14 October 2010

Malaysia to curb capital inflows?

Due to weakening USD and record low-interest rate in the US, Europe and Japan, emerging markets have been a popular spot for excessive liquidity to park their money. Main reasons being:
  1. Emerging markets are the fastest growing economies currently
  2. Emerging countries are having higher interest rate
  3. Banking system of emerging countries are stronger (safer)
While develop countries are facing a currency downfalls, emerging countries are experiencing continuous inflow of hot money. This in turn causing a chaotic in currency exchange market, where emerging countries' currencies are hitting years high against developed nations. The imbalance forex market prompt central banks around the world to act or to curb any excessive flows of money which could jeopardised a particular countries, like 1997 Asian financial crisis.

In the latest developments on this hot topic, Thailand announced a 15% withholding tax on interests and capital gains on Thai bonds. In the meantime, South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia has been using "quasi-capital" control, in which encouraging outflows of hot money.

The billion dollar question... Will Malaysia follow?

Ringgit is the 2nd BEST performing currency in Asia, behind Thai Bath. I think when Bank Negara started its "triple" hike in overnight policy rate (OPR) this year, they already foresee the side effect of capital inflows. Due to large chunk of it went to Malaysia Government Securities (MGS), coupled with strong and effective domestic financial systems, Malaysia can safely mitigate the effect currently. However, we must act soon because I expect more hot money would pour in from countries which had imposed capital controls moving forward. We can expect a much stronger Ringgit soon.

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