Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Musings on the local economy of Amphoe Muang, ChiangRai

This morning I visited friends who’ve opened a yoga teaching shop-front in what was called Ban Du Muang Mai, just east of NamTong Road, where there are “Walking Street” open-air market activities on Sunday and Tuesday evenings. I asked about the empty area east of the end of their street (the street directly across from that of Chiangrai Rajapat University Gate #1). They said that that area will become an Old-Folks home for Japanese, and part of the proposed expressway from China, now already somewhat in operation.
This led to discussion of our real-estate bubble. Not 3 years ago, my wife and I bought 3.5 rai of land for 1.36 million baht. Now land prices in Amphoe Muang are a minimum of a million baht per rai. So my wife wants to buy more land. I’d just as soon buy gold.
OK - land prices tend to rise, but haven’t they gone down recently, in lots of places? Aren’t the economic “fundamentals” of lots of places coming heavily into question? Is business with China really going to flow, even flood, through here?
#1 - Chinese products are cheap in two ways, price and quality. I, personally, don’t want most of them anymore, and I’m hardly alone in that.
#2 - with Myanmar opening up, vehicular traffic through from MaeSot to India becomes a real possibility.
#3 - this immediate area is flush with money right now, but much of it is casino, drug and prostitution related, and there’s good reason to question whether that can last.
#4 - the Old-Age Home idea is a good one, except that there are problems with the quality of help available. A decade ago, some Japanese Yakusa wanted to build one, but then backed off.
#5 - MuBan Omsin, and the housing projects by the 2nd MaeSai bridge remain largely empty, so why expect that all these new tiny dwellings are going to turn a profit?
#6 - the US may well import much less from China soon, hurting the Chinese economy, most of which is on its eastern seaboard anyway. Yunnan isn’t very industrial, and with gas prices rising, trucking all the way here isn’t going to be competitive with shipping. Going across Laos involves a variety of complications, including bureaucratic, logistic and infrastructure ones (the hard-top currently needs re-surfacing yearly, and when trucks break down, the road can get blocked, among other things).
Maybe money from Bangkok will continue to flow to here, or maybe they’ll finally admit to the necessity of moving government somewhere else, and that money will change in destination to wherever that will be. And another year of devastating flooding is hardly going to help the Thai economy!
Just thought I’d say…

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