Sign Up

Getting Back on its Feet

Our key facts on Thailand and its recovery from the Asian financial crisis.

January 1, 2001

Our key facts on Thailand and its recovery from the Asian financial crisis.

Thailand boasts two factors that add to its stability: its monarchy and a growing economy. Yet, it is here that the 1997 Asian financial crisis was triggered. Ever since that severe economic shock, Thailand has managed to get back on track — although it still limps a bit. Our new Globalist Factsheet looks at where Thailand stands right now.

Why was the Asian financial crisis such a shock?

Prior to the Asian crisis, Thailand had a balanced budget for nine years in a row.

(The Washington Post)

What was one reason for the crisis?

In 2000, loan defaults reached 32% of total loans in Thailand.

(World Bank)

How quickly did the country recover?

Between 1997 and 2003, Thailand’s foreign debt dropped by two-thirds. Between January and October 2003, the benchmark stock index in Bangkok rose 69%.

(International Herald Tribune)

What about the IMF loans?

As of August 1, 2003, Thailand has paid off its $14 billion in loans taken from the International Monetary Fund and other creditors during the 1998-99 financial crisis.

(The Wall Street Journal)

What helped Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra win the election?

To win power in 2001, Mr. Thaksin promised every village in the country $24,000 upon election — and promptly payed after his victory.

(Time Asia)

Other than the economic performance, what else is impressive about Mr Thaksin's government?

If Prime Minister Thaksin completes his stint in office in February 2005, his will be the first civilian government to last a full parliamentary term.

(Time Asia)

Who is investing in Thailand?

In 2000, the latest year for which data are available, only 7.5% of all multinational manufacturing firms in Thailand were American. Nearly 38% were Japanese, 16.8% were from Taiwan — and 12.3% were European.

(Thailand Development Research Institute)

How much do Thais earn at foreign multinationals?

As of 2003, full-time workers at Ford’s Rayong plant in Thailand make a minimum of about $143 a month, plus a small housing allowance. A typical U.S. Ford hourly worker earns $25.30 an hour, including cost-of-living pay.

(Far Eastern Economic Review)

How does that compare to the country's average income?

As of 2003, less than 3% of the Thai population, or two million Thais, earn more than $300 a month — one-eight of what an average American makes.


Is Thailand important to global rice supplies?

As of 2001, Thailand produces 30% of all internationally traded rice.

(Focus on the Global South)

In what way does Thailand beat an entire sub-continent?

The total exports of South Asia’s 1.3 billion people are roughly equal to those of Thailand’s 60 million people.

(UK Department for International Development)

How important is tourism to Thailand's economy?

In 2002, 10.8 million tourists came to Thailand and spent $7.7 billion — equaling 6% of the country’s gross domestic product.

(The New York Times)

How integrated are foreigners in Thai society?

In Thailand, "luk kreung" — literally half-children, or mixed race children — were not allowed to become citizens until the early 1990s.

(Time Asia)

How has the fight against terrorism changed Thai politics?

When new anti-terrorism laws were enacted in Thailand in August 2003, it was the first time the country’s criminal codes had been amended by the administrative branch. — They bypassed the usual parliamentary process in enacting new laws.

(Far Eastern Economic Review)

How large is Thailand's Muslim population?

As of 2003, Thailand’s Wahabi community consists of about 10% of Thailand’s 2.8 million Muslims.

(Far Eastern Economic Review)

What is one peculiar problem for Thailand's capital?

As of 2003, there are about 120,000 stray dogs in Bangkok.

(The Economist)