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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.

Trade Unions in Banks Remain Relevant

“Are Trade Unions Relevant in the Indian Banking Sector?” by Bino Paul G D and Pooja Gupta Mahurkar (EPW, 16 April 2016) contains surmises and generalisations without verifiable supporting data, apart from glaring contradictions. Further, it does not address the current challenges before bank unions.

‘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.

Do Foreign Banks in India Indulge in 'Cream Skimming'?

Foreign banks in developing countries are often found to indulge in "cream skimming," a lending strategy that targets only wealthy segments of the credit market and excludes small and marginal borrowers from the general pool of borrowers. This paper attempts to investigate whether lending patterns of foreign banks in urban regions of Indian states are indicative of such practices. Using credit data on urban regions of 21 states of India for 1999-2011, this paper finds empirical evidence of cream skimming by foreign banks in India.

The Changing Face of Indian Banking

Indian banking is passing through its most severe period of stress in over a decade. It is important, however, not to draw conclusions for banking policy from a snapshot of the most recent period--the totality of the post-reform experience must be taken into account. That larger experience shows that India's public sector-dominated banking system has served the economy well by improving its performance in respect of both efficiency and stability. Looking ahead, changes in governance and management are required, but it is possible to effect these within the framework of public ownership.

Fatal Flaw in Private Banking Systems

It is in the interest of banks to expand the supply of credit, and most banking regulations are designed to limit this tendency. It is in the interest of private bank managers to give in to this tendency (in self-interest) and provide credit indiscriminately, irrespective of macroeconomic considerations, as the 2007 crisis has shown. Perhaps we could all learn from India’s risk-averse public sector banks, which are stressed from time to time, but have never seen multiple bank failures.

Credit Growth and Response to Capital Requirements

This paper makes an attempt to assess the impact of imposition of uniform capital requirement norm on flow of credit to the business sector by the most important segment of the Indian banking sector, i e, Indian public sector banks. A simple decomposition analysis of growth in assets portfolio as well as a model based analysis of credit growth for the Indian public sector banks corroborated that (a) in the post reform period, public sector banks did shift their portfolio in a way that reduce their capital requirements and (b) adoption of stricter risk management practice in respect of bank lending in the post reform period and its interplay with minimum capital requirements (regulatory pressure) have had a dampening effect on the overall credit supply.

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.

Governance Culture and Adaptive Efficiency

The progressive deregulation of the financial market has brought about major changes in the relative position of the different players in the market. Against the backdrop of the evolving relationship between the state and the market, this essay focuses on three interrelated issues the current institutional environment, adaptive efficiency and issues of governance.

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