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Repair Rupee: Two-way currency exchange in trade

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Falling Indian Rupee Gandhi

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What makes Rupee’s Dollar value oscillate every full moon night or anytime when you look at the Rupee wrong? Is it that the Indian economy fluctuates so very rapidly? Or is it that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) suddenly decides to change the total currency in circulation. Neither Indian economy nor RBI’s fiscal policies exhibit the kind of epileptic seizures needed to match the fits in the exchange value.

Despite significantly higher growth rate of Indian economy than the US in the last three decades Rupee has weakened to half its value (to the current rates above ₹60 for 1 USD). Indian inflation, although much higher than US, even when compounded in the equation, is still insufficient to account for the rates. While it would not be fair to compare the exact exchange rate of 1966, where ₹7.5 was equal to one USD, because the rate was pegged by the government and not by market (and total Indian currency in circulation was insignificant compared to now), but it still serves as a good indicator of the overall downward spiral over the years.

This begs three important questions: What are the reasons for very high exchange rates and extreme fluctuations? More importantly, what impact exchange rates have on the Indian economy? Last but not least, can we do something to regulate the rates?

Reasons for high exchange rates and fluctuations in prices.

The main reason for high exchange rate and fluctuation is simply that India has decided that it will buy America’s biggest export: Dollar at any cost. Flow of dollars can be and is actually used to regulate the exchange rate. It does not mean that US Federal Reserve actions are to be blamed for each or even most fluctuations. There are many international banking conglomerates that regulate the international cash flow more than the not so federally controlled, US Federal Reserve. There is also an additional economic dimension that anyone’s classical training in the tradition of Adam Smith or Marx ill prepares for. Let us do a thought experiment. Say, US prints twice the amount of currency off a sudden but if the faith in US economy remains strong enough that inflation is not 100% but only 20% then US could grow its Dollar economy (not the whole economy) artificially by 80%. I am exaggerating the total potential of such expansion to illustrate a point that if a dominant economy chooses it can simply mint more money. Not all the US Federal Reserve and several international banking conglomerates’ actions are synergistic, so one should not view those influences as monolithic. Speculation market and the scope of influence of speculators on the exchange rate is a grey area. A flip side of the coin to high dollar value, is that given India does almost all its trade in dollar, a sudden decline in dollar value can send catastrophic news to Indian interests. So India has to rely on the peace and prosperity of US and hope it does not start another all consuming war with some country that might actually matter.

Impact of exchange rate on Indian economy

From our lentils, fossil fuels to our several high tech purchases, several key supplies to India come from the global market. Any fluctuation in the dollar exchange rate can send shiver up the spine of Indian economy. Also dependency on dollar means a constant need to always maintain high dollar reserves, preventing significant currency from being available for flow in the market. Dependency on dollar also means that the Indian foreign policy has to be additionally constrained by US interests than it would be otherwise.

What can we do about it?

India needs to start believing in the Indian Rupee, not just in speech and thought but also in action. India should not abandon US Dollar trade but embrace several more prominent currencies. India should aim to have a two-way currency exchange in trade with several key partners, just as the old Indian Rupee-Russian Ruble trade. In fact in some limited situations, government-to-government exchanges of direct assets are better in a trade. Even if some nations are not willing to have two way trade directly in Rupee, if the size and stability of their economy warrants, then embrace their currency. Diversify! Give our BRICS alliance with Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa some real teeth. It is currently all bark and no bite. A direct trade in countries’ currency will also promote stronger partnerships that are needed for Indian rise in the global sphere. India needs to get off the sugar addiction of US dollar and utilize it in value that roughly matches US-India direct trade.

Dr. Sukant Khurana is a New York based scientist, artist and writer of Indian origin. His basic research involves neurophysiology, computational neuroscience, sensory perception, addiction, learning and memory, while his applied research extends into many areas of drug discovery and problems of the developing world. Both his visual art and writing explore the issues of modernization, displacement and identity.

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Hungary And Poland To Lose Up To 25% Allocation Of EU Funds

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Hungary and Poland are set to be hit with new cuts in cohesion support after EU commission proposed new radical changes. This came to light after a series of propositions were published recently by the EU executive. Eastern European countries will be hard hit by the propositions, but more impact will be felt in Hungary and Poland.

The changes come in light of the immigration policies that certain countries have chosen to adopt. The two most affected countries will lose nearly 25% in cuts due to their problematic policies. The repercussions of the cuts could be felt very soon especially if the Eastern European countries decide to take on Western Europe.

Even though the commission has maintained that the new changes are not meant to be punishment for inconsistency and criticism, there is a general feeling that the countries will not take the changes well. The commission also argued that there is no need to compare the allocations between EU member states as each country has their own share of prosperity.

The proposed changes will also affect more countries in Eastern Europe including Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Malta. Germany will also get a reduction in the allocation to the tune of 20%. There are some countries however that will get a raise in their allocation including Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Italy.

The EU commission, through its commissioner for regional development, Corina Cretu, says that the recent changes have no political bearing behind them.

How the commission arrived at the figures

In previous years, the commission had an established formula for calculating the allocation of funds. This year though, it seems like there was a break from tradition since the calculation method was visibly adjusted. The GDP would be used to determine prosperity in the region during the past, for instance. This criterion seems to have been adjusted in addition to the inclusion of other factors like climate, education levels, employment levels, and of course the attitude of the countries towards immigrants.

It is yet not clear how these changes will affect the forex market in Europe. What is clear though is that the aftermaths of major decisions in recent years have often caused some disturbances in the stocks and forex markets. At times like these, stock and forex traders need to be on the lookout for any major breaking news. Admiralmarkets.pl suggests using the current forex and stock platforms to get market feeds in real-time.

The current feeling from the Eastern European countries is that the commission is finding ways of diverting money from the region to other regions that have faced challenges in recent years. The southern part of Europe has for instance been in the red for a couple of years now. The crisis in Greece and Spain is yet to completely settle.  The sentiments of Eastern Europe do not seem to bother the commission, however. The commission argues that these countries have seen major growth in recent years and that they would even handle stiffer cuts. This, the commission argues, would especially be true if issues like GDP per capita were to be considered.

EU officials have spent much of the time explaining how their recent propositions are in no way related to the crisis in the south. Instead, the commission has used every opportunity to highlight the changes in GDP as the key reasons for the allocation cuts. It is indeed easy to find reason in this rationale when you analyze the economies of Eastern European countries.

Poland has for instance seen a lot of positive growth in the past few years. In 2017, the economy grew by 4.6%. This growth came in the backdrop of a similarly strong growth the previous year where the GDP growth was recorded as having been 3%. The forecasts for this year do not look bad either. The GDP is expected to grow by at least 4.3% as per what the commission has established on its forecasts. The growth pattern in Hungary was also comparable, being 3.3% in 2016, 3.45% in 2017 and with a projected growth of 4% year.

Looking south, the economy of Italy recorded growths of 0.9% and 1.5% in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The forecast does not look any different also as a projected growth of 1.5% is expected. In order to argue their case, the commission argued the case of Portugal, which is still struggling but which got some cuts due to its strong performance recently.

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Hungary Economy: Population, GDP, Inflation, Business, Trade

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The Hungarian economy is ranked as the 55th freest according to 2018 statistics. This economy has undergone a lot of transformation and it has particularly improved in the areas of the judiciary, labor freedom and investment. There are some realms however that have not seen great improvements especially in the areas of business freedom, government integrity, and property rights. In overall, Hungary is below average in most metrics in Europe compared to other peers in the region. The country is also just above the world average on the global scale.

Looking at its recent past, this country has seen a bit of relapse into some laws that were previously abandoned. The country has definitely seen much freer and liberal laws in recent years just before the government began to intervene in the areas of policy. Much of the changes over the years have been instituted to support economic growth and to balance out the budget while steering clear of areas that might cause conflict with the European Union. There are many targets that the government has including reducing public debt. It plans to achieve all of them by taking an active role and instituting sectoral laws.

The history of Hungary is long and colorful. It was once part of the communist realm until 1990 when it became completely independent. The country is currently a member of NATO having been in the organization since 1999. When the EU was formed, Hungary was not among the founding members and only joined the organization in 2004. There have been numerous economic reforms in the last decade and today, the economy is supported by strong local demand as well as exports. In recent years, things have been looking very optimistic for the country. The construction industry has boomed and there is a hands-on approach by the government on economic matters. The unemployment rate in the country is low.

Despite these improvements, there are still some challenges that face the government. It is for instance not as open as it ought to be and the judiciary is weak and subject to government interference. The policies surrounding land tenure are pretty straightforward and the government keeps updated records. Because of its somewhat domineering government and a weak judiciary, there are always concerns about corruption. The business sector is thus highly affected by the apparent indifference in the government towards corruption. A lot more needs to be done by the government to deal with prominent figures who have been a menace to business.

Moving on to the financial sector, there is a generally fair support by the government to the financial markets. The tax for corporates is maintained at 19% and tax for individuals is at 15%. The stock market is pretty vibrant with the Budapest SE index enjoying some good figures in recent years. Forex traders can do many things in this country even though the market is not as developed especially compared to the West. Forex trading is supported a lot and there are dedicated providers that allow Hungarians to access tens of thousands of markets.

As a country that is still developing many sectors, Hungary has a government that has a direct oversight over some sectors. You will thus often find direct government support for some industries. There are some sectors where there is not enough manpower. The labor regulations are somewhat basic which makes mobility a little difficult. Most of the product prices are market-determined but some goods’ prices are regulated by the government. Some of the areas in which the government has a hand on the prices include the markets of pharmaceuticals, tobacco, digital money, some machinery and electronic appliances and telecommunication products.

The health of the economy is definitely good considering that the trading industry is pretty vibrant. Hungary relies a lot on both exporting and importing goods. The total value of goods that either leave or enter the country comprises of up to 175% of the GDP. There are no strict tariff regulations and there is a general preservation of a 1.6% tariff rate. While there is much more government presence in many areas of the economy, the impact is not too big to disrupt economic activities. The financial sector is still in its formative years and it will take sometime before the banks get the necessary regulatory policy that supports growth.

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Volcker Rule 2.0: First Major Rule Revisions Proposed

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The Volcker Rule, which has been guiding trading and the financial sector for a long time, is set to be revised according to the news. This rule and its changes are however not likely to affect trading activities as the revisions will focus on banking activity and not individual trading entities. There have been several proposed changes over the years even though there has never been a momentous time where the changes were taken seriously until recently. Among the changes proposed in the new revision exercise include:

  • Restructuring banks so that they can have more tiers dedicated to asset and liability compliance
  • Liberalizing what has come to be known as the TOTUS exemption and thereby pave way for trading personnel to have more control over transactions
  • Changing the structure of the risk capital prong to allow foreign banks to operate under similar regulations with local banks
  • Changing the manner in which banks are supposed to reveal the information on financial commitments

The above are just some of the issues that are covered by the long proposal rule. There have been other changes that were made recently but they will not be implemented together with the new proposals if they go through.

The Fundamental Tenets of the Volcker Rule

The Volcker Rule was made to regulate banking entities of all kinds. The details of the rules have been criticized lately for being extraneous and overly complicated. This is what has prompted some of the proposed changes to be made.

The rules were proposed in 2011 and adopted in 2013, but since that time, the opposition to the rules has been gradually increasing. First, national institutions like the Treasury made moves towards analyzing the rules. Afterward, the OCC wanted the public to have comments on the rules as they are. The entry of new officials in the top government institutions has however been the main reason why much more light has been cast on the rules. A recent Treasury Report has many proposed changes already and the Congress has recently passed laws that overlook the Volcker Rule.

Some of the Main Areas the Proposed Rule Will Affect

The proposed new rule will definitely have a significant effect on the current Volcker Rule. Of the many areas that the proposed changes will affect, the following are the most significant:

1.Proprietary trading

The first key area that will change is the proprietary trading regulatory realm. As of now, the rules prohibit this kind of trading for all banking entities. There are many provisions provided by the Volcker rule which all touch on banking entities and dealers. Issues of liquidity management, trading errors and market exemptions are some of those that will be affected by the proposed changes. If the changes go as planned, banking entities will have more control on the market. It will be possible to determine whats new on markets by just relying on financial entities.

2. Private equity funds and hedge funds

Hedging has been widely known as one of the activities that are prohibited by many financial laws in the country. Banking entities are specifically prohibited from having relationships with any clients that either deal with or have some form of hedging funds. The proposed rules will touch on many issues but the most vital will be on the likelihood of changing the prohibitions.

3. Compliance

The Volcker Rule outlines a series of compliance issues that banking entities must follow in case they want to change policy. There is a great detail of compliance categories as specified by the Volcker rules complete with accompanying requirements. The proposed rules seek to change such compliance obligations.

4. Reporting

Metric reporting requirements are also heavily underscored under the new proposed rules. There will be a strong focus on qualitative information schedules and also on how the reporting is done. There are currently discussions on whether a centralized approach will be adopted. In overall, several metrics will be discussed and the new rules will give details on what has been agreed upon.

5. Recent changes in laws

Finally, the recent changes that have been made especially by the Congress will also be looked at. This will be done in order to bring harmony to the proposed rules. Some of the recent changes in the law have been progressive and as such should be retained. There are also several other provisions that the new proposal will cover and the details of the final rule will emerge in due course.

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