financial market. DMSA, a German financial market watchdog, issued a press release stating that China Evergrande Group defaulted on interest payments to international investors and was preparing bankruptcy proceedings.
Despite the recent estimation that there are now close to a million unemployed Thai workers, Thai tourism and service industries will face a severe labour shortage of 300,000 to 500,000 people after the relaxation of Covid-19 control measures and the opening up of the country to foreign visitors.
There are not many countries on this planet that depend on outside markets like Thailand. Exports of goods account for 54% of GDP while foreign tourism income accounts for another 12% -- totaling 66% of GDP. The rest is made up by domestic private consumption.
As 44.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, most economies are looking forward to a return to pre-pandemic economic levels by 2022. Thailand is certainly one of them. We beat the global average with 45.7% of our population receiving the first dose and 26.4% receiving both doses. The government set a target that by year-end, more than 70% of the population will be fully vaccinated, including third booster doses. Will we see a return to the normal economic activities of 2019 by next year? The answer is not yet, and, worse, maybe never.
This is not a China bashing article. The idea for today's article started when the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Speaker of the House cautioned Thais, the press, and members of parliament against criticising Chinese Covid-19 vaccines as it might upset the Thai-China relationship.