India in depth: Crying out for corporate bonds says Andy Mukherjee
Banks make money by transforming short-term deposits into longer-term loans and managing the risks inherent in the process. Indian lenders are no exception; they tend to accumulate longer-term assets at a somewhat faster pace than liabilities of the same maturity. About half of infrastructure loans are long term in nature, according to the central bank's research. If the asset-liability gap becomes too large, the banking system becomes vulnerable to a confidence crisis.
Bank loans account for about 32 percent of the non-equity, external financing for India's companies; the bond market provides just 7 percent of the funds, according to a recent working paper by the New Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. The bond market's share of corporate finance has been virtually unchanged in the past 10 years.
After many years of debate, there is now at least a hint of progress. The Reserve Bank of India recently allowed sell-and-repurchase, or repo, transactions in short-term corporate paper. This will hopefully breathe life into a repo market that has refused to take off. The list of securities eligible for credit default swaps, a form of insurance protection for bondholders, is also being expanded. Some of the building blocks are finally falling in
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