Thursday, April 16, 2009

Crisis and Investment

According to a report by Barclays the pace of global output shedding has exceeded the drop in demand by a large margin, to the point where output is now well below demand, a situation that tends to bring its own reversal relatively quickly and hence augurs well for global economic recovery.
The World Bank has warned that the recession may trigger curtailment in spending, but increasing investment in public infrastructure during a crisis is the key to growth for emerging economies like India, since, infrastructure projects often take years to prepare, but postponing them has a drastic knock-on effect for medium term growth. As for project investments in India, according to the survey by Projects Today, as of March 31, 2009, there were 29,628 projects worth Rs 42,35,484 crore, a rise of 37.4 per cent in terms of investment and 29 per cent increase in terms of number of projects over the year-ago period. Going forward Projects Today expects the public sector to continue its project investment activities during 2009-10 in the critical infrastructure sectors like roadways, water supply, electricity, irrigation and community services, the same cannot be vouched for the private sector, which appears to be waiting for some more concrete signs of revival. Given this situation, the pace of project investment is thus expected to remain moderate at least in the first half of 2009-10. The industry on the other hand is concerned over prime lending rates ruling well above 10 per cent even when inflation has reached near- zero level and a debate has been raging about the need to abolish sub-prime lending to bring down the PLRs.
Meanwhile, China has unveiled a $10 billion fund and liberal credit lines to help promote a range of infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian nations reeling from the global economic crisis. China has planned to establish a China-ASEAN investment cooperation fund totaling $10 billion, designed for cooperation on infrastructure construction, energy and resources, information and communications in member states like Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam and Indonesia.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Indian Financial System Found to be Broadly Robust

The Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank, in September 2006 constituted the Committee on Financial Sector Assessment (CFSA) to undertake a comprehensive self- assessment of India’s financial sector (based on the principles of the FSAP of IMF & World Bank). The CFSA recently assessed financial stability and also compliance with all financial standards and codes so that a compact roadmap could evolve with a medium-term perspective for the entire financial sector. From this study, the Indian commercial banking system has shown itself to be sound. This is important because commercial banks are the dominant institutions with linkages to other segments in the Indian financial system, accounting for around 60 per cent of its total assets. The main results related to different types of risk include the following:

Credit Risk Stress testing for credit risk was carried out by increasing both the NPA levels and provisioning requirements for standard, substandard and doubtful assets. The analysis was carried out both at the aggregate level and individual bank level. The findings revealed that the impact of credit risk on banks’ capital position continues to be relatively muted. Under the worst-case scenario (at 150 per cent increase under Scenario I), the overall capital adequacy position of the banking sector declined to 10.6 percent in September 2008 as against 11.0 per cent in March 2008. Thus, it may be noted that even under the worst case scenario, CRAR remained comfortably above the regulatory minimum.

Market Risk To test the banking system’s resilience to market risk, interest rate risk stress tests were undertaken using both earnings at risk (EaR), as also the economic value perspective. In the EaR perspective, the focus of analysis is the impact of changes in interest rates on accrual or reported earnings. The banks have been actively managing their interest rate risk by reducing the duration of their portfolios. The duration of equity reduced from 14 years in March 2006 to around 8 years in March 2008 – a pointer to better interest rate risk management. Taking the impact based on the yield volatility estimated at 244 basis points (bps) for a one-year holding period showed, ceteris paribus, erosion of 19.5 per cent of capital and reserves. The CRAR would reduce from 13.0 per cent to 10.9 per cent for a 244 bps shock. The CRAR of 29 banks that account for 36 per cent of total assets would fall below the regulatory CRAR of 9 per cent. These results remained broadly robust for different plausible stress scenarios and assumptions.

Liquidity Risk Liquidity risk originates from the potential inability of a bank to generate liquidity to cope with demands entailing a decline in liabilities or an increase in assets. The management of liquidity risk is critical for banks to sustain depositors’ confidence. The importance of managing this risk came to the fore during the recent turmoil, when inter-bank money markets became illiquid. Typically, banks can meet their liquidity needs by two methods: stored liquidity and purchased liquidity. Stored liquidity uses on-balance sheet liquid assets and a well-crafted deposit structure to provide all funding needs. Purchased liquidity uses non-core liabilities and borrowings to meet funding needs. While dependence on stored liquidity is considered to be safer from the liquidity risk perspective, it has cost implications. A balanced approach to liquidity strategy in terms of dependence on stored and purchased liquidity is the most cost-effective and optimal risk strategy. To assess the banking sector’s funding strategy and the consequent liquidity risk, a set of liquidity ratios has been developed and analysed in detail. The analysis of this set of liquidity ratios reveals that there is growing dependence on purchased liquidity and also an increase in the illiquid component in banks’ balance sheets with greater reliance on volatile liabilities, like bulk deposits to fund asset growth. Simultaneously, there has been a shortening of residual maturities, leading to a higher asset-liability mismatch. There is a need to strengthen liquidity management in this context as also to shore up the core deposit base and to keep an adequate cushion of liquid assets to meet unforeseen contingencies.

Apart from commercial banks the report also analyses NBFCs, HFCs, the insurance sector, as well as equity and debt markets. It also looks at the financial infrastructure, including regulatory and legal infrastructure. Use the following link to read the entire report: