Thursday, December 9, 2021

How Has India Built Large Forex Reserves Despite Perennial Trade Deficits?

India's forex reserves of nearly $640 billion are the 4th largest in the world despite the fact that it runs trade deficits year after year.  Other nations among the top 5 with the biggest US dollar reserves are China ($3.4 trillion), Japan ($1.4 trillion) , Switzerland  ($1.1 trillion) and Russia ($623 billion). They have all accomplished this feat by running large trade surpluses for many years. 

History of India's Trade Deficits in billions of US dollars. Source: Trading Economics

So how did India manage to build over $600 billion in US dollar reserves? The top contributor to India's reserves is debt which accounts for 48%. Portfolio equity investments are known as “hot” money or speculative money flows accounted for 23% of India's forex reserves, according to an analysis published by The Hindu BusinessLine

While India has accumulated the largest forex reserves in its history, its debt to GDP ratio is also nearing an all-time record of 90%, the highest in the South Asia region. India's debt has risen by 17% of its GDP in the last two years, the most of any emerging economy. By contrast, Pakistan's debt to GDP ratio has increased by a mere 1.6% to 87.2% from 2019 to 2020.

India's Rising Debt. Source: Business Standard

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected the Indian government debt, including that of the center and the states, to rise to a record 90.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) during 2021-22 against 89.6% in the previous year. By contrast,  the percentage of Pakistan's public debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) including debt from the International Monetary Fund, and external and domestic debt has fallen from 87.6% in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-20 to 83.5% in FY 2020-21.    

While large reserves are a source of comfort in terms of balance of payments and currency stability, it also has significant downsides. The biggest risk is the interest rates on the debt (accounting for 48% of India's US$ reserves) which depend heavily on the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy. Should the Fed decide to raise interest rates to tighten money supply amid inflation concerns, the cost of servicing the US dollar denominated debt will rise. 

The second big worry is that the "hot money" accounting for 23% of India's US$ reserves could suddenly decide to leave India for better returns elsewhere. This happened in the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98. It began in Thailand and then quickly spread to neighboring economies. Initially, it was a currency crisis when Bangkok unpegged the Thai baht from the U.S. dollar that set off a series of currency devaluations and massive flights of capital. 

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samir sardana said...

The reason Y USD cones to India,is the gravitational law,of interest differentials.

Fx surpluses in US and EU,with States and funds,look for places,to park debt.Soverign risk is in US T-bills or USPR,so the funds start shopping for nations,with the highest soverign rating - which subsumes all risks.

So in that pecking order,India comes at 6 or 7,as it HAS SCALE.There are many other nations, with a HIGHER rating,BUT THEY ARE RICH NATIONS,who will offer close to USPR,and whose currencies will move, with large USD inflows.








Riaz Haq said...

#India's #forex #reserves slide for fourth straight week amid decline in currency assets.Falling forex reserves may cause issues for #Modi government and the Reserve Bank in managing the nation’s external and internal financial issues. via @IndianExpress

Recording a fall of $160 million, the nation’s forex reserves declined to $635.667 billion during the week to December 17, according to data from the RBI.

For the previous week ended December 10, the foreign exchange — or forex — reserves had fallen by $77 million to $635.828 billion. The forex kitty had reached an all-time high of $642.453 billion during the week ended September 3, 2021.

For the reporting week ended December 17, the decline was mainly due to a fall in foreign currency assets (FCAs), a vital component of the overall reserves. This is the fourth straight week of fall in the reserves.

FCAs tumbled by $645 million to $572.216 billion, weekly data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed on Friday.

Expressed in dollar terms, the FCA include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units such as the euro, pound sterling and Japanese yen held in the foreign exchange reserves.

Gold reserves rose by $475 million to $39.183 billion in the reporting week.

The special drawing rights (SDRs) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) remained unchanged at $19.089 billion.

The country’s reserve position with the IMF increased by $9 million to $5.179 billion in the reporting week, as per the data.

Falling forex reserves may cause issues for the government and the Reserve Bank in managing the nation’s external and internal financial issues.

Higher reserves are a big cushion in the event of any crisis on the economic front and enough to cover the import bill of the country for a year. They also strengthen the rupee against the US dollar.

An increase in reserves also provide a level of confidence to markets that a nation can meet its external obligations, demonstrate the backing of domestic currency by external assets, assist the government in meeting its forex needs and external debt obligations, and maintain a reserve for national disasters or emergencies.

The Reserve Bank functions as the custodian and manager of forex reserves, and operates within the overall policy framework agreed upon with the government. It allocates the dollars for specific purposes.

For example, under the Liberalised Remittances Scheme, individuals are allowed to remit up to $250,000 every year. The RBI uses its forex kitty for the orderly movement of the rupee. It sells the dollar when the rupee weakens and buys the dollar when the rupee strengthens. WITH PTI

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s current account deficit grows as #trade gap widens in Q3. Net foreign portfolio #investment fell to $3.9 billion from $7 billion a year ago; net #FDI inflows at $9.5 billion, down from $24.4 billion a year ago.#Modi #BJP #Hindutva #Islamophobia

India’s current-account balance slipped back into a deficit last quarter as the nation’s trade gap widened.

The current account, the broadest measure of the country’s overseas trade and services flows, was in a deficit of $9.6 billion, or 1.3% of gross domestic product, in the three months ended September, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement on Friday. The median in a Bloomberg survey of 12 economists was for a deficit of $10.9 billion.

The account was in a surplus of $6.6 billion in the April to June period, and also a surplus of $15.3 billion, or 2.4% of GDP, in the comparable year-ago period.

Digging Deeper
The latest numbers come on the back of a surge in global crude oil prices which inflated India’s import bill; the RBI cited widening of trade deficit to $44.4 billion from $30.7 billion in the preceding quarter and an increase in net outgo of investment income for the current-account gap
Income from services decreased sequentially, but increased on a year-on-year basis on robust performance of computer and business services, the central bank added
Friday’s data, which covers a period when economic activity in India was picking up after a second wave of Covid-19 infections, saw private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, rise 3.7% from a year ago to $21.1 billion
Net foreign portfolio investment was $3.9 billion as compared with $7 billion a year ago; net foreign direct investment inflows amounted to $9.5 billion, lower than $24.4 billion a year ago

Riaz Haq said...

Chitra Ramkrishna, #India's $4 trillion #StockMarket #NSE CEO, let a faceless #Hindu conman ‘yogi’ make all key decisions. For all this, SEBI’s punishment to Ramkrishna is paltry. She has now been barred from capital markets for three years. #Modi #BJP

Ramkrishna referred to the unknown yogi as “Sironmani” [the exalted one] and shared with him information such as NSE’s five year projections, financial data, dividend ratio, business plans, agenda of board meeting, and even consulted him on employee performance appraisals.

Ramkrishna was ousted from NSE in 2016 for her role in the co-location and algo trading scam and abuse of power in the appointment of Subramanian. The probe found that Ramkrishna ran NSE with impunity. No one from the senior management, board, or the promoters — which include big government institutions and banks — ever objected to her ways. Instead, Ramkrishna was given ₹44 crore as pending dues and salary when she left NSE.

SEBI’s probe revealed that Ramkrishna communicated with the yogi, whom she had never met, over email, for almost 20 years and he guided her to appoint Subramanian as the second in command at NSE. “Their spiritual powers do not require them to have any such physical coordinates and would manifest at will,” Ramkrishna told SEBI. The contents of the email were not denied by her.

On January 18, 2013, Subramanian was offered the role of Chief Strategic Advisor at NSE for an annual compensation of ₹1.68 crore against his last drawn salary (as per his claim) of ₹15 lakh at Balmer Lawrie. In March 2014, Ramkrishna approved a 20 per cent increment to Subramanian and his salary was revised to ₹2.01 crore. Five weeks thereafter, Subramanian’s salary was again revised upwards by 15 per cent to ₹2.31 crore as Ramkrishna dubbed his performance to be A+ (exceptional). By 2015, his cost-to-company had zoomed to ₹5 crore, he was given a cabin next to Ramkrishna and granted first-class international air travel. All this was in accordance with the yogi’s instructions.

An email from the unknown yogi even carried the diktat that Subramanian be exempt from the contractual 5-day work week and instead be asked to come only for three days and allowed to work the rest of the time at will.

Another email on September 5, 2015, from the yogi told Ramkrishna, “SOM, if I had the opportunity to be a person on Earth then Kanchan is the perfect fit. Ashirvadhams.” On December 30, 2015, Ramkrishna told the Yogi in her reply, “SIRONMANI, struggle is I have always seen THEE through G, and challenged myself to on my own realise the difference.” ‘SOM’ refers to Ramkrishna, and ‘Kanchan’ and ‘G’ refer to Subramanian, the SEBI probe revealed.

These findings were confirmed by Dinesh Kanabar, the then Chairman of NSE nomination and remuneration committee. Subramanian had all the powers of the MD and CEO, and was flying first class, but remained a consultant on paper. SEBI had observed that there was a glaring conspiracy of a money making scheme involving NSE’s boss with the unknown person.

An email dated February 18, 2015, from Ramkrishna to the unknown yogi, reads, “The role and designation of Group Chief Coordination Officer is fine and we could take that forward. I have a small submission, can we make this as Group President and Chief Coordination Officer? And over a time frame as you direct we can move the entire operations of the exchange under G and redesignate him as Chief Operating Officer? Seek Your guidance on the path forward on this Swami If this meets with your Highness’ approval, then parallelly could we coin JR (Ravi) as Group President Finance and stakeholder relations and Corporate General Counsel?”

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Monthly #Trade #Deficit Widened in February to $20.88 billion from $13.12 billion deficit in the same month a year earlier. India, #Asia's third-largest economy, has been running a significant trade deficit for more than 15 years.

India's merchandise trade deficit increased in February from a year earlier, government data showed Monday.

The trade deficit came in at $20.88 billion in February compared with a $13.12 billion deficit in the same month a year earlier.

Exports increased 25.10% on year to $34.57 billion, while imports rose 36.07% to $55.45 billion, the data showed.

India, Asia's third-largest economy, has been running a significant trade deficit for more than 15 years.

Riaz Haq said...

#India losing foreign #investors with $15 billion of equity outflows YTD in India already in 2022....India’s inclusion into the GBI-EM Global Diversified #Bond Index in Q4-2022 unlikely. #FPI #FDI #Modi #Debt

Foreign portfolio investor (FPI) flows into India may remain tepid in 2022, said a recent note by Goldman Sachs, who now peg the foreign portfolio investment into India at $5 billion in 2022, down from their earlier forecast of $30 billion with risks skewed to the downside.

“There has been $15 billion of equity outflows YTD in India already, and the IPO of the largest insurance company has been pushed out. Additionally, with no mention of India’s inclusion in global bond indices in the Union Budget, there are risks to our already conservative base case assumption of an announcement of India’s likely inclusion into the GBI-EM Global Diversified Bond Index in Q4-2022,” wrote Andrew Tilton, Goldman Sachs' chief Asia-Pacific economist in a co-authored report with Santanu Sengupta and Suraj Kumar

Adding: “With our view of monetary policy normalisation in India, and the US economics team’s view of additional 200 basis point (bp) rate hikes by the Fed in 2022, fixed income inflows in India may remain tepid.”

Equity inflows over the last three years from 2019-2021, according to a note by BofA Securities, totaled over $40 billion, out of which nearly $14 billion has left in the first quarter of 2022 (Q1-2022).

“The inflows were driven by tax reforms with government's strong focus on stimulating growth and loose monetary policy. As RBI is gradually moving towards tightening liquidity conditions and raise interest rates from mid-2022, we per our expectations, growth momentum would need to hold up in order to attract fresh allocation,” said the BofA Securities note.

Given the recent global developments and their impact on India's macros, Goldman Sachs has pegged an overall capital account surplus of $65 billion in calendar year 2022 (CY22), lower than $88 billion surplus in CY21, with balance of payment (BoP) deficit of $50 billion in CY22 (from $55 billion surplus in CY21, and over $100 billion surplus in CY20).

Elevated commodity prices

Despite the geopolitical concerns showing some signs of a thaw, Goldman Sachs expects the commodity prices to remain elevated going ahead as the sanctions imposed on Russian entities will likely remain in place for some time, further constraining supply in already tight commodity market.

They now forecast Brent at an average $120 a barrel (bbl) in Q2-2022, $135/bbl in the second half of 2022 (H2-2022), falling to $110/bbl in 2023.

Riaz Haq said...

Explained: What FPIs’ market exit means
Foreign portfolio investors have pulled out Rs 42,000 crore this month amid rising inflation and monetary policy tightening in the US. How does this impact the market and the rupee, and what should you do?

Sustained capital outflows from the capital market have unnerved the stock markets and led to a weakening of the rupee amid rising inflation across the globe. With the US Federal Reserve set to hike rates further, outflows are likely to continue, putting pressure on the Indian currency.


Aggressive rate hike by the US Federal Reserve, coupled with elevated inflation and high valuation of equities continued to keep foreign investors at bay from the Indian stock market as they pulled out Rs 31,430 crore in this month so far. With this, net outflow by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) from equities reached Rs 1.98 lakh crore so far in 2022, data with depositories showed. Going forward, FPI flows to remain volatile in the emerging markets on account of rising geopolitical risk, rising inflation, tightening of monetary policy by central banks, among others, Shrikant Chouhan, Head - Equity Research (Retail), Kotak Securities, said. According to the data, foreign investors withdrew a net amount of Rs 31,430 crore from equities in the month of June (till 17th).

The massive selling by FPIs continued in June too as they have been incessantly withdrawing money from Indian equities since October 2021. Shrikant attributed latest selling to rising inflation, tight monetary policy by global central banks and elevated crude oil prices. Global investors are reacting to increased risks of a global recession as the US Federal Reserve was forced to raise interest rates by 75 basis points due to persistently elevated inflation. Moreover, it also indicated to continue its aggressive stance to contain stubbornly high inflation. "Strengthening of the dollar and rising bond yields in US are the major triggers for FPI selling. Since the Fed and other central banks like Bank of England and Swiss central bank have raised rates, there is synchronised rate hikes globally, with rising yields. Money is moving from equity to bonds," V K Vijayakumar, Cheif Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services, said.

On the domestic side as well, inflation has been a cause for concern, and to tame that, RBI has also been increasing rates

Riaz Haq said...

Foreign #investors flee #India, putting pressure on #Indian #currency. #Modi government raises #import taxes on #gold to preserve #forex reserves, support #INR, amid rising #inflation and twin current account and fiscal deficits. #BJP #Hindutva #economy

Investors reeling from the brutal emerging markets selloff over the past six months again fled the rupee as India’s currency hit new lows, prompting the government to curb gold imports and oil exports to arrest a widening deficit.

The government raised import taxes on gold, while increasing levies on exports of gasoline and diesel in an attempt to control a fast-widening current account gap. The moves sent Reliance Industries Ltd NSE -7.20 %. and other energy exporters tumbling, bringing down the benchmark index by as much as 1.7%. The rupee fell again.

The actions underscore how emerging economies, specially with twin current account and fiscal deficits, are increasingly facing pressures on their currencies as forceful rate hikes by the Federal Reserve accentuate outflows. Despite having the world’s fourth-biggest reserve pile, the rupee has hit a succession of record lows in recent weeks. The Indonesian rupiah, the other high-yielder in Asia, fell to its lowest in two years on Friday.

Policy makers in many emerging markets face stark choices as they battle soaring inflation and capital flight as the Fed tightens policy: raise rates and risk hurting growth, spend reserves that took years to build to defend currencies, or simply step away and let the market run its course.

New Delhi’s move also underscores the economic challenges faced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as inflation in the world’s sixth-largest economy accelerates and external finances worsen. The central bank has been battling to slow the currency’s decline, and runaway rupee depreciation will worsen price pressures, and may spur more rate hikes that weigh on growth.

The measures “aim to reduce the impending pressure on the current account deficit and thus the currency,” said Madhavi Arora, lead economist at Emkay Global Financial Services. “Complementary policy efforts from both fiscal and monetary side essentially reflects the looming pain on the balance of payments deficit this year.”

While the Reserve Bank of India has been seeking to smooth out the rupee’s 6% decline this year, banks have reported dollar shortages as investors and companies rushed to swap the rupee for other assets or to pay for imports. The latest measures were spurred by a sudden surge of gold imports in May and June, the Finance Ministry said Friday.

The government raised the import duty on gold to 12.5%, reversing a cut last year. The higher taxes on shipments of gasoline and diesel sent shares of Reliance Industries, a key exporter, down by as much as 8.9%.

India is the world’s second-biggest gold consumer and local futures rose as much as 3% in Mumbai, the biggest intraday jump in almost four months, due to the higher import costs.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that India is seeking to discourage gold imports as it helps preserve foreign exchange. She added “extraordinary times” require such measures including the imposition of a windfall tax on fuel exports.
“The challenges are emanating from the same source, which is higher commodity prices,” said Rahul Bajoria, senior economist, Barclays Bank Plc. “India can neither find supply onshore nor we will be able to cut back the consumption of oil. That makes the whole situation a lot more unpredictable both in terms of how this plays out and how long this continues for.”

For the broader fuel market, a drop in Indian exports could further tighten global markets that are grappling with reduced supply from Russia and rising post-pandemic demand.

Riaz Haq said...

Are India’s forex reserves adequate?

International Investment Position, which is a better metric than import cover, paints a less-than-rosy picture
India has witnessed outflows of $29 billion in 2022 YTD ($27 billion in equity and $2 billion in debt). Alongside, India’s foreign exchange reserves have declined from a peak of $642 billion as of October 29, 2021, to $590.50 billion in June 2022, a fall of $51.50 billion. There seems no stopping these trends in the immediate future.

While the large decline in forex reserves is comparable to that of previous episodes of stress (Table 1), there is an air of comfort that the current level of forex reserves are large enough to cover almost 12 months of imports, whereas in the previous episodes of 2008, 2013 and 2018 it used to be between seven and nine months.

However, the key question is whether the metric of import cover reflects adequacy of reserves? It is prudent to measure the adequacy of reserves with reference to the dynamics that prevails in the accretion of the reserves.

India has had a structural current account deficit which has been funded by capital inflows. It is common knowledge that the accretion of forex reserves has been due to surplus in capital account.

India’s reserves built on net capital surpluses therefore presents a double whammy as reserves have to fund the import bill, with around 27 per cent of imports in value composed of oil, and the constant stream of capital outflows.

Therefore, the use of import cover as a measure of adequacy of reserves is not appropriate in the Indian context and one has to look at the adequacy of reserves from the point of view of International Investment Position or IIP.

What is IIP?
IIP is a summary statement of the net financial position of a country viz. net of, the value of financial assets of residents of an economy that are claims on non-residents and, gold held in reserve assets and liabilities of the residents of an economy to non-residents.

Assets comprise direct and portfolio financial investments of residents outside India plus reserve assets. Liabilities are direct and portfolio investments made by non-residents into India (Table 2). Positive IIP indicates that the country’s assets are more than liabilities while negative IIP means that the country’s liabilities are more than assets.

India is a net IIP negative country with its liabilities exceeding assets (Chart 1).

Not robust enough
Looking at the reserves-to-IIP ratio in India, it is observed that the current level is not as robust as it prevailed at the time of the Global Finance Crisis of 2008. In addition, a look at the reserves to liabilities ratio shows that it has been steadily below 50 per cent since 2010 (Chart 2).

Out of $1.3 trillion of liabilities within IIP, as of December 2021, approximately 30 per cent comprises short-term debt and portfolio investments. In absolute terms, outstanding portfolio investments is $277 billion and short-term debt of $110 billion. Which takes the cumulative portfolio and short-term debt to around $390 billion.

Against the backdrop of $591 billion of reserves, it leaves a cushion of $199 billion, which at the current rate of $60-63 billion of imports leaves an import cover around 3.25 months.

Thus, import cover is not an appropriate metric to measure the adequacy of reserves for a country like India. Import cover must be looked in conjunction with IIP which gives a true picture of the adequacy of reserves.

In the present situation, thinking of a robust import cover of reserves alone without taking IIP and liabilities into context indicates “a glass half full”.

Riaz Haq said...

#India announces measures to boost #forex inflows to staunch #Indian currency’s recent fall to record lows. #RBI raises borrowing limit for companies to $1.5 billion. Move comes after #India #rupee tested record lows. #BJP #Modi #Hindutva via @markets

India’s central bank mounted a fresh defense of the beleaguered rupee, announcing a raft of measures to boost foreign exchange inflows and stem a rout in the local currency.

The steps include doubling borrowing limits for companies from overseas to $1.5 billion during a financial year, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement Wednesday. It also temporarily removed any interest-rate ceiling for banks to attract deposits from non-residents and liberalized rules for foreigners to invest in local currency government and corporate debt.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian rupee may face more heat as repayments worth $267 bn of $621 bn external debt come up

The rupee, which Tuesday fell to a new record low on unabated withdrawals by portfolio investors amid tightening global monetary conditions, could face further pressure as record external debt comes up for repayment through the course of this fiscal year and the next and India's trade gap widens.

More than 40%, or $267 billion worth of external debt of the total $621 billion, is due for repayment in the next nine months, the Reserve Bank of India data showed. This repayment is equivalent to about 44% of the India's foreign exchange reserves.

"The current local macro setup is driven by a record current account deficit, primarily due to oil imports," said Ashhish Vaidya, managing director, DBS Bank India. "Coupled with this, the overall dollar strength, triggered by higher US rate trajectory and risk-off sentiment, is contributing to rupee's rout."

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s #Trade #Deficit Widens to Record On Costly Imports, Weak #Rupee. The gap between #exports and #imports widened to $31.02 billion in July, from $26.18 billion in June. #Modi #BJP #Economy #Inflation #Currency #Forex

India’s trade deficit ballooned to a record high in July, as elevated commodity prices and a weak rupee inflated the country’s import bill.

The gap between exports and imports widened to $31.02 billion in July, from $26.18 billion in June, B.V.R Subrahmanyam, India’s trade secretary, told reporters at a briefing in New Delhi Tuesday, citing preliminary data. The trade deficit in June was a record before the latest numbers were released.

Riaz Haq said...

Record #trade deficit adds to #India's external balance challenges, #Indian currency woes. QuantEco Research revised their CAD projections for India higher for the current fiscal year to $130 billion from $105 billion. #Forex #INRUSD #economy #deficit

India's record high trade deficit in July signals a further deterioration in the country's external balances, which is likely to keep the rupee under pressure, analysts said on Wednesday.

Trade deficit in Asia's third largest economy widened to an all-time high of $31 billion, data on Tuesday showed, prompting concerns about the country's ability to fund its current account deficit and hurting the outlook for the rupee.

"I think after looking at the July trade deficit, we need to re-work on our CAD and BoP number, and thus the view on the rupee", Vikas Bajaj, head of currency derivatives at Kotak Securities, said.

Bajaj pointed out that until now the market consensus for India's current account deficit (CAD) was around $100 billion for the current fiscal year ending in March.

"But this definitely looks out of whack after July's trade number," he said.

In a note on Wednesday, QuantEco Research revised their CAD projections higher for the current fiscal year to $130 billion from $105 billion and the balance of payments (BoP) estimate to $60 billion from $35 billion.

The partially convertible rupee was trading at 79.02 per U.S. dollar in afternoon trade, 0.4% weaker on the day. On Tuesday, the unit had touched 78.49, its highest level since June 28. The local currency hit a record low of 80.0650 on July 19.

Vivek Kumar, a economist at QuantEco, said the recent recovery in the rupee from 80 will prove to be temporary and expects the local unit to fall to 81 to the dollar in the current fiscal year.

Bajaj said the recovery on the rupee was "broadly done" and that the currency "should once again see slow and steady move towards 80+ levels".

Riaz Haq said...

From The Print News Youtube channel:

India’s Forex reserve lose $80 bn in 8 months as RBI defends rupee, quarterly CAD at alarming level


Indias foreign exchange reserves fall to lowest in 23 months

The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) headline foreign exchange reserves declined by $7.9 billion to $553.11 billion in the week ended September 2, the latest central bank data showed.

The reserves are at their lowest since October 9, 2020, the RBI data showed. Analysts cited the RBI’s defence of the rupee through dollar sales amid a globally strengthening greenback as one of the reasons for the fall in reserves.

Incidentally, during the week that ended September 2, the rupee marked a fresh intraday low of 80.13 per US dollar.


Why are India's foreign reserves depleting, and what could it mean for the country? - BusinessToday

Riaz Haq said...

#India central bank chief Das raises interest rates 4th time in 2022, says global #economic outlook remains bleak, with #recession fears mounting & #inflation persisting at “alarmingly high levels”. #Indian forex reserves down $100 billion, #rupee weak.

India’s central bank raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point, as efforts to rein in inflation and protect an economic recovery have been complicated by its currency’s decline against the U.S. dollar.

On Friday, the Reserve Bank of India raised its overnight lending rate to 5.90% from 5.40%, the fourth increase since it began raising rates following an unscheduled meeting in May, prompted by global inflationary pressures exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

RBI Gov. Shaktikanta Das said that having witnessed the major shocks of the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, the global economy is now in the midst of a third major shock arising from aggressive monetary policy tightening from advanced economies that is having spillover effects on the rest of the world.

“There is nervousness in financial markets with potential consequences for the real economy and financial stability,” Mr. Das said. “The global economy is indeed in the eye of a new storm.”

The pace at which the U.S. Federal Reserve has raised rates, coupled with growing fears of a global recession, have strengthened the dollar and heaped downward pressure on other currencies. The Fed approved its third consecutive interest-rate rise of 0.75 percentage point last week and signaled additional large increases as inflation remains stubbornly high. Central banks around the world continue to tighten their own monetary policy.

The British pound hit its lowest-ever level against the U.S. dollar this week as investors worried about the government’s plans to cut taxes and the Bank of England warned it would raise interest rates as much as needed to hit its inflation targets. The Chinese yuan slid to its weakest level against the dollar in more than a decade, and Japan intervened in the foreign-exchange market for the first time in 24 years to support the yen.

In India, the rupee is down about 9% this year against the dollar. Despite the RBI’s efforts to defend the currency, it slumped in July past 80 rupees per dollar to record lows. That defense has contributed to an almost $100 billion decrease in India’s foreign-exchange reserves over the past year to $545 billion. The RBI also attributes some of that decrease to the change in value of other currencies it holds.

Mr. Das said the global economic outlook remains bleak, with recession fears mounting and inflation persisting at “alarmingly high levels” across multiple jurisdictions.

“Central banks are charting new territory with aggressive rate hikes even if it entails sacrificing growth in the near-term,” he said.

Emerging-market economies in particular, Mr. Das said, are confronting challenges of slowing global growth, elevated food and energy prices, debt distress and sharp currency depreciations. Despite the unsettling global environment, he added, the Indian economy remains resilient.

Robert Carnell, Asia-Pacific chief economist at ING Bank, said a weak rupee was more troublesome from the point of view of imports becoming more expensive rather than from any external debt issue, given India’s debt levels remained relatively low.

Mahesh Vyas, the managing director of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, said while the principal objective of the RBI’s currency intervention is to avoid volatility, support for the rupee for any given value is futile.

“Government efforts can delay the slide of the rupee but it cannot stop it,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #forex reserves drop to $524 billion, the lowest since July 2020.

Riaz Haq said...

India's current account gap widens to 9-year high

MUMBAI, Dec 29 (Reuters) - India's current account deficit widened in the July-September quarter as high commodity prices and a weak rupee increased the country's trade gap, data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed on Thursday.

In absolute terms, the current account deficit (CAD) (INCURA=ECI) was $36.40 billion in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022/23, its highest in more than a decade. As a percentage of GDP, it was 4.4%, its highest since the June quarter of 2013.

The CAD was $18.2 billion, or 2.2% of GDP, in the preceding April-June quarter, while the deficit was $9.7 billion, or 1.3% of GDP, in the same quarter a year earlier, the release showed.

In a statement, the RBI linked the widening deficit to the increase of "the merchandise trade deficit to $83.5 billion from $63.0 billion in Q1 2022/23 and an increase in net outgo under investment income".

In its Financial Stability Report released after the data, it said the widened trade deficit reflected "the impact of slowing global demand on exports, even as growth in services exports and remittances remained robust".

The median forecast of 18 economists in a Dec. 5-14 Reuters poll was for a $35.5 billion CAD in the July-September quarter.

The RBI said services exports reported growth of 30.2% on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, driven by exports of software, business and travel services, while net services receipts increased sequentially and y-o-y.

Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, rose by 29.7% to $27.4 billion from a year earlier.

Riaz Haq said...

Top 10 Countries that Export the Most Goods and Services (Current US$ millions - World Bank 2020)

Rank Country Exports (Current US$)
1 China $2,723,250.43
2 United States $2,123,410.00
3 Germany $1,669,993.51
4 Japan $785,365.75
5 United Kingdom $770,478.62
6 France $733,165.40
7 Netherlands $711,504.80
8 Hong Kong (China SAR) $612,566.52
9 Singapore $599,216.28
10 South Korea $596,945.20

Profiles of the world's largest exporters
1. China
Aside from the European Union (which is a collective of many countries), China is the world’s largest exporter. In 2020, China exported an estimated $2.72 trillion worth of goods and services, primarily electronic equipment and machinery such as broadcast equipment, computers, integrated circuits, office machine parts, and telephones. In 2018, China’s exports made up about 10.78% of the global total.

2. United States

The U.S. is the second-largest exporter in the world, with an estimated $2.12 trillion in exports for 2020. The largest exports of the U.S. are crude and refined petroleum; integrated circuits; pharmaceuticals and medical instruments; and aircraft including planes, spacecraft, and helicopters as well as their replacement parts. One of the reasons that the United States lags behind China in exports is the cost of labor. Many goods cannot be produced, manufactured, or assembled in the U.S. for a price comparable to that in China.

3. Germany
Having exported an estimated $1.67 trillion worth of goods and services in 2020, Germany is the world’s third-largest exporter. As one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, Germany’s main exports include automobiles (BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen), pharmaceuticals (Bayer), aircraft, machinery, electronics, and chemicals. Germany is the third of three countries to have exports exceeding $1 trillion, behind only China and the United States.

4. Japan
Japan’s exports for 2020 were valued at an estimated $785.4 billion. Japan’s major exports include automobiles (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Suzuki, more) and automobile parts, integrated circuits and electronic devices (Nintendo, Panasonic, Sony, and many more). Japan's largest export customers are China, the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

5. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom ranked as the fifth-highest exporter in the world in terms of dollar value in 2020, shipping an estimated $770.5 billion in goods and services to international customers. The U.K.'s top exports include cars (Bentley, Jaguar, Mini, Rolls-Royce, more), gas turbines, gold, medicines, hard liquor, antiques, and crude petroleum (which is often first imported from Norway, then exported to the rest of Europe, as well as China and South Korea).

Riaz Haq said...

Russia and India reportedly halt talks over using rupees for trade, with Moscow preferring to be paid in Chinese yuan

Russia and India have suspended negotiations over using rupees for trade, Reuters reported.

Moscow, with a high trade gap in its favor, believes accumulating rupee is "not desirable."

China prefers to be paid in Chinese yuan or other currencies.

Russia and India have suspended negotiations over using rupees for trade between the two countries, with Moscow reluctant to keep the Indian currency on hand, Reuters reported Thursday.

The halt in talks deals a blow to Indian importers of cheap Russian oil and coal who were looking forward to a permanent rupee payment mechanism that would help bring down costs for currency conversion.

Russia, with a high trade gap in its favor, believed it would have an annual rupee surplus of more than $40 billion if a mechanism were enacted. Moscow felt that accumulating rupee is "not desirable," the report said, citing an unnamed official with the Indian government.

India's finance ministry, the Reserve Bank of India and Russian authorities did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

Russia wants to be paid in Chinese yuan or other currencies, a second Indian government official involved in the discussions told Reuters. Moscow has increasingly turned to the yuan to move away from the US dollar after Russia was hit with Western sanctions for invading Ukraine in February 2022.

India began exploring a rupee settlement mechanism with Russia soon after Moscow launched war against the former Soviet state. No reported deals have been conducted using rupees, Reuters reported.

A currency dispute between Russia and India left deliveries of Russian weapons to India on hold, Bloomberg reported last month. The stalemate froze more than $2 billion in payments from India.

One factor that contributes to some countries not needing to hold rupees is India's share of global exports of goods, which runs at about 2%, the Reuters report said.

Riaz Haq said...

Geopolitics is shrinking India’s risk premium | Reuters

India is also benefiting from worsening relations between Washington and Beijing. Companies are looking to shift supply chains out of the People’s Republic, while money managers need a place to deploy long-term funds with fewer risks of financial sanctions.

In some cases, the pivot is stark: Apple suppliers Foxconn (2317.TW) and Pegatron (4938.TW), for example, are building factories in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. JPMorgan analysts reckon India will make one in four iPhones within two years, even though manufacturing costs are higher than in China. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Canada’s third-largest retirement fund, closed part of its China equity investment team based in Hong Kong in April, seven months after opening an office in Mumbai.


MUMBAI, May 9 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Indian tycoons and financiers are sitting back as global business comes to them for a change. Apple (AAPL.O) CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft (MSFT.O) boss Satya Nadella and Blackstone (BX.N) President Jon Gray have all visited India this year. They are lured by a country whose potential as an alternative investment destination to China increasingly outweighs the local challenges of doing business.

Visitors see many attractions. India’s $3 trillion economy is forecast to grow by 6.5% this fiscal year, continuing to outpace the rest of the world. Plentiful imports of cheap Russian oil are keeping inflation in check. Meanwhile, the workforce of the world’s most populous country offers low costs, high numbers of technology engineers, and hundreds of millions of people who speak English.

Executives and investors also see a business-friendly government that is likely to remain in power for the next half-decade. Opinion polls suggest Prime Minister Narendra Modi will win a third term next year: the biannual Mood of the Nation survey, published in January, found 72% of respondents rated Modi’s performance as good, up from 66% in August. If he wins re-election with an outright majority, businesses would not have to worry about unpredictable coalition politics.

Yet India is also benefiting from worsening relations between Washington and Beijing. Companies are looking to shift supply chains out of the People’s Republic, while money managers need a place to deploy long-term funds with fewer risks of financial sanctions.

In some cases, the pivot is stark: Apple suppliers Foxconn (2317.TW) and Pegatron (4938.TW), for example, are building factories in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. JPMorgan analysts reckon India will make one in four iPhones within two years, even though manufacturing costs are higher than in China. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Canada’s third-largest retirement fund, closed part of its China equity investment team based in Hong Kong in April, seven months after opening an office in Mumbai.

India appeals as more than a manufacturing base, though. Its economy also dangles the promise of Chinese-style growth. GDP per capita was $2,379 in 2022, less than one fifth of its eastern neighbour. Over 1.2 billion people have mobile phone connections; half of which are smartphones. Morgan Stanley analysts and strategists expect India to become the world’s third-largest economy and stock market before the end of the decade.

India remains a tricky destination for international companies and investors. New Delhi has a long-standing fondness for import tariffs and is infamous for wrangling over tax with multinationals including Vodafone (VOD.L) and energy group Cairn.

Riaz Haq said...

Last week’s stellar revival in Adani Group stocks has helped India reclaim its position among the world’s five largest stock markets.

India lost its fifth position to France after the US-based Hindenburg Research in January, accused the country’s ports-to-power conglomerate Adani Group of “brazen stock manipulation” and “accounting fraud,” Bloomberg reported today (May 29). The allegations triggered a sell-off in Adani stocks, dragging the indices sharply lower.

However, as of May 26, stock market capitalization stood at $3.3 trillion in India, driven by foreign fund inflows into Indian shares—and a sharp recovery in Adani stocks. 

Foreign investors bought shares worth $4.5 billion in May so far, a little more than a two-fold increase from last month, according to India’s National Securities Depository. Adani’s listed entities added around $15 billion to their market value last week, recovering some of their post-Hindenburg losses.

Now France has been pushed out of the top-five list again after the country’s stock indices lost more than $100 billion in market value last week. This was caused by a sell-off in shares of luxury goods companies such as LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Vivendi, due to fears of a slowdown in China and the US.

Investors are choosing India over China
India’s prospect as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies is alluring. 

Rival China, on the other hand, seems to have taken a backseat due to a stuttering economy. Beijing’s isolationist Covid-19 policies, turmoil in its real estate industry, and a harsh anti-trust campaign against the country’s valuable tech firms have crushed sentiments for Chinese assets, economists say.

Mark Mobius, founder of Mobius Capital Partners and a market expert, also sees India as a viable alternative. “You’ve got a billion people (Indians), they can do the same thing that the Chinese do. They can do the same kind of manufacturing and so forth,” Mobius told Fox Business in March.

Last week, Christopher Wood, strategist at Jefferies Financial Group, increased the weight of Indian stocks in his Asia Pacific portfolio, excluding Japan, Bloomberg reported. This reflects the dismay among investors when it comes to the Chinese stock market.

Riaz Haq said...

India's forex reserves post steepest weekly decline in over 6 months

MUMBAI, Aug 25 (Reuters) - India's foreign exchange reserves (INFXR=ECI) declined to a near two-month low of $594.89 billion as of Aug. 18 and posted their steepest weekly fall in more than six months, data from the country's central bank showed on Friday.

They fell by $7.27 billion from the prior week, the sharpest decline since the week ended Feb. 10.

The changes in foreign currency assets, expressed in dollar terms, include the effects of appreciation or depreciation of other currencies held in the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) reserves.

The forex reserves include India's Reserve Tranche position in the International Monetary Fund.

The RBI also intervenes in the spot and forwards markets to prevent runaway moves in the rupee.

In the week for which the forex reserves data pertains, the rupee dropped to a 10-month low of 83.16 against the U.S. dollar, prompting intervention from the RBI, as per traders.

Earlier this week, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das reiterated that the central bank has no specific target for the rupee.

Riaz Haq said...

From Google Gen AI

India's current account deficit widened to $13.4 billion in Q4FY22, which is 1.5% of GDP. The capital account deficit was $1.7 billion in Q4FY22, which was the first deficit since the Taper Tantrum episode in September 2013.
The current account tracks the flow of imports and exports.
A current account deficit occurs when the inflow of foreign currency from exports is less than the outflow of foreign currency from imports.
The capital account tracks the flow of assets and liabilities.
A capital account deficit occurs when the debit items are more than the credit items. This indicates a net outflow of capital from the country.
The sum of the current and capital accounts is always zero. This means that when a country has a deficit in its current account, it necessarily has a surplus in its capital account and vice versa.
India generally has a capital account surplus because it attracts a large share of foreign investments.