This is a compilation of random thoughts I wrote down over the past 1-2 months…pardon the poor writing and excuse the discombobulated thinking.  

The mere idea that a planning authority could ever possess the information necessary to run the economy is a somewhat comic fiction. What prices ought to be can never be determined without competition markets.” – Friedrich Hayek, 1982. 

Macrotourist ramble

What leads to a recession normally is a contraction of credit and a reduction in credit by corporations and individuals, with income being the last shoe to drop. But now we’ve seen a collapse of global income with interest rates near zero (for corporations in Thailand, not individuals), and this leads to a faster reduction in consumption. And coming out of a recession one normally grows via credit expansion combined with a lower interest rate environment. This time around credit expansion is already in full blown impact for governments, corporates and individuals. So governments’ need to step up the fiscal spending in order to support the economy which is already supposed by monetary policies keeping interest rates low. But now we have a duration mismatch, as the Thai government has done an amazing job at consistently missing their budgets by -30-40% each year. Perhaps the worst execution seen in the 2000s. Ok, back to general comments, governments’ globally are attempting to provide short term funding to those that lost income but for how long will this last, and for how long will governments want to and be able to fund this? 

Rambles

Why is testing so low in Thailand? A little birdie told me that the Thai FDA only approved 1 (useless) international testing kit back in March (the dodgy Chinese one that European countries complained about) and increased requirements for all other testing kits….is this why PTT and Chulalongkorn had to come together to develop a testing kit? And now a CPB related company may potentially produce 100k tests per month in the near future ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-10/thailand-makes-its-own-covid-19-tests-to-avoid-import-reliance?utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_content=asia&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&cmpid%3D=socialflow-twitter-asia). I’ll quite comfortably bet that if you tested the entire population of the country (some 600k tests now with 3k confirmed), so if this ratio is maintained, then 350k people have this flu.  Wouldn’t mind an audit into the Thai FDA for the facts. Happy to prove the little birdie wrong.

58 died from the wuflu/covid-19/SARS-Cov-2, that’s equivalent to the number of people dying each day from road accidents.

Isn’t this government clever? They raised some 1 trillion baht of additional debt on the country’s balance sheet which is more than double the average annual budget of deficit of recent years, and then they kicked out Uttama and friends so that their own group of cohorts may decide upon the most effective and efficient use of these new funds. 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-10/thailand-mulls-local-foreign-borrowing-for-30-6-billion-debt

Why not announce that the military is an a form of state welfare, which it is. 

Anutin, our favourite quick mouthed Minister of Health, has been rather quiet for a few months, I suppose telling non-Asians to f off hasn’t garnered any friends. Why is a construction player in charge of the Ministry of Health? Another little birdie was telling me that public hospitals were paying 15 baht/mask back in March-May…I thought the government said it was supposed to be 3 baht/mask…an audit into this would help, again I would be happy to prove the little birdie wrong. Nothing more would please me than for evidence from this government to prove that they were acting above board and in the best interests of the population. Oh yes, and the Thai government/medical community knew about Covid-19 in January, reported the case to the WHO and Anutin went “meh”

Jurin (Minister of Commerce) – Not letting you off the hook, several of us in the office never received the masks you promised, I did though, at the beginning of June. Thank you.

Thammanat (Deputy Agriculture Minister) – Why has no action been taking against the wonderful cocaine selling policeman at the Ministry of Agriculture, ah yes yes, cocaine is an agricultural product! That’s why he surely is an expert in this industry. Then what about his subordinates that sold Thai-made masks around the region when supposedly there was supply shortage in the country…

https://www.smh.com.au/national/drug-crime-a-small-issue-as-thai-pm-stands-by-minister-once-jailed-in-sydney-20190910-p52pwu.html

https://www.thaienquirer.com/9435/recapping-thamanats-bad-week-and-the-whole-mask-fiasco/

The 5,000 baht scheme…only some 27 million people applied for it (hello another wealth inequality indicator), officially 9 mn people received it…I’ve heard enough stories of those that didn’t, granted I know 1 motorcycle driver that did, thankfully…

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1900595/relief-cash-only-covers-a-month

If one says, people shouldn’t criticise the government, facts aren’t criticism, questions aren’t either. 

“Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.” Charles de Gaulle

Pareena on the anti-corruption committee…wow…isn’t she the the one that has that 1,600 rai of land that was deemed illegally bought from locals? Though one must question why Land Departments in Thailand allowed for it to happen as well…No wonder no action is being taken at the said committee. And wait has she and/or her father returned the land yet? 

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1855259/mp-pareena-must-return-land-wednesday

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1929532/team-probes-forest-land-in-ratchaburi

So an Egyptian military fellow came to Thailand via Pakistan, flew to China, came back to Thailand, walked around Rayong, left the country, and found later to be positive. Right, and the government wants Thai’s returning to the country to be stuck in state quarantine. Wait a diplomat flew off somewhere with his/her family, came back, and are allowed to stay at their condo. hahaha….Oh yes and now this government is forcing schools in Rayong to close again. Fair play. Don’t forget if you’re a nobody you’re staying in state quarantine for 2 weeks. The government also somehow decides to blame the governor of Rayong for this and move him to another post…hey remember the Muay Thai event that caused the first so-called super-spreader event in Bangkok, which department of the government is in charge of that?

https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1889010/armys-role-in-boxing-a-shady-affair

But 2 days after all this hubbub the government says that Rayong is completely clear of the virus…I’m sure they did mass testing…

Emergency decree, see above, what’s the point? The curfew been has lifted, they’re just preventing protests…well now it appears even the threat of fines and arrests won’t stop protests. I’ve said for a few years…”all it takes is 1 dead student” and I hope they aren’t that stupid.

“The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life — knowing that under certain conditions it is not worthwhile to live.” Aristotle

What expertise does a military person that has received 1) free clothing 2) free housing 3) free transportation 4) free food for their entire adult lives, know about running an economy? Well at least we know they have 13 watches to tell the time.

I’m in the camp that this lockdown is/was ridiculous, if you’re old – stay home, if you’re staying with old people, stay home. If you’re fat, unhealthy etc etc, stay home, for everyone one else go about your lives. If the governments globally really cared about the population’s health, ban cigarettes, ban junk food, ban the crap $hit people buy at convenience stores and supermarkets. Promote exercise/meditation etc etc. Fairly certain the healthcare/insurance costs globally would decrease rapidly. I don’t understand the narrative to focus on a vaccine, yes this is a bad flu, isn’t the death rate now at 0.02% for those 70 and younger? But sure do the lockdown, watch multiple hospitals/business/people go bankrupt. Do we listen to doctors for everything in life? Why don’t doctors follow their own advice? I.e. they should all be walking around as perfect bastions of health.  Note I have a personal bias, as doctors have told me over the years that 1) I should’ve died 2) should’ve been on a pace maker 3) should’ve been on medication for this/that/what not 4) that my knees are shot and I can’t play sports anymore – I simply became healthy and proved them wrong (side hobby is reliving my youth as tennis player)

Agricultural prices are -50% for some local fruits from a year ago.

I do worry about several social issues…..No income => high household debt => stress => robberies/rapes/suicides/murders/mental issues all may increase. I do walk around in the evenings more cautiously these days. I’ve been thinking we’d see riots later this year, more people coming on board with this thought, when a populous (remember 27 million applied for the 5k for 3 months) has nothing to lose => $hit happens.

CP-TESCO – It looks like CP are still USD 3 bn short in funding for this. The group is already leveraged to the hilt, they have no equity available – aiming to raise debt left right and center for it, and all short term. Would they get the government to say that this purchase would lead to a monopoly and therefore allow CP to save face? 

The strength of the country used to be that the civil servants were the best/brightest of the country in the 80s-90s, the recent actions by the Bank of Thailand has me continually revisiting this statement.

These past few months period has led me to think that humans in groups can be amazingly stupid, however on their own, individually fantastic.

Let’s finish with something positive, I’ve seen a lot of wonderful things happen in the past few months, communities helping one another out in Thailand and where friends are in the world. And as immature as this may sound there’s going to be great comedy written/performed during this period. People will need a good laugh.

  1. Outstanding post, truly.

    Two other thoughts.

    Cracks appearing in the ceiling of the junta’s sacred donkey war room, versus communism, etc. What happened to the flaccid solidarity…the love?

    And when a vaccine is announced and deliveries commence to political entities where aspirin is not sold in the special drawer next to the viagra….

    Buy on the rumor. Sell on the news.

  2. Such a brave, lucid commentary Pon. Be careful. Just wish there were more like you but your comments will be dismissed because you have been corrupted by your travels.

    • Every Taxi Driver still says that Thaksin was the best for them. One doesn’t have to have grown up/lived overseas to see this. Granted he was far far from perfect, but these donkeys deserve a medal or 13.

  3. Pon,

    Vocalizing the truth, as you have done above, requires courage. And you have shown it in plenty. Congratulations on venting your anger at the politicians. I agree with you on Covid stats, the cabinet members, and use of power to remain in power.

    This gov’t lacks skill, accountability, and long term thinking. But is it not true about every gov’t in the past 2 decades? Frequent resets of managed democracy, and amalgamation of army and politics makes Thailand a replica of likes of Pakistan or many African nations.

    Thailand is lucky to have become a tourism hot spot – for reasons well known to the visitors, and perhaps us. The politicians are making mess of everything else – be it education, economic growth, freedom of speech and objective criticism of gov’t policies, the country’s image, or whatever you may want to add to this list.

    Sadly, people like you and me are a minority. And even if many others feel the way you do, nothing would change. The nation and its economy is going to dogs.!!

    • I’d argue that this has been the case since Thaksin was kicked out. The argument I’ve normally heard from the current pro-government is “So you want Thaksin back??” to which I can only shake my head and say “This isn’t the correct argument, the correct argument is that the current group of parasites are the definition of parasites and have failed upon delivering results and therefore they should not have this right to govern the country.”

      Alas no changes can be expected until they write constitution #XXXIV

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