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

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Concentration, Collusion and Corruption in India’s Banks

Why would companies, for whom costs rise with higher interest rates, choose to amass credit as interest rates rise? Were more and more loans taken with the understanding that default would be inevitable? Only a commission of inquiry with a specifi c mandate to understand the years of loose lending by banks in India can answer these and other uncomfortable questions. These answers are needed in the interest of securing our economy, and indeed our democracy.

Not in People's Interest

The politics and economics of interest rate formation in this country must be studied carefully. Lowering the interest rate raises stock prices in an environment where they themselves cannot move up thanks to the fundamentals of the economy that are not conducive.

‘On-tap’ Bank Licences

Critically evaluating the draft guidelines for “on-tap” bank licences put up by the Reserve Bank of India, it is argued that India’s banking system is already sufficiently competitive, and there appear to be few who would be willing to enter the banking business. Entry of newer players, especially those with corporate backing, cannot be the priority at the moment. The priority over the next two or three years has to be the resolution of the non-performing assets problem and strengthening of the existing players.

Procyclical Credit Growth and Bank NPAs in India

Despite recent monetary policy accommodation, bank credit growth continues to decelerate in India, partly due to huge non-performing asset overhangs in banks. This paper explores various issues related to surging NPAs in banks and observes that excessive credit growth in the past is a major reason that has led to current NPAs. Other factors such as contemporary economic conditions, capital adequacy and overall levels of efficiency of the banks have also affected the incidence of NPAs. For promoting financial stability and enhancing monetary policy effectiveness, it is suggested that macro-prudential aspects such as counter-cyclical capital buffer and dynamic provisioning need to be strengthened. There is also a need to explore if corporate governance concerns could be instrumental in adversely impacting the loan book of state-owned banks.

Financial Reforms in an Endogenous Money Economy

An examination of the Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy leaves little doubt that India can be suitably characterised as an endogenous money economy. In an endogenous money environment, financial reforms will prove ineffective in stimulating credit supply to large commercial borrowers. They may, however, prove counterproductive by sharpening the credit constraints faced by agricultural and other petty producers in the economy.

Public Sector Banks in India

An examination of the main arguments extended to build a case for privatisation of the public sector banks (PSBs) in India reveals that the arguments are based on (a) perceptions rather than factual analysis; (b) the use of partial information; and (c) evidence on international experience which is not unambiguous. It can be concluded that the case for privatisation of PSBs in India is not strong enough at least on the grounds usually proposed by the advocates of privatisation. Private sector banking would have a larger probability of crisis if the supporting legal and regulatory framework were not sound enough to insulate the systems from extraneous pressures. It may, therefore, be safer to maintain the public sector character of the banks till the conditions for privatisation are conducive enough.

Some Issues of Growth and Profitability in Indian Public Sector Banks

Public sector banks face a triple jeopardy. First, they are losing market share; second, their profitability is being seriously squeezed; and, third, their balance sheets are not strong and their sovereign support, which had buttressed them so far, is becoming open to question. The reasons for this less-than-enviable condition of the public sector banks are many, but a principal operative factor derives from the nature of their ownership and what that translates into in terms of goals and priorities.

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