It is that time of the quarter again. The second quarter 2019 GDP will be released by the Department of Statistics next week, on August 16 2019.

How fast do you think did the Malaysian economy expand in 2Q19 from a year ago?

  • Slower than 3.6% (14%, 3 Votes)
  • 3.6% - 4.0% (18%, 4 Votes)
  • 4.1% - 4.5% (32%, 7 Votes)
  • 4.6% - 5.0% (27%, 6 Votes)
  • 5.1% - 5.5% (9%, 2 Votes)
  • Faster than 5.5% (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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Malaysia’s 2Q19 industrial production growth so far has been stronger than it was in the first quarter. For illustration, April and May factory output expanded 4.0% year-on-year each. In contrast, the 1Q19 industrial production grew by 2.7% year-on-year only. The June industrial production has not been released, but it would have to be really bad before it would bring the 2Q19 growth below 1Q19 rate. There is however a minor possibility given how bad June export growth was.

Yet even with the June exports, exports for the whole 2Q19 did better than in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, Bank Negara’s public data shows government expenditure growth is stable, with 2Q19 spending growth being about the same as it was in the previous quarter.

Another data set from the central bank does not look pretty though. Loans growth is slow. In 2Q19, total loans in the banking system grew 4.4% year-on-year, versus 7.2% in 1Q19. But there is a noticeable base effect here, possibly due to companies rushing to get their loans prior to the election. Just to highlight the importance of base effect, in month-on-month terms, loans grew 2.4% in April 2018, when the average loans growth in the January 2017-March 2018 was only 0.6% month-on-month. Loans growth is a proxy of private consumption but given the base effect, it is a difficult proxy to use for this quarter.

This is especially so when other proxies of private consumption are doing well. For instance, 2Q19 consumption imports grew 8.0% year-on-year, versus only 1.0% in 1Q19. Retail and wholesale trade statistics are also doing reasonably okay. The rate cut in May 2019 would also boost demand. The labor market is also stable.

Talking about base effect, we also have to remember that in June 2018, consumers in Malaysia faced no consumption tax. That would be a negative to consumption growth from year-on-year perspective.

Nevertheless, I am expecting a high 4%. It could even surpass 5% if Malaysia is lucky enough. Yes, I am optimistic of the second quarter, unlike for the first quarter statistics.

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