Monday, April 25, 2016

Never Reason From A Price Change: Inflation Edition

The quote comes from Scott Sumner, and I’m not using it in the original sense (identifying causality in a supply-demand equilibrium), but there’s a certain truth to it when applied to monetary policy.

There’s a lot of speculation in the market right now that Bank Negara will cut interest rates in the next two meetings of the MPC, largely because (1) political pressure and (2) the coming drop in inflation. I think (1) is nonsense (I see no evidence of it, nor have I heard anything), and (2) is mistaken.

This post is about point 2.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Difference Between Quantitative Easing and Helicopter Money

I just read a report from a major international bank this morning(who shall remain nameless) that claimed helicopter money was already being implemented in a few countries, herein defined as monetary financing of fiscal deficits.

This is wrong, and they’re confusing quantitative easing (QE) with helicopter money (HM). The difference between the two is more than just semantics, despite the superficial similarities between the two in largely involving central bank buying of government bonds.

The easiest way to show this is via an example. Let’s say the private sector has $100. The government wishes to borrow $50 to finance its spending. So the private sector buys $50 worth of government bonds, the proceeds from which the government uses to spend on goods and services. But that money goes back to the private sector, so the asset side of the private sector balance sheet now reads $100 cash and $50 in bonds. The private sector balance sheet has expanded, as has the government’s.

Now that we’ve set the stage, we can work out how QE and HM affects the economy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Proton in Perspective: Industrial Policy Gone Wrong

Proton has hit the headlines again (excerpt):

Proton must ‘graduate’ from govt protection, says Mustapa

PETALING JAYA: Proton needs to “graduate” from Government protection, says International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed (pic).

In a statement on Friday, Mustapa said that the Government could not continuously protect heavy industries, including the automotive sector, noting that although other countries such as Japan and South Korea have protected their automotive industry, these measures were short- and medium-term in nature, and were eventually abolished.

“Proton, which is our national car project, needs to graduate from this protection,” he said.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Effective Exchange Rate Indexes: March 2016 Update

The NEER and REER page has been updated.


The Ringgit continued to gain ground in both the broad and narrow indexes, driven by advances against the USD, CNY, HKD and GBP, although the pace of advance slowed. The broad nominal index rose 1.22 points to 88.03 (p), while the broad real index rose 1.41 points to 89.79 (p).



  1. Indexes have been updated to March 2016, with revisions for January and February 2016
  2. CPI deflators have been updated for February/March 2016
  3. Both real and nominal ASEAN indexes have been completely revised, due to a spreadsheet error