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COMMENT | Economists often use “signal extraction” to glean information from data that is partial, unclear or comes too slowly when we need a quick answer. This technique is particularly useful now to help us extract some signals on the Malaysian economy from recent statements by the senior politicians in charge.

For example, in an interview on Sunday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told us that MCO 3.0 was designed to reduce the economic impact below that of MCO 1.0, which he estimated had cost RM2.4 billion per day. He said if the same full lockdown was imposed now, it would cost RM500 billion. Extracting the signal based on this estimate, MCO 3.0 would last 208 days, until December.

The cost would be huge. Even if MCO 3.0 cost only RM300 million per day, which is lower than that estimated for MCO 2.0, it would cost RM62.3 billion or nearly 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). At the upper estimate of RM400 million per day this would be RM83.2 billion or 6.2 percent of GDP.

This is not quite the end of it because ...

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