Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Economic Data on Malaysia: Where You Can Go

[Update 09 August 2010: This post has been deprecated. I’m maintaining a permanent page for everybody’s reference with updated links here]

I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten quite a few hits through Google looking for data on the Malaysian economy. As a reference point, I’m going to compile in this post the major online-only references that I know of for the basic time series data on Malaysia. If there’s anything readers are looking for that they can’t find, let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to oblige. I'd also appreciate it if any broken or wrong hyperlinks are reported.

The one exception to this summary will be historical stock market data, as Bursa Malaysia thinks it can make money off this. In any case, you can get daily KL Composite Index data (from about 1993) from Yahoo! Finance.

I’m listing this by category, rather than by location, as that would probably be more useful. The main sources are:

1. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)
2. The Department of Statistics (DOS)
3. The Economic Planning Unit (EPU)

...although I'm also including some international sources. Most reports are either bilingual (English and Bahasa Malaysia) or English only.

One comment before going forward with the list of references: you can get fairly extended time series through Bank Negara’s online version of the Monthly Statistical Bulletin beyond what’s ostensibly published. From about 2004, BNM published the MSB in both Acrobat Reader and MS Excel formats. In the Excel version, older data points are in hidden columns and rows. Just highlight a whole sheet, right click on a column or row header, and click unhide. In most cases, monthly and quarterly data go back to at least 1998-2000, unless there’s been a change in the price series. For 1996-1997 data, it helps to download the older pdf versions of the MSB circa 1997-1998. Enjoy!

Money and Banking
Bank Negara’s Monthly Statistical Bulletin (MSB) is available online from the April 1998 issue, with Sections 1 and 2 covering balance sheet items, while Section 4 covers interest rates. Series covered include banking system asset and liabilities, loan direction, loan sectors and purpose, loan disbursements, repayments and approvals, non-performing loans, with breakdowns for commercial (deposit taking) banks, merchant/investment banks, and the now defunct finance company sectors. On the monetary side, series on M1, M2 and M3 plus their components are available. Interest rate series are available for interbank, government securities as well as deposit and lending rates.

BNM also offers more up-to-date interbank rates for both conventional and Islamic markets.

Gross Domestic Product (real and nominal)
The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department has a summary of GDP tables for annual series (1987 for constant prices, 1947 for nominal prices) and quarterly series (from 2000). Reports are released two months after each quarter end, and are available through DOS (numbers) and BNM (statements). MSB (Section 5) also carries the annual and quarterly series, but not as extensively as EPU.

You can also get both through IMF International Financial Statistics (annual from 1970, quarterly from 1980), plus the volume index which I tend to use as it means you don’t have to deal with the different price bases. IFS is subscription only, but you can get a 5-day free trial which allows full access to the database (discounts available for middle-income countries; free for developing countries). I’d suggest if you’re doing a one-off project like a dissertation or thesis, to register for the trial and download everything.

Annual and quarterly data is also available through the World Bank WDI and IMF World Economic Outlook database, which also have the advantage of carrying PPP-adjusted measures.

Apart from the above, for international comparison purposes, you can also try the Penn World Tables.

Industrial Production
As with CPI, initial reports are carried on the DOS website, while time series can be found in the MSB (Section 5). EPU carries longer time series.

Prices (PPI and CPI)
First reports for CPI are available from DOS, while BNM’s MSB (Section 5) carries the time series. EPU also carries longer annual series. If you need longer monthly series, I suggest the International Labour Organisation, which provides a linked series across different base years (which saves you the trouble of doing it yourself).

PPI is far more troublesome. First DOS does not issue online reports, while the MSB only carries annual and monthly changes (not the index numbers themselves). In short, you have to reconstruct the index yourself if you use MSB as a source. EPU however does carry the annual index series (and monthly series from 2003), although you’ll have trouble with the fairly frequent change of base year.

You’re out of luck.

Employment/unemployment stats have the worst online coverage of any of the major economic statistical categories for Malaysia. DOS carries a monthly manufacturing survey that only covers wages and employment in that sector. MSB is more comprehensive, covering retrenchments, active job seekers and employment offerings by sector, but not an overall unemployment number. The EPU offers annual unemployment statistics, which aren’t terribly useful for current analysis.

Population estimates are available from EPU. DOS also has a population clock on its homepage (MSIE only), with an explanation of the assumptions here.

Poverty estimates are also available from EPU. Poverty Line Income data however is unfortunately not readily available, nor are income inequality measures. I have a compilation of Gini coefficient numbers lifted from this book, but since I can’t reconcile the numbers with those published in the various Economic Reports, I’d hesitate to place too much reliance in them.

Government Finance
BNM’s MSB, section 6, covers breakdowns of quarterly and annual of federal government revenue sources, expenditure, and composition and holders of government debt. EPU provides annual series going back to 1970, and more interestingly, annual consolidated accounts for the public sector from 1991.

Forex (Ringgit) spot rates
Believe it or not, the best source I’ve found is the Federal Reserve – they carry daily currency fixes against the USD for a whole bunch of currencies (report H.10*). In the case of MYR, this extends back to 1971. For shorter periods, I use the Pacific Exchange Rate Service, which carries four years of daily data and monthly averages for more extended periods. I find it especially useful since you can download cross-rates directly instead of having to calculate them yourself. BNM also carries daily currency fixes (from 1997), and 3-month and 6-month forward rates (from 1999).

*2000 to present, 1990-1999, pre-1990

Balance of Payments
Balance of Payments are reported quarterly. The latest data is available through DOS, and more extensive quarterly and annual series are available from MSB (Section 7). A longer annual series is available from EPU.

International Investment Position
The IIP is a relatively new metric designed by the IMF to track holdings of foreign assets: don’t expect extensive time series on this. The numbers from 2005 are available from DOS or IMF IFS database.

External trade
The actual report is issued by MATRADE, which DOS mirrors. Time series and detailed breakdowns are available with a lag through MSB (Section 7) or through EPU. If you need deeper breakdowns, I suggest (unless you want to wade through DOS’ veeerrryy thick annual trade reports) the United Nations Commodity Trade Database. It’s not comprehensive*, but reasonably complete enough for most purposes.

*Like almost all multilateral institutions, the UN doesn’t carry data on Taiwan – an example of politics getting in the way of common sense.

International Reserves
Reserves are reported biweekly and detailed reports are available from BNM. MSB Section 7 carries the time series.

Leading, Coincident and Lagging Indicators
DOS provides the latest data, with an archive available here. EPU also has much longer monthly series available. The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research’s quarterly Business Conditions Index and Consumer Sentiment Index and MIDA’s investment approval statistics are also available through the latter link.

1. The annually published Economic Reports, prepared in conjunction with the tabling of the government budget, are available through the Ministry of Finance. Extensive statistical tables are available at the back of each edition.

2. BNM’s annual reports provide useful overviews of monetary and financial sector developments. Quarterly reports are also available.

3. Links to Malaysia’s 5 year plans (current and archived from 1995) are available through EPU's homepage. You'll find here, among others, income, poverty and inequality data.

4. The Financial Sector Masterplan outlines the program of financial sector reform 2000-2010.

5. The Capital Markets Masterplan does the same for debt and equity markets, and is available through the Securities Commission.

6. Information on Malaysia's countercyclical stimulus pacakages are available here.

7. Malaysia's National Summary Data Page is available through BNM.


  1. Hey Hishamh, thanks for this list. I find it extremely helpful - and also extremely puzzling why so much data is not updated, especially on the DSM website! The Economist has better (up to date) data on Malaysia than this..for example on unemployment.

  2. Thanks.

    Which data are you referring to? Malaysian unemployment data is only compiled quarterly - there's no real political need for it as we don't offer any welfare benefits. I think The Economist figures are probably estimates from EIU, not official data.

  3. thanks so much~
    this is what i have been looking for..
    you've been so helpful tidy all-in-one! =D
    so appreciate for this info.

    bdw, do you know where i can get industrial property(real estate) demand data by time series?

    I need a data for "total investment of industrial property" for latest 15 years..i till looking for it..
    hope u can give me some clue. =)

  4. Thanks!

    I seem to have missed out on property - I will have to rectify that in a future post.

    Unfortunately, I don't think the data you're looking for is publicly available in the form you're looking for. The best online source may be JPPH. Their online data only goes back to about 2000 or so, but better than nothing. You'll also have to massage the data a bit.

    You might also use non-residential property loans as a proxy for investment in industrial property (MSB, Table 1.7 and 1.7.1). That isn't ideal but should give you some idea of the trends.

  5. Thanks so much for da clues.
    I'll try to work it out.
    Hope to see more updates from you.=D

    anyway, i think that your blog is a great source for me to have a MUST update reading.
    Hope you don't hesitate to let me link to ur blog from mine. =)

    have a great day~

  6. hi hishams,
    I am doing a research and I need some data but I dont know where I can download it.I tried above links that you had provided but still not avail there.Also,I had tried access in WorldData but it only provides data for yearly.I need Malaysia data quarterly from 1996-2009 for REER, exports and M2/international reserves. Hope you can help. Thanks.

  7. Ajue,

    The IMF has data for all the above via IFS:


    There's a free five day trial available, so if that's all the data you're looking for, you should be good to go.

  8. Hi hishamh,

    Your blog post was really helpful. I am however trying to find quarterly Malaysia Data on GDP and Foreign Direct Investment inflows from as far back as 1990. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on that? Thank you!

    1. Christopher,

      Sorry to disappoint you but quarterly FDI stats only exist from 2008 on-wards. UNCTAD however have annual data going back to 1990:


      One possible alternative is to use direct investment flows recorded under the balance of payment data instead. Quarterly GDP data also go back to about 1987.

      The following remarks apply to both GDP and investment flow data.

      Online, I believe the only source is the IMF International Financial Statistics database (it's not free, but you can request a 5-day trial):


      Alternatively, you can request it direct from the Department of Statistics: