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Last month, the liberal Move Forward party won the most seats in Thailand’s central elections. Its policy proposals include amending the lèse majesté law, which imposes long jail sentences on those convicted of insulting the royal family.  

In a 2022 book, PUANGCHON UNCHANAM explores the financial basis of the Thai royal family’s power:

From the text:

“Under the facade of the ‘constitutional monarchy,’ the Thai crown since the late twentieth century has de facto played a hegemonic role in the economic, political, and cultural realms of the Thai state that might be supposed to be occupied by the bourgeoisie. In the national economy, the monarchy is simply the biggest capitalist enterprise in Thailand. King Rama IX was ranked in 2008 the richest royal in the world thanks to his estimated fortune of US $30 billion. Ascending the throne in 1946, during a nadir in the fortunes of the Thai monarchy, Rama IX and his royal family were able to regain their wealth a few decades later due to the business success of the Crown Property Bureau (CPB). As the largest corporate group not only in Thailand but in all of Southeast Asia, the CPB not only owns the largest and most valuable collection of commercial land in Thailand, but it also the biggest stockholder in the Siam Commercial Bank and the Siam Cement Group, respectively one of the country’s four latest banks and its largest industrial conglomerate. The wealth of the king is even more astonishing. When Rama IX breathed his last, he reportedly left both his role as monarch and the wealth of his throne, which according to different analysts varied between US $30 billion and US $60 billion, to his heir apparent. With this new fortune, the new monarch of Thailand could be numbered among the world’s richest capitalists along with Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.” 

+  “The Crown Property Bureau not only emerged from the 1997 Asian financial crisis bigger and stronger, but changed in another way. It became less parochial, more international.” By Porphant Ouyyanont. Link

+  “From the 1980s, the wealth of military figures was largely ‘out of the barracks’ as activities and prospects changed with the diversification of the economy.” By Ukrist Pathmananda and Michael K. Connors. Link. And Paul Chambers on military capitalists in Thailand and Myanmar. Link

+  “In Thailand, before an election, stocks which are linked to politics are bought and sold in unusually large quantities and values.” By Sarinee Achavanuntakul, Nathasit Rakkiattiwong, and Wanicha Direkudomsak. Link


Informality & Trade Liberalization in Peru

CAMILA CISNEROS-ACEVEDO is an assistant professor of economics in the University of Tübingen. In a recent paper, she explores the effects of trade liberalization on informal employment in Peru.

From the abstract

“This paper studies the effect of an increase in import competition on informality along two margins. It considers the extensive margin, where workers are hired by unregistered employers, and the intensive margin, where even though jobs are carried out by registered firms, employees are off the books. Peru’s relentless informal employment and its unprecedented trade-driven growth provides an ideal case study. Using a rich household survey, this study finds that exposure to trade impacts on informality through two competing and contrasting mechanisms. On the one hand, extensive-informal employment declines as unregistered employers shrink or exit due to their low productivity. On the other hand, intensive-informal employment rises as registered employers reduce costs by hiring informal workers. Furthermore, results suggest that the intensive margin drives the overall effect. Hence, trade liberalization increases informality.”

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+  Join the Polycrisis on Tuesday June 6 at 10 am ET for a panel on “the varieties of derisking,” discussing industrial policy, state capacity, macrofinance, and the green transition. The event will feature Skanda Amarnath, Melanie Brusseler, Daniela Gabor, and Chirag Lala, and it will be moderated by JW Mason. Register here, and read the panel brief here

+  “If New Deal liberalism amounted to a diluted version of European social democracy, then supply-side progressivism is the American analogue of indicative planning.” New on PW, Justin Vassallo on Brent Cebul’s Illusions of ProgressLink

+  “Efforts at economic transformation have historically been curtailed by a grave underestimation of the necessary scale and scope of the policy interventions.” Also new on PW, Isabel Estevez on development economics and industrial policy. Link

+  Watch a recording of a conversation on “stewarding” the energy transition, featuring Madison Condon, Benjamin Braun, and JFI’s Nolan Lindquist. Link. And sign up for updates from the Center for Active Stewardship here

+  “To African partners, Western engagement on the continent feels one-sided, insufficient, cumbersome, and oftentimes hypocritical.” JFI Fellow Theophile Pouget-Abadie and Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Rachel Rizzo on the battle for Africa’s green future. Link

+  Tanya Matthan on “neoliberal interventions” in Indian agriculture. Link

+  “Far from being a simple shortcoming, money laundering and illicit financial flows in the Baltic states are products of dependent financialization.” By Leonardo Pataccini. Link

+  Evgeny Morozov on artifical intelligence and the new Cold War. Link

+  “Is independent Sudan’s history the haunted tale of military generals meeting their fates on the economic paths they were trying to avoid?” By Selma El-Obeid. Link

+  “Mass betting was the most successful example of working-class self-help in the modern era. It was at every stage a proletarian institution and bore all the characteristics of the British working class. Although illegal it was almost entirely honest; its corruption was confined to corrupting the police and it provided few opportunities for petty or large-scale crime. To some working-class families like the Stoddarts, it brought great wealth, to others some money to throw around and a certain flashy style. To the unemployed it sometimes meant a temporary job, and young boys were able to scrape a bit extra by operating on its margins. It is very difficult to say how many were employed in any capacity at all by gambling: the whole of the full- and part-time fraternity at most numbered 100,000, and probably considerably less.” By Ross McKibbin. Link

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations: editorial@jainfamilyinstitute.org

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