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

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Engineering Banking Sector Recovery and Growth

The idea of “bail-in” in cases of serious banking instability has been widely discussed in India ever since the introduction of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill. Given the large non-performing loans of public sector banks, the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India as the regulatory authority have to quickly act to ensure that public confidence in the soundness of commercial banks is not breached. In this context, three approaches are explored that could be adopted either individually or in a variety of combinations in different proportions essentially to secure banking stability. The bail-in idea should not be considered except in extreme conditions of large financial stress. The idea could be tried even before the extreme situation arises with provision of incentives.

‘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.

Public Sector Banks Are Adrift

With credit and deposit growth slowing in key sectors and only retail credit growing, low capital adequacy ratios of banks, senior management changes in the offi ng, and bank mergers, the National Democratic Alliance government needs to ask itself what it envisages for public sector banks, and indeed for the Indian economy.

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.

‘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.
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