atans1

High Oil Prices: M’sia Boleh

In Energy, Malaysia on 22/03/2011 at 11:21 am

Consider four metrics: a country’s oil intensity (how much oil it takes to produce a unit of output), its energy trade balance, its current level of price inflation, and the government’s fiscal position. The first two give an indication of a country’s exposure to higher prices; the latter two suggest how much scope it has to absorb and defray them through fuel, electricity and food subsidies. By that reckoning, Malaysia may come out best. Its oil intensity is just the wrong side of the Asian average, on BP data. But as one of only two net exporters of oil and gas in Asia, its terms of trade should benefit. Aggressive monetary tightening, moreover, has so far helped to keep inflation tamed. The fiscal picture could be prettier: this chronic over-spender has run five budget surpluses in the past 40 years. But while subsidies remain a big burden – second only to Indonesia, as a percentage of gross domestic product – they are cushioned by oil revenues.

FT Lex

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