Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RBI's Trilemmas: What the fuss is all about?

Every economist and newspaper is talking about Impossible Trinity (aka Trilemma) these days. What is all this hoo-ha all about? Let’s find out.

Wikipedia defines Impossible Trinity as “a trilemma in international economics which states that it is impossible to have all three of the following at the same time: A fixed exchange rate; free capital movement (absence of capital controls) and; an independent monetary policy.

In simple words, an economy cannot have an independent monetary authority (i.e. independent of external influence) if it tries to play its hand in managing its exchange rate in order to (or not just to) control the fund flows. 

Maximum, you can choose any two of these three options. 

Let’s say a nation adopts fixed exchange rate mechanism (presumably low, to achieve export competitiveness) and opens up its capital account to foreign flow. This will eventually lead to more forex earnings and surge in central bank’s reserves in the short term. To maintain the required exchange rate, a central bank has to buy local currency (reduce money supply aka monetary tightening) via bond purchases, increasing bank’s regulatory/statutory reserves with central bank (CRR) etc etc. If continue using this strategy, then over the period of time, its official forex reserves will come under stress, and the central bank has to devalue the currency (or let go off its control on the exchange rate) to reduce the excess demand for foreign currency
In India’s case, this surge in demand for monetary tightening arose after US Fed statement regarding tapering of stimulus measures led to increase in US bond yields, which in turn led to foreign investors fleeing Indian debt. Rupee has declined by more than 12% since Fed announcement.

Our RBI got into action, setting aside its earlier focus on inflation, and started tightening its monetary policy by depriving the banks of funds available and sucking out the “excess” liquidity from the system via its bond purchases (which ominously auctioned at max yield of ~11%).

Now, rupee after moving up for some time against the dollar is back again at the level pre-RBI measures and not to say, we are few millions short on foreign reserves. I have already highlighted in my earlier post that RBI is playing with fire. If RBI insisted on targeting exchange rate by curtailing the funds available to the banks, its actions will have serious implications for India’s growth story. And, let’s just not talk about employment levels.

RBI should just STOP its "rupee stabilizing" measures right now. And let the currency find its own ground.

1 comment:

  1. Nifty hovers around 8950; Sensex higher on IT, telecom support .capitalstars