Friday, August 22, 2014

July 2014 Consumer Price Index: Nothing To See Here, Move Along

Wednesday’s inflation report saw the CPI rising by 3.2% (log annual and monthly changes; 2000=100):


Monday, August 18, 2014

2Q2014 GDP: Into Orbit

My, oh my, how things have changed (log annual and quarterly SAAR changes; 2005=100):


We ain’t talkin’ bout no base effect no more. T’ain’t bout prices neither. At 6.4% in percentage terms, the economy has put up a pretty solid growth number. If the low level of output in 1Q2013 influenced growth this year, that’s less of a consideration for 2Q2014. And if export and commodity prices trended up in 1Q2014, they’ve been flat or trending down in 2Q2014 (log annual and quarterly SAAR changes; 2005=100):


Friday, August 15, 2014

Perspectives On Development: The Role Of Women

This post is my catching up on various research and articles that I’ve bookmarked over the last few months on gender issues.

The World Bank has some new research briefs issued this week:

New Evidence Highlights What Works to Empower Girls and Young Women

Washington, August 11, 2014—Educating, empowering, and employing the largest-ever generation of young people is vital to ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity—the World Bank Group's twin corporate goals. New impact evaluation (IE) briefs by the World Bank Group (WBG), released ahead of International Youth Day 2014, shed new light on what works in development interventions targeting girls and young women, who still account for a disproportionate share of the world’s poor and face persistent inequalities at home, school, and work that help keep them and their families in poverty.

You can access the briefs through the article or through the World Bank’s gender resource site (here).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Abolishing Fuel Subsidies: Lessons From Indonesia

From the East Asia Forum (excerpt):

Time for a new approach to Indonesia’s energy subsidies
Authors: Stephen Howes and Robin Davies, ANU

Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), will face many challenges but none more pressing and immediate than dealing with Indonesia’s energy subsidies, which this year will constitute a quarter of total government spending…They were 20 per cent of expenditure when President Yudhoyono (SBY) came to power, and they will be almost 25 per cent when he leaves office later this year….

…A more radical reform program is needed: instead of one-off increases, a time-bound program with an upfront agreement that the end result would be the elimination of energy subsidies within, say, three or four years….

…Whether Jokowi will deliver remains to be seen….

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Inequality Starts At Birth

This isn’t a nature or nurture argument; this is a nature AND nurture argument (excerpt):

Inequality Begins at Birth

Over the past year, the lack of universal pre-kindergarten for American four-year-olds has become a national issue….Even as these efforts are being made, however, new research is making it increasingly clear that educational disparities start much earlier.

The value of universal access to early education has long been recognized: it improves the life chances of disadvantaged children and is crucial to keeping a level playing field for all….

June 2014 Industrial Production: Hold On To Your Hats, Folks!

The rocket has blasted off (log annual and monthly changes; seasonally adjusted; 2000=100):



Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fallacy of Composition and the Monetary System

I was tempted to be snarky about this, but that wouldn’t be fair, on laymen or anybody else.

It’s not easy thinking through economic problems, and monetary problems in particular. Slip ups are common, even among seasoned economists. It doesn’t help that standard texts on money and banking are badly wrong on how banks actually operate and how money is created. It’s no wonder then that people have a hard time figuring out what’s going on, and how changes in policy and customer preferences affect the monetary system.

Example 1 comes from a couple of weeks ago (excerpt):

Thursday, August 7, 2014

June 2014 External Trade

The base effect is starting to wear off (log annual and monthly changes; seasonally adjusted):


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

100 Years Ago Today, WWI Began

It varies depending on which country you’re in (e.g. August 1 in Germany, August 3 in France, August 4 in the UK), but 100 years ago today, World War I began in earnest. The following four years saw a deadly conflict that crossed the globe and took the lives of 16 million people and injured 20 million more, and led directly to the greater conflagration of WWII.

The conflicts of the past sixty years or so, as damaging as they were and taking their own toll of human suffering, have been mild blips by comparison to the wholesale slaughter that took place on the Western and Eastern fronts.

By sheer coincidence, I’ve been listening to a rendition of Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August”, a superbly written and sobering historical account of the build up to the war and its pivotal first month. May we never see anything like this ever again.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Data Releases for July 2014

I’m back from my usual Ramadhan blogging sabbatical. It’s been a bittersweet month – the economy is chugging along better than I ever hoped for and the German demolition of Brazil in the World Cup semifinals was a hoot to watch, but then there was the staggering blow of the MH17 tragedy and the incomprehensible Israeli invasion of the Gaza strip on the very same day. Geo-political risks appear to be increasing, while the global economy remains on a fragile footing, the US recovery notwithstanding.

Friday, July 11, 2014

BNM Watch: OPR Raised To 3.25%, Market Yawns

It was so blatantly telegraphed after the last MPC meeting, the disappointing thing would be if they didn’t go through with it (excerpt):

Monetary Policy Statement

At the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting today, Bank Negara Malaysia decided to raise the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3.25 percent. The floor and ceiling rates of the corridor for the OPR are correspondingly raised to 3.00 percent and 3.50 percent respectively....

Monday, July 7, 2014

May 2014 External Trade: Defying Gravity

When is the trade engine going to lose steam? I honestly don’t know (log annual and monthly changes; seasonally adjusted):