Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Effective Exchange Rate Indexes: January 2017 Update

The NEER and REER page has been updated, as has the Google Docs version.


Both the NEER and REER continued to decline in January, by 0.46% and 0.44% respectively, though the depreciation pace has dropped off substantially. Again, this marks new historical lows for these indices (since the beginning of the series in January 2000).

Looking at the breakdown, however, it’s really stability against the USD (and some gains against the GBP and INR), and negative against virtually everyone else. The biggest dropoff is against the AUD, where the MYR has been on an 8 month losing streak for a cumulative -11.8%.



  1. Indexes have been updated to January 2017
  2. CPI deflators and forecasts have been updated for December 2016/January 2017

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Effective Exchange Rate Indexes: December 2016 Update

The NEER and REER page has been updated. For convenience, I’ve added a Google Docs version of the data (link at the bottom of the table).


Both the NEER and REER continued to decline in December, by 1.2% and 1.5% respectively. I haven’t extended either index before 2000, as the introduction of the Euro in 1999 makes it hideously complicated to do so, but December marks the lowest levels for either index as far as the data goes back.

Just as in November, the decline was broad-based, with the biggest drops recorded against the CNY and the USD (both -0.3%). The Ringgit however continued to climb against the JPY, up 0.35% for the month.



  1. Indexes have been updated to December 2016
  2. CPI deflators and forecasts have been updated for November/December 2016
  3. Korea has rebased their CPI to 2015, which resulted in some revisions to the broad indexes

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ICYMI: Talking FX on BFM

Me, pontificating on the Ringgit and BNM’s new measures, over the past week:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

FX: Onshore Versus Offshore

Imagine you have a widget to sell, something that helps pick apples. You offer the widget to a bunch of apple farmers, who think, yes, very useful, and offer you a price for it. Then you go to another set of orange growers and offer the same widget, and they’ll say, well we could use it, but its a different shape, and offer you a price half of what you got before (I’m assuming away the ability to arbitrage).

In essence, that’s the problem facing central banks with currencies traded both onshore and offshore – while the product’s the same, the market players are different and you’ll get different prices as a result.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Effective Exchange Rate Indexes: November 2016 Update

The NEER and REER page has been updated.


Since there’s a lot of interest in exchange rate movements this past few weeks, I’ve accelerated the timetable for this month. As expected, we’re seeing broad based declines across all the indexes, with the nominal broad index falling -2.03% in November, and -2.11% in real terms, compared to –0.61% and –0.79% in October. On a yoy basis though, the Ringgit has dropped just –0.74% in nominal terms and is actually up 0.08% in real terms. Across the currency components, the sharpest drops were recorded against the USD, GBP and HKD (no surprise, since the HKD is on a currency board with the USD), and MYR falls were recorded against every component currency with the exception of the JPY, which saw a 0.7% increase.



  1. Indexes have been updated to November 2016
  2. CPI deflators and forecasts have been updated for October/November 2016
  3. Trade weights have been updated for the 2Q2016 and the 3Q2016. This caused revisions to the indexes from April 2016 onwards

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Effective Exchange Rate Indexes: October 2016 Update

The NEER and REER page has been updated.


Since the last update in August, both broad indexes have slowly declined, and are now close to revisiting last year’s lows, at least as of the cut-off date (October 2016). The declines have been broad based since April, against all currencies with the exception of the GBP (still +8% since April). I’m expecting to see a further decline in November.



  1. Indexes have been updated to October 2016
  2. CPI deflators and forecasts have been updated for September/October 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Ringgit and 1MDB

I’m still hearing people talking about the 1MDB effect on the Ringgit. Here’s what I’ve worked out:


Monday, November 14, 2016

4 Thoughts for the Week

GDP Report

Surprisingly strong at 4.3% yoy…or may be not. Iwas expecting a pickup as we had the minimum wage revision, civil service pay revision, cut in the OPR and cut in the EPF contribution rate. The end result was a 6% (qoq SAAR), which is the best quarterly growth rate since 4Q2014. I haven’t delved into the details yet (the bond market tantrum is occupying my working hour attention at the moment), but apparently there was a pretty decent growth contribution from external trade as well.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

ICYMI: Malaysia’s Pension Crisis

My latest (excerpt):

Challenges of a pension system

ONE aspect of an ageing society is obvious to everyone – care for the elderly will take on greater importance. How adequate are Malaysia’s pension systems?

In western societies, most countries have achieved universal coverage, with net income replacement values ranging from 29% in the United Kingdom, to 96% in the Netherlands (based on OECD data)….

…The challenge in these western economies is one of sustainability. The problem with DB schemes is that they are based on the principle of pay-go – current workers’ contributions pay for the pension entitlements of retirees. This is not an issue if the demographic profile of the country is relatively stable...

Click the link for the rest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Assessing Budget 2017

Today’s the first chance I’ve had to sit down and really think about the budget, past the first impressions we all got on Friday.

Overall, it somewhat exceeded my expectations. Granted, my expectations were undemandingly low, which is what happens when you commit to a hard limit on public debt and promise to cut spending over the medium term. But within those constraints, there was still some nice ideas in the budget speech.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Budget 2017: Going Live

…but not in the usual way. I’ll be running around like a headless chicken for most of today (apologies to all headless chickens, by the way), so live bloggin the budget as I’ve done over the last few years won’t be possible.

However, I’ll try to put something up when the budget speech ends, and more importantly, you can catch me on NTV7’s post-budget show at 8pm.

Further analysis by next week (the weekend’s going to be pretty hectic too).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Alternative Budget 2017

It’s that time of the year again!

I’m not going to comment extensively about the Alternative Budget (you can download it here), especially on the numbers. I’ve already spotted one whopper of an error, and another biggie that can be put down to lack of info (more on this later). Given the assymmetry in information between government and opposition, I’m not going to be too critical over these.

Rather I want to touch on the broad themes raised in the document. As an aside, I’d also note that mainstream media coverage on the Alternative Budget is far more widespread than it used to be. There was a time when barely anyone wrote about it.