Thursday, January 26, 2006

India Makes Bernanke's Job at Fed Look Easy

India's bonds had their biggest plunge in seven months yesterday after Reddy unexpectedly raised short-term rates. It isn't additional rate hikes that traders fear -- it's that rapid growth will fuel inflation.

The Reserve Bank of India was right to raise its overnight borrowing rate to a three-year high of 5.5 percent from 5.25 percent. Its fourth increase in 15 months proved two things. One, Reddy isn't in the pocket of politicians hoping he'd stop boosting rates. Two, inflation is a bigger threat than many in the markets appreciate.

Investors need not panic. By raising its growth forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31 to 8 percent from 7.5 percent, the central bank effectively admitted its rate increases aren't working. Reddy remains on the case, though. In a region in which many central banks are holding borrowing costs too low, India is throwing down the gauntlet.

Reddy's balancing act is a particularly dicey one that makes the U.S. Federal Reserve's job seem like a breeze.


http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000039&refer=columnist_pesek&sid=ajK61z_Q7UY4#

Monday, January 16, 2006

Budget season is approaching in India and I can still remember the annual budget TV broadcast and the talking heads who followed - basically the communists saying that the changes announced were "anti-poor" and the businessmen being "cautiously optimistic".

The Finance Ministry has a good website which provides links to the Union Budgets and Economic surveys.

"The economy had registered a growth rate of 8.5 per cent in 2003-04, the highest ever except in 1975-76 and 1988-89.
....
The year 2004-05, after starting with a point-to-point, annual inflation rate of 4.5 per cent on April 3, 2004 witnessed a peak level of inflation at 8.7 per cent on August 28, 2004 , the highest in the last four years. However, inflation has been on a declining trend and stood at 5 per cent on February 5, 2005 compared to 6.1 per cent a year ago.
....
The top 50 stocks (Nifty) generated returns of 11 per cent in 2004, following returns of 72 per cent in 2003. The second rung of smaller stocks (Nifty Junior) generated returns of 31 per cent in 2004, following returns of 141 per cent in 2003.
....

Direct household participation in the securities markets, which had stagnated in 2002, grew strongly in 2003 and 2004 to a level of 6 million accounts at the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).
...
foodgrains output is expected to decline to 206.4 million tonnes in 2004-05 from 212 million tonnes in the previous year, with shortfalls in the output of coarse cereals and pulses. Output of rice and wheat is actually projected to be higher than last year’s.
...
Industrial sector registered an impressive growth of 8.4 per cent in the first three quarters of 2004-05