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India in depth: 'Consumption bets to outperform - consumer goods cos top for investors'

Dec 18 2012, 11:10 IST
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For investors, it means cash-rich consumer goods makers may be superior bets in 2013 than credit-dependent infrastructure and capital goods companies. (Reuters) For investors, it means cash-rich consumer goods makers may be superior bets in 2013 than credit-dependent infrastructure and capital goods companies. (Reuters)
SummaryHowever, Indian economy has at least another year of poor-quality GDP growth ahead of it...

The Indian economy has at least another year of poor-quality GDP growth ahead of it, even if the pace of expansion is somewhat faster than the 5.5 percent expected for 2012.

The quality of growth will disappoint because a much-needed pickup in investment is not yet on the horizon.

The credit cycle is still weak; state-owned banks are hobbled by bad loans.

For investors, it means cash-rich consumer goods makers may be superior bets in 2013 than credit-dependent infrastructure and capital goods companies.

Consumption will remain well-supported by strong rural wage growth and government subsidies on food, fuel and fertilizers.

Despite all the talk about the urgency of fiscal consolidation in India, public spending will remain high, as it tends to do in pre-poll years.

And that will put more cash in people's wallets.

Domestic consumption will also get a boost from an improvement in exports.

Global demand conditions will probably not deteriorate any further in 2013, and that will drive a steady recovery in India's manufacturing output, leading to job creation and wage growth.

The surge in industrial production in October is a welcome signal.

Spending power will increase in real terms as inflation stops being as big a drag on consumer sentiment as it has been this year.

The pace of rising prices won't fall as low as 5 percent, but it will decelerate from its current 10 percent - assuming oil prices don't spike.

Fears of a sudden demand collapse in the United States from large, abrupt cuts in government spending and tax increases are keeping oil prices in check; and that helps a large energy importer like India.

Even then, if the US economy does jump off the "fiscal cliff," or if the sovereign-debt worries in Europe resume, heightened risk aversion among global investors will choke capital flows to India, and that will be bad news for an economy addicted to overseas funding.

Assuming a more benign outcome for the US and European economies, India's GDP growth should accelerate by about 1 percentage point in 2013.

A revival in leveraged consumption will play an important part.

The share of retail loans in GDP is yet to revert to its 2008 peak.

High interest rates have discouraged individual borrowers over the past couple of years.

As domestic interest rates start easing off, there will be a recovery.

Banks will also be keen to write loans for autos and white goods purchases next year because households are in better financial shape than corporate borrowers, whose balance sheets

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