Macroeconomic and Monetary Developments Third Quarter Review 2008-09
-Announced on January 26, 2009
The Reserve Bank has released the document “Macroeconomic and Monetary Developments Third Quarter Review 2008-09” to serve as a backdrop to the Third Quarter Review of Monetary Policy 2008-09.
The highlights of macroeconomic and monetary developments during 2008-09 so far are:
The crisis in global financial markets deepened since mid-September 2008, triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers followed by the failure of a number of other financial firms across countries. The pressure on financial markets mounted with the credit spreads widening to record levels and equity prices crashing to historic lows leading to widespread volatility across the market spectrum. The turmoil transcended from credit and money markets to the global financial system more broadly. The contagion also spilled over to the emerging markets, which saw broad-based asset price declines amidst depressed levels of risk appetite.
Added to this, there was a significant deterioration in the global economic outlook. As a result, authorities in several countries embarked upon an unprecedented wave of policy initiatives to contain systemic risk, arrest the plunge in asset prices and shore up the confidence in the international banking system. While these initiatives did help in restoring some level of stability, the financial market conditions remained far from normal during the period October-December 2008.
Liquidity conditions tightened significantly in India between mid-September and October 2008 emanating from adverse international developments and some domestic factors.Financial markets in India came under pressure since mid-September 2008, reflecting the knock-on effects of the disruptions in the international financial markets. This necessitated the Reserve Bank to undertake a series of measures to inject rupee and foreign exchange liquidity from mid-September 2008 onwards.
Accordingly, money markets in India came under some pressure mirroring the impact of capital outflows and redemption pressures faced by mutual funds and other investors. The pressure on money markets was reflected in call rates breaching the upper bound of Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) corridor but settling back within the corridor by November 2008. Interest rates in the collateralised segments of the money market moved in tandem with but remained below the call rate during the third quarter of 2008-09.
In the credit market, lending rates of scheduled commercial banks, which had increased initially, started declining in December 2008. Yields in the government securities market also came to soften during the third quarter 2008-09.
In the foreign exchange market, Indian rupee generally depreciated against major currencies. Indian equity markets witnessed downswings quite in line with trends in major international equity markets.
The Reserve Bank swiftly initiated a series of measures, which helped to assuage liquidity conditions, while reassuring the market that the Indian banking system continued to be safe and sound, well capitalised and well regulated.
The accommodative monetary policy, which was pursued by most central banks since September 2008, aimed at mitigating the adverse implications of the recent financial market crisis on economic growth and employment.
Headline inflation moderated in major economies since July/August 2008 on account of the marked decline in international energy and commodity prices as well as slowdown in aggregate demand emerging from the persistence of financial market turmoil following the US sub-prime crisis.
After remaining at elevated levels for an extended period, global commodity prices declined sharply since the second quarter of 2008-09 led by decline in the prices of crude oil, metals and food. The WTI crude oil prices have eased from its historical high of US $ 145.3 a barrel level on July 3, 2008 to around US $ 42.3 a barrel as on January 22, 2009 reflecting falling demand in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries as well as some developing countries, notably in Asia, following the economic slowdown. Metal prices eased further during the third quarter of 2008-09, reflecting weak construction demand in OECD countries and some improvement in supply, especially in China.
In India inflation, based on the year-on-year changes in wholesale price index (WPI), declined sharply from an intra-year peak of 12.9 per cent on August 2, 2008 to 5.6 per cent as on January 10, 2009. The recent decline in WPI inflation was driven by decline in prices of minerals oil, iron and steel, oilseeds, edible oils, oil cakes, raw cotton.
Amongst major groups, primary articles inflation, year-on-year, increased to 11.6 per cent on January 10, 2009 from 4.5 per cent a year ago and (it was 9.7 per cent at end-March 2008). This mainly reflected increase in the prices of food articles, especially of wheat, fruits, milk, and eggs, fish and meat as well as non-food articles such as oilseeds and raw cotton.
The fuel group inflation turned negative (-1.3 per cent) as on January 10, 2009 as compared to an intra-year peak of 18.0 per cent on August 2, 2008. This reflected the reduction in the price of petrol by Rs. 5 per litre and diesel by Rs. 2 per litre effective December 6, 2008 as well as decline in the prices of freely priced petroleum products in the range of 30-65 per cent since August 2008.
Manufactured products inflation, year-on-year, also moderated to 5.9 per cent on January 10, 2009 as compared with the peak of 11.9 per cent in mid-August 2008 but remained higher than 4.6 per cent a year ago. The year-on-year increase in manufactured products prices was mainly driven by sugar, edible oils/oil cakes, textiles, chemicals, iron and steel and machinery and machine tools.
Inflation, based on year-on-year variation in consumer price indices (CPIs), increased further during November/December 2008 mainly due to increase in the prices of food, fuel and services (represented by the ‘miscellaneous’ group). Various measures of consumer price inflation were placed in the range of 10.4-11.1 per cent during November/December 2008 as compared with 7.3-8.8 per cent in June 2008 and 5.1-6.2 per cent in November 2007.
The various business expectations surveys released recently reflect less than optimistic sentiments prevailing in the economy. The results of Professional Forecasters’ Survey conducted by the Reserve Bank in December 2008 also suggested further moderation in economic activity for 2008-09.
According to the Reserve Bank’s Industrial Outlook Survey of manufacturing companies in the private sector, the business expectations indices based on assessment for October-December 2008 and on expectations for January-March 2009 declined by 2.6 per cent and 5.9 per cent, respectively, over the corresponding previous quarters.
The global economic outlook has deteriorated sharply since September 2008 with several countries, notably the US, the UK, the Euro area and Japan experiencing recession. In India too, there is evidence of a slowing down of economic activity. Unlike in the advanced countries where the contagion of crisis spread from the financial to the real sector, in India the slowdown in the real sector is affecting the financial sector, which in turn, has a second-order impact on the real sector.
On the positive side factors include expected increase in consumption demand mainly reflecting rise in basic exemption limits and tax slabs, Sixth Pay Commission awards, debt waiver for farmers and pre-election expenditure.
WPI inflation has fallen sharply driven by falling international commodity prices especially those of crude oil, steel and selected food items, although, some contribution has also come from the slowing domestic demand. Going forward, the outlook on international commodity prices indicate further softening of domestic prices.
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