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

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Appetite for Official Reserves

There is a strong nexus between the level of reserves, frequency of intervention, and exchange rate variability. Given the current exchange rate arrangements, there is a mandate to accumulate reserves in line with other developments such as import growth, growth in short-term external debt, and so on. The Reserve Bank of India seems to have no option, especially in times of capital flight, than to allow the exchange rate to absorb market pressure if the volume of reserves held is not adequate. This indicates a limited scope for using other instruments. The objective of accumulating additional reserves seems to override the ambition of exchange rate stability when there is a limit on the capacity to intervene imposed by the reserve shortfall. Therefore, reserves matter in times of crisis.

Demand-led Growth Slowdown and Inflation Targeting in India

A variety of indicators are presented to show that demand restricted output during the growth slowdown of 2011–17. The macroeconomic structure of the economy is such that a policy-induced demand contraction affects output more than it affects inflation. In this context it is important to evaluate the application of inflation targeting. Flexible inflation targeting was too narrowly and strictly implemented initially, although there are signs of moderation in 2018. Since inflation forecasts were biased upwards, the more effective expectations anchoring channel of inflation targeting was underutilised. The output sacrifice imposed was higher than necessary. Finally, possible mechanisms to ensure inflation targeting is implemented flexibly as required in the Indian context are discussed.

Foreign Finance, Real Exchange Rate, and Macroeconomic Performance in India

The paper examines whether financial inflows cause economic contraction in India through appreciation of the rupee. To this end, it formulates a structuralist macroeconomic model and calibrates it to India’s national income accounts. It then simulates and analyses an alternative scenario involving greater inflow of foreign finance. It is seen that real exchange rate appreciation, despite its negative effect on trade surplus, stimulates real wages and consumption demand. The paper does not endorse complete capital account convertibility but warns against a blanket approach towards different forms of foreign finance.

Anomaly of Exchange Rates

Based on the analysis of the economic performance of India during 2014–16, the economic indicators suggest that the rupee should have appreciated, not depreciated. The depreciation of the rupee before January 2017 was an outcome of non-fundamental factors, such as speculation in the currency market.

Theoretical Analysis of ‘Demonetisation’

With the aid of simple theoretical tools used in classroom lectures, the implications of the recent “demonetisation” exercise in India are analysed. It lends support to conclusions reached by other authors on the impact of demonetisation with the aid of available data. Following Robert Lucas’s Nobel lecture, the merits of economic policies that assume the form of random shocks to an economic system are questioned.

Oil Price, Exchange Rate and the Indian Macroeconomy

General discussions on the Indian macroeconomy have centred on two things in the recent past: the impact of depreciation of rupee and the effects of falling world oil prices. Using the structural vector autoregressive approach, the dynamic relationship between movements in oil prices and exchange rates with macroeconomic variables like price, output, interest rate and money are investigated. Additionally, a comparative analysis is conducted to show how each of these structural shocks has historically affected price, output and exchange rate. The results show strong link among these variables. Three results have important policy implications: (i) the world price of oil has a great potential to affect India's output, (ii) targeting depreciation of rupee to expand output may not be an effective policy tool for the RBI, and (iii) variation in rupee's value can have medium- to long-term impact on world price of oil.

Interest Rate Defence of Exchange Rate

While the rationale for raising the interest rate to defend an exchange rate under speculative attack is well grounded in economic and financial theories, empirical validation of the effectiveness of such a policy stance has generally been difficult and is shrouded with conflicting findings. In India, besides forex market interventions and use of several administrative measures, the Reserve Bank of India has occasionally resorted to the high interest rate option during major episodes of significant pressures on the external value of the rupee. An empirical assessment suggests that one standard deviation shock to the call rate leads to rupee appreciation in the very second month. Similarly, for one standard deviation shock to net interventions, the exchange rate appreciates gradually by a few paise over five months. The impulse response also suggests that in response to one standard deviation shock the exchange rate appreciates by about 8 paise in the second month, but subsequently the exchange rate depreciates gradually, more than offsetting the initial impact of the hike in interest rate.
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