TWENTY years ago Thailand was the most torrid of emerging markets. After a spell of overheated growth and wide current-account deficits, it had exhausted its foreign-exchange reserves and lost its currency’s peg to the dollar. In the aftermath, inflation approached 10% and the Bank of Thailand (BoT) struggled to restore confidence in the baht. In a widely cited paper by Romain Rancière of the University of Southern California and two co-authors, Thailand was used as a stark illustration that dynamism and danger, fast growth and occasional crises, went hand in hand.
A few of today’s emerging markets can still set the pulse racing—Turkey, for example, has combined breakneck growth with double-digit inflation and a worrying slide in the lira. But Thailand is not one of them. Private investment expanded by only 1.7% last year. Thailand’s sovereign bonds yield less than America’s. Inflation is once again a worry, not because it is too high, but because it is so stubbornly low. Consumer prices rose by…Continue reading