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Fear Of Economic Volatility Raises as RBI Governor Decides To Resign

There has been widespread speculation that Rajan quit because of what some termed as “discouraging signals” from the government.

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Image Source: Financial Express
  • India is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy
  • Raghuram Rajan helped stabilize India’s currency when the rupee was plunging and inflation was raging
  • Praising Rajan’s contribution, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed confidence his successor will be a “good person”

The Indian Central Bank governor’s decision not to seek a second term in office has raised concerns the country could face a loss in investor confidence and economic volatility. The widely-respected economist, Raghuram Rajan, is credited with making an important contribution to India’s economic turnaround after a choppy phase.In a signal of uncertainty looming ahead of his departure in September, the rupee fell to a one-month low Monday.

Rajan’s departure: not a big surprise

Rajan’s weekend announcement to quit came after weeks of speculation on whether the government will renew his tenure as head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In a letter to his staff, Rajan said he had been open to staying on to see through the reforms he had begun, but that “on due reflection and after consultation with the government,” he was returning to his “ultimate home in the realm of ideas.”

Widely feted as one of the world’s best Central Bank governors, the former International Monetary Bank economist helped stabilize India’s currency when the rupee was plunging and inflation was raging. As growth momentum returned, the country regained credibility among international investors, who had turned their back on emerging economies.

India’s economy is soaring

While countries like Brazil and Russia continue to face hard times, India is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to calm investors Monday telling a television network “the country’s economy is driven by strong fundamental factors.” Praising Rajan’s contribution, he expressed confidence his successor will be a “good person.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks to RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan during a convocation ceremony for students at a university in Mumbai on January 9, 2015 Image Source: NDTV Profit

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Symbol of stability

The head of emerging market economics at JP Morgan, Jahangir Aziz, stressed that Rajan was a symbol of stability for many investors. “They have invested on the fact that India has managed to put together a reasonably strong story of macro-economic stability. Many of them associate that in part to the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan.”

Aziz said investors will watch to see whom the government appoints as Rajan’s successor and would like to see continuity in policies. “The need of the hour is to calm down market nerves,” he says.

There has been widespread speculation that Rajan quit because of what some termed as “discouraging signals” from the government.

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There was criticism of Rajan

Rajan was not without his critics, who said his refusal to slash interest rates, and a clean-up of bad loans he was pushing at state-owned banks, were choking private investment. The most vocal attack came from a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Subramaniam Swamy, who raised eyebrows with his comment that Rajan was “mentally not fully Indian” and complained that he had not acted to ease the heavy debt burden of many Indian companies.

Although India’s economy is growing at over 7 percent and has overtaken China as the world’s fastest growing economy, Rajan has repeatedly cautioned that India’s economic recovery still rests on fragile foundations.

Economist Rajiv Kumar at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research said fears about the impact of Rajan’s exit could be overblown and pointed out that stock markets did not tank Monday as many had feared. “It’s institutions that matter, and the RBI has known to be a very competent institution with huge inherent strengths,” says Kumar.

Meanwhile, the government ushered in more economic reforms Monday, announcing sweeping changes to rules on foreign direct investment by opening up its defense and civil aviation sectors to complete outside ownership, and loosening some restrictions on the pharmaceutical and retail sectors.(Source :VOA)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is really sad to know. Rajan has helped the Indian economy soar high. He is a man with ambition and great personality. Also, IMF says India would outspace China’s slowing economy. So, this should be looked after.

Next Story

Despite Tariff War With U.S, China’s Economic Growth is Steady

The fight between the two biggest global economies has disrupted trade in goods from soybeans medical equipment, battering exporters on both sides and rattling financial markets.

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An employee working on the production line of an electronics factory is seen reflected on an equipment, in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China, April 2, 2019. VOA

China’s economic growth held steady in the latest quarter despite a tariff war with Washington, in a reassuring sign that Beijing’s efforts to reverse a slowdown might be gaining traction.

The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 6.4% over a year earlier in the three months ending in March, the government reported Wednesday. That matched the previous quarter for the weakest growth since 2009.

“This confirms that China’s economic growth is bottoming out and this momentum is likely to continue,” said Tai Hui of JP Morgan Asset Management in a report.

Government intervention

Communist leaders stepped up government spending last year and told banks to lend more after economic activity weakened, raising the risk of politically dangerous job losses.

Beijing’s decision to ease credit controls aimed at reining in rising debt “is starting to yield results,” Hui said.

Consumer spending, factory activity and investment all accelerated in March from the month before, the National Bureau of Statistics reported.

The economy showed “growing positive factors,” a bureau statement said.

A delivery worker pushes boxes of goods at the capital city's popular shopping mall in Beijing, April 4, 2019. The U.S. and China opened a ninth round of talks Wednesday, aiming to further narrow differences in an ongoing trade war.
A delivery worker pushes boxes of goods at the capital city’s popular shopping mall in Beijing, April 4, 2019. The U.S. and China opened a ninth round of talks Wednesday, aiming to further narrow differences in an ongoing trade war. VOA

Recovery later this year

Forecasters expect Chinese growth to bottom out and start to recover later this year. They expected a recovery last year but pushed back that time line after President Donald Trump hiked tariffs on Chinese imports over complaints about Beijing’s technology ambitions.

The fight between the two biggest global economies has disrupted trade in goods from soybeans medical equipment, battering exporters on both sides and rattling financial markets.

The two governments say settlement talks are making progress, but penalties on billions of dollars of each other’s goods are still in place.

China’s top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, announced an annual official growth target of 6% to 6.5% in March, down from last year’s 6.6% rate.

Li warned of “rising difficulties” in the global economy and said the ruling Communist Party plans to step up deficit spending this year to shore up growth.

Beijing’s stimulus measures have temporarily set back official plans to reduce reliance on debt and investment to support growth.

Also in March, exports rebounded from a contraction the previous month, rising 14.2% over a year earlier. Still, exports are up only 1.4% so far this year, while imports shrank 4.8% in a sign of weak Chinese domestic demand.

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Chinese leaders warned previously any economic recovery will be “L-shaped,” meaning once the downturn bottomed out, growth would stay low. VOA

Auto sales fell 6.9% in March from a year ago, declining for a ninth month. But that was an improvement over the 17.5% contraction in January and February.

Tariffs’ effect long-lasting

Economists warn that even if Washington and Beijing announce a trade settlement in the next few weeks or months, it is unlikely to resolve all the irritants that have bedeviled relations for decades.

The two governments agreed Dec. 1 to postpone further penalties while they negotiate, but punitive charges already imposed on billions of dollars of goods stayed in place.

Even if they make peace, the experience of other countries suggests it can take four to five years for punitive duties to “dissipate fully,” said Jamie Thompson of Capital Economics in a report last week.

Chinese leaders warned previously any economic recovery will be “L-shaped,” meaning once the downturn bottomed out, growth would stay low.

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Credit growth accelerated in March, suggesting companies are stepping up investment and production.

Total profit for China’s national-level state-owned banks, oil producers, phone carriers and other companies rose 13.1% over a year ago in the first quarter, the government reported Tuesday. Revenue rose 6.3% and investment rose 9.7%. (VOA)