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Thais brace for recession as crisis nears crunch time

Published on Apr 14, 2014 6:23 AM
A general view of the skyline and the Chao Phraya river passing through Bangkok. Photo taken on April 5, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - The golden Buddha statues, amulets and lucky charms that festoon Ms Sakuntala Mettawong's tiny Bangkok cellphone shop are not helping business.

It is peak time, but customers are scarce at the usually bustling mobile phone bazaar in the MBK Center, which sits on the fringe of a mile-long cluster of gleaming malls that symbolise the rapid growth of Thailand's consumer class.

"Business has been very bad. Many shops have left here, some moved to find cheaper spots or changed hands," said Ms Sakuntala, almost drowned out by the noise of bored shop owners playing computer games behind her. "The top phone models are more difficult to sell... more people are selling their phones back to shops, to use simple ones, or sell because they need money."

An economy known for its dynamism is ailing, headed towards recession and held hostage by another crippling bout of turmoil in an eight-year power struggle being fought in Bangkok's commercial heart and in its politicised courts.

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