Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

The RBI and its inflation dilemma

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(Arvind Chari is a senior fund manager of Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of either Quantum AMC or Reuters.)

The wholesale price index number for September (7.81 percent) poses a dilemma for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). With the finance ministry leaving no opportunity to make its case for lower interest rates and exhorting the RBI to take ‘calibrated risks’, the recent inflation data gives no comfort to the RBI to go ahead and confidently cut the repo rate in its October policy review.

The headline WPI number was expected to be higher than the previous month on the back of an increase in diesel and LPG prices. The RBI has factored in the rise in fuel prices in its March inflation target and would overlook the recent increases for the time being as fuel price hikes also go about solving the fiscal deficit problem. Although headline inflation would remain high in the months to come, the RBI would choose to ignore domestic fuel price increases as a policy action needed to correct the fiscal imbalance.

But the central bank would have certainly hoped for lower manufacturing and food inflation. Despite the overall industrial slowdown, manufacturing inflation remains above 6 percent, as against the RBI’s comfort level of around 5 percent. Core inflation, a flawed but popular measure of tracking inflation, has also been consistently above the 5.5 percent mark in the last 3 months. For the RBI to be comfortable with the future inflation trajectory, given the backdrop of volatile food prices in India, manufacturing inflation needs to remain below 5 percent. This is not quite the case today.

When will India’s reforms show results?

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

After a long silence the spell has finally been broken. The second phase of reforms in the country has begun with almost the same conviction as the first but under different conditions. The 1991 reforms were under compulsion but the present reforms are voluntary. This is because the last 20 years have been a test to prove to ourselves that reforms help and they have substantially helped to make the country an emerging market economy.

A good start but we need more reforms

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

It’s been a pleasant surprise over the last week or so as the Indian government appears to have transformed itself from allegedly corrupt politicians out to sell the country’s resources (read 2G and coal mines) into a group which means serious business.

That’s the spirit, Mr Prime Minister

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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)

Manmohan Singh’s “if we have to go down, let’s go down fighting” comment is exactly the spirit which needs to be demonstrated by those in power. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Some pain needed for long-term growth story

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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)

The senior Bush’s call for a new world order following the end of the Cold War began unravelling authoritarian regimes which formed its delivery mechanism around the world.

Rating downgrade a credible threat for India

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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)

Indian stock markets have hardly gone anywhere since June, with the Nifty hovering in the 8-9 pct range. But the coming months may see a breakout of this range as volatility, as measured by the India VIX index, seems to be rebounding from four-year lows, after having fallen for three months in a row. A short-term break, out of the range, on the downside seems more probable.

Economic consequences of deadlock in Parliament

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

The monsoon session of Parliament has been a washout without any important business being transacted. This has been made out to be a political strategy on the part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to force early elections. Obviously, the Congress-led coalition is unlikely to oblige. The unintended victim is the economy which has been stopped from getting back to growth.

Indian markets stuck in a rut

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

It’s now been close to four years since domestic and global financial markets have been in a state of flux, plagued by uncertainty, as a slowdown ensures that government after government revises its growth forecast downwards.

Challenging times but hopes of recovery after 2014 polls

(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)

These are possibly the most challenging times for India because, simply put, every goal post seems to be oscillating.

Why the RBI preferred an SLR cut

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

The first quarter review of monetary policy did not create any ripples. The stock market remained flat and investors and consumers showed little interest. That was because RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao had made enough noise earlier that the time was not right and conditions were not suitable for a rate cut.

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