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Healthy Banking System?

When banks, or associations representing them, start talking in public about how healthy their system is, sensible investors tend to run for the hills, buy gold, or take other measures to protect their assets in the face of such warnings.

For a warning it is. The biggest threat to any banking system is loss of confidence. So long as depositors think their wealth s safely deposited in banks they sleep peacefully at night. So soon as that confidence is eroded the rush for the exit begins. Who wants to be told “Sorry, we just ran out of money!”

So why has the Malaysian banking sector thought that now is the time to issue an anodyne warning about how safe their depositors are. If they are really safe such warnings are entirely unnecessary and may cause alarm. So why?

Well the short answer is that the ringgit has been steadily depreciating in value against real money for a long time. The Bank Negara has covered this up by intervening in the market to buy ringgit, using valuable foreign currency reserves to do so. It recently thought it necessary to issue statements about how solid its foreign currency reserves are; hoping, no doubt, to slow down the drain on its reserves arising from an ever depreciating ringgit.

But while, in the immortal phrase “bu—-it baffles brains” it only baffles the uninitiated. Savvy investors are quietly bailing out of the ringgit while they can. Why? Because they foresee the chaos into which a criminal Prime Minister and his venal lackeys are leading the country and they do not want to be left holding the bag.

The move to the door is not a rush. Yet. But it can so easily become one leaving Malaysians holding a worthless national currency. When that is even thought to be a possibility holders, and potential purchasers of ringgit and ringgit denominated assets rush for the exit. Worse, foreign investors on whom governments rely to take up government loans and other securities put their money elsewhere. Why would even Beijing risk lending billions to a potentially bankrupt country with a worthless currency’

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