Mid-Quarter Monetary Policy Review 2011-12: December 2011
-Announced on the 16th December 2011 by Dr. D. Subbarao, Governor, Reserve Bank of India
On the basis of the current macroeconomic assessment, it has been decided to:
keep the cash reserve ratio (CRR) unchanged at 6 per cent; and
keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 8.5 per cent.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 7.5 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate at 9.5 per cent.
Since the Reserve Bank’s Second Quarter Review (SQR) of October 25, 2011, the global economic outlook has worsened significantly. The recent European Union (EU) summit agreement did not assuage negative market sentiments, thereby increasing the likelihood of persistent financial turbulence as well as a recession in Europe. Both factors pose threats to emerging market economies (EMEs), including India. Significantly, despite these developments, crude oil prices remain elevated.
On the domestic front, growth is clearly decelerating. This reflects the combined impact of several factors: the uncertain global environment, the cumulative impact of past monetary policy tightening and domestic policy uncertainties.
Both inflation and inflation expectations are currently above the comfort level of the Reserve Bank. However, reassuringly, inflationary pressures are expected to abate in the coming months despite high crude oil prices and rupee depreciation. The growth deceleration is contributing to a decline in inflation momentum, which is also being helped by softening food inflation.
The global economic situation continues to be fragile with no credible solution as yet to the immediate euro area sovereign debt problem. At the EU summit on December 8-9, the European leaders agreed on a new fiscal compact, involving stronger coordination of economic policies to strengthen fiscal discipline. While the agreement is necessary for medium and long-term sustainability of the euro area, its ability to resolve short-term funding pressures was questioned by markets. Q3 euro area growth, at 0.8 per cent, was anaemic and 2012 growth is now expected to be weaker than earlier projected. Reflecting these projections, the European Central Bank (ECB) cut its policy rate twice in the last two months, and also implemented some non-standard measures. By contrast, growth in the US in Q3 of 2011 was better than in Q2, although still substantially below trend.
Growth in EMEs is also moderating on account of sluggish growth in advanced economies and the impact of monetary tightening to contain inflation. In view of the slowing down of their economies, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel and Thailand cut their policy rates, while China cut its reserve requirements. EME currencies have also come under varying degrees of downward pressure as a result of global risk aversion and financial stress emanating from the euro area.
GDP growth moderated to 6.9 per cent in Q2 of 2011-12 from 7.7 per cent in Q1 and 8.8 per cent in the corresponding quarter a year ago. The deceleration in economic activity in Q2 was mainly on account of a sharp moderation in industrial growth. On the expenditure side, investment showed a significant slowdown. Overall, during the first half (April-September) of 2011-12, GDP growth slowed down to 7.3 per cent from 8.6 per cent last year.
Industrial performance has further deteriorated as reflected in the decline of the index of industrial production (IIP) by 5.1 per cent, y-o-y, in October 2011. This was mainly due to contraction in manufacturing and mining activities. The contraction was particularly sharp in capital goods with a y-o-y decline of 25.5 per cent, reinforcing the investment decline story emerging from the GDP numbers.
Other indicators also suggest a similar tendency, though by no means as dramatic as the IIP. The HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI) for manufacturing suggested further moderation in growth in November 2011. However, PMI-services index recovered in November from contractionary levels in the preceding two months. Corporate margins in Q2 of 2011-12 moderated significantly as compared with their levels in Q1. The decline in margins was largely on account of higher input and interest costs. Pricing power is evidently declining.
On the food front, the progress of sowing under major rabi crops so far has been satisfactory, with area sown under foodgrains and pulses so far being broadly comparable with that of last year.
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