Mired in Uncertainty
The trend of high frequency indicators in Myanmar
Published on 15 February 2022
This report utilises a new approach that builds on a set of high frequency indicators, introducing innovations to a methodology that is anchored in the literature on composite indicators of economic activity. This was mostly driven by the unavailability of reliable and relevant data series due to their discontinued publication. Therefore, for the process of data collection, we recruited a panel of 100 experts (e.g., business owners and leaders of business associations) to solicit information about the rate of change of economic activities (e.g., production, demand, and employment) in relevant sectors. We followed a mixed-method approach, consisting of both quantitative and qualitative questions. The data collection occurred between the end of October and early November 2021 for round-1 and between December 2021 and January 2022 for round-2.
On 1st of February 2021, the Myanmar military staged a coup d’état, declaring a state of emergency and the commander-in-chief purporting to take all executive, legislative and judicial power. The events that ensued in the wake of the military takeover exacerbated the already challenging economic situation, driven by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The civil disobedience movement and widespread strikes meant that many workers could not or refused to attend to their jobs, effectively bringing to a halt the production in many sectors (manufacturing, in particular, which, until the military takeover, significantly contributed to the overall Myanmar GDP). This was coupled with a gradual withdrawal of foreign investors, depleting the foreign direct investment, which significantly supported Myanmar’s growth over the last few years. Moreover, initial evidence pointed out to cash shortages, log-jammed transport and logistics networks, rising fuel prices and inputs shortages, further exacerbating the overall macroeconomic situation in the country. As a result, the international financial institutions forecasted up to eighteen percent contraction of the economy for 2021. Nevertheless, an overview of the economic performance of Myanmar on a more frequent and sectoral-differentiated basis is scant, not least due to lack of data on high frequency indicators to measure the full extent of the crisis. To meet this need, UNDP has established a mechanism to collect such data through an innovative approach based on panel expert data, including business owners and business leaders.