Big Mac. Photo: Creative Commons.

Sometimes it’s not a good idea to buy as many Big Macs as you want. Actually, it’s almost never a good idea. But how many Big Macs could you buy hypothetically, if you really wanted to max out your wallet at McDonald’s? just published this chart and economic analysis of the cost of living in urban Malaysia. Using Big Macs as a measure, it illustrates the disconnect between urban cost of living and average salaries.


A worker with the average salary can afford to buy 10 Big Macs a day – while a worker in Singapore could buy 23 with their wages. Using another measure of Starbucks lattes, the figures are worse – an average wage buys just 7 lattes per day.

The article points out that the ringgit stretches further in rural areas, where cost of living is cheaper. Amusingly, there’s a chart which compares urban Big Macs to rural Ramly Burgers – though last time I checked, people in cities eat Ramly Burgers too.

“The reality is that the urban middle class has a lifestyle and consumption pattern that is largely US dollar-based or dependent on international prices — from dining, groceries and shopping to education and travel. This class is feeling the squeeze due to the weak ringgit,” writes The Edge Media Group’s executive chairman Tong Kooi Ong.

Meanwhile, Forbes ran an article entitled “Malaise is Ahead for Malaysia’s Bubble Economy”. We’re not sure if the pun in the title is intentional, but giggles aside, the article is quite gloomy: economic analyst Jesse Colombo points out that Malaysia’s government and household debt loads are among the highest in Southeast Asia. According to Colombo, it’s a matter of time before the bubble bursts, leading to another Asian financial crisis.

Chew on a Big Mac as you recover from that.

Ling Low
Cover photo: Creative Commons.