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Archive for the ‘Demonetisation’ Category

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Sixth bi monthly RBI Monetary Policy FY17

The RBI monetary policy committee ( MPC ) reiterated what it has indicated in its last meeting in December – concerns around core inflation continue to remain with seasonal impacts on currently low inflation on items like vegetables likely to go away over a period of time, a strong global recovery that could create inflationary risks though higher prices of commodities including oil, volatility in global currencies on the back of rate hikes in some developed economies and some pass through of the HRA component of the 7th pay commission implementation.

Whilst none of this was really new, there continues to be a view that what the MPC says and what they will do are different from each other. With two consecutive policies that have reiterated the same thing, we believe that markets will finally believe that the MPC means what they say, and their actions will be consistent with the same.

It is therefore critical to continue to remember that managing inflation in the 4-5% pa range continues to be the number one priority of the RBI , and therefore decisions are likely to be taken keeping this in mind, more than other data points.

Your investments

The RBI also moved its policy stance to ‘ neutral ‘ from ‘accommodative ‘ which possibly means that the interest rate cuts from its side are probably coming to an end. This may mean that investment strategies that were driven around interest rate cuts need to be pared down. However, we need to remember that a neutral policy does not mean that interest rates are going to go up on bonds and fixed income instruments, so there is no need for a complete change in investment strategy on fixed income side. A strong global recovery as indicated in the policy statement ,is actually excellent news for the Indian economy, as a global growth environment has traditionally been positive for Indian companies, and therefore one should expect corporate earnings to get better going forward. The MPC has also indicated that they expect the economy to start showing a recovery going forward, so investments in equities could be enhanced for longer term investors. One also needs to remember that even thought RBI has probably stopped cutting interest rates, banks would possibly continue to cut loan rates as the transmission of the 1.75% rate cuts have only been about 0.85% to 0.9%, meaning that corporate India could continue to see lower loan rates going forward, helping their bottomline.

Your loans

With the banking sector flush with funds, and transmission only partially done, you can expect to see loan rates continue to drop for individual borrowers as well. It is a good time to refinance your loans, especially your home loan, in case you have not done so already. Be choosy about the loan provider that you use, as different variants of loans available could mean that you need to pick what works best for you.

April 6 is the next date to watch for the MPC meeting – expect some volatility in bond and currency markets till then, as they react to this shift to a neutral stance as well as other global events.

 

 

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Whilst there was a consensus view of RBI cutting repo rates today, with only the extent of the rate cut being questioned (would it be 0.25% or 0.5%?), Urjit Patel or rather the monetary policy committee (MPC) sprung a surprise by keeping rates unchanged. Both equity and bond markets reacted negatively to this as they were pricing in at least a 0.25% cut.

RBI was probably concerned by multiple factors – volatility in global financial markets that could be caused by a Fed rate hike, issues in the Eurozone, oil price rises, and the potential stickiness of consumer inflation around non food components.

One needs to remember that inflation targeting continues to be the core role of the RBI moving forward, and any risks to inflation are likely to result in a more conservative approach, tilted towards managing inflation in the inflation growth trade off.  In addition, the focus towards management by data is a significant positive, as markets can sometimes allow emotions to override incoming data, that may be to the contrary.

MPC pic

Your investments

The demonetisation impact on the Indian economy continues to be rather speculative in our opinion, with a very wide range of possible outcomes,. and data around the same is likely to continue to throw up surprises. For example, we have seen over the last few weeks, the quantum of cash deposits that have come back to the banking system have been significantly larger than originally anticipated. In light of the need to take portfolio investment decisions basis data, it may be prudent to look for broader trends to capture through your investment strategy for example fixed income products continue to offer a real rate of return in the region of close to 2%, continuing to make fixed income investments an attractive option. With liquidity continuing to be significant, it would be prudent to look at locking into current interest rates, through a combination of accrual oriented short term and medium term funds, tax free bonds and to also cover reinvestment risk. A portion of the fixed income allocations can continue to be allocated to taking the benefits of falling interest rates, by investing into dynamic bond funds where the fund manager has the flexibility to move portfolio durations driven by incoming data. Equity investors may need to enhance exposures gradually through a combination of rupee averaging and value averaging strategies, as the potential slowdown on the back of a US rate hike and a consumption slowdown driven by demonetisation, is balanced by possible liquidity flows from Japan and the EU, as well as equity prices, especially of large cap indices, now at levels much closer to fair value after the recent correction.

Your loans

With the expectation of cost of funds for banks coming down post demonetisation, banks’ lending rates are likely to continue to slide further down. Since April 1, 2016, when the MCLR was introduced, most banks have been reducing it gradually as their cost of funds came down. The huge inflow of funds post demonetisation could make them cut MCLR  further. Thus one can expect loan rates to continue to head downwards, creating some additional consumption or investing surpluses for families with loans.

Way Ahead

The RBI is clearly aware of the danger to the GDP growth rate and possible liquidity outflows, driven by the twin impact of demonetization and higher interest rates in the US. Thus a wait and watch policy may actually be a great idea. Whilst everyone will await the next policy on Feb 8th, one needs to remember that action by the RBI can also be done prior to that if necessary, and therefore should not be ruled out. After all, surprises and the independent nature of the RBI are back in fashion.

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