Bank Policy Wednesday: India stands PAT on rates in December

Even as RBI shows concern about the retail inflation, it has probably factored in the welfare sustenance supply chain requirement that has necessitated a higher tick of Food inflation likely to last till 2015. Even though the jump in core inflation to 2.66% has reached worrying levels, the RGR regime has played it on the level, standing by the current Bank rate at 7.75% . As banks have already moved off the higher MSF lending or the last quarter, banks would anyway be unaffected by the lack of change but the markets can seriously take the impending rally’s mechanics from here .

The FOMC reports later in the India day, closer to midnight when they can , we agree, start with an early taper. However, The Fed meeting is likely to also be a sendoff for Ben Bernanke and so any such major policy announcements may be skipped for Janet Yellen to attend to in February, April or even June 2014 and as the Fed has managed so adroitly, the Taper would not mean tightening. Though the Dollar remains weak, the Taper is unlikely to still avoid the Dollar strengthening into a vise like grip on the US own Economy.

On India’s Policy announcement, the 7.5% mark would have been even better but as noticed concerns on Food and Primary inflation are real and may spill over to Core inflation unless kept in check. The RBI Governor notes that Vegetable prices that jumed 99% in the Friday WPI report may fall sharply.

Yesterday’s Review noted, in the overall scenario

In India, the pick-up in real GDP growth in Q2 of 2013-14, albeit modest, was driven largely by robust growth of agricultural activity, supported by an improvement in net exports. However, the weakness in industrial activity persisting into Q3, still lacklustre lead indicators of services and subdued domestic consumption demand suggest continuing headwinds to growth. Tightening government spending in Q4 to meet budget projections will add to these headwinds. In this context, the revival of stalled investment, especially in the projects cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Investment, will be critical.

Banks have garnered $34 Billion from FCNR Deposits and India’s FX reserves have jumped at a $5 Bln every week from $277 Bln odd at the end of November and now at $291 Bln. RBI continues to flag the negative output gap and even a slowdown in Services

Also factored into the December decision is the virtual shutdown in Spending by the Government from January as revenues remain not so robust, which would strain interbank liquidity (LV?CNBC18)

It is good that RBI has returned to not being overtly reactive to the inflationary economy and GDP in March could have a larger chunk of the good news premium Indian data has been lacking since the year began.

India Morning Report: Thursday’s bounce engenders positive weekly closing

Foreign currency reserves and gold minus exter...
Foreign currency reserves and gold minus external debt, based on 2010 data from CIA Factbook. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long targets have returned to traders even though no net position longs would be carried home at close as en early end to the bear festival on Thursday engendered a great change in mood across the three markets in Bonds and Government Debt, Currency and Equities. To remember despite  the targets for a 10000 Banknifty and a 5400 Nifty uts ale in some quarters you should not take the change in sentiment to heart too early and endanger your precious capital as markets may take less than the 4 remaining sessions to send the Nifty and Bifty(Banknifty) options south on Calls and gaining more than 300% on Puts in the spirit of Open interest remaining strongly on the short end despite the offing of short positions yesterday. Sorry about sounding pessimistic as the bounce could be meant for serious investors but such blah is unlikely to save the India oriented investors in such traps as created by this early bounce back rush by the shorts themselves.

Sorry Mitesh and best of luck to those winning daily contests on predominantly long positions on the weekly close as indices at 5400 are not overvalued but the currency run is not complete and with the propensity of correlation binding all the different markets to be true for a market yielding negative returns one must suspect shorts to outweigh longs in the market and stay away. Banks are unlikely to have serious impediments to loan volumes at higher rates Credit growth reported for the first week of August returning to above 15%, a supremum for most markets above the size of $1-2 Bln per month in new credit  Also banks are not going to be paying for the rising yields for time to come int he interests of financial stability keeping their share of GDP intact India’s FX reserves are in the bottom fold globally but a s a global Gold home market, it may continue a bounceback on days when Gold s indeed favored over withdrawal of global liquidity by OECD Central Banks with BOE Governor and BoJ unlikely to favor tightening despite the chance to follow the US into a change in stance after 5 years.

Equit y indices moving t 4700 lus will again erode value from the perfunctory jumped prices in IT s their Export oriented Metals and Pharma sectors get entrenched in investor psyche and Banks, Metals and eve Bajaj Auto, Bharti and ITC are likely to hold investor interest. Which makes it rosy peach for investments in IDFC and YES Bank while ICICI Bank may continue to list among the few advances ona daily basis making i easy for Bulls to survive the remaining stressed days till september series exits though 4700 levels could be accelerated to reach by mid September itself given the easy moves down in the Rupee by more than  a Rupee each day to the Dollar


India Morning Report: The President of Rollbacks, and the nadir of the Rupee

Economy (Photo credit: yourdoku)

In an extreme show of brinksmanship..India has been taken for a ride by speculators and brought back in an equally unorthodox fashion. Depending on the moolah you get from your editor and or Academic Dean or the strength of the victuals of your audience and that of your economics philosophy, the average high end Economist could turn this review into a one a month policy piece. Any number of breaks can be introduced in the sentence we started with to fill the essay, Ajay Shah for example saying (TV18) “none of it was required” and again falling through the cracks of mainstream and outliers alike among Economists. In any other normal Economic critique of philosophy, one would have added a qualifier “likeminded” before Economists here.

(sic!) Thence we avoid the other tricks of the trade to assume a daily weight to each day’s weights and wait to lookback on this month in a decade and hopefully for that our parsimonious allocation of just a Morning report time-length shall justify the deeper review whenever we do return to full time writing. Right now, Economic necessity of this individual calls.

And in that light, The Rupee hit 64, yields hit 9.5% and like a rubber band returned to pre-crisis yields of below 9% yesterday itself and 8.33% today showing trades have returned to the 10 year bond. Active Demand returning to Fixed Income of course means the Rupee move is a goner and thus one should assume, we will remain at these 63 levels for years to come before the next deep cut moves the currency related victuals of the Economy by double digits again. Incompetency of Exports apart, that takes care of India Inc’s static export volume issues on keel , the government has managed to turn the trick with Government spending too, focusing on the growth in Services in Q2, ET reminding us in time in today’s op-ed pages inside

Another funny one has been the markets stuck up attitude toward, India has FX reserves, it should use it’ almost like a mouse trap the NSEL was, (for unaccounted cash in wholesale transactions). Money stock has largely returned to the mainstream economy through Financial devices alone and it is hardly a coordinated supercomputer timed perfect metamorphosing of the India problem and its solution.

The markets can in the meantime thankfully return to investing in banks, PSU banks likely to score on their 20% of book(Advances) in homeloans. BTW, Rajan is silent because he takes reins formally in September. The King Chidambaram and President Pranab in the meantime look askance at the sharp turn because it does no bring in a single dollar inflow. imagine the glee of reformer in queue Narendra Modi and his ilk

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2.  A political, ethnic, or ancestral division of ancient states and cultures, especially:

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c. A phyle of ancient Greece)

India Morning Report: Rupee still juggling the trap mechanics as water boards up

HDFC Bank (Photo credit: [s e l v i n])
 With FDI pronouncements unlikely and more than $170 bln in debt redemptions due in FY 2014, the more policy makers dither on shoring up FX reserves with bond offerings the more the risk to the currency from flat international trade and eager money flow watchers finding it a tempting investment with a small investment and a big payout in percent returns.

However, it is today (and just today’s trade likely) only that the lackadaisical equity moves still risk a big rupee downside as equities are sustaining a large 6000 level in light of the real reassessment of Indian prospects as a flurry of GDP downgrades continue. The cyclical reinforcement of this downside risk aka in Latam and east Asian examples of the past is unlikely as equities are strong and the depth is likely to see the markets after a good show by HDFC Bank yesterday and a likely par for the course from TCS this morning.

Though longs would have to wait for their time , further shorts in this market esp on the banks are unlikely to bear fruit. The money market investments made through mutual funds amount to an expected INR 1.6 Trillion and the Central Bank has immediately provided a reserved window of liquidity for these mutual funds to a sizable INR250 Bln as redemption pressure resumed on Monday/Tuesday. Yields hit 85 on Tuesday market open in the short term instruments but rbi lending to banks is at a minimum of 10.25%

With Foreign banks also reducing their footprint in light of Global Banking regulation of Capital and ringfencing, which exactly are wholesale players in India in the non PSU, well managed banks!! HDFC also reports today and axis a 4%+ margin again on its retail portfolio strength

India 3.0 – A question of balance (A Calendar of Economic Events)

Trading strategies are more the norm at this time of the day but the markets have finally regressed the entire cycle of events from the mid 90s to retrieve a year or at least a month of flat no move left stock markets and the rupee after a valiant afternoon early last week, follows into submission.

By our calendar, India Inc and indian polity have more twiddling of thumbs despite the Parliament out of the way till New Year festivities start in earnest and the Opposition crosses probably into a near win zone against the losing Indian government, a sinking ship, ripe for deserters and hence the time for foreign media to make a tattle tale red a**ed monkey impact on things.

One still thinks ofcourse that India Inc will survive the remaining year as the financial markets have, propped by liquidity though consumption is likely to be a dampenedr in the coming festive season with means stripped of all respect in the Ways and Means advances of a government, 33% of plan spending and 52% of non plan spending exhausted in one quarter and personal consumption enjoying the hit from inflation every week.

Ofcourse the Indian polity has been early pioneer and we the commentators have been as usual late in adapting to India 3.0 which like 1.0 and 2.0 before simply refuses to budge from positions, movements and growth rates established last after a severe drought in the early 20th century and a westernised relief program by the then British sponsored Congress governments in the principalities of Indian maharajahs.

The Anna movement has fizzled out without a viable political color, NaMo and Nimo apparently not good for a national calling and Rahul Gandhi not coming out to take charge, the old generation moving on has also provided pause for those of us born in the 70s as more entry line recrutiting takes salaries , if any , to 20 somethings and no growth industry replaces againg telecom infrastructure stories banks amnaging to gro credit to NBFC, Real estate (Affordable Housing) and other services industries.

FDI collars for old sectors, new banks and growth calls for the pack waiting for work yet still snagging salaries at IPL linked marketing companies, erstwhile growing BPO and IT companies or NPA hit PSU banks are yet a year or more away. Not much is expected from IIP data and Manufacturing Output growth data on Wednesday while Friday’s WPI data and that of FX reserves is unlikely to move decisively either, yet not be in the rut, WPI having improved for the last three-four months. European inflation data is likely to be worse today when most nations report than tomorrow when Italy and Sweden are scheduled to report while key South Korean, Russian and Aussie data speeden the recovery by the currencies against the dollar.

Weakness in Commodities does not a Rupee trade make.

The One Rupee Banknote.
The One Rupee Banknote. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am willing to admit I am rather a big Macro kind of person even during trading and as most are, the Rupee’s upside is indeed limited by the size of the market it plays. While the Aussie does not want to and yet makes stronger against the Dollar, the dollar itself wantonly strengthens contrary to tis economy’s weakness because of the “Flow to safety” trade and because of the large foreign holdings of Treasuries not unlike the yen ( that story in the later paragraphs, do read thru for it will also play out) thus a weak Friday Jobs report for the first week of July meant that the weakness of data actually was expected to and did make the Dollar stronger and later bring it to the brink of a deflationary scenario.

It does not need to be the Dollar to affect such an inverse transaction as Yen has suffered for years on end and the Euro and the Pound Sterling carry a similar risk. On the Indian side however, the comparatively lower Dollar value of trades in the currency similarly preclude the rupee from having any upside advantage and as it gets stuck on the Euro’s downside its inverse transaction riding the Dollar Index is much more than other currencies.

Other trading economies of Asia including the pass thru trading economy of Singapre, similarily suffered but the Won and the SGD benefit from the larger share of Dollar transactions and build out a better case for strength in the currency and thus domestic inflation and interest rate management with slightly weaker equities as witnessed in Korea when Samsung results took the equities down but the Won managed.

Speculative flows make the Rupee’s comeback from 56 levels tougher as witnessed in sharp comebacks pegged to the Dollar Index (DXY) on Friday. However if there is strength and institutions are willing to trade it to 54 and lower on the “upside” nothing can stop it from happening as flow traders would ride that move equally.

Similarily a global weakness in commodities would help other Asian currencies including Indonesia as the Sell Indonesia buy India trade probably winds down if the Rupee remains weak in the face of weaker commodity demand from lower global trade demand for commodities Oil and Gold controls will therefore only help the Rupee gain back ground rather than fixatiing on government support from $289B in Forex reserves.

At certain points in the climb though Rupee does acknowledge the weakness of the Euro and that could be material in bringing the rupee to competitive levels and win back benefits from the falling commodities price cycle that begins with the Dollar Index poised to hit 90.

A State sponsored SWF

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited
Image via Wikipedia

While the planning commission has apparently detailed all sector expenditure till now, the forex crisis is likely to continue for the state as the Indian rupee looks for levels like 65 and 72 while hanging on to 50 rupee levels.

India’s 117 bln deficit ( for the first eight months) structural disconnects from the global scenario and the inability of monetisation as a tstrategy to fill shortfalls in even a single head of expenditure means that the government is trying everything in the book to avoid the fisc crossing 5.4-5.5% against a target of 4.6% Excess expenditure on food and fertiliser subsidies amount to $10 bln by itself, and the bill goes on to include many other subsidies incl the one on energy (fuels) Stae Electricity Boards and infrastructure providers like BHEL have long employed barter in economic trade domestically and internationally as well as sale and lease back. States are running higher interest bearing $1.5 bln and more of bonds to pay for their deficit this year

The impact on our forex reserves of $310 bln ( Currency reserves are more than 90% of the reserves) can easily be imagined and thuis automatically there is more pressure on the rupee to go down rather as warranterd by the transactions required much like any of the midcaps trading in our own market with hardly 1% volume in traded shares

Bombay High, South Field. Undersea pipelines c...
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All the above reasons cannot preclude one from using some of those reserves for the state sponsored infrastructure debt fund and thus the SWF india still does not own. Those investments will fill critical gaps in Indi’s social and physical infrastructure and are a required head for planners to cement and excute in the period till 2017. The fiscal deficit in the mean time will be funded by such interesting propositions as cross ownership of equity of PSE already employed extensively in traditionally developed economies of Europe and unlikely to cause much more discomfort than having state enterprise managements on their toes. even if ONGC, SAIL and BHEL are taken first and buybacks in COal India also considered we will more than cross the over spend on food and fertiliser subsidies and reduce the burden on OMCs However PSEs might want to wait to find like minded PSEs for cross holdings like the OMCs int he same sector with ONGC and if such patchwork can be arranged in the next 4-6 weeks, I daresay people would be willing to wait. NMDC already employs cross holdings ina  lot of erstwhile mining companies and the plan for buybacks and cross ownership is as old as the concept of BRIC economies

India’s Grand Design? or just a Maha – myth

Brasília - O presidente da Rússia, Dmitri Medv...
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There’s a brilliant analysis by  Gayatri Nayak, in the Economic Times today. Brilliant because that is something in plain data and in plain sight what every Corporate indian and even every Indian citizen otherwise or any other species observing India on the World stage wonders. We are the I in BRIC like the I in Team, we are the I in interest rates when the world is reducing them with alacrity to avoid a depression. Our oil still costs a $110 a barrel, 2 of the BRIC nations almost get it virtually free from their own energy resources, the third and the first citizen in every economic miracle now is China.  even if everything in the Local Infrastructure run for China collapses, the 25% LGFV default will just reduce its growth to 0 when it is going through its slowest phase in manufacturing. nary a hope of a recession. And there the similarity with India ends, but with others it has much more in terms of dependence on commodities, energy, and hot money flow magnitudes that just do not compare with the rupee trading at its lowest.

Read the ET article here:

The foremost problem is the speed at which the prices are rising — from assets to commodities to manufacturing to services. This could deal a long-term blow to businesses, making them unviable. Prices have been gaining more than 8% for more than a year now. The main reason for the fall in profitability at companies is rising input prices and not finance charges as it is made out to be.

“India is less integrated with the global economy” was the argument then. While it may still be true when compared with many Asian emerging economies, this advantage has narrowed down over the years. While the overseas debt has gone up to $306 billion at the end of March 2011 from $221 billion at the end of March 2008, the cushion of foreign exchange reserves went down to $305 billion from $310 billion over the same period.

As far as decoupling is concerned, the bottom is the same for everyone but thence everyone of the global economies from the G7 to the G20 to even Mongolia would have decoupled on the way up . The great contrast in each competitive resource advantage and each strategy in Brazil, China, USA and Europe will determine very different trajectories of growth seen and supported in the Financial markets.

At stake is the order of magnitude of investment and infrastructure which others have harnessed earlier than India. But while the others may be volatile in responding to global stresses, India just becomes a sub standard risk to carry without the heat of a growth running up that order of magnitude. Others have much more command and control mechanisms as witnessed in Turkey and China, to ensure transmission of policy do’s and don’ts. If we do, it stays confined to one single Corporate group or region The regional imbalances are much greater in China and Russia, even Brazil and the smaller economies are exclusively better risks for the global investor because they are entirely dependent on that investment and deliver  a bang for the buck like Coal in indonesia and iron ore in Mongolia, but smehow that focus continues to deliver a faster sustainable growth while our discussion of imbalances makes evryone a victim in the end?

We could very easily be at the same stage as China if we had better transmission of policy cash and of policy mechanism to channel the growth. We may still be doing much more for our poor than China which has apparently been focussed on just the coastal “districts” ( urban conglomerates) that were already trading with Hongkong and the rest orf the world. But what we miss is the global demand or investor interest which cannot be just delivered to those shouting from the rooftops or those taking to the streets by fast and by suicides.

An administered rate of exchange with 10 rupees to the Dollar can bring it though. It will bring into focus our strategic decisions and investment in growth to a direct returns comparision with global investments. It is also the rate at which PPP trades for India to the Dollar. And it is probably the singular reason  why no one bothers to hear us on the table or give us preference or deference in trade.

Probably why we are so happy at rupee depreciation so we can get more value for our immediate quarter from IT exports when export growth in cotton, tea and even coffee and oil could mean so much more to us. In non It exports we will still remain satisfied with 2 – 3 million tonnes of Rice, wheat, Onion and some other crops but we remain the top 4 producers of those and falling behind every year.

Probably our priorities for infrastructure investment also need that push to file up behind the Exports doing the best and easily sustainable as in agri-commodities and gems and Jewelry

but that is the cliched argument no one has acitoned for the last 60 years. never.

Gross domestic product growth in the advanced ...
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Mind the Gap: Managing the fiscal overdraft – India trumps up the inflation watermark?

Detail from Government. Mural by Elihu Vedder....
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There are not going to be any receipts from Spectrum

With India not likely to buy and sell LTE specturum for some time to come (4G for those new to the lexicon) and the CAG working overtime, the disinvestment target and other extraordinary receipts are unlikely to bridge indian public profligacy ( in social welfare and health by any stretch? no, the frozen budgets in planned defence, infra and more) Fortunately for the government more people realise that the current budget document is already optimised in terms of no pie in the sky dreamy allocations unlike the NDA and the tweet hungry leadership of the next gen’s likeliest hopes. Though the UPA does not hold too much of an audience no one is close to taking India’s geo political stability but the wallet is spending more in the hope for growth and yet with retail inflation holding higher watermarks for 2012 every passing day, it comes back to the budget and its 4.6% deficit. The first rumors of the overkill were early but the likely amount to be overshot by the year end at its least is still coming out from compatriot and global desks at more than 5%, a good 0.5% gap..showing that most do not expect Indian bureaucracy’s due diligence to hold within the first five months when it comes to reading the reportcard in February next. ( I am not rewriting that, you’ll have to manage with that..and do write back in comments if you can help) The nominal growth in GDP of 15% or even higher may still leave the nation with a sub 7% growth and as fiscal charge in the other direction instead of moving to 3% of GDP

We need a $10 bln Sovereign fund of our own

The first 5 months data are usually the reason to read the crystal ball, and this time we have already achieved the first few successses with record 30% growth in gross tax revenues and 45% growth in Exports. Further down the road, one will note that there have been no changes in the dullness in Investments since the begininning of the post Diwali 2010-11 season Non Tax revenues in the first quarter were as high as INR 2 Tln last year in FY11 and now in FY12 they are only the usual penalties, fines and no spectrum to count only INR 1 Tln in the same period.  Also with reserves inching up to $320 bln we will likely get a SWF to channelise all the energy investments we are making to further proactively manage the deficit bill

The success of Revenue and Control mechanisms

Though deficit estimates haven’t been changed by the PMEAC much, deficit achieved in the first 4 months had creeped to more than 55% but the Government Borrowing program expected to be overshot by detractors has remained well within the targeted segment 50-70% of the much controlled INR 4.55 Tln program. The deficit on the fiscal side adds to the woes of the $55 bln trade deficit and the Forex reserves included our national reserves have hardly grown at $320 bln again much ahead of stock critics waiting to and having already criticised the likely $305 bln number in advance, to ready for the sub 7% GDP performance coming next in pre Diwali jitters

Banks will have to burden more in priority sector spending to ensure results in the government’s welfare program with new 10k loans in NREGA, the last INR70k lacs write off in 2009 a high watermark in this case too. Agriloans have fallen 30% since 2009.

The Fuel Subsidy Bill

The Fuel subsidy bill has been paid out in part but yet more than 2/3 of the government share is  going to be made only in the March quarter after the bill comes right and till then the likelihood of overreaching and ending up with a higher unpaid share borne by Oilcos ( OMCs) remains high esp with crude holding up at a higher peg and the subsidy bill being likely even 20% higher than the high watermark of last year The subsidy bill has likely increased to INR 400 bln or 40k Crores

The Twelfth plan spends

India has after 5 years of dillydallying finally targeted a higher healthcare expenditure ( MSA commited a target of 2.5% of GDP this year) and is still underspending on Defence and even the otherwise regularly “powered” infrastructure, social welfare and even education spending Tourism is likely to get increased allocations as it demands a 4X increase in the 12 th plan ffrom $1.2 bln last year

Managing the external debt

According to the recent RBI report, India’s $306 bln external debt has commercial borrowings increasing to 28.9% from 17% in March 2010. That is the real good news qith government debt incl guarantees holding less than $87 bln. The Debt Service ratios have however fallen to 4.2 frm 5.2 showing less covered by the existing reserves and the commercial debt increase has happened mostly in short term borrowings ( growing by 24% in treasuries and overnight foreign debt) and the proportion of borrowings in overseas inter bank markets is more than 21% of all our outstanding debt. india’s external debt though is a shining 17% of the GDP lower than most comparable economies and leaving the country with a lot of spare borrowing capacity for non remunerative infrastructure investments.

India aims to spend $1tln in planned and annual budget expenditure on infrastructure in Private partnership incl $60 bln on ports( tripling capacity to 3,000 mln MT, and new allocations for food storage infrastructure. in mst infra heads our spendin g has been less than half the planned spend till 2012 and will come back with cost escalations inthe next plan

Mind the Gap

India’s tax receipts have increased to INR 155,000 crores in the period till August but tax refunds have increased disporportionately by 154% or INR 30,000 crores but on a gross basis still growing by 26% in the first four months and faster in cluding August numbers and yet staying almost still as all of it was paid back in refund demands, net collections still under INR 1 Tln. Corporate receipts have grown mre than 30% but probably tax collection ss will crawl back to March 2011 figures as the slowdown takes effect on balance sheets Our tax revenues have been estimated at INR 5.32 Tln of which till now 30% has been achieved. Even Personal tax collections are higher by 10,000 crores y-o-y

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