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budget 2016
1. HRA benefits to be enhanced from Rs. 24000 per annum to Rs. 60000 per annum under section 80GG.

2. Pensions get boost with NPS benefits tax free upto 40%.Retirement savings boost begins, MF arbitrage continues though. Move to boost retirement savings,

3. Long term capital gains tax on equities seems like it is untouched.Biggest worry for the markets till this morning moves away

4. Tax on dividends in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs introduced at 10%. Double tax again?

5. TDS rationalization introduced. Details awaited.

6. A recent survey shows job application fraud at 5 year high -digital repository of certificates should help.Big benefits for biz

7. New Health Protection scheme upto 1 lakh & additional topup of Rs. 30000 for senior citizens.Good initiative -implementation key

8. Section87A rebate increase from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 5000 practical solution. Cost of compliance possibly higher than tax revs there

9. EPFO & NPS choice gets more complex for employers & employees,with new subsidies on EPS contribution for 3 yrs for new employees

10. First time home buyers – loans upto Rs 35 lkhs – for value of house Rs 50 lkhs – additional tax deductions announced.

11. NRI without pan to get relief. Customs baggage rules for passengers to be simplified.

12. Surcharge for incomes above Rs. 1 cr enhanced to 15%. Very much on expected lines. Clearly not a onetime levy as earlier promised.

13. Voluntary disclosure of domestic undisclosed income with payment of 45%.Hope the fine print does not dissuade disclosures.

14. Central legislation to deal with illicit schemes duping investors

15. Relief for MSMEs with turnover Rs. 2 cr or less – presumptive income

16. Comprehensive code -for resolution mechanism to deal with bankrupty situations. Banks to benefit.

17. Presumptive tax at 50% for professionals earning upto 50 lakhs seems too high. Not sure this works.

18. Deepening of corporate bond market big boost for corporates & Debt mkts. Steps to build retail participation in long term bonds needed

19. NHAI,etc to raise 15000 crore in 2016 to give impetus to infra -more tax free bonds? Good for retirement portfolios if continued.

20. 100% electrification in villages with a target date in 2018 is a big step. Greater confidence on back of past performance.

21. Rs. 55,000 cr for roads n highways – huge investment in road and infra rs 97,000 cr in the coming yearr, togethr with rail @ Rs 218k cr

22. Continued focus on road building is good long term step. Focus on what has a worked well is good mgmt. Build on what has worked.

23. Doubling of farmers income in 5 years will depend on the real income increase i.e. post inflation inc. Hope inflation is controlled.

24. CSR funds & donations for higher education capital fund creation -is Rs 1000 crores good enough for an initiative of this scale?

25. Digital literacy creates equal access, but self help requires intrinsic motivation & job access. Can enough new jobs be created?

26. Fiscal discipline, tax reforms & financial sector reforms as part of 9 pillars of 2016.

27. Fiscal target to be maintained at 3.5% – good news for bond markets & positive for India rating. Fiscal prudence wins for now.

28. Fiscal target range as a strategy to be reviewed through a committee to factor ext. environment changes. Hope range is narrow.

29. Govt gross borrowings and net borrowing numbers seem lower than expectations – positive for bond markets.

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With literally thousands of stocksbonds and mutual funds to choose from, picking the right investments can confuse even the most seasoned investor. However, starting to build a portfolio with which mutual fund or stock to buy might be the wrong approach. Instead, you should start by deciding what mix of assets in your portfolio you want to hold – this is referred to as your asset allocation. You should consider an asset allocation strategy based on your

  • Time horizon: Asset allocation will depend on how long can you hold on to that particular asset and whether you need it for a particular goal. If you need any of your assets for let’s say a down payment for your house which is due next year, then probably holding debt/fixed income oriented instruments is an option you should consider. Examples of debt include Bank or Corporate Fixed Deposits, short term bond funds, short term bonds and ultra short term or liquid Funds. On the other hand if you have a long term goal like retirement, you can allocate a large portion to equity oriented instruments and lesser towards fixed income oriented instruments. As you move closer to the goal, you can keep reducing the equity portion while increasing the debt component.
  • Risk tolerance: This is different for each one of us. An individual should have a realistic understanding of his or her ability and willingness to stomach large swings in the value of his or her investments. Risk tolerance will depend on age of an individual – middle aged individuals generally tend to be more risk tolerant, as they may have more capital available for investing and have longer term goals.

 

In a volatile market scenario like the one we are witnessing now, and have also witnessed in the past, asset allocation becomes all the more important. The table below shows Sensex High and low on various dates. It also shows percentage fall from high. As you can see , the 1 year returns are as high as 105.9% from April 2003, but are also accompanied by a negative 1 year return to the tune of -31% from January 2008 during the US subprime crisis. Thus, had someone invested all of their money in equity prior to 2008 without a proper asset allocation in place, he would have incurred high losses in 2008. If someone would have invested keeping their goals, time to goals, risk tolerance, savings and expense pattern in mind, they could have held on to their existing investments while strategically rebalancing their portfolio as against panic selling and booking losses. The situation that we are facing now in 2015 around the Greece bankruptcy crisis and Chinese slow down have also resulted in Indian markets correcting significantly. The fall might look attractive to a lot of investors, and they might start buying irrespective of the asset allocation they might have charted for themselves. In our opinion, such events will come and go, and it will always be a challenge for investors to know how much further they could fall. Therefore instead of trying to time the market or haphazardly investing in what looks attractive,e one should go by ones pre defined asset allocation, because what looks attractive today may lose its sheen tomorrow.

Table 1 : SENSEX fall history

UntitledSource: Bloomberg, Reliance Mutual Fund

Historically, broad asset classes move in relation to each other are fairly consistently (for eg., when stocks are up, bonds tend to be down and vice versa). In diversifying the allocation across asset classes, you can potentially create a portfolio with investments that do not all move in the same direction when the market changes. However, if you only spread investments only by industry (eg. automobiles vs. pharmaceuticals), they are all in the same asset class (i.e., all in equities) and respond similarly to market changes. You are therefore open to much greater market risk. Asset allocation helps keep volatility in check.

Ultimately, there is no one standardized solution for allocating your assets. Individual investors require individual solutions. Asset allocation is not a one-time event , it’s a life-long process of progression and fine-tuning. Empirical data shows that it pays to be diversified across asset classes.

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Asia’s biggest economy & the world’s second largest economy is slowing, the Federal Reserve is about to kick off an interest rate tightening cycle, and China has just devalued its currency. Is this the repeat of Asian Financial crisis we saw in 1997? There are certainly parallels, but important differences as well. This time around, Asian economies have stronger current account balances, fiscal positions and foreign exchange reserves that provide a thicker buffer against turbulence. In addition, the exchange pegs that existed at that point have seen significant changes as well.

China’s Yuan devaluation comes on top of a steep slowdown in the world’s second-biggest and Asia’s biggest economy (Japan was No. 1 back in 1994) and a commodities slump that is hurting nations from Brazil to Australia, Malaysia and South Africa. Chinese companies now threaten to displace exports from Asian and emerging market competitors just as the U.S. Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates for the first time since the global financial crisis.

Analysts have also questioned China’s growth outlook although it posted economic growth of 7% year on-year in the second quarter, unchanged from the first quarter. They point out that Chinese growth cannot be sustained in the second half of the year given the exports decline and the drop in financial services’ contribution to the economy following the Chinese equity rout. They said a lot more may be needed to achieve this year’s target growth rate of 7% for the economy, given the weaker-than-expected macroeconomic data in recent weeks. To-date, Beijing has cut interest rates four times since November and also reduced the amount of money that banks need to keep with the central bank. Also, large infrastructure projects continue to have funding. However, the good news is that falling real estate prices in China, which were seen as a very big threat, have started to stabilize.

Let’s take a look at why is this happening? After the sub-prime crisis in the US and the steep fall in markets following the Lehman Brothers bust, the world has tried to solve the problem by throwing more and more money at the problem – money printed and lent out at near zero interest rates almost all over the developed world.

The US, after seven years of grappling with the problem, is still making only intermittent noises about raising interest rates; if the markets continue to crash and the global economy slows down, it may yet chicken out; Europe is keeping near zero rates in the hope growth will revive even as Greece is trashing about for survival; Japan kept the money-printing presses working overtime for more than a decade, but has, under Shinzo Abe, gone back to the same trick of monetary expansion.

The Chinese are unable to grapple with the new challenges that come with becoming the world’s second largest economy and key driver of demand. Two issues are paramount: one, there is huge financial repression, where Chinese savers are paid low returns and the cheap money raised from them has been invested uneconomically in unwanted infrastructure; and two, while financial repression helped fund investment-led growth over the last three decades, today it is constricting consumption – which is what China needs to boost internal growth.

India could use the opportunity provided by China’s problems to get its own growth engines revving. The tumult in China’s stock markets has turned into a blessing for Indian shareholders. Investors who poured into India in 2014 pulled back this year over concerns about taxes and the slow pace of reforms, preferring markets such as China, Taiwan and South Korea..

Now, fears about Chinese stock market volatility and Beijing’s interventions are overriding those concerns and driving them back to India. In this way India can have a much bigger pie of global capital which it can use to fund infrastructure requirements.

We find India a good alternative, given its improved macro data.

On the inflation front, a fall in both Consumer Price Index(CPI) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI) continued. CPI based inflation in July decreased to 3.78% from 5.4% in June 2015 due to a higher base last year. WPI fell for 9th consecutive month to -4.05% from -2.4% in the previous month. India is gaining from cheaper commodity prices. Cheap global crude and commodity prices mean that the imported component of inflation will also be lower. In fact, its impact is clearly visible in the wholesale price index, which has been showing negative growth for nine consecutive months now, mainly due to high deflation in minerals and mineral oil. India imported $139 billion worth crude and petroleum products in the 2015 fiscal, and as a rough rule of thumb, every $1 drop in crude prices results in a $1 billion drop in the country’s oil import bill. This will be good for reduction in India’s Current Account Deficit. India also imports $3 billion of copper and copper products. Also, lower input costs translate into higher profit margins for many Indian corporates. This will be a major respite for them. Due to depressed domestic demand, they had been struggling with their pricing power over the past few years, and were not able to pass on the increased cost.

With the government of India focusing on “Make in India,” this may be the time to provide impetus to manufacturing and even invite Chinese companies to set up a manufacturing base in India. However, this may require fast-tracking several pending economic reforms and easing the norms for doing business in India.

The Indian rupee has also been relatively stable over the last couple of years, vis a vis other emerging market currencies. This relative stability of the Indian currency, adds comfort to investors looking to invest in India.

Last but not the least, whilst most parts of the developed world are currently sitting on record low interest rates, India is one of the few countries which can potentially see interest rates getting cut, making it attractive for both companies to begin their investment cycle, as well as improve margins for corporate India going forward.

All in all, China’s pain could be India’s gain, but it won’t come easy. After all, there are no easy roads to success, doors only open to a combination of hard work and the constant desire to get better.

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Asset Allocation should also include global stocks and mutual funds as a diversification strategy is always better. Its always good to get the best of all global markets.

Break your home bias-page-001

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