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.
MYR - Market View
In 2017, with most of the doom and gloom behind it, the ringgit seems to have turned a corner.
The ringgit was Asia’s best performing currency in the second quarter, having recorded a 3% gain against the US dollar, comfortably ahead of the second biggest gainer, the Chinese yuan (+1.7%). At the end of June, the ringgit was worth $0.233 (USD/MYR 4.294).
This marks a significant turnaround by Malaysia’s currency, which was Asia’s worst performer in 2016, having suffered from a slump in the oil price and from a far-reaching political and economic scandal involving the country’s Prime Minister and billions of lost dollars from Malaysia’s state development fund (the ‘1MDB’ scandal).
The ringgit’s second quarter strength can be attributed to global investors repositioning into Malaysian assets following an improvement in the country’s economic outlook.
Investor confidence has been boosted by positive economic data, most notably export data. For the months of February, March and April (data released in April, May and June), Malaysian exports grew at annualized rates of 26%, 24% and 20% respectively, which has driven the country’s economic growth (now at 5.6%) to its highest level since early 2015.
Against other FX majors, the ringgit’s absolute performance in Q2 was mixed (down against EUR, up against AUD, little changed versus GBP), but relative to its Asian peers the currency still ranked highest.
Canada’s Scotiabank are forecasting a year-end USD/MYR exchange rate of 4.4 and the team at TradingEconomics.com predict a rate of 4.43 in June 2018.