Vietnam has proved to be a terrible investment over the last four years. Widely seen as the “next Asian tiger” in the middle of the decade, an article in the FT today shows how attitudes have changed. Here’s a sample:
The government’s focus on breakneck growth at the expense of economic stability has led to growing inequality, soaring inflation, a lack of confidence in the currency and fears of a banking crisis.
Domestic overheating, coupled with the deterioration of the global economy, has forced many investors, foreign and Vietnamese, to revise their view of the country’s prospects. Deep-seated problems, such as corruption, poor education and infrastructure bottlenecks – all often overlooked by investors in the boom years – have moved into sharp focus.
And with inflation driving wages higher but labour skills not advancing as quickly, fresh questions are arising. Among them is whether Vietnam’s Communist party can force through painful reforms needed to ensure they avoid the “middle-income trap” ensnaring the likes of Malaysia and Thailand, whose economies are a source of cheap labour but not yet makers of higher-value products.