“THERE is no new policy on capital flows. There is no proxy capital control either,” insisted Muhammad Ibrahim, governor of Malaysia’s central bank, in a dinner speech on November 18th. This echoed a similar central-bank promise 15 months ago. For those hoping to bring money in and out of Malaysia, the commitments are reassuring. The frequency with which they need reiterating is less so.
It is no secret that the central bank is worried about the sharp drop in Malaysia’s exchange rate. Like other emerging-market currencies, the ringgit has suffered from China’s slowdown in the past two years and Donald Trump’s upset victory on November 8th. But, like Malaysia’s politics, beset by lurid tales of financial malfeasance, the currency has been unusually skittish (see chart).
Mr Muhammad blames what he calls “the arbitrary and unpredictable devices of the offshore markets”. Whereas China has been keen to “internationalise” the yuan, Malaysia’s central bank has an equally determined policy of “non-internationalisation”. It prohibits the trading of ringgit assets outside of its…Continue reading