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,Malaysia’s international reserves still strong

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s international reserves are expected to face pressure from capital outflows as the country posted the biggest fall year-to-date of US$3.6bil (RM15.86bil) in the first 15 days of this month.

Bank Negara announced that the country’s international reserves fell below the US$110bil mark to US$109.2bil (RM481.03bil) as of June 15 compared with US$112.8bil (RM496.88bil) at end-May.

It is noteworthy that the country’s reserves took a dip just prior to the central bank raising its benchmark overnight policy rate on May 11, but international reserves did not tumble as much.

Economists, however, were not overly concerned about the current plunge in international reserves as the reserves positions is sufficient to finance 5.5 months of imports of goods and services and 1.1 times of short-term external debt.

Although the fall in reserves has raised eyebrows, Sunway University economics professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng was not worried as the central bank has more than three months reserves to finance imports of goods and services.

“Malaysia had weathered declines in international reserves especially during the 2009 global financial crisis that were twice the present decline,” he said.

Although the fall in reserves has raised eyebrows, Sunway University economics professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng was not worried as the central bank has more than three months reserves to finance imports of goods and services.“Malaysia had weathered declines in international reserves especially during the 2009 global financial crisis that were twice the present decline,” he said.

Malaysia has in the past experienced several episodes of large and volatile foreign reserves declines. For instance, during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, foreign reserves declined by US$38bil (RM167.3bil) during the second half of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.

Yeah foresees the country’s international reserves to fall further on the back of more foreign fund outflows amid signals of further US rate hikes.

“Foreign fund outflows are likely given the signals of further rate hikes needed to bring down the stubbornly high inflation that is threatening the US economy,” pointed out Yeah.

On the present decline in reserves, Yeah explained the contraction was mainly due to the considerable outflows attributed to the aggressive 75 basis points interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve.

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