ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Did This Straw Break the Finance Sector’s Back?

The world’s financial markets are hurtling towards a new phase of crises ranging from currency, to balance of payments, to sovereign debt, to banking crises. The monetary tightening policies of the United States Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank will only precipitate crises in emerging markets as well as peripheral eurozone economies, which will have global repercussions.

Mortgage Loans, Risky Lending, and Crisis

The link between the loan market and the housing market that works through mortgage loans is critically examined. Repayment of such mortgage loans depends on the future earning potential of the borrowers, which in turn depends on the overall state of the macroeconomy. Under buoyant macroeconomic conditions, all borrowers pay back their loans and both the loan market and the housing market function well. However, a temporary income shock in the economy, which undermines the repayment ability of the borrowers, may result in imprudent lending by banks thereby leading to a crisis. This calls for strict monitoring of mortgage loans by regulatory authorities.

‘Riskless Capitalism’ in India

A study of the financial processes underlying India’s high-growth trajectory of the 2000s and its relationship with “riskless capitalism,” a term first used by Raghuram Rajan in November 2014, finds that the Indian growth story cannot be over-simplistically explained as a result of “market-oriented” reforms. Public sector bank credit-financed investments, particularly in the infrastructure sector, played a significant role in sustaining growth, most crucially after the global economic crisis. Such a growth trajectory, however, proved to be unsustainable with the expansionary phase coming to an end in 2011–12 and bad loans piling up in the banking system.

Public Sector Bank Mergers

The slowdown in the economy and the resultant rise in bad loans have led to criticism of public sector banks and questioning of their raison d’être. While there is a rush to find a quick solution by merging PSBs, it would be wise to examine the ground realities closely. India needs a mix of efficiently run PSBs and aggressive private banks to achieve growth and development along with social justice.
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