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Home > Main Library > Economy > Economy: general, analytical, statistical > Economy: general, analytical, statistical (Burma Economic Watch) > Burma Economic Watch and its members (analyses)

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Burma Economic Watch and its members (analyses)

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Burma Economic Watch blog
Description/subject: Go here for the latest from Burma Economic Watch, including: Strange world of post-Nargis numbers revisited: after PONJA...More evidence of the absurdity of 'engagement' with SPDC...Major Aung Linn Htut Open letter to Than Shwe... NOT MUCH BANG FOR THE AID BUCK -- FUND for HIV/AIDS IN MYANMAR (FHAM)...Lagging the pack - the grim realities of Burma's place in the economic firmament...ODA Burma 1988-2005...
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch/Economics Department Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 28 November 2008


Individual Documents

Title: Investment law to decide if Burma’s growth will be ‘transformational’
Date of publication: 14 September 2012
Description/subject: "...Currently awaiting the signature of the president [returned unsigned to Parliament for amendment late October] is the new Foreign Investment Law designed to make the country more attractive to foreign investors. This law will grant them the right to hold long leases on land (until now leases have been greatly restricted and the state was the exclusive owner of most productive land). Overseas investors will also be able to enjoy a five-year profit tax “holiday,” other tax concessions, and are guaranteed against the nationalization of their businesses (a necessary step given Myanmar’s long history of state expropriation). So far, so good, but Myanmar’s new Foreign Investment Law is also reflective of the country’s continuing divisions. The law has been heavily influenced by the interests of Myanmar’s “crony” conglomerates, which in recent years have come to dominate key areas of the economy. With interests that extend to almost every sector, such cronies (as people in Myanmar routinely refer to them) are likely to feel the threat of foreign competition first and foremost. Accordingly, despite the liberal elements of the new Foreign Investment Law, other key clauses limit the role of foreign investors in a host of sectors, including retail trade, agricultural processing, fisheries and many light industries and services. The outcome of this struggle between liberal reformers and the beneficiaries of Myanmar’s past regime will ultimately shape the new Foreign Investment Law. This struggle will also determine if Myanmar is finally on the path to genuine transformational growth. A tiger in waiting perhaps, but not one yet."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Mizzima News"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 18 September 2012


Title: Can a free-floating currency boost Burma?
Date of publication: 30 March 2012
Description/subject: Viewpoint by Sean Turnell...."The decision of Burma's new government to float the country's currency is a welcome one. Injecting a degree of rationality into a policy-making environment that for 50 years has been conspicuous by the absence of this quality, the policy has the potential to greatly assist Burma's re-emergence into the global economy, as well as to transform its public finances..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: BBC News - Business
Format/size: pdf (84K)
Date of entry/update: 31 March 2012


Title: Finding Dollars and Sense: Burma’s Economy in 2010
Date of publication: November 2010
Description/subject: "In recent times, questions concerning the state of Burma’s economy have been unusually prominent. The December 2009 visit to Burma of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, the release a few weeks later of the latest official report on post-Cyclone Nargis reconstruction, and a series of “privatization” announcements for an array of hitherto state-owned enterprises have all drawn attention to economic conditions in one of the world’s poorest countries. So what is the state of Burma’s economy in 2010? In a word, it is grim. Among those old enough to remember, there is something of a general consensus among Burmese farmers, workers, civil servants—even former soldiers and favored entrepreneurs—that Burma’s economy is at its lowest point since the end of the Second World War. Frustration, despair, and a feeling that something has to give in a country in which its natural endowment promises prosperity, all the while its political economy serves up destitution, are near enough to universally expressed sentiments. The purpose of this paper is to examine Burma’s economy at the cusp of 2010, and to briefly look at some of the basic reforms that will be necessary to restore economic security to the Burmese people. The paper is divided into two parts—part I taking up the question of Burma’s current economic state of play, and part II addressing some of the reforms necessary for medium and long-term growth..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.
Format/size: pdf (200K)
Date of entry/update: 20 November 2010


Title: A Year of Promise, or Tempest-tossed Again?
Date of publication: January 2010
Description/subject: "Burma’s economy could go in one of two very different directions: onward and upward, or further down the same old spiral...."
Author/creator: SEAN TURNELL
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" VOLUME 18 NO.1
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www2.irrawaddy.org/print_article.php?art_id=17485
Date of entry/update: 19 August 2010


Title: A State-run "Market Economy"
Date of publication: November 2009
Description/subject: Without the rule of law, there are no guarantees the economy will be free of state interference under the 2008 Constitution... "The economic aspects of Burma’s 2008 Constitution have been notably absent from the recent written analysis of its implications for Burmese society. Though constitutions are not primarily economic documents, Burma’s latest Constitution does contain clauses that have economic import, and it is worth looking at them carefully. There is an important caveat, however, and this is that a regime that consistently honors the rule of law only in the breach and has many incentives (financial and otherwise) for maintaining the status quo is unlikely to change its behavior anytime soon; therefore, the Constitution may amount to little. Regardless of whether the military abides by its Constitution, however, the document can provide insight into the thinking of its drafters..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 17, No. 8
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www2.irrawaddy.org/print_article.php?art_id=17134
Date of entry/update: 28 February 2010


Title: Comment on the 'Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan’ (PONREPP)
Date of publication: 03 March 2009
Description/subject: "On February 9, 2009, the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) released its latest report on reconstruction efforts in Burma in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. The TCG, which is comprised of representatives of the Government of the Union of Myanmar, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN, was established in May 2008 as the body to coordinate relief efforts. In July 2008 it produced the ‘Post-Nargis Joint Assessment’ (PONJA) report into the damage wrought by the cyclone, and subsequent periodic reviews. PONREPP is meant to be the capstone of these efforts, and the TCG’s vision – not just of post-Nargis reconstruction – but of Burma’s medium term economic development. Seen in the light of these ambitions, it is unfortunate that PONREPP is a deeply disappointing document. Written as if the advances made in the last four decades as to ‘what works and what does not’ in terms of economic development had not occurred, it is a throwback to the top-down, state-driven, planning mindset that, in the 1950s and 60s, condemned countless developing countries to stagnation and retreat. In PONREPP the private sector is notable largely by its absence – this primary driver of economic development subsumed by local authorities of dubious standing, the ministrations of local and international NGOs and, above all, by the state and its agencies. In short, the recommendations set out in PONREPP would condemn Burma, in the view of BEW, to a continuation of the policies and programmes that have impoverished this once prosperous and hopeful country. We will review PONREPP in detail in a future document but, briefly stated, our conclusions above are informed by some of the following:..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell, Wylie Bradford, Alison Vicary
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: pdf (91K)
Date of entry/update: 08 March 2009


Title: Economic Aspects of Burma's New Constitution
Date of publication: 28 October 2008
Description/subject: "In recent times much ink (bytes?) has been spilt in analysing Burma's new Constitution. Just about every angle of the various drafts have been explored, with the exception ' aspect. Now, however, with the �official' English language version of the new Constitution finally appearing, the time seems ripe to at least have a preliminary look at the new arrangements from an �economics' point of view..." N.B. the URL of the Burma Constitution in OBL is http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs5/Myanmar_Constitution-2008-en.pdf -- not as given in the BEW blog.
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch blog
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 November 2008


Title: Strange world of post-Nargis numbers revisited: after PONJA
Date of publication: 13 August 2008
Description/subject: "n a previous post we highlighted the extremely odd nature of the loss and damage estimates from cyclone Nargis paraded before the world by the SPDC in Rangoon on 25 May. The UN and ASEAN have now been able to carry out the so-called Post Nargis Joint Assessment exercise and report on the results. The PONJA team derived their estimates from findings in sampled village tract areas. They lay out their sampling methodology explicitly in their report. By contrast the SPDC report at the Pledging Conference contained no such methodological cues; indeed the specious precision of the counts of lost lampposts etc strongly conveyed the impression that the losses etc had been comprehensively *counted* rather than estimated from samples. As we noted, not only did the claimed figures lack credibility but the extremely haphazard approach taken to the exchange rate used to convert kyat to $US alone accounted for an inflation of the sought relief budget of the order of US$15om. The results of the PONJA exercise reveal even more disturbing discrepancies in the SPDC's request for funds, as outlined in this table..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch blog
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 February 2009


Title: Lagging the pack - the grim realities of Burma's place in the economic firmament
Date of publication: 02 July 2008
Description/subject: n May we illustrated the extent of the challenge (purely in terms of the remorseless arithmetic of growth) that Burma would face in achieving something like Thailand's current standard of living. To further underscore the urgency of the need for regime change in Burma, we have compiled an assessment of where Burma is situated currently with regard to a wide range of countries and what will be required in terms of growth performance to close the gaps. It is vital to bear in mind that what is presented here represents unavoidable, non-contextual constraints. Increasing per capita income to a multiple of 4, say, in a short time requires, by definition, very high rates of annual growth by historical standards; maintaining low rates of growth must cause the time taken to blow out significantly. With that said, consider the following depiction of Burma's relative economic position and prospects for catchup and convergence circa 2007.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch blog
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 November 2008


Title: Burma’s Economy 2008: Current Situation and Prospects for Reform
Date of publication: May 2008
Description/subject: "...This paper will present the current state of Burma’s economy, and explore the reforms that will be necessary should sudden political change take place. Such proposed reforms are limited to those required in a short to medium term horizon to stabilize the macroeconomy and lay the foundations for future growth. Longer term structural changes are also necessary if Burma is to begin to ‘catch up’ to the relative prosperity of its neighbours and erstwhile peers, but these are noted simply in passing. Nevertheless, and even according to this shorter horizon, profound changes to Burma’s political economy will be necessary for any real gains in the socio-economic circumstances of its people. It will also be apparent from what follows that economic reform in Burma will require changes that are not limited to macroeconomic policies (fiscal consolidation, exchange rate unification, interest rate liberalization, and so on), but which also includes fundamental institutional reform that will embrace the application of: - effective property rights; - basic freedoms (including at least an approximation of the rule of law);1 - basic functioning infrastructure; - government policy-making that is rational, consistent and informed by a reasonably honest and efficient civil service; - market opening policies, including the removal of remaining restrictions on private enterprise; - openness to foreign trade and investment. It is scarcely conceivable that such elements will be adopted by Burma’s current leaders, which as a consequence raises the question of the country’s political trajectory. The restrictions on enterprise imposed by Burma’s ruling junta, the self-styled ‘State Peace and Development Council’ (SPDC), are precisely the means of its economic power and, unreconstructed, it is unlikely to ‘do a China’ by relaxing economic control while maintaining its grip on political power. Accordingly, there is a presumption in this paper that the reforms outlined will be those applied by a new government in Burma, ideally democratically elected, but at the very least one that is interested in pursuing genuine economic development in its truest sense..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch/Economics Department Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Format/size: pdf (199K)
Date of entry/update: 28 November 2008


Title: Migrant Worker Remittances and Burma: An Economic Analysis of Survey Results
Date of publication: 2008
Description/subject: Abstract" In recent years great interest has awakened in the question of migrant remittances. A phenomenon hitherto regarded as of little consequence, the potential for remittances to act as a means for poverty alleviation and economic development has increasingly come to enjoy a broad consensus. In the light of this, and the recognition that for many developing countries remittances constitute a larger and more stable source of foreign exchange than either trade, investment or aid, a vast and growing literature on the topic has emerged. However, and notwithstanding this broad interest, there is yet to appear any major study with respect to the question of migrant remittances to Burma. This paper seeks to at least partially redress this void by examining the extent, nature and pattern of remittances made by Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. Drawing upon a survey of such workers conducted by the authors, we find that remittances to Burma are large, disproportionately used to ensure simple survival, and are overwhelmingly realised via informal mechanisms. The latter attributes are a direct consequence of Burma’s dysfunctional economy, which sadly also severely limits the gains to the country that remittances might otherwise bring..... JEL Classification: O16, P34, Q14..... Keywords: Remittances, Burma, Migration, Development Finance.
Author/creator: Sean Turnell, Alison Vicary and Wylie Bradford
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch/Economics Department Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Format/size: pdf (449K)
Date of entry/update: 28 November 2008


Title: Myanmar’s economy in 2006
Date of publication: January 2007
Description/subject: Conclusion: "In 2006, Myanmar’s possession and exploitation of prized natural resources continued to flatter the appearance of the country’s economic circumstances. Behind this façade, however, is a narrative of chronic failure that is the consequence of a political economy that is yet to create the institutions necessary for long-term economic development. Such institutions, which include effective property rights, freedom to contract and a modicum of macroeconomic stability, are created out of domestic constituencies possessing incentives to bring about change. The economic rents that are accruing from Myanmar’s offshore energy deposits could further weaken these constituencies. Optimism with regard to Myanmar’s economy accordingly must remain, for the moment, suspended."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: 2006 Burma Update Conference via Australian National University
Format/size: pdf (153K)
Alternate URLs: http://epress.anu.edu.au/myanmar/pdf_instructions.html
http://epress.anu.edu.au/myanmar/pdf/whole_book.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 December 2008


Title: Burma Economic Watch, 2006, Issue 1
Date of publication: November 2006
Description/subject: 1. Profiles of Burma’s Banks, Sean Turnell; 2. The Risks and Benefits of Using Brokers: The Journey from Burma into Thailand; Jacqueline Lees; 3. Employment and Poverty in Mae Hong Son Province Thailand: ‘Burmese’ Refugees in the Labour Market Alison Vicary 4. Afterword: Shrimp Selling and Tuna Canning in Mahachai (Thailand), Kyi May Kaung.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: pdf (1.9MB)
Date of entry/update: 26 December 2006


Title: Burma’s Economic Prospects
Date of publication: 29 March 2006
Description/subject: Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 29 March 2006...According to official statistics released by Burma’s ruling military regime, the self-styled ‘State Peace and Development Council’ (SPDC), Burma’s economy grew by an astonishing 12.2 per cent in 2005. Beating even the previous year’s stellar performance of 12.0 per cent, and coupled with double-digit growth all the way back to 1999, by these measures Burma is the fastest-growing economy in the world. What’s more, Burma achieved this astonishing growth using less energy, less material resources and, in the middle of it all, while negotiating a banking and financial crisis that was as serious as any in history. Truly, a miracle economy indeed. It is, alas, also a fantasy economy. Under the SPDC, the real Burma is a wasteland of missed opportunity, exploitation and direst poverty. More realistic numbers of Burma’s economic performance calculated by Burma Economic Watch show that far from stellar growth, Burma’s economy actually shrank in 2003 and 2004. In 2005 Burma will likely have returned to growth, but at a rather more modest 2 to 3 per cent. Similar growth can be expected for the coming year. None of this growth, however, has anything to do with improved economic fundamentals, but with the windfall gains accruing to the state from the rising demand for Burma’s exports of natural gas. The real Burma is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. Only 50 years ago, it was one of the wealthiest. The dramatic turnaround of Burma’s fortunes is the product of a state apparatus that for decades has claimed the largest portion of the country’s output, while simultaneously and deliberately dismantling, blocking and undermining basic market institutions. The excessive hand of the state, which for many years was wedded to 2 a peculiar form of socialism, has manifested itself in a number of maladies that are the direct cause of Burma’s current disarray..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: pdf (101.91 K)
Date of entry/update: 17 August 2010


Title: "Burma Economic Watch" 1/2005
Date of publication: September 2005
Description/subject: 1. Preliminary Survey Results about Burmese Migrant Workers in Thailand: State/division of origin, year of entry, minimum wages and work permits, Wylie Bradford & Alison Vicary... 2. A Survey of Microfinance in Burma, Sean Turnell... 3. Burma/Myanmar: The Role of The Military in the Economy, David I. Steinberg.
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Burma Economic Watch" 1/2005
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 August 2010


Title: Burma’s April Fools
Date of publication: May 2005
Description/subject: Are the official economic figures just a bad joke?... "It’s Official. Burma has the fastest growing economy in the world. Statistics released by the country’s Central Statistical Office, and reported in the New Light of Myanmar on April 3, reveal that Burma enjoyed an average rate of economic growth over the last four years (the first four years of the current five year plan) of 12.4 percent. Burma’s performance leaves famous growth laggards such as China (annual growth of ‘only’ about 8 percent) in its wake. As for the former Asian ‘tigers’ and rich industrial countries—well, ‘mediocre’ is about the best that can be said of their relative performances. Such growth is also a significant historical achievement. Previous five year plans yielded official economic growth in Burma of 7.5 percent (1992-1996) and 8.5 percent (1997-2001). Not bad, but the upward trend must surely be proof that the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] is growing in the job of running the country. Certainly Burma’s (current) Prime Minister, Lt-Gen Soe Win, is confident enough to discard his previous growth estimate for 2005-2006 of 11.3 percent, for the more bullish mark of 12.6 percent. Let the good times roll. Of course, observers of Burma and its economy will know that the country begins its financial year on April 1. In many cultures this date is reserved for the playing of pranks and practical jokes. Suddenly a possibility emerges—are these latest reports of Burma’s phenomenal economic growth simply an elaborate April fool’s joke? A device, perhaps, to bring a smile to the weary faces of the Burmese people from a regime that is, at heart, just a bunch of loveable tricksters?..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 5
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 April 2006


Title: Some Talking Points Regarding Economics, and the ‘Independent Report’ for the EC
Date of publication: 03 April 2005
Description/subject: "In the following, we review certain economic aspects of Supporting Burma/Myanmar’s National Reconciliation Process: Challenges and Opportunities, a self-labelled ‘Independent Report’ prepared for the European Commission by Professor Robert Taylor and Mr Morten Pedersen. We largely confine our comments to economic considerations, but within this sphere we find that the Report has numerous and severe limitations. Due largely to a scarcity of time, our comments are to a certain extent preliminary, and will be developed further in a subsequent issue of BEW that will address this and other recent reports on Burma’s economy. Feel free to use the following in ways you find useful, though for academic purposes we regard this ‘review’ as very much a ‘working draft’ at present. Of course, we welcome comments. We can be contacted, as always, at BEW@efs.mq.edu.au Website http://www.econ.mq.edu.au/BurmaEconomicWatch
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: html, (65K), Word (75K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/Burma_Day-BEW.doc
Date of entry/update: 06 April 2005


Title: BEW update November 2004
Date of publication: 16 November 2004
Description/subject: "In recent days some new data has been released by the Asian Development Bank that allows us to update our analysis of Burma's growth performance to 2001. You might recall that our previous analysis, conducted by Wylie Bradford and contained in BEW No.1/2004, recast Burma's growth performance according to purchasing power parity in international dollars. This provided a far superior statistical base from which to examine Burma's economic performance (relative to a common standard) than hitherto possible using 'market' or 'official' exchange rates (and unadjusted for inflation). The most important finding of Wylie's update is that, in 2001, economic growth in Burma, measured in inflation-adjusted international dollars, became negative. Of course this is well before the recent banking and financial crisis, the imposition of stiffer sanctions - and greatly at odds with the regime's claims."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: pdf (97K)
Date of entry/update: 16 November 2004


Title: Burma Economic Watch, 2004 No. 2
Date of publication: 21 October 2004
Description/subject: Fiant fruges? Burma’s sui generis growth experience, Wylie Bradford; The State’s Incentive Structure In Burma’s Sugar Sector and Inflated Official Data: A Case Study of the Industry in Pegu Division, Alison Vicary; Some Further Developments in Burma’s Financial Sector, Sean Turnell; Sanctions and Burma: Revisiting the Case Against, Alfred Oehlers...In this issue of BEW we have four papers for your consideration: First is an article by Wylie Bradford which conducts an ‘external critique’ of the economic data Burma supplies to the rest of the world. Often used uncritically by commentators on Burma, such data has been interrogated according to its internal contradictions before (by BEW, other writers, and even by some international agencies), but the purpose here is to examine how it fits cross-country experiences historically - the empirical realities that establish the ‘stylised facts’ we can use to test the credibility of theory and data alike. Wylie finds that the only way Burma’s supplied data can be believed is that we simultaneously also believe ‘that Burma has discovered a hitherto unknown recipe for generating rapid growth…that a country with the characteristics of a growth disaster is in fact a growth titan’. Our second article, by Alison Vicary, likewise investigates problems in Burma’s official economic data, albeit with a tight focus upon the sugarcane growing and processing industry in Pegu Division. Alison’s comprehensive fieldwork paints a Kafkaesque picture – of an industry in which distorted incentives creates layers of deception as each stage in the production hierarchy inflates cultivation and output numbers to meet arbitrary targets imposed by the state. She highlights the extraordinary case of Burma’s recent investments in new sugar mills, mills that unaccountably seem to have both increased the country’s sugar output and, yet, also its need for sugar imports. Finally, she observes that the spectre of indebtedness and landlessness once more stalks the land. The third piece, by Sean Turnell, continues the examination of the ramifications of Burma’s banking crisis of 2003, and other issues concerning Burma’s financial sector. Amongst the latter include Burma’s efforts to extricate itself from allegations that the country’s financial system is prey to money-laundering. These efforts have been conducted at a high diplomatic level and seem to have reached something of a crescendo as BEW went to press. Sean examines the shifting fortunes amongst Burma’s surviving private banks and, perhaps not surprisingly, finds a winner in the bank regarded as closest to officers in Burma’s military regime, serving and retired. That Burma’s financial system is still ill-functioning is highlighted by a quote from a real estate developer in Rangoon who, bemoaning low sales for up-market apartments, observed that ‘buyers have to pay in cash, so they have to carry the money in bags, which is not very convenient…’. Finally, but by no means least, we have Alfred Oehler’s article on economic sanctions and Burma. As noted at the start of this introduction, the question of sanctions has dominated the discourse on Burma and its economy in 2004. Much recent commentary has taken up what might be called an anti-sanctions position, but here Alfred presents the argument that Burma’s particular structural and institutional characteristics make sanctions a potent device in pressuring its military regime to undertake internal political reform. Alfred notes that many anti-sanctions campaigners unwittingly base their arguments on a particularly narrow interpretation of ‘neo-classical’ economics which assumes, amongst many other things, that a country’s trade is (in the absence of sanctions) in a welfare-maximising, optimal equilibrium. He also highlights that much of the anti-sanctions literature is informed by a largely anecdotal understanding of Burma’s economy. A truer understanding, he argues, would identify the highly dualistic nature of Burma’s economy into formal and informal components. The former, dominated by Burma’s military regime and its allies, is most vulnerable to sanctions while the effects of sanctions on the informal economy (within which most people in Burma live) have been much exaggerated. Whatever your feelings on the sanctions question, Alfred’s article is a considered, thoughtful piece that deserves attention.
Author/creator: Wylie Bradford, Alison Vicary, Sean Turnell, Alfred Oehlers
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: pdf (1.13 MB)
Date of entry/update: 17 August 2010


Title: Burma Economic Watch: 2004 No. 1
Date of publication: June 2004
Description/subject: Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Estimates for Burma; Burma Bank Update; Economic survey of 'Burmese' working in Thailand: An overview of a BEW project... "First up is an important piece by Wylie Bradford on coming to grips with the perennial difficulties of making comparisons between the economic performance of Burma and other countries. A principal obstacle that researchers face is the question of what common standard to employ – a difficult decision with respect to any country, but much worse in Burma’s surreal universe of multiple exchange rates. The decision is not a trivial one but, as Wylie demonstrates, is critical in determining outcomes. Sadly, many researchers on Burma pay too little heed to the issue, and their findings suffer as a result. Wylie’s contribution here in BEW provides something of a primer for getting it right. Our second article is written by Sean Turnell, and is concerned with updating his analysis of Burma’s banking crisis of 2003. A devastating if little understood event (not least by Burma’s monetary authorities!), its effects in undermining whatever trust the people of Burma had in formal monetary institutions will have profound implications for the country’s economic development. The need to update the story of the crisis is prompted by a number of developments, including the release of relevant data by the International Monetary Fund, and the growing scandal of recent revelations as to the extent to which leading financial institutions in Burma have been involved in money laundering. Our third article, by Alison Vicary, outlines a major project currently being undertaken by BEW into the contribution of Burmese refugees and migrant workers to the economy of Thailand. The project is an enormous logistical operation that will create a vast database from surveys that are currently in the field across the length and breadth of Thailand. The project is a unique one, and its findings will be reported on in many subsequent issues of BEW..."
Author/creator: Wylie Bradford, Sean Turnell, Alison Vicary
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: pdf (613K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2004


Title: ECONOMIC NON-VIABILITY, HUNGER AND MIGRATION: THE CASE OF MAWCHI TOWNSHIP
Date of publication: 14 May 2003
Description/subject: "Mawchi is a township in Northwest Karenni that was once a successful mining town. It was often referred to as 'little England' because of the life style on display there and its accompanying standards of living. Private British business interests developed the mines in Mawchi between the world wars, but the local economy began to decline, with the rest of Burma, with Ne Win’s Burmese Way to Socialism. The economy of Mawchi, and the standard of living for people in the Township, has continued to decline across successive military governments. The latest and the most severe economic crisis in Mawchi is the result of the regime's 1996 forced relocation campaign. This program led to the total collapse of agricultural production in the area and the subsequent collapse of the rest of the economy. All the villagers from the surrounding areas were forced to move into the town of Mawchi. The cessation of agricultural production brought about a massive increase in the price of food and a large increase in unemployment. Now most people are more or less constantly hungry and spend their days scrounging around looking for food. All the children in the city are engaged in helping their parents obtain food - collecting birds, worms, frogs and insects to eat. Hardly any rice produced gets to market as it is kept for the family to eat and to pay back debts. The small amount of rice that does reach the market, which most cannot afford, is of the lowest quality and fit only for being boiled. This has caused most people to leave the township for Thailand and a number of the cease-fire areas..."
Author/creator: Alison Vicary
Language: English
Source/publisher: BURMA ECONOMIC WATCH
Format/size: html (86K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma's Banking Crisis: A Commentary
Date of publication: 06 March 2003
Description/subject: "... Burma is currently undergoing one of its periodic monetary and financial crises. Unusually, however, this time the crisis is not a characteristic de-monetisation episode, but a failure of confidence in the country's nascent private banking sector. In this sense the current crisis is probably less immediately destructive of the 'wealth' of ordinary Burmese than previous dramas (as shall be examined below), but its longer-term damage to Burma's economy and to key institutions is likely to be severe indeed. Trust is the foundation of banking and the key ingredient of a country's social capital. There must be little of this (already scarce) commodity in Burma today. The following is an attempt to make sense of some of the developments that have been taking place in Burma's banking sector in recent weeks. It suffers from the usual information difficulties that come with attempting real-time commentary on the opaque world of Burma's political economy. It is hoped, nevertheless, that it might prove useful in at least shining a dim light into some very dark corners. It is not a comprehensive account of individual events either, but it arguably provides a sufficient outline upon which to begin a process of analysis. Extensive use is made throughout of a more detailed examination of the structure of Burma's banking system contained in Turnell (2002). We have made wide-spread use of many other sources, where possible indicated below. Finally, comments and suggestions would be greatly welcomed.
Author/creator: Sean Turnell and Alison Vicary
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: html (81K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: MIGRANT WORKERS FROM BURMA AND THAILAND: POLICY REVIEW AND PROTECTION MECHANISMS
Date of publication: 21 February 2003
Description/subject: COMMEMORATING 10 YEARS OF POLICY GOVERNING MIGRANT WORKERS FROM BURMA...CONTENTS A. INTRODUCTION: Summary of Migrant Worker Policy in Thailand and Recommendations for Reform; Policy Governing Migrant Workers in Thailand: An Examination of Policy and its Critics (Alison Vicary, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)... B. MIGRANT WORKERS IN THAILAND: Opening Remarks and Keynote Speech - Nakorn Silap-acha, Director of the Ministry of Labour; Resolutions of the Alien Labour Policy Committee - Dr. Premsak Piayura, Chairman of the Labour Committee House of Representatives, Thai Rak Thai M.P for Khon Kaen; Policy Motivations behind the Cabinet Resolutions of 2001 and 2002 - Sumsak Kanchnaborn, Representative from the Ministry of Labour; Migrant Worker Policy: Where to Now? Dr. Supang Chantavanich, Director of the Institute of Asian Studies Chulalongkorn University; Case Study of Migrant Labour Policy: The Textile and Garment Industry in Mae Sot - Dr. Sirinan Kittisubsatit, Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University; The Problems of Migrant Workers from Burma - Nay Min, Migrant Workers from Burma, Representative; The Failure of the Thai Legal System: The Case of Ma Suu Preeda Tongchumnun and Surapong Kongchantuk - Law Project Coordinator Law Society of Thailand Forum Asia Human Rights of Stateless Persons and Ethnic Minorities Subcommittee; Migrant Workers from Burma: The Thai Government’s Policy Confusion - Bandit Thanchaisettawut, NGO Researcher, Arom Pongpa-Ngun Foundation;l The Protection of Migrant Workers in Thailand - Adisorn Kerdmongkol, Thai NGO Network on Migrants and their Families in Thailand, Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)... C. MIGRANT WORKERS FROM THAILAND: Overview: Thai Migrant Workers - Dr. Supang Chantavanich, Director of the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University; Inequality in Thailand: The Cause of Migration - Dr. Yongyuth Chalamwong, Research Director Human Resources and Social Development Program, Thai Development Research Institute (TDRI); The Problems and Solutions for Thai Workers in Japan - H.E. Mr. Kasit Piromya, Ambassador of Thailand to Japan; Human Security Issues for Thai Migrant Workers - Salika Sorapipatana and Taksa Aura-ek, Asian Research Centre for Migration (ARCM), Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University; Closing Speech - Somchai Homlaor, Secretary General, Forum Asia Foundation... APPENDIX 1: Workers’ Demands in a Textile and Garment Factory, Mae Sot - Yaung Chi Oo Workers’ Association, Information Release 24 June 2003... APPENDIX 2: Case Summaries: Migrant Workers from Burma - Interpretation and Translation Service (ITS)
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch (BEW)
Format/size: PDF (304.85 K)
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010


Title: Reforming the Banking System in Burma: A Survey of the Problems and Possibilities
Date of publication: 25 September 2002
Description/subject: Sean Turnell, Economics Department, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Abstract: "A country's financial system plays a critical role in its economic development. It is the vehicle through which the means of exchange are created, resources are mobilised and allocated, risks are managed, government spending is financed, foreign capital is accessed, and it is via financial institutions that individuals can protect themselves against economic fluctuations. Notwithstanding this essential role, Burma has not had a properly functioning financial system for four decades. The present system, an unstable mix of monolithic state-owned institutions and a cohort of new private banks of dubious legitimacy, is a serious brake on Burma's economy. This paper examines the role financial institutions can play in a country's development, explores how Burma's current system falls far short of this ideal and broadly outlines how it might be reformed. It argues the case for the standard remedies professed by economists of liberalisation, stabilisation and privatisation but, critically, suggests that these must be preceded by more fundamental reforms that create the legal, regulatory and other infrastructure that are the prerequisites of a modern, and efficient, financial system. ..". Keywords: Burma; Banks; Regulation; Supervision; Financial Liberalisation; Economic Development. Paper presented to the 1st Collaborative International Conference of the Burma Studies Group, Gothenburg, Sweden, 21-25 September 2002
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Format/size: pdf (239K), html (380K), Word (187K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Turnell_bankreform.doc
http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Turnell_bankreform.htm
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma's Economy - A Reply to Zaw Tun
Date of publication: 15 January 2002
Description/subject: "In August 2000 a speech by Brigadier General Zaw Tun, Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development in Burma's military regime, was circulated on various mailing lists on the internet. The speech -- online on this website at http://www.ibiblio.rg/obl/docs/zaw_tun%2007-07-2000.htm -- which had been delivered a month earlier at a seminar on Burma's economy at the Institute of Economics in Rangoon, demonstrated, in the words BurmaNet, 'a frankness and grasp of economics not generally displayed by a ranking member of the regime'. The purpose of this note is to re-examine Zaw Tun's speech in the light of recent economic developments, and against what might be considered a consensual view of sound economics for a country such as Burma. Finding that Zaw Tun's grasp of economics is rather less than first appears, the note concludes that Burma's economy is also in a far worse state than he suggests. Turning this around, moreover, will not come from mere tinkering with economic policy in the ways he indicates, but will require the profound reconstruction of the country's political economy. The note is organised according to the same categories that were employed in Zaw Tun's original speech. They were: 1.Growth and GDP; 2.Investment; 3.Trade Policy; 4.Taxation; 5.Currency; 6.Interest Rates; 7.Open Discussion."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell (Macquarie University)
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Banking in Burma: New Frontiers, or a Barren Wasteland?
Date of publication: July 2001
Description/subject: "A countrys financial system provides its means of exchange and is the mechanism through which its resources are mobilised and allocated. The financial system is the arena in which economic risk can be managed, government debt can be financed, foreign capital can be accessed and managed, and it is the vehicle through which monetary policy can be implemented. According to Larry Summers, the former Secretary of the US Treasury, a countrys financial system provides the wheels for its development...The foundations of a proper functioning financial system are transparency, accountability, governance and the effective transmission of market signals. Burmas financial system possesses few of these virtues. Burmas banks do not fulfil the role allotted to such institutions in allocating resources in ways beyond the whims of the military. Worse, they may be little more than facades for the activity of criminals and a narco-state. Unfortunately the history of financial sector reform in Burma does not lend optimism to the hope that this might change without more fundamental changes in the country. Like so much else in Burma, the emergence of a viable banking system must await the political reform that is so long overdue." Extra keywords: money laundering, joint venture regulation, exchange controls.
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: html (105k)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: BEW News (June 2001)
Date of publication: June 2001
Description/subject: Sanctions, Burma's economy in brief, Japan, China, Thailand, IT Revolution and Nuclear Power in Burma.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Foreign Direct Investment and the Garments Industry in Burma
Date of publication: June 2001
Description/subject: "The coup d'etat by General Ne Win in 1962, and the introduction of the Burmese Way to Socialism, ensured that for almost 30 years foreign direct investment (FDI) in Burma was near enough to non-existent. In 1989, after the uprisings of the previous year and the re-shuffling of the upper military echelons into the reconstituted State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the door to foreign investment was opened once more. The following attempts to clarify the state of play regarding FDI in Burma. A particular emphasis is placed on the apparel industry, the one area of FDI growth in Burma in recent years. The first section presents an overview of the procedures for foreign investment, highlighting the role of the military regime in garnering resources. The second section briefly examines the data relating to FDI in Burma, highlighting its limitations. The third section provides an overview of FDI, including the recent collapse, the main sectors in receipt of foreign investment, and source countries. Overall, FDI is small in comparison with comparable countries and the prognosis for future investment is poor due to the winding down of certain prominent gas pipeline projects. The fourth section examines Burma's growing exports of apparel, notably to the USA. Due to the unreliable nature of the data surrounding Burma's apparel industry, a brief comparison is made with this industrys development in Cambodia..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: html (491K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The FEC Crisis (BEW Comment, June 2001)
Date of publication: June 2001
Description/subject: "...the crisis that is rapidly descending upon Burmas Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs) system..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: A Proposal for a Currency Board in a Democratic Burma
Date of publication: August 1999
Description/subject: Abstract: "This paper argues that a currency board will provide a newly-democratic Burma with the stable monetary system it will need after decades of currency debasement under military rule. An old idea that has successfully re-emerged in recent years in a number of countries, currency boards are relatively simple and transparent institutions that can provide stability, predictability and credibility to an emerging economy's monetary institutions. Currency boards impose certain constraints on the ability of governments to conduct discretionary economic policies. The advantages they bring in establishing confidence in the currency, however, outweighs such considerations in countries whose greater need is the establishment of the sound foundations of a market economy."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Economic Watch
Format/size: pdf (102K); html (169K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.efs.mq.edu.au/intranet/docs/dept_docs/Econ_docs/research_papers2/1999_research_papers/6-...
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003