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

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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.

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.

Capital Account Management in India

India has been subject to capricious capital flows since its integration with the global capital markets in the early 1990s. In a bid to balance diverse objectives, India, like many other emerging markets, has resorted to active management of various types of capital flows. This paper finds that while the calibrated liberalisation approach resulted in altering the composition of capital flows towards more stable flows, and has helped India to negotiate the "Trilemma," the use of sporadic capital account management measures in the face of surge or stop of capital flows has not been very effective in achieving their objectives of reducing external vulnerability or mitigating macro-prudential risks.

Calm before the Storm?

It is generally believed that India is doing far better than most emerging market economies in these times of global economic turmoil. Emerging markets are facing capital flight, with large-scale outflows, especially since the second half of 2015, with the trend expected to continue in 2016. India has been less affected than others, but is clearly vulnerable due to the large number of Indian firms that are exposed to external borrowings, a weak rupee, a year or more of declining merchandise exports, falling corporate profitability, and stressed corporate balance sheets.

How Real Are Estimates of Corporate Investment?

The NAS estimates for private corporate investment based on RBI's studies of joint stock companies suffer from shrinking coverage, especially in the 1990s, leading to overestimates. Re-examining the official methodology, this study reports an alternative estimate. The results show that the level of re-estimated GFCF of the corporate sector had remained lower than that of NAS estimates. The trend between these two series has been diverging, more significantly since the mid-1990s. While the NAS series shows that the momentum of corporate investment has been sustained throughout the 1990s, the alternative estimates suggest that it had tapered off since the mid-1990s.

Growth vs Inflation Control

The reduction in the Bank rate and in the cash reserve ratio effected in the latest credit policy statement may appear small, but what is significant is the signal conveyed to the market that the policy of supporting investment by providing adequate liquidity and a softer interest rate environment will continue.

Secondary Market to the Fore

The growth of the financial market in 2002-03 was much more marked in the secondary market than in the primary segment. Turnover in all three components of the secondary market - equity, debt and forex - continued to grow apace.

Redefining the Debtor-Creditor Relationship

While the ordinance on non-performing assets of financial institutions is a landmark measure to restore the balance between lenders and borrowers and thus move towards better risk-sharing between them, the provisions of the ordinance must be seen as one of a whole gamut of means available for restructuring/settlement of the overdues of the financial system.

Financial Sector Reforms

Financial Sector Reforms and India’s Economic Development by N A Mujumdar (two volumes); Academic Foundation, Delhi, 2002; pp 319 + 328, price not mentioned.

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