Headlines:
  1. Ringgit to weaken to 4.15 Level against US dolla
  2. OECD cuts global outlook and warns worse may be ahead
  3. Singapore to raise retirement age
  4. SC Seeks Public Feedback on Proposed Initial Coin Offering and Property Crowdfunding Frameworks
  5. India dominates list of world’s most polluted cities
Ringgit to weaken to 4.15 Level against US dollar The ringgit is expected to weaken to 4.15 against the US dollar by year-end as the local note is vulnerable to China’s economic growth, said an analyst. He however feels that Malaysia’s steady exports is expected to reduce the ringgit’s weakness the only country that is not facing much of a downward pressure on exports. “The country is also benefiting from the trade diversion because of the US-China trade war,” said Bank of America Merrill Lynch director Rohit Garg during a panel discussion in Kuala Lumpur. He added that this was evident from Malaysia’s electric and electronics exports which has been performing very well. “For Malaysia, things have actually turned out to be better than what I really expected. I do not really expect much weakness in the ringgit,” he added. In the same dialogue, Macquarie Commodities Trading (Shanghai) Co Ltd associate director Ryan Chen said the ringgit would likely trade between 4.06 and 4.10 against the greenback by year-end with Brent crude oil prices expected to trade around US$65 per barrel. OECD cuts global outlook and warns worse may be ahead A report from the OECD said the global economy is suffering more than expected from trade tensions and political uncertainty which are clouding prospects particularly in Europe. Since the organization last downgraded many of its forecasts in November, little has gone right for the world’s biggest economies. Weakness in the euro area and China are proving more persistent, trade growth has slowed sharply and uncertainty over Brexit has continued. If anything, things could get worse as risks pile up, including further trade barriers, a disorderly UK withdrawal from the EU or financial vulnerabilities from elevated debt. Italy’s economy may see its first full-year contraction since 2013. “The global expansion continues to lose momentum,’’ the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said as it downgraded almost every Group of 20 nation’s economy. Central banks including the Federal Reserve have already responded to the changed circumstances, and the European Central Bank may soon follow. China, forced to lower its goal for economic growth this week, has rolled out tax cuts to stimulate its economy. Singapore to raise retirement age Singapore, the world’s second-fastest ageing society, has reached agreement with trade unions and employers to increase the retirement age. The current retirement age is 62, while companies are required by law to offer eligible employees the option of continuing to work until they are 67 – the so-called re-employment age. Singapore’s population is the second-fastest ageing after South Korea, according to UN figures, and the global financial hub is growing more dependent on its older residents as birth rates fall and foreign labour is restricted. Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told parliament that a group consisting of government, trade unions and employers set up to look at the issue last year had reached consensus on the need to raise both thresholds. SC Seeks Public Feedback on Proposed Initial Coin Offering and Property Crowdfunding Frameworks The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) today published two consultation papers to seek public feedback on the frameworks for Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and property crowdfunding. ICO is an alternative fundraising avenue that leverages distributed ledger technology including blockchain. It involves the issuance of digital tokens by an issuer who wishes to raise funds for a project or venture. The consultation paper discusses the proposed framework for, among others, the eligibility of issuers, the need for transparent and adequate disclosures as well as utilisation of proceeds of the ICO. The second consultation paper on property crowdfunding framework follows on from Budget 2019, which identified crowdfunding platforms as an avenue to provide an alternative funding source for first-time homebuyers while providing investors access to a new asset class. The SC is seeking public feedback on the proposed regulatory framework which will, among others, set the eligibility requirements of first-time homebuyers, criteria of properties which can be listed on the platform, obligations of platform operators and financing limits. The two consultation papers are available at the SC website. India dominates list of world’s most polluted cities India dominated a list of the world’s most polluted cities in 2018, taking 22 of the top 30 spots, according to a Greenpeace report. Air pollution is estimated to contribute to 7 million premature deaths every year and is considered by the United Nations to be the single biggest environmental health risk. Delhi was again named the capital with the dirtiest air, in tenth place. Neighbouring business city Gurugram took the top spot. Cities in China, Pakistan and Bangladesh were also placed in the top 30. The 2018 World Air Quality Report, compiled by Greenpeace and IQAir AirVisual, used air pollution data from tens of thousands of public and private monitoring stations across the world to rank over 3,000 cities from dirtiest down to cleanest. At a country level, weighted by population, Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted country on average, closely followed by Pakistan and India, with Afghanistan and Mongolia also within the top 10. The report looked at measurements of fine particles known as PM2.5, which can penetrate into the airways to cause respiratory problems. Of the over 3,000 cities included in the list, 64 per cent exceeded the World Health Organisation’s annual exposure guideline for PM2.5.