Chartchai Parasuk, PhD, is a freelance economist.
Third-quarter GDP growth for 2022 (Q3/2022) is 4.5% -- substantially higher than the expected 4%. The main driving factor is robust private consumption -- not tourism income -- which expanded 9% in real terms and 15.7% in nominal terms, compared to the same quarter last year. On the surface, this high growth phenomenon may look normal as most Asean countries have enjoyed similar benefits of low Covid infections and pent-up demand. For instance, Malaysia's private consumption also expanded 15.7% in the same third quarter.
When I planned for this week's article, I wanted to write about the illusions of today's economic picture such as the robust GDP growth in emerging economies, declining inflation rates, booming travel business, strengthening of the Thai baht, and so on. But even with the economic data and theories to back up my claims, who would believe me? Who would believe that the current robust demand is nothing but an example of short-term, pent-up demand after two years of the Covid-19 outbreak? Who would consider the fact that consumers have no increased purchasing power to sustain today's level of consumption? Most of all, who would imagine that things would change drastically in the fourth quarter after consumers face the reality of a higher cost of living and stagnant income?
I am writing this article in Tokyo. Judging from my walks around the city during the past week, and despite the fact everyone is wearing face masks, it's like Covid has vanished. Subways and trains are jam-packed and shopping areas are full of people. However, the pandemic has left some scars. Many shops have gone under, including my favourite 50-year-old sushi restaurant.
I am talking about an imaginary country which is a member of Asean. This country may or may not exist. To avoid unnecessary negative repercussions, this country shall remain nameless and be referred to as country "N" with its currency "D". This country is the star of Asean with a 5-year average GDP growth rate of 7% prior to the Covid outbreak.
On a recent Monday, the Fed called an emergency meeting. The discussion topics were not made known. Could it possibly be about turmoil in the UK bond market and the financial troubles of large investment banks? At this fragile time, the world cannot afford another Lehman Brothers-type disaster.
On Sept 7, 2022, the Central Administrative Court ordered the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) and its wholly owned subsidiary Krungthep Thanakom (KT) to pay Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company (BTS) back overdue Operating and Maintenance (O&M) fees on extensions 1 and 2 of the Green Line (Sky Train) in the amount of 11.75 billion baht within 180 days.
On Feb 23, a day before Russia invaded Ukraine, the world crude oil price was US$90.60 (3,221 baht) per barrel. Russian oil supply disruption and demand recovery from Covid-19 dragged the crude oil price to almost $120 at the end of May, after the US and European central banks sent strong signals that they would rapidly increase interest rates to contain inflation, despite the cost of a further economic slowdown.
By the time this article is published, readers will know how much the US Fed funds rate has been raised for the fourth time this year. It does not really matter whether the rate is raised by 0.75% or 1% this time because the Fed will need to keep raising the rate (FFR) until it can effectively control inflation.