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Straight from the Specialists

Where the growth in Q1 came from

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

GA man walks his cow under high-tension power lines leading from a Tata Power sub station in Mumbai's suburbs February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/FilesDP growth of 5.7 percent in the April-June quarter was unexpected in view of the southward drift of India’s economy over the past two years. No wonder it pepped up the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at a time when the ruling coalition is listing its achievements after 100 days in office. The question is where this growth came from and whether it will be sustained in future.

India’s economy has been slowing after achieving 9 percent growth three years ago. That was because the Congress-led government failed to fuel the economy. The absence of policy reforms, paralytic governance – combined with persistent inflation – discouraged investment. Growth tapered to 4.7 percent last year.

The Q1 data seems to signal a recovery with growth jumping to 5.7 percent. Some sectors did perform exceedingly well with over 10 percent growth. The first is electricity though its size in the overall economy is small. But it has now come up against stubborn problems like coal shortage, which has harassed the power sector. Coal production is unlikely to increase and the power sector will have to fall back on imports. The 10 percent increase in power generation contributed 3.4 percent to the increase in GDP in the first quarter.

Business services such as finance, insurance, and professional services like IT also exhibited high growth. This sector is a major contributor to GDP and constitutes nearly a fifth of the economy, and developed at a double-digit rate. Consequently, about a third of the increase in GDP has come from this sector alone.

Markets Weekahead: After new Modi govt, correction to continue for a few weeks

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After a dream run for markets, we witnessed a correction last week with the Nifty declining about 1.86 percent to close at 7,229. The smaller stocks also paused — the NSE mid-cap index lost about 4.5 percent.

Incidentally, India entered the top 10 markets in terms of market capitalization and we should soon cross the market capitalization of US $ 1.5 trillion once the upswing resumes.

India Markets Weekahead: Markets back on track for pre-election rally

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The week started on a sombre note but with institutional activity picking up, the Nifty closed with gains of 1.97 percent at 6276 despite a mid-week trading holiday. Political activity also gained momentum with 11 parties coming together to form a Third Front to oppose both national parties.

 

The Election Commission may announce election dates in the coming week — the code of conduct coming in will halt any policy decisions.

Slow pick-up in India’s GDP growth

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GDP estimates by the Central Statistics Office for the 2013-14 fiscal year show an improvement over the previous year. But the extent of improvement is too small for comfort. Possibly, in the final revision, that small margin may disappear or even turn negative.

This year, India’s GDP is expected to be up 4.9 percent from 4.5 percent the previous year. This additional growth has come mainly from agriculture, due to a favourable monsoon. Agricultural growth was three times the previous year. Production of non-food grains (like vegetables and fruits), and animal products (like meat and eggs), did not increase adequately in spite of the inflated demand and will continue to be the main source of inflation.

How much will U.S. recovery help India?

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After a prolonged slowdown, the U.S. economy is finally showing signs of recovery though much of it comes from investment in inventories and may not be sustained at the present high rate.

The United States is the largest economy with a share of more than 22 percent in the world GDP. Naturally, even small changes in its behaviour have a perceptible impact worldwide. To India, the United States counts for a lot, although possibly less than it does for China.

India Markets Weekahead: Results of state elections a key driver

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

Markets had been on a roller-coaster ride but closed weak for the third week in the row with the Nifty in the 5950-6000 range providing support.

A hint from the U.S. Federal Reserve on tapering its bond-buying programme was enough to spook the markets. Though this is expected in the first quarter of the new year, it remains to be seen whether chairman-elect Janet Yellen’s dovish stance would postpone it further.

Rajan panel proposals not a cure for disparity among states

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The report of a committee headed by Raghuram Rajan on backward states has drawn attention to development disparities among states in India. Not that these were not known or assessed before. The report offers an index for identification of states according to the degree of backwardness and their share of financial assistance from the central government.

The committee’s recommendations, even if efficiently implemented, are not likely to show results soon. The per capita income in Bihar, for example, is a fourth of the per capita income of Goa and half that of Gujarat. But it is encouraging that GDP growth in backward states has recently accelerated and, to some extent, reduced the income gap. It took place because state governments realized that growth counts politically, not because of any additional assistance from the central government.

A bumper crop may energize Indian industry

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

Industrial growth in India in 2012 was less than a percent and data from April and May this year doesn’t show a lot of promise. The reluctance of industry to grow has been the reason for GDP growth dropping to a disappointing 5 percent, raising doubts about whether the India story has come to an end. That may be an extreme view considering that even the best performers, such as China, are having problems.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Monsoon rains have been above average this year and a bumper crop is expected. Agriculture contributes to around 20 percent of India’s GDP and even an 8 percent increase in agricultural production will at best improve GDP growth by a percent. But agriculture does have an impact on industry and both together can make a perceptible difference.

Hard currency status a wishful dream for the rupee

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

A hard currency is one that is globally accepted as an exchange currency for trade. It is also expected to remain less volatile in the short term and indicate long-term stability through its purchasing power. The perceived strength and confidence in a currency is also a function of its country’s political milieu, fiscal and trade balances, the policy of its central bank and future economic outlook.

Let us look at all these parameters in the context of the Indian rupee and see where it stands on its journey towards acceptance as a hard currency.

How do we explain India’s economic woes?

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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)

Our GDP growth rates have slid consistently quarter on quarter from 8.5 to 5.3 pct. Surely this is in keeping with a glaring trend. Therefore, this sudden surge of emotions and panic after wallowing in so such mass self-deception is surprising to say the least.

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