February 18th, 2016 by Hafiz Noor Shams
The 4Q15 GDP figures came out better than my expectation. I had projected about 4.3% YoY but the official figure came slightly higher at 4.5% YoY. However, it is still an overall slowdown as warned earlier.
But there is a good news here.
The blue line in the chart above representing consumption growth picked up. That is a green shoot, a hint that the economy might be turning around. Consumption weakness has been the number one reason behind the gradual slowdown we are seeing in the economy. This is why the slight uptick is an important point to note.
I do not have much details behind the stronger (but still weak!) consumption growth yet, but on the production side, there is a reason to be optimistic that this is not some no-good dead cat bouncing around. Based on the performance of the retail sector, consumers did buy more stuff:
There is also good news for people working in finance. The fourth quarter was less bad than 3Q15. The only real bad news is for people in mining. I am unsure if the drop it is all about base effect, but the situation in the oil and gas sector is not pretty regardless. I suppose QoQ readings would tell me more but I am in a hurry right now.
We are not out of the woods yet. Despite signs of a turnaround, the 4.5% YoY overall growth is still a slowdown. Consumption has to cover a lot of ground before we can claim to be out of the
$700 million MYR2.6 billion hole. And I am worried about the employment rate given so many layoffs taking place late last year. The effects of those retrenchments might come too late to be accounted for in the 4Q15 GDP data.
Finally, for the lovers of headline figures, the curse of 1Q15 frontloading will bite back this quarter. Nevertheless, that will only be a mathematical quirk.