The Reserve Bank of India will be publishing its fifth and probably the last bi monthly monetary policy for the calendar year 2015. The reason of it being “probably” the last is there are chances of Out of Cycle Policy actions if US Federal Reserves decides to increase its interest rates in their next FOMC meeting which will be held on 15-16 Dec, 2015. Although, looking at the current scenario, its is difficult to predict what the FED might decide in the near future. However, I will focus predominantly on domestic factors in this blog to conclude the likely outcome of the monetary policy.
Here are a few links for the readers to recap on the scenarios of the entire year:
Lets focus on the domestic factors first. Index of Industrial Productions in the past two months has been on the lower side. The surprising slowdown despite rate cuts does call for a rate cut at a macro level, but the impact has been predominantly due to global growth slowdown. CPI on the other hand, increased to 5.14% in Sept while 5% in October. The sudden increase in CPI is due to the prices of pulses increase heavily in this quarter. WPI, so far has been showing a dis-inflationary path but the wide difference in the two indicators is still a problem for the CSO and the RBI in terms of reliability. The two indicators,namely CPI and WPI, are causing an ambiguity in terms of the inflation figures. The divergence between the two has been increasing lately. The image below might explain as to how these indicators are contradicting each other. However, since RBI has been focusing on taming inflation on a priority basis, the focus will be lower on the slowing IIP figures.
On the domestic front, the banking sector still seems to fight the rising NPAs. The part that Dr. Rajan would be worried about apart from that is the deposit growth outpacing the credit growth continuously for the past 12 months. The good part of the bad situation is that the gap between two is reducing gradually. Although, RBI is doing its bit in uplifting the current conditions of the banks by rolling out timely reforms, a robust solution would always be a pickup in the domestic demand. Till that time, I guess RBI’s hand would be tied up for any further actions. Liquidity conditions as well seem to be comfortable with the call money rates fairly stable and well within the repo window which does not call for any further easing in the near future.
On the global front, the slowdown is deepening and might continue to stay subdued in the near future. China is facing immense distress situation. US on the other hand is waiting for the inflation figures to increase to the expected levels so that they can take a call on hiking the rates. Euro Zone as well is struggling to come out of the dis-inflationary path despite the extended quantitative easing.
Economic condition in terms of reforms does not look great with hurdles for GST passage persistent. On Dec 5th, the Arvind Subramanian committee will give its recommendation for the GST rate. Winter session will decide the course for the growth rate as well as the market conditions for the Indian stock markets. A pickup in the gold monetization scheme will also be a key metric in determining the fiscal condition in the coming year.
To conclude, with the CPI, WPI and the food inflation rising, IIP reducing slightly, substantial probability of a US FED hike, the RBI in its fifth bi-monthly monetary policy will maintain a status quo in terms of the repo rate(6.75%) and the CRR (4%). SLR on the other hand will be reduced by 25 bps. SLR will be 21.25% from the current levels of 21.5%. The importance will be on the tone of the speech on Tuesday and the same will tentatively signal RBI’s intentions in the near future. With this action, Dr. Rajan might put the ball in the Govt’s court to roll out the necessary reforms to move the economy forward. It will be important for the Govt, RBI and the CSO to also reach a consensus on the inflation indicator for a much clearer picture in terms of the real conditions in the economy. RBI will be closely watching the inflation figures before they decide to do any further easing.