Rupee on the ropes? It’s the Indian economy, stupidBy Mocking Indian Aug 23, 2013 5:09PM UTC
I have not watched Chennai Express as yet. I like to catch the usually low IQ blockbuster Bollywood movies at the multiplex, to marvel at the immensely successful Hindi movie mindless masala business model play out yet again.
Apart from Bollywood, the other distraction is cricket, which thankfully has been minimal due to Australia playing like Zimbabwe at the Ashes. I have instead been caught up trying to keep track of the dwindling value of my investments more often than I usually do.
My money is hard earned, so I am naturally worried. Over the last few years I have come to terms with stocks that I have picked being reduced to scrap.
I bought them as per advice of experts in the pink papers and recommendations of well-dressed wealth managers. Today a stock I bought for about Rs100 quotes under Rs3. The fate of another has been similar. I was told these stocks would grow exponentially. They have gone in the other direction.
If I sell these shares today, I might just be able to buy a cinema ticket, I am not sure. I had bargained for more. The wealth managers say they were not wrong, as they are never wrong. They showed me graphs wherein the said stocks quoted somewhat more than Rs100 for a couple of days in four years.
I was supposed to exit then, make a killing and become filthy rich, probably produce a movie. In the meantime, the wealth managers showed me another graph. This depicted guaranteed notional growth (whatever that means) that could make me as rich as Mukesh Ambani or at least MS Dhoni (currently, high on Forbes list like Maria Sharapova due to endorsements) in a few years if I started investing afresh as Europe and America are getting back to business.
I told my investment advisors to take a walk, dumped the graph into the dust bin and decided to play it safe by focusing on bonds and debt funds to be able to sleep peacefully again. Unfortunately, my net worth has been drastically battered again. The change was very abrupt, like going to bed safe and snug, but waking up to find that your limbs have disappeared for good.
Here I was worth a million at 10pm, to discover I was near worthless the next morning. The Indian economy is very shaky again. The rupee has crashed quicker than Usain Bolt’s mighty strides or CE clocking Rs100 crore.
Given my stock market experience, I have gauged it is best to exit (and book profits, if possible) when the milieu begins to turn bearish.
However, just as the first alarm linked the falling rupee, capital outflow and crashing bond market, my investments had already fallen steeply, the regular supposedly safe returns vanished, the principal eroded.
Some wealth managers I spoke to told me there is always risk in debt and bonds, it is best the money is held as cash. Do we need MBAs in finance to figure this out? I need to find out what the wealth managers do with their money. Probably they have lockers at home. One day I will steal their money.
What is the use of earning money if I keep losing it, I asked myself. It would have been better if it was never there, than appear and then disappear, making one feel like a fool. Or maybe I should have not listened to my wife for a change and splurged on gadgets rather than save.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is trying not to tinker with high interest rates to retrieve the situation. It has made it difficult for individuals and entities to remit dollars overseas, including buying cheaper LED TVs in Southeast Asia and selling dear in India. This is like giving Disprin to a patient suffering from acute dysentery.
I have humble advice for the very well qualified RBI bosses, Raghuram Rajan, policy makers in Delhi and Manmohan Singh. They need to look beyond their fat text books to figure out why the Indian economy is so jammed.
They should try and take a round of Delhi, Mumbai or any other city, not in VVIP convoys but personal transport to experience first-hand millions of vehicles going nowhere. It is a catch-22 situation.
People use cars and two wheelers as public transport is woefully inadequate. And, then they are stuck in jams as the infrastructure is unable to support so many vehicles, in the process guzzling more and more petrol, diesel or CNG, all of which India imports (as crude oil or LNG), hiking our energy bill, the biggest forex drain.
This is just one of the major problems. Our policy makers need to address the structural infirmities of the Indian economy – over regulation, lack of infrastructure, power, roads, absence of governance, corruption.
The challenge lies here, not tinkering with repo rate and taking the easy way out. Or else, our once robust economy will soon be dead.
This article first appeared on the Mocking Indian blog