Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Banking on cooperatives is better business

Cooperatives are wealth creators:
The need for cooperatives in wealth creation arises mainly due to the reason that a cooperative can create more value or surplus than the individual can. Conceptually, if a cooperative is well run, it will bring more benefits to its members. The organization and management of a cooperative enterprise, however, is complex. It is more complex in the case of rural cooperative credit structure as (1) this structure is part of the overall financial structure and has a contributory responsibility to the financial stability (2) it has to abide by the regulatory policy and procedures and (3) its capital structure demands continuing infusion of capital under Basel III.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Crude Shocks keep India in Smiles

B. Yerram Raju  & Nitin Gupta*

“The economics of oil have changed. Some businesses will go bust, but the market will be healthier,” says the Economist (December 6, ’14). Is this the beginning of cheap oil regime or just an interlude between two big bumps?

2013, in retrospect,  had turned out to be the strongest year of recovery, with growing US Economy and stabilizing Chinese economy. Commodity prices were projected to remain flat with an up-side risk due to unexpected supply-side shocks.

Enter December 2014 and all the projections seem little more than wishful thinking. IMF went on record recently: “the global economic growth may never return to pre-crisis levels” ! All the Quantitative Easing (QE) from the US (3 till now – totaling over $ 4 trillion or, twice that of the entire Indian economy) which was supposed to push cash to banks ended up just in increased valuations and stock indices accompanied by higher prices of gold and other commodities. Emerging economies like India had to contend with high inflation. Some even said: it is ‘US Fed exported inflation’!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rural Cooperatives

Rural Cooperative Credit Structure beg for urgent reforms

Cooperatives with their spread are the best means for reaching the goals of financial inclusion and Jan-Dhan.
Their form and content needs change. Meaningful recommendations of Vaidyanathan Committee have been implemented more in breach. The States that received the reform package have breached on the MOUs and misspent the grant released and NABARD also did not put its heart in the monitoring of the grant assistance.
GOI should recall the grant assistance from all these states or should give them an year's time to re-engineer the rural cooperative credit structure to the promised health. 

The vast potential of cooperatives can be fully utilised only through de-bonding them from the politicians and vested interests and by ushering in legal and governance reforms. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

SBI should keep its eyes and ears open

Efficiency of banks does not go by the size of capital but by the performance and perception of the customer. SBI chairman, Arundhati Bhattacharya at the Delhi Economic Conclave sidelines has been arguing for freedom to decide on mergers and acquisitions be left to the banks themselves. Yes, it is the banks concerned and their boards that should take a responsible call on the issue. Has SBI taken stock of the issues that came up in its acquisition of the two of its Associates and the HR problems it had to handle and perhaps continuing to handle? Does it have a discussion forum where the customers and clients of the merged banks would also have a say? SBIs' ATMs are most times inefficient delivery points. They bask under the glory of their associate bank ATMs. Their attention to the customers has much to comment. Their corporate loans are the big ticket NPAs because of unperceived credit risks and poor due diligence. They are living by legacy.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fast Tracking Financial inclusion

Jan-Dhan has been announced from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15, 2014 and quickly made inroads into the field on no-holds barred approach the first ever, since the announcement of Financial Inclusion by Y. V. Reddy, the former Governor, RBI in 2005. The Committee on Financial Inclusion under the Chairmanship of Dr Rangarajan said: ‘Financial Inclusion is no longer an option, but a necessity.’ NABARD Report in 2008 gave a working definition later: “Financial inclusion may be defined as the process of ensuring access to financial services and timely and adequate credit where needed by vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low income groups at an affordable cost.” Had the Banks implemented the Differential Rate of Interest Scheme[1] (still in the RBI statutes) been implemented by the banks, monitored and regulated by the RBI, the Prime Minister Modi would not have had the good luck of taking this lame duck of financial inclusion under the new garb with such gusto. The credit limit for the Jan-Dhan scheme second dose is incidentally the same as the revised DRI limit of Rs.15,000 in 2010. What R.K. Hazare proposed in 1970s has been disposed by M.V. Nair in 2012.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Politician promises and Regulator disposes

Politician promises and Regulator disposes

There is an old adage that a farmer is born in debt, lives in debt and dies in debt. No farmer has liquidity when he wants cash in hand, for it lies either in land or stock. Farmer is today a part of the rule book, both with Governments and the financial institutions and the regulator.

AP and Telangana both the States, after formation, did not lose a minute in negotiating with the RBI the way forward to realising their hasty loan waiver promises. The States tried to bargain hard for restructuring the loans till they could find resources to fully credit the promised waiver amount into farmers’ loan accounts. The logic for waiver could be disputable but the request for restructuring on the sovereign guarantee has less reason to be faulted. This cannot be dubbed away as ’crony socialism’ – the meaning of which the creator of the phrase alone has much to explain.

The history of farm loan waivers – a sad one—politically motivated could have been resisted by the regulator even during the years 1990 and 2008. When the commercial banks were writing off loans of various other sectors but failed to respond to the farmers’ requests even amidst a do-or-die situation, the governments took law into their hands and claimed equity in debt treatment. In a political economy, howsoever puritan the economists are, the will of the politician prevails, particularly in democracy.

Monday, July 14, 2014

SMEs in Union Budget 2014-15 – Implementation Challenges

This path-breaking Union Budget providing discontinuing continuity on several fronts has concretized all the promises in the BJP manifesto unfolding the vision of the Modi Government. Its allocations reflect pragmatism in that some projects got funds for Detailed Project Reports while others of long term nature that can only make a beginning got symbolic outlays.

Manufacturing sector that is just showing signs of revival with its growth rate touching 4.7% in May 2014 reversing the negative trend of growth till the end of March 2014 got a shot in the arm. Of particular relevance is the attention paid to the MSME sector.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Emerging Economies, Free Trade and Poverty

Poverty alleviation has been on the global agenda for the last seven and half decades. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations, several developing nations and Developed Nations have made it as an important agenda. But the US, Japan, Germany and even China that registered consistent high growth during the last two decades could not be free of the poor. Asian Development Bank that has been spending billions on the agenda of poverty alleviation has poverty dancing right in front of its huge mansion in Manila. It could not show case even a small nation rid of poverty. Poverty can at best be reduced and not eliminated – this is one lesson that the economic history teaches us.

All the conferences on poverty alleviation throughout the World are held in Five Star or Seven Star Hotels and in Air-conditioned Conference Halls for hours and days together. Intellectuals gather to discuss their poverty and other’s poverty. Goals in one name or other and common agenda across the nations – e.g., Millennium Development Goals – are discussed and settled. Several researchers, bureaucrats, government and non-government organizations, donor institutions etc., decide to spend billions of dollars on the agenda. So much is the scope for employment provided by the poor across the world. Poor are the biggest employers in the world. Interest keeps renewing on poverty alleviation agenda – and now with focus on emerging economies and free trade. This paper is divided into two parts: part 1, dealing with free trade and emerging economies and Part 2, dealing with poverty with specific reference to India.

Risk Appetite: The pathway for profit.


This fiscal, the whole nation started off with a bang. Election euphoria ended with the grand announcement of single largest party in majority ascending to power after a gap of over two decades. A cultural transformation started off with Narendra Modi bowing before the Parliamentary stairs in reverence. Then there was historical swearing in of the Prime Minister, the first ever in independent India with all the invited SARC countries representing their nations for that ceremony. Minimum government and maximum governance, bringing down inflation, policy stability and clean government are all promises held out. All the Secretaries to the Government have been asked to make a presentation to the Prime Minister the status of various projects, in case of delays causes for the delays, when and how they are likely to be completed and for such closure what plan of action is with them and what supports are needed. To me, it looked as though a new tough CEO is assuming charge of GoI Inc. The risks at the moment would appear to have been addressed up front: first, a change in the culture; second, outlook and third, outspokenness and fourth, firm on implementation agenda. Objectives would be set; strategies would be discussed by the various ministries; tracking and tracing mechanism would be put in place; stress tests would be applied; and accountability and visibility with real time monitors and reports would follow eventually. The PMO website appeared within minutes of the swearing in ceremony beamed by all the TV channels. The whole world watched the biggest democracy in full strength determined to change the destiny of India into a formidable political and economic power. Why am I starting my paper with all this known stuff? The reason: a weak financial sector and strong economy can hardly co-exist; and the biggest deficits of all, the TRUST DEFICIT is fast eroding.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The New Governments and the Loan Waiver

The New Governments and the Loan Waivers
B. Yerram Raju & M.L. Kanta Rao

Competitive populism compelled Rahul Gandhi while canvassing for the Congress party announced that he would write off up to Rs.2lakhs all individual farm loans. So did KCR, the CM-designate of the upcoming Telangana promised waiver of crop loans up to Rs.1lakh per farmer.

Seemandhra farmers are in a mood to rejoice: Voter bait won’t be voter wait – Chandrababu Naidu promises to sign the crop loan waiver for farmers as the first file as CM of Seemandhra (it would be however nice to christen the new State as Telugu Nadu). in Navyandhra and Nava Bharat where from now on people would be counting on the election promises of the winning parties, there will be no compromise on the promise. The NDA that met in Delhi on the eve of electing the leader of the BJP parliamentary party Viz., Narendra Modi, declared unequivocally that the poll promises would be realised and all the partners of NDA promised full support for the same.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Winner and the Vanquished

The Winner and the Vanquished

Decidedly the World’s greatest democracy has just finished its biggest General Elections – the fifteenth in a row. It attracted lot of attention of the western media – the Economist, the Financial Times, The Guardian, The New York Times just to name a few. Money, liquor and raining promises like never before greeted the electorate. It was however the last NDA alliance – the TDP-BJP combine with an emotional entrant into the political confabulations that has been greeted with enthusiasm from some and contempt by several. Narendra Modi the first ever PM designate to bow to the Parliament stairs before his entry, demonstrated cultural excellence unparalleled setting the tone for virtuous move forward.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Open Letter to Modi

Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi inherits bad governance; almost empty treasury as the UPA-FM has drawn in advance all the dividends of the PSUs six months in advance (2014-15 first half) to arrive at the magic figure of fiscal deficit of 4.5 percent promised by him; inflationary economy contributed by more the supply side factors; lowest growth of manufacturing sector continuing for the preceding two quarters; the burden of Food Security Act and the MNREGS to which the BJP is also a party; chaotic primary education to higher education; scamsters sitting right in front of him in the Parliament benches; election promises of the NDA partners hitting the roof and unnerving agriculture sector. At the moment, on the external front, the issues do not pose urgency.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Manifesto for Agricultural Sector: Agenda for Future

Manifesto for Agricultural Sector: Agenda for Future

‘If farming fails nothing else succeeds in this country.’ Economic growth of this predominantly agrarian country depends on agricultural growth.
Target 6% growth of farm sector for an assured double digit sustainable growth of the economy.
Allocate Budget – at least 10% of the outlay should be devoted for agricultural sector.
Present Agricultural Budget in all the predominantly agricultural States preceded by Agricultural Survey.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Myth of Poverty Alleviation

The Myth of Poverty Alleviation
When the General Elections to clearly the biggest democracy in the world are on cards with the participation of over 83million voters all eyes will be on the agenda of the contesting political parties. One item, for sure, is poverty alleviation. The UPA during its decade rule has been trumpeting on taking the growth trajectory northwards and as a consequence reduction of poverty. Claims and actual achievements apart, is it possible to eliminate poverty in any part of the world? Has economic growth contributed to its elimination in any part of the World ever since the end of Second World War?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Managing NPAs: Cure worse than the Disease

RBI started anew a failed initiative in an amplified form after a make-believe consultation document. Not all the perfumes of Arabia would clean the stench of INR 5trn. The SMA categorization for monitoring the stressed assets had its origin in 2002 itself.

But the moot question: is micromanagement going to be the solution that failed to impose a regulatory information system? The pressures on the senior Managers in attending the DLBCs, SLBCs and host of others would leave little time for the now introduced JLFs which in turn have to seek investors for stressed assets’ buy.

Monday, February 17, 2014

If wishes were horses voters would be riders.

The Budget is neither Vote Catching nor Vote on Account

Vote on Account Budget 14-15 presented today is more an accounting than budget as all the income and expenditure for the next six months has to be spent on account. What the Union Finance Minister has done is gimmicks or jugglery of figures when it came to Fiscal Deficit. He postponed payments due during the last three months and demanded advance payments of dividend from all the banks and the PSUs and even asked the RBI to transfer its surplus to contain the deficit. In the process what would happen is that the government that comes to power has a responsibility to pay up all the pent-up dues and forego all the receipts for the six months April –October 2014 if they are at the expected level because they were all on the basis of some assumptions of revenues and expenses projected for the next financial year. He is for sure going to handover empty treasury to his unknown successor.
Nobody knows how the domestic and global environment would turn out. But the hope is that it would be better if we are to go by some global trends.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 A Tough Year for the Indian Economy

A tough year ahead for the economy:
First decade of the century had witnessed greater height and steeper fall in global economy the same has been true for Indian economy. The greatness of Indian economy, though at pains, is that it kept on expanding twice the global economic expansion rate during this period. Some even say that the economy is moving more by sentiments than fundamentals, because we do not have the rate of savings and investments moving up as was the case five years ago.

Friday, January 3, 2014

VITALINFO: Why FinMin wants public sector lenders to rush into selling insurance

VITALINFO: Why FinMin wants public sector lenders to rush into selling insurancePSBs to sell the insurance products and invest in training of its staff already overloaded with other regular banking work and not having time to spare for training off their operating desks, would end up selling soaps of TATA by Proctor and Gamble. The bancassurance itself has not take off as a corporate agency model successfully. Most staff today know only the system and not banking domain. If they are asked to get into another domain insurance as well, the banks' balance sheets will take a big hit. It is time that the banks are allowed to do banking more efficiently and in a more customer-friendly manner and also devote more time for innovation of new deposit and credit products competitively in the emerging rural areas. It is also important that the human capital should be allowed to add its weight for strengthening Basel III emerging capital requirements. 'Let not thy winged days be spent in vain, where gone no gold can try them back again.'(Oliver Goldsmith) It is time to revisit the recommendation of the First Financial Sector Reforms of M. Narasimham on the Government diluting its hold over public sector banks, particularly in not getting into micro management. Let the banks decide for themselves what business they should do and what they should not and hold themselves responsible for all their decisions.