Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

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.

In practical terms, a current account deficit even at its current level is not bad in itself. However, it does imply that foreigners must be willing to finance the gap. And if the fund flows dry up, it could create economic imbalances including a weakening currency.

For the most part, these fund flows come in the form of either portfolio investments that can be moved freely, like in the stock market or direct investments that are more long term. While foreign direct investment is still flowing and has allowed the rupee to stabilize since the start of the year, a deeper look into its composition raises some concern.

The stock market’s delayed response to Budget 2013

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

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram tried to humour the market in his budget by cutting the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) which had been one of its sore points. But the market was not amused. The Sensex continued to slide, indifferent to the budget which was presented with a lot of expectations.

This appears to be rather strange because the budget was well received by the industry, in spite of the increase in surcharge from 5 to 10 percent. It was possibly the realization that the finance minister lived up to his promise of cutting fiscal deficit to 4.8 percent which created an infectious confidence in growth revival.

Budget 2013: Political strategy, not economic blueprint

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

With the dust settling after Budget 2013, the picture is getting a bit clearer. Opinions on the budget have ranged from praise to outright criticism. The true position lies somewhere in between — depending on one’s political inclination, views on the finance minister and one’s financial interests.

Most agree there is considerable misalignment between diagnosis and prescriptions in the budget. The three biggest problems identified by P. Chidambaram are:
- rising fiscal deficit that needs to be controlled
- high current account deficit and
- declining economic growth rate.

Budget 2013 should trim expenditure

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

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is only too aware of the damage done by the last budget and has to an extent repaired it to unleash investment. The next budget should confirm his commitment to growth.

The year the Indian economy stalled

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

The year 2012 has seen the worst an emerging market economy can tolerate. Had the government been a little less reticent and more proactive, growth would not have dropped this low in spite of the economy being mauled by inflation. Other emerging market economies did exactly that.

Will Indian stocks end 2012 on a happier note?

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(Rajiv Deep Bajaj is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Capital Ltd. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The rally in the Indian stock markets, fuelled by the so-called reform announcements, seems to have fizzled out. Frontline indexes have retraced more than 60 percent of the gains made since Sep. 13, 2012, the day the reform measures were made public.

Higher growth can help lower deficit

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India’s bloating budget deficit has been a matter of concern. It means more borrowing by the government which results in overcrowding of the debt market and consequently, a higher rate of interest for the private sector. It also raises the rate on borrowings from abroad due to the downgrading by rating agencies which is bound to follow.

When will the repo rate be reduced?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

In his policy review on Oct. 30, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor D. Subbarao stuck to his position that money cannot be made cheap when commodities are becoming expensive.

RBI policy: Cut in repo rate imperative

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is fixated on inflation and with that rigid mindset it is difficult to expect any liberalisation of monetary policy. But there are other parameters that have changed. Food inflation was down in September if that is any comfort. More than that, the budget deficit will be reduced with a cut in subsidies on diesel. There are also initiatives being taken on reforms. Obviously, the RBI needs to tune its policy to fit the new situation. If the RBI does change its stance, what instrument is it likely to use?

Time for real reforms, but low-hanging fruits remain

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

What seemed to be a lost cause merely three months ago has staged a remarkable comeback: the Indian government’s zeal for reform. After many months of dithering, the ruling Congress party remembered that it had the spine to stand up to fierce opposition from various state governments, finally getting its way on certain measures.

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