Saturday, 7 February 2009

DOLE Time in US and VOTE Time in India

Stimulus packages of the recent times have started to have the "Look and Feel" of socialism. unemployment compensation, food stamps and Subsidized Medical Insurance seem to be from the era of socialistic societies. This further proves the economic management cycle professed earlier. This cycle, as written earlier consists of of "Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization, Nationalization".

The debate of whether to bail out individuals or institutions is another matter which needs attention. Do individuals who speculated in the real estate market on account of greed need a bail out or Institution who nourished this greed and found themselves holding "toxic assets" need a bail out?

Lets once again examine the root of all these problems. Lets start with the housing statistics of USA, for a population of 305 million the country has 130 million houses which makes it, one house for every three people in the country. Its a nobrainer that housing supply is more than demand in this country and people have started buying and selling houses for speculative purposes than for dwelling purposes. When real estate is used for speculation then the "reality" of the investment gets lost and becomes a virtual asset. Now tell me if there is any point is letting banks lend to people who want to speculate in the housing trade? isn't it same as lending money to trade in the stock markets? In stock markets when money is lent, the stocks are subjected to a haircut and the haircut is as big as 50% in India, whereas the haircut here was 5% owing to the fact that this was "Real" asset and not a stock! But it turned out to be an "Unreal" one.

Another side of the problem is the propensity of American consumers to consume. Consumption in itself is no taboo but consumption by discounting your future income is a problem. That too using up your future income projections to pay for speculative buying of real estate is a disaster.

If this is the root of the problem, then should the new administration stop housing construction activity and? Should old houses be demolished and new ones built so that a renewal of assets happens and housing supply remains constant? these are the question that need to be answered by the new administration. I, for one would always suggest asset renewal over new asset augmentation that would generate employment and renew the infrastructure. It would also be wise to start a massive Infrastructure renewal plan to kick start the economy. that would surely percolate to other countries and would be an answer to the bulging cash stashed in the banks due to liquidity infusion and hoarding of Cash that has been witnessed in the country.

Lets get back to India, what ails us here? We are witnessing a slowing growth rate. Our policy makers are trying to bring down inflation by reducing fuel prices. I think we are barking at the wrong tree! India is bound to have inflation around 5-6% and it cannot be stopped because of the substantial portion of the economy is unaccounted for. That's what is called the black economy. Controlling liquidity at the wrong time suffocated the demand and drove interest rates higher in the last six months. With inflation higher than the repo rate we still have a negative real interest rate. With negative interest rate there is no hope for foreign portfolio investment and therefore no hope for the stock markets because the strong hands of FIIs will not buy India!

No amount of bullied interest rate reduction will work as the banks have become risk averse and are taking their own time to sanction loans. Housing and real estate prices are set to spiral downwards as the stratospheric levels of real estate prices are not sustainable in India too, even if the country is deficient of housing that's because of the affordability issues.

Stock Markets in India will witness laid back meandering business for sometime now as the country is gearing up for elections. Now non-issues will take centre stage.

Elections in India will be highly entertaining and will have very high educational value.

1 comment:

Subramanya said...

I completely agree with your viewpoint of bailing out the Gambler. He is in there by choice and is supposed to pay the price for his own wrongdoings.