The Weaking of Rupiah and Property Market In Indonesia

6 September 2013

Monetary crisis in 1997-1998 and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis in 2008 seems not enough to test the stability of fundamental strength of the Indonesian economy. The shadow of economic failure in most Asian countries in 1997/1998 still haunt Indonesia because at that time Indonesia was also affected by spreading crisis in some developing countries. The 1997-1998 financial crisis makes the rupiah against the U.S. dollar fell drastically which began in early 1998 with the exchange rate at Rp. 14.000 per U.S. dollar. The dollar exchange rate is so fantastic considering in mid- June 1997 rupiah never stirring from Rp. 3000 per U.S. dollar. Economic crisis caused various reactions one of which is the pressure to depose President Soeharto. In 2008  " catastrophic " financial happen again, especially in America and European countries. Almost all countries in the world affected by the financial crisis called Subprime Mortgage, due to bad mortgage of housing loans in America. As a developing country , Indonesia is considering quite successful in arresting the crisis than other countries in Asia, such as China, Japan and India  Whereas, economic growth in Indonesia is still in figures positive while neighboring countries like Singapore showed negative economic growth.

            The national financial problems are still continuing after the Federal Reserve announced aobut plans to reduce monetary stimulus by the end of 2013 and stopped in 2014. The plan raises excessive speculation in the stock market and investment, consequently investors tend to withdraw their investment in developing countries and move to the United States. This conditions led to the strengthening of U.S dollar against other currencies, including Rupiah. In addition, comments the Bank of Japan (BoJ) on the much needed financial stability and increase the pressure on other currencies in Asia, including the rupiah. Whereas the Japanese yen tends to strengthen against the U.S. dollar. In the end, the Chinese Yuan exchange rate had weakened, due to China's economic outlook trimming plan. In Indonesia , the internal factors contributing to the pressure on the exchange rate, one of which is the uncertainty of increasing plan of fuel. In addition, the condition of the unpreparedness of the government in dealing with the economic conditions after the increase in fuel makes more uncertain economic conditions .

            On June 27, 2013, the rupiah touch to level Rp. 10 007 per U.S. dollar and also marks the trend of weakening rupiah. In fact, on  August, 20th 2013 rupiah fell so deep into Rp. 11.000 per U.S. dollar. The government has actually done some concrete steps to curb inflation that has occurred since the beginning of year, which one is through Bank Indonesia (BI) policies. Fiscal policy became a mainstay. Fundamental and structural steps of Bank Indonesia is expected to stabilize economy conditions and prevent weakening of the rupiah. On August 29th 2013, Bank Indonesia raised its benchmark rate (BI rates) by 50 basis points to 7.5 percent. Efforts to encourage export-oriented sectors and controlling imports will stabilize national cash flow is relevant first-step to get over problem about national trade balance deficit in the last few months.

            Based on UBS Investment Research report, the major banks in Switzerland, the weakening rupiah current account (current transaction) Indonesia experienced a deficit of 24 billion U.S. dollars. At the same time, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, and Malaysia have a surplus. Current account balance is an indicator to determine the amount difference and the composition of exports and imports and capital inflows-outflows. If imports exceed exports and capital outflow exceeds the outflow, will be a deficit, this process is currently happening in Indonesia. Based on report in the second quarter of 2013, the national trade deficit stands at 4.4 per cent of gross domestic product, after the first quarter stands at 2.4 percent. Fiscal instruments that encourage export option that is most likely to be implemented by the government at this time, so the national production will increase and exports will restrain import rate . In the other hand, export-based business had more advantages, such as for palm oil industries. Production cost of palm oil using rupiah, while sales following the market mechanism with the U.S. dollar. Conversely , import -based business tend to be depressed since the importers will of course raise price of the commodity and will impact on people's purchasing power. The condition also applies in the real estate business is highly dependent on commodity imports..

            Subprime mortgage crisis in the U.S. in 2008 due to the breakdown of credit in property businessrf, in this case is housing property. It shows property business conditions and economic stability in a country have very close linkage. Bank Indonesia has raised BI rates to 7.5 per cent which will also impact on the business property. The raising policy of BI rates could be a nightmare for industrial property if not treated properly and right on target. The rupiah is continued weakening and pressure in the lending business will make it difficult for property investors about their business capital. The question is, will BI continue to rely on measures to control inflation by raising interest rates? Or see the reality in the society, when interest rates on loans , especially mortgages increased to property and property business impact to be sluggish. However, it seems that property business in Indonesia is quite well versed and experienced in dealing with economic crises, as happened in 1997/1998 and the impact of crisis in the U.S. in 2008.

            But it cannot be denied, the economic crisis will make all parties aware of the turmoil that change will occur, particularly related to money and capital markets. Issues regarding “Bubble Economic” has been touted by economists although other professional are denying about this issues. Property prices are much more expensive than the price of its intrinsic (fundamental) considered a major threat to Indonesia's economy in the future If at any time a bad credit disaster occurs or worse condition of financial, property prices will slip and fall deeply. The developers and investors do not want her capital disappear due to falling property values??. The problem would be simpler if the capitals are used for projects and business development in the property is a capital company and would be different if it is a result of a loan capital from banks and any investment firms. In the end , if there are problems (bankruptcy) in capital providers, the government must also be prepared to overcome problems. Based on the experience of a few years ago , when the impact of the 1997-1998 financial crisis in the property business is very large even continue through mid-year 2000. At that time , the Indonesian government to take steps to shift bad loans in the property sector to “Badan Penyehatan Nasional (BPPN)” with a value of Rp 70 trillion..