Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Gold not a good investment for now

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Since November, the price of gold has been unstable but in April, its decline was precipitated. What is surprising is not the fall itself but its speed. In just two sessions, gold prices dropped 13 percent in the steepest fall in 33 years. It wasn’t gold alone that got caught in the bear grip. Prices of other commodities such as silver, crude oil, copper and so on also declined, but not as sharply.

Why? Simply because the factors that caused commodity prices to rise in the last five years were no longer relevant. Gold was selling at $625 an ounce (860 rupees per gram) only six years back in 2008. That October, the world was plunged into a financial crisis of an unusual magnitude. Since then, there has been a rush for gold as an investment. Stock markets crashed, interest rates plunged, investors lost faith in financial assets and opted for gold as a safe investment.

That presumption was supported by subsequent trends in gold prices. Over the next five years, prices shot up in India as much as 3-1/2 times, making gold not only safe but also the most lucrative investment. The stock market took all that time to recover from the 2008 shock but has not, even now, come up to pre-crisis levels. Gold became a preferred part of the portfolio and gold-backed exchange traded funds (ETFs) were a favourite with investors.

India’s current account deficit: solution lies in exports

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The U.S. dollar is the major currency for international trade. Most countries use it to pay for their imports and also peg the dollar for exporting products and services.

The balance of trade (net import or export) would determine if a country is a net payer or a receiver of dollars. Trade, along with other dollar inflows (portfolio/FII, FDI, inward remittances), determines the overall availability of the international currency for a country to engage itself in the global economy. This also has a bearing on determining the exchange rate of a country’s own currency with that of the dollar.

Pitfalls of the food security bill

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The food security bill will be introduced in the current budget session of parliament, more because of its populist appeal than any economic urgency. Even when the bill was discussed by the Cabinet, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar reportedly had reservations. They had valid reasons.

Subsidized food distribution is nothing new. Already 400 million people avail of it from over 500,000 fair price shops. What the bill intends is to widen the scope of the present scheme and cover two-thirds of the population with five kg of grain per beneficiary at nominal rates.

Why FIIs are dumping India

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The Indian stock market is in a tizzy as foreign institutional investors (FIIs) seem to have pressed the sale button. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) data shows that while there was a considerable slowdown in FII inflow in March, we are seeing an outflow in April.

While net FII inflow in the equity markets remained above $4 billion for each month between December 2012 and February 2013, the net inflow for March was reduced to $1.68 billion. The trend reversed and during April 3-10, there was a net outflow every day, with cumulative outflow of $269 million during this period.

India Markets Weekahead: Time to wait and watch

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

A volatile week saw the Nifty closing 0.45 percent lower at 5528 after disappointing numbers from IT bellwether Infosys, which missed expectations on most parameters. The Bangalore-based company’s results also affected other IT stocks, with a number of them closing lower.

The markets have again proved that the biggest challenge for industry leaders is to manage expectations. Infosys, which was given a big thumbs-up after spectacular December quarter results, was pushed back to levels from where it had earlier risen like a Phoenix.

Investment boost needed to break India’s vicious cycle

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

The current account balance reported last month hammered in the fact that India is spending more than it saves. While it had been stubbornly in the red for all but a couple of years in the last two decades, reaching a record deficit in both absolute terms and in relation to the gross domestic product was sobering.

The battle for patent protection

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

The Supreme Court verdict on Glivec brought to an end the battle by Swiss drugmaker Novartis to exclusively market the cancer medicine. In doing so, the bench enunciated a principle to justify a patent only by its intrinsic worth of innovation.

Word and deed must match in Xi Jinping’s Boao speech

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden speech at the Boao forum is to be welcomed – but cautiously. The vision he has outlined of harmonious co-operation and co-existence among members of the global community has echoes of the 1954 Sino-Indian panchsheel (five principles of peaceful coexistence) agreement. History reminds us that the two Asian giants engaged in a brief border war in October 1962.

India’s privy purses and the Cyprus deal

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(Rajan Ghotgalkar is Managing Director of Principal Pnb Asset Management Company. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of either Principal Pnb or Reuters)

When the Indian republic took shape, the erstwhile maharajas and princes were granted privy purses. These were allowances which varied based on the size of their state and the revenue it generated.

Third-party motor insurance premiums fixed for new financial year

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Reuters)

A motor insurance policy consists broadly of two parts — third-party cover, which is regulated; and an ‘own damage’ cover, the premium for which is left to market dynamics.

The premium for ‘own damage’ cover, which forms the larger chunk of the insurance premium, is based on risk and competitive pressures.

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