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Thaksin shapes his brave new Thailand

Under Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand has chosen a distinctive path to prosperity. Some hail its success as a blueprint for the region; others warn of an inflationary bubble. There are also hint of shifts in the Thai political and social fabric that could transform not just Thailand but the whole region's geopolitics. Chris Leahy reports.

Thailand's economic recovery is
largely due to the policies of prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra

THE GRACEFUL BEAM on the faces of people from the Land of Smiles is these days more often replaced with a broad grin. Good times are back in Thailand and unlike the last economic cycle,which ended so disastrously in 1997 with the devaluation of the baht, the recovery is relatively deep and widespread, thanks in large part to the policies of the Thai government led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

When Thaksin came to power in January 2000, he inherited 1999 GDP growth of 4.2%. In 2003 it reached 6.5%. This year 8% plus is spoken of, and perhaps 10% in 2005.

Thaksinomic job creation According to Daniel Lian, southeast Asian economist at Morgan Stanley, Thaksin's economic policies, commonly dubbed Thaksinomics, have already created 5 million new jobs. There is little sign of inflation amid this growth and a strong current account. The government is running a fiscal surplus even after heavy investment.

All this has been reflected in the local stock market.

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