Malaysian Economic Data Sources

The original version of this post can be found here. I'll do my level best to keep these links up to date, but please report any broken links if you find any.

This page lists sources for data on the Malaysian economy . 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. There's also data available from the Ministry of Finace, which is mainly compilations from the sources above (although you will also find some economic forecasts). Most reports are either bilingual (English and Bahasa Malaysia) or English only. Both BNM and DOS will respond to call-ins or emails regarding data issues and finding specific economic time series.

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 as well as price/yield and trading information on government securities. Full details on past and future tenders of debt securities (public and private) are available through FAST.

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.

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.

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, though you'll have to handle some pretty frequent changes in weights.

Monthly employment/unemployment stats are a fairly recent innovation (gosh!) by the DOS - previously it was only covered quarterly and semi-annually, and with a considerable lag. You can find all three reports here.

In addition, DOS carries a monthly manufacturing survey that covers wages and employment in that sector. MSB is a little more comprehensive, covering retrenchments, active job seekers and employment offerings by sector. EPU offers annual unemployment statistics, which aren’t terribly useful for current analysis. Historical analysis is handicapped by an unaccountable and unconscionable lack of a labour survey for 1991 and 1994.

Population estimates are available from EPU. DOS also has a population clock on its homepage (MSIE only), with an explanation of the assumptions here. The latest Census data is for 2000, with a new survey (to be) held in July 2010.

The US Census Bureau's International Database carries a long range population forecast out to 2050 for many countries, including Malaysia, that are useful for studying demographic change (includes age breakdowns).

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. 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. Unfortunately, the link to the online version of the CMP has gone dead, probably in preparation for CMP II, due out at the end of this year. If anyone wants a copy, drop me a line.

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

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