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Democratization and Military Financial Interests Evidence from Thailand

Thursday December 2, 2010, at 14:00
Room 4 - IBEI
Research seminar

ABSTRACT

This paper implements a novel approach to assessing the effectiveness of democratizing reforms based on examining stock price movements. Until the late 1990s Thailand’s democratic constitution made it virtually impossible for any party to gain an outright majority, which meant that it was difficult for any Prime Minister to challenge the military’s influence over economic policy. The election of Thaksin Shinawatra as Prime Minister with an outright majority in 2001, following the implementation of a new majoritarian constitution (1997), thus had the potential of fundamentally reducing the military’s power over economic decision-making. While several analysts have offered anecdotal evidence of such a shift, statistical evidence has proved hard to come by. I hypothesize that if exogenous increases in the probability of Thaksin surviving in office are associated with exceptionally negative abnormal returns for military connected stocks this is indicative of a fundamental shift in power from the military to the Prime Minister. I find strong evidence of a dramatic shift in power away from the military and towards the elected Prime Minister in the post-97'constitution period. The finding is shown to be robust to alternate coding, alternate mechanisms, industry-fixed effects and various important controls for firm characteristics.

 

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