Indian Economy Situation Similar To 1991 – No Easy Solutions For Incoming Govt

Very relevant in today’ time…

Economics And India

Indian economy grew strongly till 2007-08 and then sputtered

Since the initial set of reforms in 1991, Indian economy has increasingly dependent on the global economic scenario in past 2 decades. From 2003-08, Indian economy grew at a strong pace primarily assisted by growth in global economy and liquidity flows. Low inflation levels during the period and focus on lower fiscal deficit in early part of the decade ensured that the country had fiscal stimulus measures in place when the economic crisis of 2008 struck.


The crisis resulted in global economy slumping which had a similar effect on India. Thereafter, in order to boost growth, Indian government embarked on a fiscal stimulus package which resulted in economic growth going back to ~ 8-9% by 2011. This also resulted in significant increase in fiscal deficit from ~ 3.5% in Fy2008 to ~ 6.5% in Fy2009.


However, not removing the extra stimulus…

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More articles now out in open stating dismal state of Indian economy

I always wondered whether I was the few ones who was being pessimist about Indian economy. I guess I am not alone. Slowly and surely, many blogs, articles and editorials are appearing in both offline and online world that suggest that all is not well. I am posting links below from various websites that support my earlier post. I will be adding articles and links as and when I get more of them.

1. Bleak future for BRICS, China only exception: Ruchir Sharma

2. India’s darkest hour – By Akash Prakash

3. Importer Nation – How a Billion Lives are being Destroyed

4. India’s economic decline

5. While we were silent

I have always felt that the current government’s policies and method of governance have a lot to do with the current situation.

I also agree with Mr. ‘s view on RBI and the present governor. I think RBI is the sole guardian of the currency at this point through its policies.


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Follow up to my earlier post on Yield Curves in India

Previously I had written how India’s sovereign yield curve is at best flat or humped at present and there are possibilities of it being inverted at some durations. . Also, in my earlier post, I had explained how INR cannot be stopped from massive depreciation despite the talks of FDI and other so-called reforms. For things to really change in a positive direction, it is domestic manufacturing and investment in infrastructure that needs to improve. The interest rates need to rise and be above the inflation levels for real rates to be positive.

RBI, India’s central bank, in recent days, has taken a series of steps to protect the rupee from further downslide.

Details can be found here

1. RBI announces Measures to address Exchange Rate Volatility

2. RBI announces Additional measures to address Exchange Market Volatility

Various articles explain the reasons for actions taken by RBI in recent weeks. Such as this, and this. No wonder, I feel that Mr. V. Anantha Nageswaran has been sympathetic to our RBI governor.

RBI actions are similar to those taken by other economies with huge CAD and slowing GDP growth rates such as Turkey and Indonesia. While the latter economies explicitly raised benchmark interest rates, RBI has thus far only indirectly raised the short end of the curve through the actions. 

In the backdrop of RBI’s liquidity tightening measure, yield curve shifted upwards with the 10 year G-sec yield rising sharply by ~100 bps from 7.4% to ~8.4%. The interesting aspect is that RBI also accepted 11% yield in 91-day and 10.47% yield in 364-day T-Bill auctions. This is clearly an indication of RBI’s intent to see an inverted yield curve. This also means that RBI is no longer bothered about growth but ensuring that INR doesnt fall from these levels. Another aspect is that because of the tight liquidity, banks may be forced to hike deposit rates. This would be actually good since it may bring back investors to bank deposits and increase the savings rate of the economy. In any case, I have always suggested that rates need to rise rather than fall for real rates to turn positive.

The actions also have a marginal positive impact on INR. Since RBI cannot control USD, it decided to squeeze the supply of INR in the system. Thus, INR has appreciated from 60-61 to ~ 59-60 in last few days. The interesting aspect is that INR hasnt appreciated significantly as expected by some market participants. As this post is being written, INR is now below 59. Whether the effect is temporary or INR comes back to 60 remains to be seen.

I continue to believe that it would take a change in government and its policies for the turnaround of the economy. The present government continues to go on its path of wasteful social and consumption expenditure rather than capital expenditure.

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14 Charts FedEx CEO Fred Smith Watches When He Thinks About The US Economy

Read more here

The original link and the ppt available here…

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Yield Curve Analysis of Indian Economy Since 2000

Over the past few weeks, the economy of India has been in focus because of various factors such as decline in INR, slowdown in industrial production, etc. We keep reading a lot of articles that suggest that the policies of current government are responsible for this state of affairs. However, most of these articles don’t have sufficient data or charts to support the same. This is an attempt to map macroeconomic data with the articles.

First of all, it needs to be understood that destruction of a solid foundation takes some time even for the worst policies. No wonder, the first few years of UPA government, i.e. from 2004-2008, didn’t show any bad effect on the economy. However, it was the post-crisis period that really showed what the government’s intent was.

I have already written in previous posts how certain policies have adversely impacted Indian economy in the last few years. This time around, I use the yield curves and the 10 year treasury yield to indicate the same.

Typical shape of the yield curve

A typical yield curve should be upward sloping indicating that the higher returns/rates/yields should be provided for taking higher risks which are generally over the long term. Similarly, lower returns/rates/yields should be for lower risks which are generally short term. In short, longer the time frame, higher should be the rate/yield that you should earn. Hence, a typical yield curve would look something like this.


For more details on yield curve, there are several articles that you can search on the net

There are several types of yield curve depending on the interest rate expectations in an economy as listed below –

1. Normal yield curve – his positive slope reflects investor expectations for the economy to grow in the future and, importantly, for this growth to be associated with a greater expectation that inflation will rise in the future rather than fall. For details, refer here

2. Steep yield curve – when the gap between the longer term maturities and 1-3 month maturities increases beyond the long term average, the economy is expected to improve quickly in the future. This type of curve can be seen at the beginning of an economic expansion (or after the end of a recession).

3. Flat or humped yield curve – all maturities have similar yields, whereas a humped curve results when short-term and long-term yields are equal and medium-term yields are higher than those of the short-term and long-term. A flat curve sends signals of uncertainty in the economy. This mixed signal can revert to a normal curve or could later result into an inverted curve.

4. Inverted yield curve – long-term yields fall below short-term yields. Long-term investors settle for lower yields now if they think the economy will slow or even decline in the future. An inverted curve has indicated a worsening economic situation in the future 6 out of 7 times since 1970.

As can be seen above, our present yield curve indicates a flat to inverted yield cuve. The gap between 10 year and 1 year yield is negative 10 bps whereas between 30 year and 1 year yield is only 30 bps. This indicates that there are no investors who are ready to take a call on the long term prospects of the economy. Rather, they would prefer to invest in the 1 year maturity which provides the same returns as a 10 year or 30 year government paper.


While the above is the complete yield curve, investors and economists are more interested in some popular yields such as the 3M (91 day), 1 year, and 10 year. Hence, another way to describe the yield curve is to check the spread between the 10 year and 1 year yields over a period of time. If the spreads increase over a period of time in positive territory or remain in positive territory on a consistent basis, it means that economy is either improving, getting stronger, or expected to boom in coming years. In contrast, if the spread is negative or close to zero or is in a tight band for a prolonged period, then it means that economy is in slowdown or either going into a recession or into stagflation.


Another way to look at is the movement of the 10 year treasury yield over a long time frame. As the chart below shows, during the NDA regime, 10 year treasury yields fell from a high of 10-12% in 1998-99 to ~ 5% in 2004. While it can be argued that downward yield movement was in response to economic slowdown, the spreads in 2004 indicate that the economy was on the verge of strong sustained growth in future years. This was also evident from the strong growth in GDP in the years from 2004-2008 as well as decent GDP growth rate during the NDA regime.



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In contrast, since UPA government came into power, spreads between yields have tended to compress. Note that the sharp jump in spread around 2008-09 was due to the global economic crisis which required massive stimulus and led to short term economic recovery. Otherwise, at various periods such as from March 2005 to Feb 2008 and after March 2010, spreads have tended towards 0 or negative territory.


One more related point is the inflation levels. While yields fell during NDA, it was marked by stable low inflation of ~ 4% throughout. In contrast, UPA has been marked by persistently high inflation with CPI hovering ~ 10%. This has been most prominent in last 2-3 years when high inflation coupled with slow economic growth and falling spread between 10Y and 1Y yields indicate persistent economic slowdown or recession. 



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Other major economies to struggle

Historically, improvement in US economy has translated to economic growth in rest of the world with a slight lag. However, this time, the major economies like Europe, Japan, China and other emerging markets (EM) are expected to remain weak with low growth owing to various issues. This was because unlike the US, they undertook monetary easing without controlling their fiscal deficit.

For instance, Europe is grappling with the existence of Euro itself and reducing the high fiscal deficit in the unproductive high-cost Southern European economies like Spain, Italy, Greece, etc. The crisis is gradually engulfing even France and other Northern European economies. There are no easy solutions to the crisis as the past 2 years have shown where despite ECB’s best efforts, GDP growth among all member economies have floundered. Only Germany stands apart in European Union with its dominance in manufacture of high-end engineering goods and exports to emerging markets across the world. The unemployment rate has been shot up in recent years as well. Since most of the other developed and emerging market economies are expected to struggle, their currencies will depreciate against USD. Since Germany will struggle due to its focus on EM, EUR will also depreciate against USD.

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Japan has been in a deflationary scenario for almost 2 decades and the effects of Abenomics have already reversed their effect to a major extent. Japan has already undertaken a monetary easing similar to that of US. However, it has adopted active JPY depreciation to battle the deflation since it doesn’t have a solid domestic growth story like that of US. The impact of Abenomics is yet to be seen and its effects will be seen in 2015-16 at the earliest.


China wants to grow at its historical growth rate but is now reeling under the adverse effects of past monetary and fiscal stimulus which has led to high borrowing costs in the shadow banking system. Hence, China has no ammunition left for further stimulus. In case China grows at lower growth rate, it will have a negative spillover effect on rest of Asia and commodity dependent economies like Australia, Brazil, etc.

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