By Pooky, this blog economics journalist
Korn, Thailand’s finance minister, just got ranked as last year’s “Best Global” finance minister by the very prestigious, Financial Times-specifically for being able to steer Thailand’s economy successfully across a very turbulent political landscape.
According to to most Thai economist, that says a lot for Korn’s ability and it will build confidence in Thailand for global investors, both direct and portfolio-since his past ability, will mean the same for the future and so the greatly feared Red Shirt gathering in the near future, will not really hit the Thai economy so badly.
And so as other ASEAN stock markets are currently making new high from the January Effect, but the Thai stock market has not shown any January Effect, that lagging behind, will not be a real problem as Korn is at the helm.
And as The Japanese think tank, Jetro, says Japanese investors have now abandoned Thailand as a place to invest, that will also not be a real problem, as again, Korn is at the helm.
And as the World Bank, have estimated the Thai GDP, to grow this year as one of the slowest in ASEAN, that will also not be a real problem, as yet again, Korn is at the helm.
To most global investors, the question now, with Korn’s global level elevation, is how will he steer Thailand into the future? Like how will he get the Japanese back; and how will he help stop Thailand being a laggard on growth and stock market performances.
Not only foreigners are pinning their hope on Korn, the Thais, as Master Card says, is about 50% more confidence now than 6 months ago, that the Thai economy and stock market will be doing great. With this type of confidence by the Thais, Korn is literally riding on a very strong positive psychology and sentiment-that will give him a great push.
So all in all, a great deal of hope is now pinned on Korn’s global class ability. And that is very important, because the Thai private sector is failing badly. So basically, Thailand’s hope, is with Korn and Finance Ministry.
International ranking says Thailand’s private sector productivity have dropped last year, and in the first global ranking of the world’s best 500 CEO, as many Asians and other emerging economies made the list, even the best of Thailand like the head of CP, Red Bull, the Liquor Tycoon, or the head of Siam Cement or PTT, did not show up. And other international ranking says as other ASEAN countries are focusing on innovation and creativity to recover from the global slow-down, Thai firms are cutting costs.
Does this blog have the type of confidence Financial Times has on Korn?
Well to tell you the truth, this blog does not think the Financial Times elevation of Korn has anything to do with Korn at all, but with the Thai military, particularly Anupong-the Thai army chief.
In fact, this blog thinks Anupong should be the global Finance Minister of the year position.
That is because the only reason why Korn was able to steer the Thai economy across such a turbulent political landscape, is because Anupong shot live bullets accross the heads of the Red Shirt protest and warned the Red Shirt to dissipate their protest, otherwise the military will do whatever is needed to stop their protest.
The Red Shirt, confronted by that type of threat, simply said they will “Save Red Shirt Lives” and stop the protest. So what actually steered Thailand’s economy through the political mess, is not Korn’s abilities at all, but bullets.
The question for ethical investors Globally to really ask, and we want the Financial Times to think about this very carefully-is if investing in Thailand, is helping the bullets fly towards people.