Malaysian Ringgit General Info
The word ringgit is an obsolete term for jagged in Malay and was originally used to refer to the serrated edges of silver Spanish dollars which circulated widely in the area during the 16th and 17th century Portuguese colonial era.
Between 1995 and 1997, the ringgit was trading as a free float currency at around 2.50 to the US dollar, but following the onset of the 1997 East Asian financial crisis, the ringgit witnessed major dips to under 3.80 to the dollar by the end of 1997 as a result of capital flight. During the first half of 1998, the currency fluctuated between 3.80 and 4.40 to the dollar, before Bank Negara Malaysia moved to peg the ringgit to the US dollar in September 1998, maintaining its 3.80 to the dollar value for almost seven years while remaining floated against other currencies. In addition, the ringgit was designated non-tradeable outside of Malaysia in 1998 to stem the flow of money out of the country.
On 21 July 2005, Bank Negara announced the end of the peg to the US dollar immediately after China's announcement of the end of the renminbi peg to the US dollar. The ringgit would experience more acute plunges in the value since mid-2014 following the escalation of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal that raised allegations of political channeling of billions of ringgit to off-shore accounts, and uncertainty from the 2015–16 Chinese stock market turbulence and the effects of the 2016 United States presidential election results.Read our Travel Guide to Malaysia
MYR - Currency Market News
The Malaysian ringgit was Asia’s best performing currency in September. While many Asian currencies lost ground against the US dollar, the ringgit finished the month 1.2% stronger than it had been in August, buying $0.236 (USD/MYR 4.232). The ringgit’s year-to-date gain over USD rose to 6%.
The ringgit’s recent stability marks a refreshing change for those in Malaysia. The currency had been Asia’s worst performer in 2016.
Recent economic data from Malaysia has been excellent. Export growth is now above 30% per annum, industrial production above 6% and inflation ticked up to 3.7% in August, from 3.2% in July.
The team at BMI Research said in September that the ringgit would appreciate further against USD to $0.244 (USD/MYR 4.1) by the end of Q1 2018. BMI cited continued efforts by Malaysia’s government to reduce its fiscal deficit and strength in the Chinese yuan as their reasons. BMI said that risks to the ringgit included American protectionism and the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates faster than markets were expecting.
Important trading partners for Malaysia include Singapore and China. Against the Chinese yuan, the ringgit had its best month in fifteen as it gained 2.2% to ¥1.576. Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit had its best month in five, gaining 1.3% to S$0.321.