EconomyThailand

Covid-19 could lead to a crisis worse than the 1997 Asian financial crisis

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

With debt relief measures set to expire this month, Thailand’s financial woes, brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, might end up being worse that the 1997 Asian financial crisis, known in Thailand as the Tom Yam Kung crisis, according to the Bangkok Commercial Asset Management.

The 1997 Asian financial crisis started in Thailand with the financial collapse of the Thai baht after the Thai government was forced to float the baht due to lack of foreign currency to support its currency peg to the U.S. dollar.

Thailand’s booming economy came to a halt amid massive layoffs. The baht devalued swiftly and lost more than half of its value. The baht reached its lowest point of 56 units to the U.S. dollar in January 1998. The Thai stock market dropped 75%. Finance One, the largest Thai finance company until then, collapsed. – Wikapedia

A major issue is non-performing loans, or NPLs, which are loans that are more than 90 days overdue, the firm’s chairperson Bunyong Visatemongkolchai says. The NPLs make up 500 billion baht, or 3.05% of the total credit in the system, he says. Relief measures like debt reduction and debt restructuring were first put in place by the Bank of Thailand in April to aid businesses battered by the pandemic, but the programme is set to end this month and NPLs are expected to increase.

Bunyong estimates that 20% of registered debt would become NPLs, increasing the loans from 500 billion baht to 2 trillion baht, similar to the total NPL in 1997.

Since the pandemic, special mention loans have doubled, increasing from last year’s 5 billion baht to this year’s 10 billion baht, according to the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand. These loans, which are more than 30 days, but less than 90 days overdue, are expected to turn into NPLs, adding up to 3 billion baht, according to the bank’s president.

A “vicious cycle” could occur if loans to small and medium sized enterprises become NPLs, a source from the Finance Ministry told the Bangkok Post in an earlier report. The management firm says financial institutions will not go bankrupt as easily as in 1997 as they have a reserve fund to deal with potential economic problems.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Do not worry. Out beloved PM Khun Prayut has made the Thai economy very strong. Thailand has huge foreign exchange reserves and little external debt. Also China our best friend is the world’s largest economy, and most powerful country. We have nothing to fear, unlike the Western world which has come to an end.

    1. Tell that to the Thai who has car, house, motorbike and iPhone on monthly repayments that in no way can they pay off.
      Just like China personal debt is huge. 20% of GDP driven off a cliff for years to come.
      China will asset strip Thailand for cents on the dollar.
      Lucky they have economic geniuses, like you, to bankrupt the other 80%.

    2. Thai Guy

      You are either joking or you live in a dream world.

      Just wait six months and then tell me what a good friend China is to you.

      But don’t worry, when we in the West invent an inoculating drug against the virus we will sell it to you at a good price.

    3. Thai Guy – Seriously, you want China as your best friend. I suggest you do a bit more research first. Maybe you should try talking to the people of Hong Kong. If Thailand becomes “little China” and there is every possibility of that. I don’t know what business your in, but you can be assured your income will be at least halved and if you complain “you will simply disappear” permanently. Why do you think everything from China is so cheap.

      Oh and by the way. If you look at the article titled “ No one in Guangzhou applied for the Special Tourist Visa, Foreign Ministry” looks like you new best friend never turned up.

      Good luck with that one.

  2. It will be interesting to see whether the Thai junta, sorry government, have the wherewithal to understand the implications for the economy. If they think that they can strongarm and prescribe to global markets in the way they thank they can to foregn tourists in terms of what they like / don’t like or will allow / not allow they may well find that for them the game will finally be up.

  3. Tell that to the Thai who has car, house, motorbike and iPhone on monthly repayments that in no way can they pay off.
    Just like China personal debt is huge. 20% of GDP driven off a cliff for years to come.
    China will asset strip Thailand for cents on the dollar.
    Lucky they have economic geniuses, like you, to bankrupt the other 80%.

  4. Yes wealth has no boss, it moves without much a government can do.
    The Thai government with all their manipulations, can not prevent wealth leaving the country, which I believe is happening.

  5. the govt followed the script, pushed(is pushing) the propaganda and fear, the govt is responsible for the huge losses. on a macro scale, the WEF, UN, WHO, and many powerful orgs that want to bring in a one world govt/great reset have succeeded with using the CV scam to move countries in that direction. I have no doubt that very fat ‘brown envelopes’ containing instructions and rewards were handed down to many in the govt.
    And the sad part about this is that it appears most Thais are oblivious to this, and are still scared of a deadly virus (that never was deadly particularly in Thailand). The day I see people taking their masks off and demanding the truth from the rulers and waking the #$%^ up – then I will very glad to again live in the LOS instead of the Land of Masks.

  6. Thai Guy. Yeah Yeah Yeah. The West is finished.
    China is run by dictators like your government, and will turn you into slaves.
    They will loot you, take you over economically, bribe your politicians and will be your new bosses.

  7. WHO now admitting that global poverty and child malnutrition could double by next year because of the lockdowns. I’m just guessing, those who die of poverty will be a lot younger than those who die of covid…

  8. Another in a growing list of articles and projections of impending economic collapse. How hard is it to understand a country can’t lose 20% of your GDP (really much more if you count the informal economy) and bad thing not happen? There is a reason countries like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, and Hong Kong are starting to open to TOURISM even if it’s slowly and carefully. The high season is upon Thailand and there is no plan to take advantage of it. Unless you count the imaginary Chinese tourists who are going show up and save the day.

  9. Thailand doing the best possible! If Thailand reopens to Westerners and Covid comes back everything will have to be closed again and Thai people will start to dislike the foreigners. Thailand has never being colonized and never will be and few drunks from the West missing for 1 season want destroy the economy. Look at UK and US and it’s freedoms of not wearing masks, most of England under lockdown, closing pubs bars , restaurant schools. We have everything open here in Thailand and of course there is no golden bullet for that virus unless you one of those who say 210thousand people who died in USA, but they would die anyway in 8 maybe 10 years anyway. Of course economy suffers but where about in the world it doesn’t? I do not see even 1 comment saying , Thailand should fallow the way ………..(name the country) delt with Covid situation! What is the country which did best guys in your opinion? I want to know please.

    1. Or… you could accept that the small risk from covid is insignificant compared to Thailand falling into poverty on the level of other SE Asian countries like Cambodia/Laos/Myanmar, which would result in a dramatic decline in life expectancy for Thai people (read: loss of life).

      Sweden had the best response IMO.

      And 210k American deaths isn’t as significant as it seems. Over 2 million Americans die every year. The country has 330 million people. Covid is displacing deaths from other causes like cancer and heart disease. In many places, excess deaths have already fallen below average. It’s called displaced mortality.

      1. Sweden population 10 mln and 6000 dead. Comparing to Thailand 66 mln we would have 42000 people dead.
        Sweden amount of respirators and ICU beds per capita is one of the highest in the world if not the highest.If Thailand allowed the same thing as in Sweden I believe the health system wouldn’t handle that and the deaths would be in 100 of thousands.
        Holland would be a similar thing,the country can allow more people to get infected as the treatment can be provided to more patients at the same time. Everyone of you who visits Thailand’s private hospital forgets that many of Thais do not have that privilege, also many Thais share houses with different generations, vulnerable grandparents etc.

  10. I agree with John that Thailand has done a good job containing the virus. Better than many Western countries. It can be argued that it overreacts, since the virus is not that deadly, especially considering Thailand’s economic dependence on tourism. However, Thailand and Asia are very differently positioned than in 1997. Nowadays Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, HK and Singapore have grown into western economies. China is the second largest economy in the world. And most if not all ASEAN nations have been outgrowing western economies for the past generation in percentage terms. In 1997, Asia was more or less economically insignificant to the world. Today it stands as an equal, not yet technologically but certainly size wise.

  11. Simple

    The current government lost the last election so they canceled the results and stayed in power.

    And so now they have hidden the true virus statistics.

    I was in Thailand for 7 months this year and everyone was packed in a close to each other in supermarkets etc, there is no way the number of deaths caused by the virus is so low.

Leave a Reply

Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

32 Comments

  1. Do not worry. Out beloved PM Khun Prayut has made the Thai economy very strong. Thailand has huge foreign exchange reserves and little external debt. Also China our best friend is the world’s largest economy, and most powerful country. We have nothing to fear, unlike the Western world which has come to an end.

    1. Tell that to the Thai who has car, house, motorbike and iPhone on monthly repayments that in no way can they pay off.
      Just like China personal debt is huge. 20% of GDP driven off a cliff for years to come.
      China will asset strip Thailand for cents on the dollar.
      Lucky they have economic geniuses, like you, to bankrupt the other 80%.

    2. Thai Guy

      You are either joking or you live in a dream world.

      Just wait six months and then tell me what a good friend China is to you.

      But don’t worry, when we in the West invent an inoculating drug against the virus we will sell it to you at a good price.

    3. Thai Guy – Seriously, you want China as your best friend. I suggest you do a bit more research first. Maybe you should try talking to the people of Hong Kong. If Thailand becomes “little China” and there is every possibility of that. I don’t know what business your in, but you can be assured your income will be at least halved and if you complain “you will simply disappear” permanently. Why do you think everything from China is so cheap.

      Oh and by the way. If you look at the article titled “ No one in Guangzhou applied for the Special Tourist Visa, Foreign Ministry” looks like you new best friend never turned up.

      Good luck with that one.

  2. It will be interesting to see whether the Thai junta, sorry government, have the wherewithal to understand the implications for the economy. If they think that they can strongarm and prescribe to global markets in the way they thank they can to foregn tourists in terms of what they like / don’t like or will allow / not allow they may well find that for them the game will finally be up.

  3. Tell that to the Thai who has car, house, motorbike and iPhone on monthly repayments that in no way can they pay off.
    Just like China personal debt is huge. 20% of GDP driven off a cliff for years to come.
    China will asset strip Thailand for cents on the dollar.
    Lucky they have economic geniuses, like you, to bankrupt the other 80%.

  4. Yes wealth has no boss, it moves without much a government can do.
    The Thai government with all their manipulations, can not prevent wealth leaving the country, which I believe is happening.

  5. the govt followed the script, pushed(is pushing) the propaganda and fear, the govt is responsible for the huge losses. on a macro scale, the WEF, UN, WHO, and many powerful orgs that want to bring in a one world govt/great reset have succeeded with using the CV scam to move countries in that direction. I have no doubt that very fat ‘brown envelopes’ containing instructions and rewards were handed down to many in the govt.
    And the sad part about this is that it appears most Thais are oblivious to this, and are still scared of a deadly virus (that never was deadly particularly in Thailand). The day I see people taking their masks off and demanding the truth from the rulers and waking the #$%^ up – then I will very glad to again live in the LOS instead of the Land of Masks.

  6. Thai Guy. Yeah Yeah Yeah. The West is finished.
    China is run by dictators like your government, and will turn you into slaves.
    They will loot you, take you over economically, bribe your politicians and will be your new bosses.

  7. WHO now admitting that global poverty and child malnutrition could double by next year because of the lockdowns. I’m just guessing, those who die of poverty will be a lot younger than those who die of covid…

  8. Another in a growing list of articles and projections of impending economic collapse. How hard is it to understand a country can’t lose 20% of your GDP (really much more if you count the informal economy) and bad thing not happen? There is a reason countries like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, and Hong Kong are starting to open to TOURISM even if it’s slowly and carefully. The high season is upon Thailand and there is no plan to take advantage of it. Unless you count the imaginary Chinese tourists who are going show up and save the day.

  9. Thailand doing the best possible! If Thailand reopens to Westerners and Covid comes back everything will have to be closed again and Thai people will start to dislike the foreigners. Thailand has never being colonized and never will be and few drunks from the West missing for 1 season want destroy the economy. Look at UK and US and it’s freedoms of not wearing masks, most of England under lockdown, closing pubs bars , restaurant schools. We have everything open here in Thailand and of course there is no golden bullet for that virus unless you one of those who say 210thousand people who died in USA, but they would die anyway in 8 maybe 10 years anyway. Of course economy suffers but where about in the world it doesn’t? I do not see even 1 comment saying , Thailand should fallow the way ………..(name the country) delt with Covid situation! What is the country which did best guys in your opinion? I want to know please.

    1. Or… you could accept that the small risk from covid is insignificant compared to Thailand falling into poverty on the level of other SE Asian countries like Cambodia/Laos/Myanmar, which would result in a dramatic decline in life expectancy for Thai people (read: loss of life).

      Sweden had the best response IMO.

      And 210k American deaths isn’t as significant as it seems. Over 2 million Americans die every year. The country has 330 million people. Covid is displacing deaths from other causes like cancer and heart disease. In many places, excess deaths have already fallen below average. It’s called displaced mortality.

      1. Sweden population 10 mln and 6000 dead. Comparing to Thailand 66 mln we would have 42000 people dead.
        Sweden amount of respirators and ICU beds per capita is one of the highest in the world if not the highest.If Thailand allowed the same thing as in Sweden I believe the health system wouldn’t handle that and the deaths would be in 100 of thousands.
        Holland would be a similar thing,the country can allow more people to get infected as the treatment can be provided to more patients at the same time. Everyone of you who visits Thailand’s private hospital forgets that many of Thais do not have that privilege, also many Thais share houses with different generations, vulnerable grandparents etc.

  10. I agree with John that Thailand has done a good job containing the virus. Better than many Western countries. It can be argued that it overreacts, since the virus is not that deadly, especially considering Thailand’s economic dependence on tourism. However, Thailand and Asia are very differently positioned than in 1997. Nowadays Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, HK and Singapore have grown into western economies. China is the second largest economy in the world. And most if not all ASEAN nations have been outgrowing western economies for the past generation in percentage terms. In 1997, Asia was more or less economically insignificant to the world. Today it stands as an equal, not yet technologically but certainly size wise.

  11. Simple

    The current government lost the last election so they canceled the results and stayed in power.

    And so now they have hidden the true virus statistics.

    I was in Thailand for 7 months this year and everyone was packed in a close to each other in supermarkets etc, there is no way the number of deaths caused by the virus is so low.

Leave a Reply