After just three shows in as many months, the W+K Exp gallery has popped up on Time Out’s list of
‘Best Designed Galleries in Delhi’! According to that bonkers frenchie genius Gauguin, ‘art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.’ Not if we can help it.
If you happen to be socializing over the weekend, why not impress friends/relatives with your informed and insightful remarks about macroeconomic trends? Here’s a handy W+K guide to what’s going down (or up) in the world. You can trust the author, he’s a Doctor (Dr. V. Balasubramanian, Director Finance W+K Delhi, and Advisor to the OECD).
W+K macro forecast for Earth
As most countries including the G5, 10 & 20 nations are busy consolidating their economic situation, they’ve stopped mucking about with foreign affairs – which is good because any regional unrest would hinder global recovery. However, there are some immediate concerns:
The debt default situation in Greece is putting pressure on the Euro zone currency/economy. Spain & Portugal are sitting on the fence, though Germany has come out of the recession in a resilient and German way.
Deteriorating ties between Israel and the US are pushing the Middle East to the edge, which concerns us all.
An undervalued Yuan (Chinese Renminbi) – not good for anyone except China.
India, Brazil, Europe may call for uniform local and global trade tariff rules, which is bad in the short-term but good in the long-term.
W+K macro forecast for India
The Indian version of the global slowdown = GDP growth at 6%. Not exactly recession, but what has really changed is the overall investor/business confidence and consumer sentiment. The double whammy of the flight of foreign investments back to their origins + drying up of export orders, both of which dry up forex, is bad news for an forex-hungry country like India (to feed its huge import bill). In fact it’s a potential macro-economic disaster. The government has quickly responded with revival measures such as (a) increased social spending; (b) tax sops to businesses; (c) lowering of interest rate (to boost consumer/business credit) and (d) intervention in food, commodity and oil pricing etc.
That paid off and the economic engine revved back to 8.5-9% levels on the back of some spectacular industrial production and services sector growth. But no quick remedy comes without its ill-effects, and this took the country’s fiscal deficit (ratio of the government’s sources of funds to that of its applications) to over 8% of GDP from a somewhat sexy 4.5%. Also, inflation is heating up at almost 10%, so the government’s macroeconomic priorities have changed now (political considerations weigh a little too heavily on governments in the short run, and more often than not they work against prudent macroeconomic fundamentals, but we have to live with these realities in a democracy. To contain inflation, we must keep up the rate of economic growth and rein in the fiscal deficit (not just by lazily upping tax and reducing social spends, but by reducing govt. spends, rationalizing tax, curbing evasion, etc.). Phasing out govt. intervention in commodity pricing (reducing subsidy bills) etc. will also help. The Finance Minister couldn’t have done much with economic and political constraints pulling him in opposite directions. In any case, over the years with so many rollbacks, the union budget has lost its significance.
What to expect in the coming quarter (India, April-June):
An overt display of inflation-curbing by the Govt., even at the cost of a few basis points of GDP growth. Interest rate (CRR) hike of about 50 to 75 basis points can be expected to mop up excess liquidity from the markets. Corporations and businesses will certainly fret over the interest rate hike and therefore tighter credit availability.
Consumer credit (home loans/personal/vehicles loans) will cost you more.
Food-security bill pending passage in the parliament will have far reaching effects on managing food-inflation – a critical issue for most Indians today.
Fiscal consolidation (tackling a high fiscal deficit), reduction of govt. debt (i.e. subsidy cleaning up or getting out of oil price administering, fertilizer subsidy, power subsidy, etc.) – the budget target is 5.5% (very neat, if achieved).
Speeding up disinvestment (tip: go get your favorite PSU stock before it skyrockets).
Sops to export oriented businesses on the anvil, to revive the falling share of Exports to GDP and to get down the current account deficit.
Infrastructure spending gets a boost, more Public private partnerships (PPP) in the offing, so more socially relevant programmes implemented i.e. more buying power into people’s hands.
There is a real fear of an asset price bubble in the market – which means assets of most categories being overvalued (stocks, realty, commodities, leveraged instruments etc). So short-term investors should be careful. Long-term investors don’t need to panic, as these bubbles are a natural phenomenon and will correct themselves in a cycle of 3-4 years.
Being in an increasingly globalised world, India is open to all global risks (credit, foreign exchange, political stability, investor/consumer sentiment), especially those of our trading partners US, Canada, UK, Europe, the Middle East etc. Indications are clear of a double dip recession and the present partial economic recovery can actually pan out as a W-shaped recovery rather than a V-shaped recovery. That might pose a significant confidence threat to our industry in Q3 2010. Exports are still sluggish. Capital investments in businesses are modest, which will slow down the rate of recovery of output growth when markets turn to normalcy.
A good monsoon could be the next big trigger to the economy, as a major reason for the spurt in food inflation is supply-driven, followed by fuel inflation and retail profiteering.
OPEC’s decision to maintain oil supplies will come as a small reprieve, as the oil can be maintained at least at the present 75-80 $/bbl.
India’s investment grading upgrade (S&P) from negative to stable will help flow of additional FDI into India, especially in view of the 3G spectrum auction slated for April 2010.Overall, the quarter could at best be stable in terms of economic performance, and barring any extraordinary developments in the regional security situation or a giant asteroid collision, the economy expected to grow robustly and consumer sentiment is likely to be buoyant.
It was a great weekend. Mellow spring sunshine, cold beers, 35 customized Enfields, limited edition products – and more than 1,200 people picnicking on the W+K lawns including several muscular gentlemen with big moustaches, beards and tattoos. Who says Delhi lacks pop culture?
It was one week but one hell of a week. The rugged terrain, hot desert sun and disorienting night stages brought plenty of challenges and frustrations. There were engine seizures and blow-ups, loss of petrol tank lids, 3:30 am flag-offs, typhoid symptoms and going into a ditch. But at the end of 3,500km of hard driving and unimaginable endurance, W+K Racing won 8 trophies – 4 bike and 4 car trophies! Congratulations to the team. Don’t miss the video above – it shows one of the W+K Racing cars turning into a submarine (no one was injured):