Monday, October 15, 2012
Monday, September 3, 2012
Challenges for India’s policymakers on the rise as India records worst 1st quarter growth in a decade and key debt and deficit indicators rise
Get regular updates on Growth, Inflation and other Indian & Global Macro-Financial indicators/data with E-UpDates—A Monthly Statistical Bulletin by Ecofin-Surge.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
The budget mostly promised to reduce the nation’s fiscal deficit and rein in costly subsidies and bring in critical reforms, but for the moment given the political situation garnering the necessary revenue has been done through increases in indirect taxation. Though allocation to critical sectors has been increased there is no immediate focus on putting the economy on a high growth trajectory.
Some Measures and Effects: Tax burden for individuals to come down slightly; income tax exemption limit has been raised. Small savers to benefit from exemptions for investments in equity and bank fixed deposits up to a limit. Inflationary in the short-run; no change in corporate tax rate, but standard rate of excise duty, as also service tax rates, raised from 10 per cent to 12 %. Capital markets get a boost; securities transaction tax (STT) on cash delivery reduced by 25 % to 0.1 %. A new equity saving scheme to allow income tax deduction to small retail investors in stocks. Corporate debt market has been opened up for qualified foreign investors (QFIIs). Provision for re-capitalising public sector banks and FIs. To tackle slowdown and supply-side bottlenecks; additional capital has been provisioned to boost agriculture, agricultural research, fertilizer industry, irrigation, infrastructure and energy. External commercial borrowing has been allowed in sectors like airlines, power projects and low-cost housing. Tax relief for stressed sectors; agriculture, infrastructure, mining, railways, roads, civil aviation, manufacturing, health and nutrition, and environment have been provided with duty relief. Social sector is a focal point; higher allocation for education, health and financial inclusion. Several legislative reforms have also been proposed in the budget. The cut down in oil subsidy bill shows intentions of increased oil-price pass-throughs.
Some Budget Numbers: Total expenditure in 2012-13 seen to be up by 29 %. Gross Tax Receipts estimated at 15.6 per cent higher than original budget estimates and 19.5 per cent over the revised estimates for 2011-12. Fiscal deficit targeted at 5.1 per cent of GDP in 2012-13, to be reduced from 5.9 per cent in 2011-12. Aim to keep subsidies under 2 % of GDP in 2012-13. Central Government debt is at 45.5 per cent of GDP.
Some Hidden Numbers: Revenue foregone on custom duties constitute over 40% of total revenue foregone on account of exemptions and special rates; the items which account for the major amount of customs duty foregone are Gold & Diamonds (mainly for export promotion) followed by Crude & Mineral Oils, which together with Fertilisers make up of almost 25% of customs duty foregone. Revenues foregone for customs and excise duties are nearly 150% of revenue collections on those accounts. With corporate tax rate held at 30%, effective tax rates for corporates have risen from around 20% in 2006-07 to 24.1% in 2010-11, due to phasing out of exemptions.
Monday, March 12, 2012
January’s IIP has beaten all expectations, growing at 6.8 per cent compared with December’s tepid 1.8 per cent, and driven by the manufacturing sector growing at 8.5 per cent. However, a closer look does not speak too well about fundamentals. In terms of industries, just thirteen out of the twenty two industry groups (as per 2-digit NIC-2004) in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during the month of January 2012. Categories that are pointers to the health of the economy such as capital goods, intermediate goods and consumer durables have all registered negative numbers. A huge 42 per cent gain in consumer non-durables is primarily powered by chewing tobacco! It is time for policy makers to undertake a more careful diagnosis of the health of the economy.
Get regular updates on Inflation and other Indian & Global Macro-Financial indicators/data with E-UpDates—A Monthly Statistical Bulletin by Ecofin-Surge.
Monday, February 13, 2012
The advance estimate of national income for 2011-12, released recently by the Central Statistical Organisation, points to a decline in India’s GDP growth rate, from 8.4 per cent last year, to 6.9 per this fiscal. Hurt by high inflation and decline in demand in interest-sensitive sectors, private final consumption expenditure, the largest component of aggregate demand, is expected to moderate to 6.5 per cent in 2011-12 from 8.1 per cent in 2010-11. Pace of capital formation is also expected to slip to crisis levels of 5.6 per cent. Indeed, even the latest industrial production figures with a meager 1.8 per cent growth for December, confirm the slowdown, with a worrisome de-growth of -16.5 per cent in the capital goods sector. While such moderation can in principle be tackled through demand augmenting policies, it leads to a strong possibility of reemergence of inflationary pressures once pent up demand from both consumers and industry show up. The service sector has again emerged as the prime mover; all the three broad groups under which the tertiary sector is classified in the national accounts statistics — trade, hotels, etc; finance, insurance etc; and community, social and personal services — are instrumental in pulling the real GDP up. Deceleration in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, combined with a services sector growth is definitely inflationary. GDP deflator, a broad measure of inflation that includes services, has been estimated at 8.66 per cent, higher than the government/RBI’s estimate of 7 per cent WPI inflation by the end of March. Global food prices as per the FAO rose 1.9 per cent in January demonstrating the volatility in the international food markets; worries about weather conditions affecting 2012 crops in several major producing regions point to a further increase in February. Back home the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is expected to record growth of just 2.5 per cent in its GDP during 2011-12, as against the previous year’s growth rate of 7.0 per cent. Within agriculture, the value of food grains production is expected to slow to 2.3 per cent as compared to 12.2 per cent in the previous agriculture year despite a record harvest of foodgrains, with new peaks in both rice and wheat production. This does not augur well for the supply-side. The Indian central bank has battled inflation through a high interest rate policy during the past fiscal and does not have much fire power left this time to tackle another surge in prices; indeed its rate reversal cycle may coincide with another bout of high global food price inflation. A production augmenting budget (and central bank policy) even if inflationary, is necessary for longer term development; this has to be backed-up by extremely prudent rationalisation and channelisation of subsidies to achieve the dual objectives of fiscal consolidation as well equitable distribution.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
RBI addresses liquidity concerns; keeps key policy rates and inflationary expectations firmly anchored
Responding to an acute and prolonged liquidity crunch, the RBI in its recent Review of Monetary Policy has reduced the CRR (Cash Reserve Ratio, the amount of cash that banks have to mandatorily park with it) by 50 basis points from 6 per cent to 5.50 per cent of deposits, infusing about Rs. 32,000 crore into the banking system to mitigate the effects of net liquidity drainage from the system. For the last 4-5 months, commercial banks put together were borrowing Rs. 1-1.5 lakh crores on a daily basis from RBI. Since mid-October 2011, pressures on liquidity were acute despite injection of liquidity worth Rs. 70,000 crore, exacerbated by the forex market operations conducted by the Reserve Bank in response to a sharp depreciation of the Indian currency. This is indeed a reversal of the central bank’s policy stance as RBI notes that it considers the CRR as a monetary policy instrument with liquidity dimensions. However, RBI held its key policy rates unchanged (Repo: 8.5%, Reverse Repo 7.5% and MSF at 9.5%; SLR at 24.0%).
The country’s central bank’s decision making has turned even more challenging in recent months as the global economic scenario has worsened with Europe’s debt crisis pulling down growth and trade estimates across the globe. India’s domestic investment has also been on a downturn posing risk to future growth and has partially showed up in latest GDP as well as IIP numbers, leading to significant lowering of growth forecasts; the RBI has also slashed its growth forecast for the current fiscal from 7.6 per cent predicted in October to 7 per cent. Price pressures on the other hand have shown signs of moderating with lower pace of increase in the WPI in recent months, lower financial year build-up of inflation and dampening month-over-month seasonally adjusted annualised (3 month moving average) rate of inflation. However, the RBI’s commitment to a reversal in key policy rates is restricted by certain issues in inflation trends; the sharp decline in primary food inflation reflects high base and seasonal moderation together with moderation in global food prices with the FAO Food Price Index in December 2011 about 13 percent below its historical peak in February 2011. The RBI rightly feels that the comfort may fade fast if policy and administrative actions, which encourage investment that will help ease supply constraints in food and infrastructure, are not forthcoming and if the anticipated fiscal slippage, which is caused largely by high levels of consumption spending by the government and poses a significant threat to credible inflation management, is not adequately addressed.
RBI’s recent policy measure has been greeted well by markets, industry and analysts alike. Going forward, though the RBI’s bias is now stated to be doveish, the timing of the rate reversal cycle remains difficult to predict as it would clearly depend on inflationary trends; global inflation is likely to be moderating given the fiscal austerity driven demand deficiency around the globe, but domestic price pressures may yet resurge through either rupee depreciation, energy price pass-throughs or any expansionary (consumption demand augmenting) measures taken by the government without adequately addressing supply-side issues. The government’s response in the forthcoming budget is to be watched, however, whatever measures are announced would take some amount of time and will to execute. Thus the waiting and watching continues.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Industrial production numbers do a 180 degree
India's industrial production growth rate was back in positive territory at 5.9 per cent yoy for November 2011 reversing the downtrend of the previous five months and rebounding from a 28-month low of -4.74 (revised from -5.09) per cent in the previous month. The Indices of Industrial Production for the Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity sectors for November 2011, registered yoy growth rates of - 4.4%, 6.6% and 14.6% respectively. The cumulative growth in the three sectors during this fiscal, April-November, 2011-12 over the corresponding period of 2010-11 was -2.5%, 4.1% and 9.5% respectively; over April-November 2011, IIP grew 3.8 per cent, as compared with 8.4 per cent growth seen in the same period in the previous year. Growth has been broad-based in November as 17 of the 22 industry groups in the manufacturing sector showed positive growth during November 2011. The industry group ‘Publishing, printing & reproduction of recorded media’ showed the highest growth of 69.1%, followed by 41.8% in ‘Medical, precision & optical instruments, watches and clocks’ and 29.3% in ‘Food products and beverages’. On the other hand, the industry group ‘Electrical machinery & apparatus n.e.c.’ showed a negative growth of 38.7%. The rebound in IIP for November 2011 has been largely led by a sharp growth in consumer goods output, which recorded 13.1 per cent growth as against near stagnation in the previous month, however, on a very low base of 0.7 per cent growth in the previous year. Within the consumer goods space, consumer durables registered growth of 11.2 per cent compared with 7.2 per cent in November 2010. Consumer non-durables registered 14.8 per cent growth in November 2011 as against a decline of 4.4 per cent in the same month in the previous year. The manufacturing sector, which accounts for 75 per cent of the IIP, recorded 6.6 per cent growth in November 2011 against 6.5 per cent in the same month in the previous year and a negative growth of 6 per cent in October 2011. Capital goods output (a proxy for investment activity in the economy) fell 4.6 per cent in November 2011 compared to a 25.7 per cent growth in November 2010, however, a significant jump from the. 25.5 per cent fall in October 2011. Electricity generation recorded a strong growth of 14.6 per cent in November 2011 as compared to 5.6 per cent in the previous month and 4.6 per cent in the same month last year.
What other numbers say
Analysts and industrialists alike justifiably see the rebound in industrial growth as per November IIP figures to be driven by transient forces and stress that this recovery needs to be seen with caution as fundamental trends remain weak. Seasonal (festival) demand led inventory re-stocking, fluctuations in auto output and improvement in lead indicators had pointed towards a firmer production number, which has materialised but a moderation is expected given the overall slowdown in capital investment sentiment. According to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) new investment proposals in 2011 fell 45% to a five year low of 10.46 lakh crore, from 18.88 lakh crore a year earlier. According to a RBI study the overall performance of 2,643 select (non-government non-financial) listed companies showed some moderation during April-September 2011 wherein the sales grew by 20.8 per cent vis-à-vis 21.5 per cent during April-September 2010 and, growth in profits declined sharply as compared with the corresponding period of previous year largely on account of higher input costs and significant increase in interest payments. Profitability in terms of operating, gross and net margins contracted by 200, 140 and 190 basis points, respectively in the first half of 2011-12 over the corresponding period of the previous year. Interest burden of these companies increased by 5.0 percentage points due to a faster increase in interest outgo in comparison with gross profits. A study by CRISIL Research has revealed that the interest paying ability of 420 companies in the S&P CNX 500 Index (excluding BFSI and public sector oil marketing companies) has dipped to a five-year low. The median interest coverage ratio has fallen to 4.8 times in the July-September 2011 quarter against 7.8 times in July-September 2010; average interest coverage ratio for these companies in the past five years was 8.4 times. Overseas direct investments by Indian companies in the first nine months ended December of the current fiscal (2011-12) fell by 28.32 per cent to $25.25 billion as against $35.23 billion in the same period of last year, according to figures released by the RBI. As per the RBI figures, overseas FDI by Indian companies amounted to $33.89 billion in calendar 2011 as against $40.45 billion in 2010, indicating a decline of 16.2 per cent. Overseas investments by Indian companies stood at a one-year monthly low of $1.46 billion in December 2011; outbound FDI last month was almost 47 per cent less than the $2.74 billion in November 2011. Experts attributed the decline to the global economic slowdown and uncertainties surrounding funding of overseas investments. However, while Indian companies invested less abroad, the FDI inflows during the April-November period have risen to $22.83 billion compared with the FDI inflows of $19.43 billion in the last fiscal (2010-11). A report by research firm Venture Intelligence shows private equity firms made investments worth $10.11 billion in India during 2011 by way of 441 deals, compared to $8.1 billion through 362 deals in the previous year, taking their total investment over the past five years to about $47 billion. Interestingly, PE firms invested $2.68 billion into real estate firms during 2011, a 69 per cent jump vis-a-vis the year-ago period. PE investment in October-December, 2011, however, declined to about $1.4 billion across 105 deals from $1.8 billion across 88 transactions in the same period of 2010, largely due to economic uncertainty and the decline in equity markets. Rating agency Moody's Investor Services upgraded India's short-term foreign currency rating from 'speculative' to 'investment' grade. This has come in addition to last month's upgrade in the credit rating of government's bonds from 'speculative' to 'investment' grade. Thus, several other numbers swing between positive and negative for the Indian economy in the near term.
Inflation numbers on the positive side for now
Inflation numbers and inflationary expectations are now on the positive side; food inflation stayed in the negative for the second week running at -3.36 and -2.90 per cent in the last two weeks of December. WPI inflation, which has been softening over the past months, came down to a two year low of 7.47 per cent for December. However there is good reason to believe that as the high statistical base effect wears off, food inflation will jump back to levels of over 5% as major structural problems continue to persist; as the Planning Commission's principal adviser pointed out the structural issues that forced average food inflation to remain around 7% between 2004 and 2009 are yet to be addressed.
Non-traditional measures for revival?