Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

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.

Time is not right simply because the original cause for the increase in the rate still persists. Inflation is what the RBI had set out to correct. Even in June, it was well over 7 percent and would quite likely scale up further with the monsoon being late and irregular and consequently agricultural production likely to drop.

The RBI did not have to wait for two and a half years to realise that repo is not really the solution to inflation. The RBI had targeted repo because the interest rate that the banks charge remains above the inflation rate. The real rate of interest — as the difference between the two is called — has to be positive to ensure that people do not give up their savings habit and debtors are not subsidised by creditors.

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