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Posts Tagged ‘indian gdp’

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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