Saturday, May 30, 2009

In the Doldrums

Yesterday, the New Straits Times carried Najib’s admission that our economy will contract to between -4.0% and -5.0% this year – in March, the government had persisted in insisting that Malaysia’s growth is between -1.0% and 1.0% (May 29, p 2). And in The Sun on the same day, Najib was also quoted to have said that Malaysia is already in technical recession (p 1). Now this is a reversal of positions, isn’t it? Please, let’s call a spade a spade! Stop the bullshit! Enough lah!

Just to put things in proper perspective, Bank Negara had announced worse-than-expected first quarter economic growth which shrank 6.2 per cent from a year ago, the worst quarter since it contracted 10.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 1998 at the height of the Asian financial crisis (The Malaysian Insider, May 29).

And today, The Star had reported that the US economy sank at a 5.7% pace in the first quarter as the brute force of the recession carried over into this year. It marked the second straight quarter where the economy took a huge tumble (May 30, p W41). So, we shouldn’t pay heed to the glimmer of misplaced optimism painted by some misguided economists that things are looking up. I tend to agree with this appraisal from UK’s The Telegraph: “A more clear-eyed assessment of where we stand is contained in the Bank of England's latest snapshot which warns that the world economy remains in ‘deep recession’ with output contracting and trade falling ‘precipitously’; the global banking and financial system remains ‘fragile’; the timing and strength of any recovery are ‘highly uncertain’.” (Webpage http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/5307610/Its-the-end-of-the-beginning-of-the-recession-not-the-beginning-of-the-end.html, dated May 11, 2009). Believe me, we are very much in the same boat too.

From my personal perspective, the cost of living is still rising and worse, I have to endure a salary cut, with effect from this month. I am trying to be supportive of Paul Chan and HICT. Let's hope this sacrifice has not been misplaced. Back to the topic of the economy, please don’t tell me to be upbeat about it. It is altogether a gloomy outlook – austere, bleak, and cheerless.

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