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Demonstrators in Bangkok blocked some polling stations in the Thai capital and continued to insist that they would ignore the results of the vote, but in spite of their protests, voting went ahead across the country. Michael Peel reports.

If you are doing business in Asean – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – be prepared for an electric shock.

Analysts at ANZ have looked at what’s happening with electricity prices across the region and are warning that they are set to rise, making it considerably more expensive to run factories. It will also add half a basis point on average to inflation, which is already inching up. Continue reading »

Thai anti-government protesters rally at Asoke intersection in Bangkok on January 13, 2014.

Demonstrators march towards the government building in Bangkok

Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, called a snap election on Monday, but failed to halt fresh mass street protests aimed at ousting her government. Read the full story on FT.com.

Has the Bank of Thailand blinked in the face of the country’s escalating protests? In a surprise move, the bank cut its policy interest rate on Wednesday by 25 basis points to 2.25 per cent a year, highlighting weaker than expected growth in the third quarter and the “ongoing political situation”.

Indeed, growth is expected to be weaker towards the end of 2013 and through 2014. But has the bank made the wrong call? Continue reading »

Thailand’s GDP figures were a bit of a disappointment on Monday, showing growth in Q3 of just 2.7 per cent.

The main culprit was domestic demand, which fell 1.2 per cent year on year. That’s a particular blow as local consumption has up to now been one of the most consistent drivers of growth: since 2007, domestic demand has fallen only in the exceptional circumstances of the global financial crisis of 2008-09 and Thailand’s huge floods of 2001. So what’s the problem now? Continue reading »

Another week, another barrage of criticism for Thailand’s massive rice subsidy scheme.

This time the attack on a programme that is costing the government billions of dollars a year and adding to worries about the country’s economy is delivered diplomatically, but none the less forcefully, by the International Monetary Fund. Continue reading »

Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand are on the face of it a relatively homogeneous, integrated group of nations with similar trading partners. So why did the first two emerge from the 2008 financial crisis in a much better shape than the latter?

A working paper from the IMF concludes that it was because Indonesia and the Philippines were less open to trade and had greater fiscal stimuli. Continue reading »

Out of 60 countries, Indonesia and the Philippines are home to the most optimistic consumers. Thailand comes fourth on the consumer confidence index compiled by Nielsen, a research company.

Yet ask these consumers how they will spend their cash, and they tell Nielsen they’d prefer to save it, actually. Continue reading »

Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Thai finance ministerThailand plans to tap the capital markets for as much as $15bn in its biggest international round of debt sales for a decade, write Pan Kwan Yuk, Michael Peel and Robin Wigglesworth.

The issuance will mark an important test of investor appetite for emerging Asian economies, which are seen by many as vulnerable to a gradual tapering of the US Federal Reserve’s emergency asset-buying programme. Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Thai finance minister, said the country was looking to raise between $10bn and $15bn over the next seven years – or at least $1.5bn every year – for a 2tn baht infrastructure programme. Continue reading »

Asian fund passport plans, to borrow the old cliché, are like London buses: you wait ages for one and then three come at once.

Wednesday’s announcement between the regulatory bodies of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to create a system for cross-border distribution of mutual funds was the third in the region this year. Continue reading »

When guessing the nationalities of which wealthy shoppers currently fuel the ongoing boom in global luxury sales, there can be little question as to which countries are leaders of the pack.

But beyond the predictable spending power of Chinese, Russian and Japanese travellers – it seems that some rather unexpected contenders are snapping at their heels. Continue reading »

Thailand’s central bank has squashed plans to launch a local Bitcoin operator, making it the first state to ban trading in the virtual currency.

Bitcoin Co Ltd of Thailand said it had initially been given the go-ahead to set up operations without a money exchange licence on the grounds that the digital currency was not properly a currency. Continue reading »

The Thai baht has had an interesting year. Having strengthened to levels in mid-April not seen since the 1997 Asian crisis, it’s been on a depreciation ride since, sliding back from 28.62 to the dollar to over 31.

So that should give exports a boost, shouldn’t it? Not in the last couple of months. Continue reading »

Vanich Chaiyawan

Thai billionaires have been flexing their financial muscles this past 12 months. The names of Dhanin Chearavanont and Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi still don’t exactly trip off the tongue, but they have become much more commonly uttered in the corridors of Asia’s investment banks.

Dhanin’s CP Group pulled off Thailand’s biggest acquisition this year with the $6.6bn takeover of retail chain Siam Macro and picked up HSBC’s chunky $9bn stake in Ping An, China’s biggest private insurer. Charoen, not to be outdone, waged a monumental bidding war with Heineken over Asia Pacific Breweries in Singapore. Charoen’s Thai Beverage group ultimately lost the drinks business, but won control of Fraser & Neave, the property group that formerly part-owned APB.

Now, a third Thai name looks likely to become much familiar alongside these two. Continue reading »