Thursday, October 29, 2009

RBI commences the exit process

The central bank of Asia's third-largest economy, the Reserve Bank of India, has begun the unwinding of its loose Monetary Policy; though it has kept key rates unchanged the RBI has signaled the end of fiscal stimulus by withdrawing some of the emergency liquidity support measures that were implemented during the peak crisis period. To read a summary of the Macro-economic review and policy measures taken please visit this link.

The Indian stock markets have reacted violently as the feeling is that tightening bias comes a tad earlier than expected. However, RBI, analysts and bankers have expressed the view that the changes implemented so far will not have any impact as much of it constitutes reversals of measures no longer being used. The SLR change really will have no real impact on the economy as the scheduled commercial banks are already in maintaining a SLR of 27.6 per cent, so there is no immediate impact on liquidity. Discontinuing the support to Mutual funds could have an impact on the Net Asset Values of the funds, if they face large scale redemptions; to prevent this RBI has allowed MFs to borrow from banks to meet the needs for redemption. Withdrawal of two repo facilities, one for banks and one for the funding needs of mutual funds, non-bank finance companies and housing finance companies are unlikely to affect liquidity levels as both these facilities had not been used for more than a couple of months. Lowering the limit of export credit refinance facility to 15 percent from 50 percent, and discontinuation of a forex swap facility for banks, is unlikely to have much impact on market conditions as a review had found use of the facilities was low.

Central banks in all the major developed economies, barring Australia, are continuing with easy monetary policy and have held policy rates steady in recent months. They have also continued with measures to provide liquidity and other support to alleviate stress in the financial markets following the crisis. In the current cycle, the Reserve Bank of Australia has been the first G-20 central bank to raise its policy rate (Cash Rate) by 25 basis points to 3.25 per cent on October 6 on the back of diminished risk of serious economic contraction. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has withdrawn some temporary emergency liquidity facilities put in place during the financial crisis of 2008. China has reiterated its commitment to proactive financial policies and moderately loose monetary policies amid market speculation that it might be preparing an exit strategy. Despite the fact that the country's economic growth is likely to speed up in the fourth quarter (from an average of 7.7 per cent in the last three quarters), the Chinese government has said that it will stay on course of its fiscal stimulus spending.

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