ASEAN is one of the largest economic zones in the world. Growth in the region has been relatively quick and stable since the early 2000’s. However, one country stands out from the others. GDP growth is shrinking. The value of its currency is at is at a 15 year low.

With the lowest consumer confidence in ASEAN, the Malaysian economy has seen better times.

Even though the Malaysian economy is one of ASEAN’s fastest growing, its recent results show some disappointing numbers. The country’s second quarter GDP growth rate dropped to 4.9% when compared to the first quarter’s 5.6%.

This is the slowest the Malaysian economy has been in two years.

According to the Central Bank of Malaysia, factors contributing to lower GDP growth include a frail services sector. This is fueled further by weak expansion in most sub-sectors.

Exports from Malaysia have dropped four months out of the past six. Many experts attribute this to an uneven economic recovery and a slowdown in China.

The central bank believes domestic demand will be a key driver of steady growth in the Malaysian economy. Combined with investment in infrastructure which the government has planned, this should offset the weaker performance of other sectors.

 

The Ringgit’s Depreciation

The depreciation of Malaysia’s national currency, the ringgit, has been going on for awhile. But the ringgit recently dropped to its lowest value in over 17 years.

The drastic drop in the ringgit is not without explanation. Experts quote several reasons for the fall. But the four main ones are an ongoing crude oil price crisis, the possibility of the US increasing their interest rate, the devaluation of the Chinese yuan, and Malaysian political drama with its PM facing corruption scandals.

Being a net exporter of energy, Malaysia has been hit by lower crude oil prices. While trying to stay competitive overseas, Beijing devalued their currency forcing others to follow suit.

 

People Losing Hope Over Malaysian Economy

People have not reacted well to the above circumstances. According to a recent report from Nielsen, Malaysia now has the lowest level of consumer confidence, suffering the largest drop at a time when many other ASEAN countries are seeing their confidence increase.

 

MalaysiaGraph2015

Consumers elsewhere in Southeast Asia are more hopeful. In fact, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam are among the top ten most optimistic countries in the world.

“With the exception of Malaysia, Southeast Asian confidence levels are still tracking along the global average,” according to the report from Nielsen.

With record low consumer confidence, an under-performing Malaysian economy, and drastic depreciation of its currency, the country needs to step up its game to catch its neighbors.

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About Reid Kirchenbauer

Reid Kirchenbauer is the Founder of InvestAsian. He’s an accomplished stock trader and property investor in Thailand, Cambodia, and many other places. He’s been featured in publications such as Forbes, Nomad Capitalist, Property Report, and Seeking Alpha. Download his free investment guide by clicking here.

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