As promised, the MPC didn’t make a move yesterday (excerpt; emphasis added):
At the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting today, Bank Negara Malaysia decided to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 3.00 percent.
The global economy continues to expand at a moderate pace…Going forward, downside risks to global growth remain high following uncertainty over the growth momentum and policy shifts in major economies, and unresolved issues post the EU referendum in the United Kingdom.
For Malaysia, growth moderated slightly in the second quarter of the year, following weaker net exports and a drawdown in stocks…Going forward, private consumption will remain supported by wage and employment growth, with additional impetus coming from announced Government measures to increase disposable income. Investment activity will continue to be anchored by the on-going implementation of infrastructure projects and capital spending in the manufacturing and services sectors. On the external front, export growth is expected to remain weak following subdued demand from Malaysia’s key trading partners. Overall, the economy is projected to expand within expectations in 2016, and to remain on a steady growth path in 2017….
…At the current level of the OPR, the degree of monetary accommodativeness is consistent with the policy stance to ensure that the domestic economy continues on a steady growth path amid stable inflation, supported by continued healthy financial intermediation in the economy. The MPC will continue to monitor and assess the balance of risks surrounding the outlook for domestic growth and inflation.
Translation: That’s all…for now.
Having said that, I’m looking for another cut before the end of the year. My base case this year has always been for stronger second half, due to the minimum wage revision, civil service pay hike, EPF contribution cut, and now, from the last OPR cut. Private consumption is likely to be strong this year, especially as we get past the base effects from GST implementation last year.
However, the numbers coming out from the government suggests a much stronger pullback of government spending than I expected to happen. Revenue for the first half of the year was much weaker than I thought it would be, which makes things in the second half even dicier, what with the full impact of the crash in oil and gas prices earlier only now hitting revenues. There’s a lot of pressure on MOF to pull a rabbit out of its hat to hit the 3.1% deficit target, and while they can perform seeming miracles (e.g. the spectrum auction), there’s always a tradeoff involved.
That, and the budget speech next month, will bear watching.
In any case, weaker public consumption and investment could force the MPC into action. Not deliberately mind, just that the downdraft from lower government spending would turn up as weaker than expected economic growth, which should start showing up in the numbers when the MPC meets for the last time this year, in November.