INVESTORS have fallen out of love with emerging markets. Since the start of last year emerging-market stocks have trailed their rich-world peers. Currencies are falling. Worst-hit is the Russian rouble, which has fallen by 30% against the dollar this year. The currencies of other biggish emerging markets, such as Brazil, Turkey and South Africa, have also weakened. For such economies growth is harder to come by. The IMF recently cut its forecasts for emerging markets by more than for rich countries. But India is a notable exception to the general pessimism. Its stockmarket has touched new highs. The rupee is stable. And the IMF nudged up its 2014 growth forecast for India to 5.8%. That figure is still quite low: growth rates of 8-9% have been more typical. But in comparison with others it is almost a boom. Why is India doing better than most emerging markets?
Source- The Economist
In part optimism about India owes to its newish government. In May Narendra Modi’s Baratiya Janata Party (BJP) won a thumping victory in elections on a pro-growth platform. Since then the BJP has strengthened its position in some key states. So far reform has been piecemeal. Procedures for government approvals have been streamlined. The powers of labour inspectors have been curbed. Civil servants now work harder. That has been enough to sustain hopes of further and bigger reforms. Yet much of the continued enthusiasm about India is down to luck. The currents that sway the global economy presently—the dollar’s strength; slowdown in China; aggressive money-printing in Japan; stagnation in the euro zone and falling oil prices—are less harmful to India than to most emerging markets.
Start with the dollar, which has been buoyed by a resilient American economy and the prospect of interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve. Past episodes of rising interest rates and dollar strength (for instance in the early 1980s or mid-1990s) have not been kind to emerging markets. Bond yields rise and currencies fall as capital is drawn back to America. India has a bit less to fear from such a rush to the exits; its bond markets are tricky for foreigners to enter in the first place. India is also less harmed by slowdown in China, as only around 5% of its exports go there. It is not part of China’s supply-chain, which takes in much of South-East Asia. Nor is it a big exporter of industrial commodities, as Brazil is. And a weaker yen in response to quantitative easing by the Bank of Japan hurts Asia’s manufacturing exporters more than service-intensive India. The misery in the euro zone is of greater concern to Europe’s trading partners in Turkey and Russia than to faraway India. And the fall in crude-oil prices that hurts oil exporters, such as Russia and Nigeria, is a boon to a big oil importer like India. Indeed the deflation that is stalking large parts of the world is helpful to India, which has suffered from high inflation.
India is not impervious to bad news. Some of its recent economic data have looked a little soggy. Exports slumped in October. Car sales have fallen for two consecutive months and there is little sign yet of a meaningful recovery in business investment. This explains, in part, why there have been growing calls (including from the finance minister) for the central bank to cut interest rates soon in response to a drop in consumer-price inflation. The troubles in other emerging markets ought to counsel caution. Any sign that policymakers might be ditching discipline in favour of quick fixes might see India fall from investors’ favour. But for the time being, it is riding high.