Economic Shocks and the Vulnerable in Thailand: A Case Study of Rising Food and Fuel Prices
In times of economic turbulence where a large number of population subgroups are subject to unavoidable negative economic shocks, there is an urgent need to have in place a comprehensive policy framework and implementation capability to help mitigate the negative impacts. Since 2007, the world economy has been going through a series of economic abnormalities, starting from rapidly rising food and fuel prices, followed by the subprime and credit crunch originating in the United States and then the global recession that is perhaps the most severe one since the Great Depression. Thailand is unfortunately among the economies that are considerably affected, as its dependence on imported fuels as major source of energy and on exports as major source of national income are both increasing. And although Thailand is one of the main leading producers in rice and other staple foods, significant fraction of its poor population live on farming, for example, about 40 percent of Thai poor lives on rice-farming. Their livelihood, and hence the country’s poverty situation, is therefore affected by fluctuating movement in rice price. The fluctuation in fuel price in 2008 was even greater.