Asia and Pacific > Thailand

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Ms. Emilia M Jurzyk, Medha Madhu Nair, Nathalie Pouokam, Tahsin Saadi Sedik, and Mrs. Irina Yakadina
The COVID-19 pandemic risks exacerbating inequality in Asia. High frequency labor surveys show that the pandemic is having particularly adverse effects on younger workers, women and people that are more vulnerable. Pandemics have been shown to increase inequalities. As a result, income inequality, which was already high and rising in Asia before the pandemic, is likely to rise further over the medium term, unless policies succeed in breaking this historical pattern. Many Asian governments have implemented significant fiscal policy measures to mitigate the pandemic’s effect on the most vulnerable, with the impact depending on the initial coverage of safety nets, fiscal space, and degree of informality and digitalization. The paper includes model-based analysis which shows that policies targeted to where needs are greatest are effective in mitigating adverse distributional consequences and underpinning overall economic activity and virus containment.
Mr. Philip Barrett, Maximiliano Appendino, Kate Nguyen, and Jorge de Leon Miranda
We present a new index of social unrest based on counts of relevant media reports. The index consists of individual monthly time series for 130 countries, available with almost no lag, and can be easily and transparently replicated. Spikes in the index identify major events, which correspond very closely to event timelines from external sources for four major regional waves of social unrest. We show that the cross-sectional distribution of the index can be simply and precisely characterized, and that social unrest is associated with a 3 percentage point increase in the frequency of social unrest domestically and a 1 percent increase in neighbors in the next six months. Despite this, social unrest is not a better predictor of future social unrest than the country average rate.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office


This report examines whether the IMF has effectively leveraged an important asset: data. It finds that in general, the IMF has been able to rely on a large amount of data of acceptable quality, and that data provision from member countries has improved markedly over time. Nonetheless, problems with data or data practices have, at times, adversely affected the IMF’s surveillance and lending activities. The roots of data problems are diverse, ranging from problems due to member countries’ capacity constraints or reluctance to share sensitive data to internal issues such as lack of appropriate staff incentives, institutional rigidities, and long-standing work practices. Efforts to tackle these problems are piecemeal, the report finds, without a clear comprehensive strategy that recognizes data as an institutional strategic asset, not just a consumption good for economists. The report makes a number of recommendations that could promote greater progress in this regard.

Mr. Vladimir Klyuev
Thailand stands out in international comparison as a country with a high dispersion of productivity across sectors. It has especially low labor productivity in agriculture—a sector that employs a much larger share of the population than is typical for a country at Thailand’s level of income. This suggests large potential productivity gains from labor reallocation across sectors, but that process—which made a significant contribution to Thailand’s growth in the past—appears to have stalled lately. This paper establishes these facts and applies a simple model to discuss possible explanations. The reasons include a gap between the skills possessed by rural workers and those required in the modern sectors; the government’s price support programs for several agricultural commodities, particularly rice; and the uniform minimum wage. At the same time, agriculture plays a useful social and economic role as the employer of last resort. The paper makes a number of policy recommendations aimed at facilitating structural transformation in the Thai economy.
International Monetary Fund
The proposed FY 14–16 Medium-Term Budget was formulated within the Fund’s strengthened strategic planning framework and seeks to align the allocation of resources to the delivery of institutional priorities. Despite the additional resources that have been provided to meet crisis demands, crisis related work and overall work pressures remain elevated. At the same time, available resources are not being fully utilized. Therefore, the budget strategy—instead of asking for further additional resources—is geared toward making more efficient use of existing resources to reduce work pressures and meet new demands.
Mr. Paul L Levine, Emanuela Lotti, Nicoletta Batini, and Young-Bae Kim
This paper reviews the literature on the informal economy, focusing first on empirical findings and then on existing approaches to modeling informality within both partial and general equilibrium environments. We concentrate on labour and credit markets, since these tend to be most affected by informality. The phenomenon is particularly important in emerging and other developing economies, given their high degrees of informal labour and financial services and the implications these have for the effectiveness of macroeconomic policy. We emphasize the need for dynamic general equilibrium (DGE) and ultimately dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models for a full understanding of the costs, benefits and policy implications of informality. The survey shows that the literature on informality is quite patchy, and that there are several unexplored areas left for research.
Mr. Reinout De Bock
Trade flows data show that the composition and cyclical properties of imports are similar in developed economies and emerging markets (EM) but this is not the case for exports. Unlike developed economies, (i) EM export few or only a selective set of capital goods and (ii) capital good and overall exports tend to be acyclical. The lack of procyclicality in exports drives the strong countercyclicality of EM trade balances observed in previous studies. A quantitative exercise demonstrates how the standard small open economy business cycle model can be improved for EM by incorporating these features.
International Monetary Fund
This paper focuses on Second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The economic sectors have undergone significant restructuring. This restructuring has been concentrated on production capacities, quality and efficiency, thus contributing to economic growth and meeting the initial requirements for international integration. The government has also concentrated on the development of agricultural production to reorient the agriculture sector from semisubsistence and subsistence to commercial production to ensure the enhanced supply of raw materials to the processing industries, meeting the growing domestic requirements for agricultural products, and rapidly expanding agricultural exports.
Ms. Pritha Mitra
Emerging market financial crises during the late 1990s were marked by sudden withdrawals of funds by foreign creditors, resulting in production declines. The IMF favored positive signals to potential foreign creditors and initially recommended disciplined fiscal policy during the height of crisis, countering standard Keynesian recommendations of expansionary fiscal stimulus. This paper formulates an open-economy general equilibrium model for resolving this policy conundrum and analyzing the impact of disciplined fiscal policy on post-crisis recovery. The model demonstrates via simulations that disciplined fiscal policy will improve (worsen) post-crisis recovery in the presence (absence) of appropriately defined production flexibility.