Economics issues that big thinkers say need the world’s attention in 2021

There’s an old but revealing joke in the news business from when most television news programs were a broadcast of fixed duration.

The joke went: “Isn’t it funny that every day, there is always exactly half an hour’s worth of news?”

The point was, of course, that of all the millions of things that happened in the world that day, news editors selected a half-hour’s worth. No more. No less.

In news, big stories crowd out important but lesser stories. One classic example was that on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, two literary lions — C.S.Lewis and Aldous Huxley — died as well, but they were virtually ignored.

In the internet era, access to events seems infinite. But that does not mean they get equal attention.

Pandemic steals the thunder

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has stolen the thunder from other important economic issues that deserve greater attention in 2021. Here is a by-no-means exhaustive list.

Perhaps the most conspicuous topic to be upstaged by COVID-19 during most of 2020 may have been climate change. And climate economist Mark Jaccard, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, has said he expects 2021 to be different.

A climate activist stands on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean on Sept. 20. COVID-19 upstaged climate change for much of 2020, but Canada’s recently announced plan to hit its 2030 climate target and a new administration in the U.S. suggest the issue will become more prominent next year. (Natalie Thomas/Reuters)

Certainly a new climate-conscious administration in the United States, plus the recently announced plan from the Canadian government to actually hit its 2030 climate target, means investors, entrepreneurs and ordinary Canadians will have to take a closer look at how the need to cut carbon will affect them.

There’s reason to think the impact in 2021 will echo through all parts of the economy.

Some issues don’t have that kind of profile. Chris Kutarna, a Regina native who is now an author and big thinker at Oxford University, says most Canadians may have missed a game changer.

Despite an innocuous title, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership created the biggest regional trade bloc in history. The 15 member countries, as diverse as China, Japan and Australia, will represent a third of the world’s population and a third of its GDP.

“The U.S.-China story is a very narrow lens,” Kutarna told me in an email. “It’s not crazy to see EU-style integrated supply chains and markets emerging fast in Asia.”

Battling the black hats

For Bessma Momani, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation in Waterloo, Ont., global trade will come back into clearer focus in 2021. Despite international co-operation in creating a vaccine, Momani sees “trade hampered by supply-chain disruptions and rising nationalism” next year.

Momani, who is also a political science professor at the University of Waterloo, also worries that the cyberattacks that we have seen over the past weeks are likely to grow as cybercriminals learn how to exploit our increased use of digital technologies.

WATCH | Concerns hackers are trying to disrupt COVID-19 vaccine supply chain:

There are growing concerns that hackers are targeting the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain with the intent of disrupting the rollout once the vaccine arrives in Canada. 2:00

A new way of doing things during the pandemic may have sped the process along, as it did for shopping and working from home. Now may be the time to catch up to the growing reach of black hat hackers — a crucial task for 2021.

Part of getting that job done is having the right people, and according Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, despite the pandemic, future business success means a focus on generating and welcoming a qualified workforce.

“While the pandemic has created short-term — yet significant — job loss,” Hyder told me in an email, “the fact is that in the longer term, employers will struggle to find enough skilled workers as the population ages.”

In its recent report, Powering a Strong Recovery, the council said that in 2021, Canadian business must put new emphasis on internal training and development, and increased immigration.

Also important is “encouraging labour market participation from underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, Black people, people of colour and disabled Canadians,” Hyder said.

The report also demands a new effort to remove interprovincial trade barriers.

A sign in the window of a closed storefront boutique business in Toronto pleads for help. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on incomes in racialized communities, including on businesses, says the director of the Institute for Social Research at Toronto’s York University. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Supporting immigration means looking for ways to support and sustain businesses that form the heart of immigrant communities, said Lorne Foster, director of the Institute for Social Research at Toronto’s York University.

Foster says the pandemic has had a more devastating effect on incomes in racialized communities, including on businesses, adding another layer of danger to community hubs, such as Toronto’s Little Jamaica and Chinatowns across the country.

“I believe that the decimation of the small business infrastructure in racialized communities compounds the racial inequities and is having a more inherent impact of creating gaping community wealth gaps,” he said.

Gig economy needs attention

Also on the labour front, Canadian historian and author Shirley Tillotson said the failures of the gig economy — where companies could wash their hands of people who served like employees but were paid like independent contractors — was a lesson learned during the pandemic that we must begin to rectify in 2021.

“Some of the gig economy problems have had some attention in the business press,” Tillotson, professor emeritus at Dalhousie University in Halifax, told me by email. “But we’re a fair distance from a regulatory and tax response that will enable what’s good and prevent what’s bad both for individuals and for the social fabric.”

When gig workers found themselves out of work without benefits, Canada saw the aggravation of a problem that had been growing for years, expanding the gap between rich and poor, said Louis-Philippe Rochon, founder of the Review of Keynesian Economics and a professor at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont.

Even while governments have tried to throw a safety net under those worst affected by the pandemic Rochon said that the main motor of recovery — rock-bottom interest rates — has created a disproportionate windfall for those who were already rich.

Solving what he sees as a division of Canada into a profit economy and a wage economy will not be easy, Rochon said, but a new effort must be made in 2021 to recreate and maintain a healthy middle class.

Not all news is bad news. Tabatha Bull, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, says the success of Indigenous businesses needs more attention in 2021. (CCAB)

And before you decide that everything was bad in the past year, at least one of the Canadian big thinkers I spoke to for this column, Tabatha Bull, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, pointed to a new wave of success and corporate encouragement in her sector.

“In 2020, we saw a surge in support for Indigenous business,” Bull said. And she hopes that is a story that gets a lot more attention in 2021.

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis

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Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) hits 9-month high in November – Economics

BANGKOK (NNT) – The government’s economic stimuli has successfully nudged the Consumer Confidence Index in November 2020 into continued growth for a second month, with the score ranked at a 9-month high, since March this year.

The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) released by the University of the Thai Chambers of Commerce (UTCC) for November 2020, scored 52.4 points, appreciably higher than the 50.9 points in October, with the sentiment index improving from 58.5 to 60.1 points.

The UTCC says consumers still have concerns regarding political stability in light of several protests in October, which has brought down the Political Situation Index down to a 14-year low, as well as concerns on the slow recovering economy and the prospect of increasing unemployment in the future from COVID-19 crisis.

These concerns have however been countered by the government’s economic stimuli, and the improving farm products pricing, including rice, rubber, and oil palm, resulting in the recovering purchasing power in many provinces.

Along with November 2020 CCI, the overall economic sentiment index has improved to 45.6, with job opportunity score now at 50 points, and the score for future income improved to 61.6. Scores from these indices show an across the board improvement, albeit at a small level.

Mr Thanawat Phonwichai, the UTCC President and chief advisor to the UTCC’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting said the government’s economic stimuli will continue generating no less than 100 billion baht cashflow through Q1 2021, and pushing the economy to grow by 2 percent.

He said the government could expand these numbers to generate 50 billion baht more cashflow, and push the national GDP in Q1 2021 to grow by 3-4%, if it decides to extend the current stimulating campaigns, including the living allowances to persons holding the state welfare cards, the Travel Together tourism subsidy campaign, and the campaign promoting tourism among senior citizens.

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Thai economy is expected to return to 4-4.5% growth in 2021 – Economics

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Thai economy has been showing signs of recovery, thanks to the government’s many stimulus measures.

The Minister of Finance is expecting the economy will grow 4-4.5% next year, however it may take up to 4 years for visitor numbers to recover.

The Minister of Finance Arkhom Termpittayapaisith predicts that Thailand’s tourism sector will start to recover after the successful development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, with the number of visitors next year expected to be at least 8 million.

He said, however, that by how much the country will reopen to tourists will depend on the public health conditions, adding that it may take until 2024 for tourist numbers to return to 40 million per year.

With this prospect, the Finance Minister said the government still finds it necessary to continue stimulating domestic purchasing via co-pay campaigns, tourism subsidy campaigns and living allowances for holders of welfare cards.

The government is now considering the extension of these campaigns, however there are still no definite timeframes set for by how long these campaigns will be extended.

The Minister of Finance said the government also needs to provide capital support for SMEs, so they have the liquidity they need to continue their businesses.

On public sector investments, Minister Arkhom said the government will be accelerating digital infrastructure investment and promoting investments in its s-curve industries, particularly the technology and digital industries, eco-friendly, healthcare and medical services industries.

The government is also to consider imposing tariffs on online purchases of goods and services, especially for orders from foreign merchants.

The Minister of Finance said the Thai economy in 2021 is expected to return to 4-4.5% growth.

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Thailand and Malaysia led the region in terms of government stimulus – Economics

Asian countries’ levels of resilience to the pandemic varied in line with their respective levels of economic development.  

More developed economies with strong health care systems and financial reserves, such as Japan and South Korea, were naturally better prepared to manage the health and economic effects of the crisis.

Others with weaker infrastructure and lower average disposable incomes faced a more challenging proposition.

To take an example, while Myanmar has experienced strong economic growth in recent years – averaging 6.6% annually between 2010 and 2019, according to the IMF – and invested significantly in health care infrastructure, it still lags behind other economies in the region and was therefore vulnerable to any significant outbreak of the virus.

Institutional response

Aside from the medical crisis, governments and other key institutions in Asia responded to the subsequent economic fallout.

While all countries implemented some form of stimulus plan or state support package, these varied in scope and focus.

For example, stimulus measures released by Thailand’s government were proportionally the largest in the region, equivalent to 22% of GDP. This was closely followed by Malaysia, which offered support totalling 21% of GDP through its various packages.

These measures went far beyond most others in the region, with the fiscal stimulus offered by China (5%), Indonesia (4%), Vietnam (4%) and the Philippines (3%) being considerably lower.

Support funds were typically followed by central bank efforts to boost liquidity. Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia all reduced their benchmark rates to record lows throughout 2020, at 0.5%, 1.75%, 2% and 3.75%, respectively.

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Thailand to roll out more economic measures for New Year – Economics

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Ministry of Finance’s permanent secretary says that the Thai economy next year is expected to grow by 3.5-4.5 percent, while the Ministry of Finance has prepared more measured to be rolled out for the general public as New Year gifts.

The Ministry of Finance’s Permanent Secretary Krisada Chinavicharana gave the opening speech at the Wealth Forum seminar, where he has pointed out that the Thai economy has already passed the lowest point, and has started to recover.

He said the economic output in Q3 this year was at a negative 6.4 percent, however the Q4 performance is expected to swing back to negative 3.5-4.5 percent, thanks to successful COVID-19 measures, positive progress in COVID-19 vaccine development and the global economic recovery.

At the same time, the government has been pursuing financial and monetary measures, using the 1 trillion baht emergency loan for economic recovery from COVID-19, with funding now being disbursed for related projects.

In addition, the Ministry of Finance is planning to roll out additional measures for the general public in the final weeks of this year.

The Finance Ministry’s permanent secretary said the Ministry of Finance will continue to promote economic growth, maintain the employment rate and expedite government spending. The ministry is sure its measures will help rebuild confidence among international companies to enable them to invest in Thailand once again.

Mr Krisada said, during his speech, that this Wealth Forum will help convey to audiences correct understanding about the Thai economy, the world economy and market fluctuations, which will help investors make informed decisions.

He responded to a question, on the government’s 50:50 co-pay campaign, that the government will likely increase the number of eligible persons in the next round of registration, pending a report on expected applicants, from Krungthai Bank, and further evaluations.

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Thai bank revised up 2020 GDP forecasts to -6.4% and projected 2021 growth at 3.3% – Economics

Krungsri Research predicts that Thai GDP will fall by -6.4% in 2020, then grow by 3.3% in 2021, and expects that the MPC will keep interest rates unchanged through next year

At the latest meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on November 18, it was unanimously agreed that interest rates should stay at 0.50% since although 3Q20 recovery was better than expected, this remains weak and different sectors are rebounding at different rates.

Krungsri Research has revised up 2020 GDP forecasts to-6.4% from -10.3% and projected 2021 growth at 3.3% amid opportunity and challenge. 

Better-than-expected performance 3Q20

This upward revision reflects the better-than-expected performance 3Q20, which can be attributed to stronger government spending and a rebound in exports. Looking forward, growth in the Thai economy should turn positive in 2Q21 on a combination of the low-base effect, the positive effects of government spending, and recovery in overseas demand.

However, challenges, especially domestic headwinds, will remain, including the recovery in tourism, which is lagging behind other economic growth drivers, the impacts of high unemployment on income and consumer spending, and rising domestic political unrests, which may undermine growth and raise concern over the continuity of economic policy.

However, exports would become the engine of growth in the coming period. Private investment in export-related sectors should recover moderately. In addition, regionalization would provide opportunity to Thai exports and domestic production in the medium term.

Return to pre-pandemic conditions is expected to take two years

Moreover, a return to pre-pandemic conditions is expected to take two years, implying the labor market remains fragile, especially wage income is still low.

This may then weigh on private-sector consumption, especially for low-income groups for whom temporary government support is coming to an end. In addition, the MPC expressed its concerns about the rapid appreciation in the value of the baht and the possible impacts of this on the recovery.

As such, the committee agreed to closely monitor the movement of exchange rates and capital flows, and it is now prepared to issue additional regulations as needed. Thus, the BOT has now announced that it will reduce pressure on the baht by resolving structural problems in the forex market through:

(i) allowing residents to freely deposit funds in Foreign Currency Deposits (FCDs);

(ii) relaxing regulations regarding investment in foreign securities; and (iii) requiring a bond pre-trade registration.

Following the announcement of the BOT’s new regulations, on November 20, the baht weakened to USD 30.33/baht, down slightly from the start of the week, when it touched a 10-month high of USD 30.14/baht. On the same day, despite net foreign selling in Thai bonds worth THB1.29 bn, foreign investors bought Thai stock worth a net THB2.39 bn, following the easing of investors’ fears and the realization that the new measures are aimed to maintain a stabilization in capital flows, not cut off inflows.

Krungsri Research also believes that given the fragility of the recovery, the softness in inflation and the unprecedentedly loose monetary policy pursued by central banks worldwide, the MPC will keep policy interest rates at their historic low through all of 2021, while the recovery to the pre-pandemic level would take time.

Therefore, it will be necessary to provide targeted financial assistance and other measures to help businesses continue their operation and to avoid lack of liquidity.

Source :

Weekly Economic Review ประกาศวันที่ :24 November 2020

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Thailand’s Public debt to GDP ratio within framework says Finance Minister – Banking, Economics

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Thai economy is gradually recovering, with monthly economic indicators, such as the consumer confidence index and domestic spending, showing positive signs.

Purchasing power is mainly driven by the government’s measures to help mitigate the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while loans of 1 trillion baht are being used to fund economic and social rehabilitation.

To deal with a rise in demand for domestic loans from the private sector, the Finance Minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, has directed the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) to study ways to obtain foreign loans, to help diversify loan sources.

Mr. Arkhom said the cost of borrowing from Thai and foreign institutions is similar. Obtaining foreign loans is another way to diversify loan sources, and it also allows the country to acquire technology for further development. However, the ministry has no plans to obtain foreign loans for fiscal year 2021.

At present, the 1-trillion-baht loan decree consists of a loan of 1.5 billion US dollars, or 48 billion baht, granted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Public debt to GDP stands at 49.34 percent

Currently, the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product (GDP) stands at 49.34 percent, which is below the Fiscal Sustainability Framework set at 60 percent.

With the 1-trillion-baht loan decree and other borrowings combined, the ratio of public debt to GDP will not exceed the 60 percent framework in the next five years, on the assumption that the country’s economy will expand four percent in 2021 and three to five percent over the next five years.

Public Debt Outstanding

Debt componentMillion BahtPercentage% per GDP
1. Direct Government Debt5,991,843.5576.3537.68
2. Government Debt to fiscalise FIDF loss743,038.219.474.67
3. SOEs Debt795,980.2910.145.00
4. Financial SOEs Debt (Guaranteed)309,472.363.941.95
5. Other Government Agencies Debt7,821.470.100.05
6. FIDF Debt0.000.000.00
Source :

Information and Source
Reporter : Praphorn Praphornkul
Rewriter : Tarin Angskul
National News Bureau & Public Relations :

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EXIM Bank forecasts Thai exports growth as high as 4 per cent in 2021 – Economics

EXIM Thailand President said that the Bank has forecasted Thai export growth of as high as 4%
in 2021 attributable to a short-term recovery of global trade and economy from a low base of -10%.

Such growth may not be so high as that in 2019 and tends to slow down in the current context and amid the increasing international restrictions.

Coupled with the opportunities for Thai export to new frontiers less affected by the COVID-19, Thai economy tends to recover faster than several countries around the world.

According to IMF, of 195 countries/territories, 60 countries/territories or only around 1/3 of all those countries/territories will record 2021 GDP higher than or equal to that in 2019.

This has reflected the tendency of these countries’ consumer behavior and demand for import of goods to return to normalcy.

Among those countries/territories, nine are top 20 export markets of Thailand which are China, Malaysia, Indonesia, CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam), South Korea and Taiwan.

Major export goods from Thailand to these markets comprise such industrial products as plastic resin, refined oil, chemicals, cosmetics, soap and skin care products, and such agricultural and processed agricultural goods as fresh fruits, rubber, sugar, tapioca products and beverages.

The latest statistics of Thai export in September 2020 showed a contraction of only 3.9%, the lowest contraction in 5 months. Thai export in the first 9 months of 2020 contracted by 7.3%, lower than those of several peer countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore and India.

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Thai private sector expects better economic recovery in Q4 – Economics

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Thai economy is receiving a boost from government aid measures and improved export sector performance.

From this, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) is now projecting better economic growth for the final quarter of this year.

Mr Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and JSCCIB, has revealed the JSCCIB assessed the Thai economy in late Q3 this year and noted a positive response to the recovery of the agricultural sector and industrial sector, including the manufacturing of automotive parts, computers and parts, and plastic beads, in line with global trends.

This situation has resulted in improved export sector performance in September.

The JSCCIB has acknowledged recovered domestic spending thanks to the government’s stimulation measures, including tourism subsidies and co-pay campaigns which help inject more cash into the economy.

The JSCCIB now expects the Thai economy in Q4, 2020 to continue recovering, with the annual performance this year expected to shrink to within the margin of -7 to -9 percent.

The joint committee has noted however the severe second wave of COVID-19 cases in many countries poses a significant risk and has advised the government to provide additional assistance measures to hotel businesses by establishing a fund for the purchase of competitive hotels. The JSCCIB has already set up a committee for an in-depth study of this matter.

The joint committee also asked the government to expedite the disbursement of its spending to within 30 days of formally receiving the items, projects, or services, in order to help improve the fluidity of contracted companies.

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Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson Win Nobel Prize In Economics

Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson Win Nobel Prize In Economics

They won for their work on Auction theory

Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson Courtessy Stanford University

This year’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded to Stanford University economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson. They won the award for their work in auction market design, pricing, negotiations and other topics concerning industrial organization and information economics.

The duo’s work changed the modern telecommunications industry. The auction format which they developed, along with American economist Preston McAfee, was used by the Federal Communications Commission for the 1994 radio spectrum auctions.

These auctions were for the frequencies ultimately used by mobile phone providers throughout the United States.

Paul Milgram said, “There are times that I have ideas and people think, ‘That’s too novel, that’s crazy, we’re not going to try that,’ ” said Milgrom, who holds the Shirley R. and Leonard W. Ely, Jr. Professorship in the School of Humanities and Sciences. “But I think that one of the effects of a prize like this is that people will pause before rejecting. They’ll take things more seriously, and that will help me make novel things happen.”

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said of the two, “They have also used their insights to design new auction formats for goods and services that are difficult to sell in a traditional way, such as radio frequencies. Their discoveries have benefited sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world.”

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said, “Bob Wilson and Paul Milgrom’s path-breaking discoveries in auction theory opened up new possibilities in real-world transactions.

“Their insights into bidding and pricing have become integral to our modern economy. Their work is a shining example of the ways in which both fundamental discovery and its application to practical solutions make enormous contributions to modern society. All of us at Stanford are tremendously proud of their accomplishments.”

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