Can Sethaput tame Thai inflation?
From the Asian financial meltdown of the late 1990s to the recent pandemic, Thailand central bank governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput’s career has been bookended by crises. Now almost three years into his term as governor, he may well be the right man to keep Thailand safe from another calamity – runaway inflation.
Covering Asia’s financial markets inevitably throws up the occasional peculiar moment. But few could anticipate that a discussion with the governor of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) would be partly conducted in Spanish.
No, the Thai government hasn’t suddenly decided to outsource its technocratic requirements to an Iberian or Latino hired gun. Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, the BoT governor who, like many of his counterparts around the world, must stave off rising inflation to ensure that it does not derail a post-pandemic economic recovery, is 100% Thai.
But Spanish – which he studied in preparation for stints with the World Bank in Buenos Aires – is just one of several languages that the eclectic Sethaput has mastered in his 58 years.
He is also fluent in English and French and has a smattering of other languages thanks to his childhood as a ‘diplo-brat’ living and going to school in Australia, India, Poland, France, Switzerland and the UK while his father Owart, one of Thailand’s most respected diplomats, served as ambassador for the Thai kingdom.
Questions were asked as to why we weren't taking quicker action in terms of raising rates as other central banks were doing and raising them in an aggressive manner
“The reason I ended up trying to learn Spanish at the World Bank was that I speak French,” he explains.