A study of best-performing Industries during COVID-19 / Coronavirus storm: Even after COVID-19 changing soo much in our lives we still are faced with the question, “What is life going to be like from tomorrow?”. Covid-19 has the governments and other influential intellectuals scratching their heads due to the level of uncertainty it poses. Will the virus just disappear in a few months? Or Will a vaccine come in time? Or Will we just have to learn to live with it just like AIDS? This uncertainty has even made it hard to get a peek at what the future will be like let alone predict it.
Despite all this chaos, some businesses have still found a way to make lemonade out of lemons and keep striving. Today, we are going to cover a few of the best performing industries during COVID-19 outbreak. Here, we’ll have a look at which sectors and industries these companies come from and why they were able to do so.
Best Performing Industries During COVID-19
1. Pharma Industry
Although the doctors and nurses battling the virus have had to face the risk of the virus, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, however, remains immune. This is because of our dependence on the pharma and healthcare at the frontlines against COVID-19. Due to changes in consumer behavior and hygiene practices any industry remotely connected has also benefitted. Disinfectants and sanitizers have recorded their highest prices and sales.
2. Information Technology (IT) Industry
The IT sector is in a relatively good position in the midst of the pandemic in comparison to others. This can be owed to the fact that a stable internet connection and laptop are all that is required in most of the cases, enabling them to work at ease from home. The Work From Home(WFH) approach adopted by most commodities has given rise to apps like Zoom.
Zoom has seen a 187% increase in its share prices since December. Other software companies that provide solutions for WFH have also seen a similar response. The inherent privacy concerns in WFH have also increased the demand for cybersecurity.
The current scenario will also see an increased push for technological acceleration. The Indian IT sector is majorly reliant on the US and European markets. Hence the impact it receives will also be dependent on the impact on the US and European markets.
3. Telecommunication Industry
The telecommunication industry may have been impacted in its day to day functioning but its market demand has increased. This is because of the increasing need to connect during lockdowns has led to an increase in the data used.
4. E-commerce Sector
Many countries have found lockdowns the only option to buy some time as they try to grasp the changes. This has been a silver lining for the E-commerce segment as many consumers have turned to them for their needs. This also involves E-Retail shops that deal in fast foods like BigBasket and Grofers.
The FMCG sector had seen reduced demand for the initial few weeks during the lockdown but these will return to normal during the easing period. The FMCG sector, however, will benefit from the reduced crude oil prices. This has come in two forms. Firstly the benefit if one of the components is crude oil or if crude oil is part of the manufacturing process. Secondly from the reduced cost of packaging which requires crude oil in its production. Packaging currently makes 15-20% of the cost.
6. Paint Industry
Companies in the painting industry will be benefitted from the reduced crude oil prices. This is because 45% of the raw material of these companies are crude oil derived. A few of the leading companies in the paint industry are Asian paints, Kansai Nerolac, Berger paints, etc.
Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance companies also have an opportunity to increase their demand post the lockdown. This is because the reduced rates will result in cheaper loans. In addition to this, the government has encouraged loans to the MSME sector by acting as the guarantor in many cases.
Insurance companies will also see an increase in their product sales. This is if they are tweaked to match the Covid-19 environment once the government stops playing a major role. Companies like Paytm which are an eCommerce payment service and in the fintech business have continued their growth from demonetization into the great lockdown. This is also because of the nature of the virus and people’s increasing aversion towards cash.
8. Online Streaming, Gaming and EduTech
With all forms of existing entertainment shut down, increased demand has been seen in online streaming websites and gaming companies. Netflix and Youtube have had to reduce the streaming quality in Europe to ease the pressure on the internet.
Gaming companies will have a good run during with issues being faced in its console production which will be fixed once the economy opens up.
The online education market in India was already forecasted to grow to become an $18 billion market by 2022. The great lockdown has only given a boost as numbers will be met much sooner.
9. Home Fitness
The nature of the virus has made accessing Gyms and other public areas to maintain fitness dangerous. Companies like Peleton which offer an interactive experience along with their equipment have seen a rise in their share price this year.
Post Corona Environment
The post-Corona environment will be rigged against industries that have been affected during the lockdown. This is due to the changes in behavioral patterns. A level laying field can only be expected after a year or two after the pandemic. Be it a business or a human, sticking to old behavior patterns and not adapting to suit the environment will get you killed!
Explaining the Harshad Mehta Scam of 1992: The magnitude of the Harshad Mehta scam was soo big, that if put into perspective today, it brought a bear market in the Dalal street. If we look into the numbers, this single man deceived the entire nation with an amount of over Rs 24,000 crores (which is way bigger than Nirav Modi or Vijay Mallaya scams).
Today we take a look at how the Harshad Mehta scam was executed and possibly try to understand how he was able to fool the entire Dalal market and even the Indian banking systems. Further, we’ll also discuss why he plays such a considerable role in our pop culture and that too not as an antagonist.
Harshad Mehta’s Rs 40 Journey
Perhaps what makes the Harshad Mehta story even more interesting is that despite migrating to Mumbai with only Rs. 40 in his pocket he managed to influence the country in such a massive way. Once he discovered his interest in the stock market he worked for broker Prasann Panjivandas in the 1980s. Harshad considered Prasann Panjivandas as his guru. Over the next decade, he went on to work for several brokerage firms eventually opening up his own brokerage under the name GrowMore Research and Asset Management.
By the 1990s, Harshad Mehta had risen to such prominence in the Stock market that he was known as the ‘Amitabh Bachchan of the Stock Market’. Terms such as ‘The Big Bull’ and ‘ Raging Bull’ were regularly used in reference to him. Over time he became particularly known for his wealth in the 1990s which he did not shy away from boasting about through his 15,000 sq. ft. penthouse and array of cars. He was described by Journalist Suchita Dalal as charismatic, ebullient, and recklessly ambitious. Perhaps it was this recklessness that led to his downfall through his ambitious schemes.
The Broken Financial Environment of the 1990s
The year 1991 marks the year of liberalization of the Indian economy. Today we are grateful for this opening-up, however, Indian businesses found their own set of challenges. The public sector was forced to face increased competition and was under pressure to display profitability in the new environment. The private sector, however, responded positively to this news as this would mean more funds from foreign investments.
The new reforms also were welcomed by the private sector as they now were allowed entry into new sectors of businesses that were earlier reserved for the government enterprises. The stock market reacted positively to this with the Bombay Stock Exchange touching 4500 points in March 1992. But liberalization was not the only factor responsible for this. The period also an increase in demand for funds. The Banks were pressured into taking advantage of the situation to improve their bottom line.
The banks are required to maintain a certain threshold of government fixed interest bonds. The governments issue these bonds with the aim of developing the infrastructure of the country. Million-dollar development projects are taken up by the government which are financed through these bonds. How much is to be invested in these bonds depends on the bank’s Demand and Time Liabilities. The minimum threshold that the banks had to maintain as bonds in the 1990s was set at 38.5%. This minimum percentage that banks have to maintain in the form of bonds or other liquid assets is known as the Statutory Liquidity Ratio(SLR).
Along with this, the banks were also pressured to maintain profitability. Banks were, however, barred from participating in the stock market. Hence they were not able to enjoy the benefits of the Stock Market leap during 1991 and 1992. Or at least they were not supposed to.
What did banks do if they couldn’t maintain the SLR ratio?
The banks at times may have temporary surges in the Net Demand and Time Liabilities. In such times banks would be required to increase their bond holdings. Instead of going through the whole process of purchasing bonds the banks were allowed to lend and borrow these liquid securities through a system called Ready Forward Deals (RFD). An RFD is a secured short term loan (15 days) from one bank to another. The collateral here is government bonds.
Instead of actually transferring the bonds the banks would transfer something called Bank Receipts (BR). This is because the bond certificates held by the banks would be of bonds worth 100 crores whereas the requirements by the banks to maintain their SLR would be much lower. Hence BR’s were a much more convenient way of short term transfer.
The BR’s were a form of short term IOU’s (I Owe You). However, when an RF deal was exercised they never looked like loan transfer but a buy and sale of securities represented by BR’s. The borrowing banks would sell some securities represented by BR’s to the lending banks in exchange for cash. Then at the end of the period say 15 days the borrowing bank would buy the BR back (securities) at a higher price from the lending bank. The difference in the buy snd sell prices would represent the interest to be paid to the lending banks. Due to the BR’s, the actual transfer of securities doesn’t take place. BR’s could simply be canceled and returned once the deal was completed.
Was the use of Bank Receipts (BR) allowed?
The RBI set up a Public Debt Office (PDO) facility to act as the custodian for such transfer of bonds. As per the RBI BR’s were not permitted to be used for such purposes. However, the PDO facility was plagued with inefficiencies. Hence the majority of the banks resorted to BR. This system existed with the knowledge of the RBI which allowed it to flourish as long as the system worked.
What roles did the brokers play here?
Brokers in the markets played the role of intermediaries between two banks in the RFD system. They were supposed to act as middlemen helping borrowing banks meet lending banks. A brokers’ role should have ended here where it is done in exchange for a commission.
Where the actual exchange of securities and payments should have taken place only between the bank’s brokers soon found a way to play a larger role. Eventually, all transfer of securities and payments were made to the broker. Banks also began welcoming these because of the following reasons
Liquidity: Brokers provided a quick and easier alternative to dealing with in comparison to dealing with another bank. Loans and payments would hence be provided on short notice in a quick manner.
Secrecy: When deals were made through a broker it would not be possible for the lending banks to find out where the loans were being moved to. Similarly, the borrowing banks too would not be concerned where the loans would be coming from. The dealings were both done only with the broker.
Credit Worthiness: When banks would deal with each other, the transaction would be placed depending on the creditworthiness of the borrowing bank. However, once brokers took over the settlement process this benefitted the borrowing banks as they would have loans available regardless of their creditworthiness. The lending banks would lend based on the trust and creditworthiness of the broker.
Brokers entering the settlement process made it possible that the two banks would not even know with whom they have dealt with until they have already entered into the agreement. The loans were viewed as loans to the brokers and loans from the brokers. Brokers were now indispensable.
The Role played by Harshad Mehta.
Harshad Mehta used to broker the RF deals as mentioned above. He managed to convince the banks to have the cheques drawn in his name. He would then manage to transfer the money deposited in his account into the stock markets. Harshad Mehta then took advantage of the broken system and took the scam to new levels.
In a normal RF deal, there would be only 2 banks involved. Securities would be taken from a bank in exchange for cash. What Harshad Mehta did here was that when a bank would request its securities or cash back he would rope in a third bank. And eventually a fourth bank so on and so forth. Instead of having just two banks involved, there were now multiple banks all connected by a web of RF deals.
Harshad Mehta and the Bear Cartels
Harshad Mehta used the money he got out of the banking system to combat the Bear Cartels in the stock market. The Bear Cartels were operated by Hiten Dalal, A. D. Narottam and others. They too operated with money cheated out from the banks. The Bear Cartels would aim at driving the prices low in the market which eventually undervalued various securities. The Bear Cartels would then purchase these securities at a cheap price and make huge profits once the prices normalized.
Harshad Mehta countered this by pumping money from the stock market to keep the demand up. He argued that the market has simply corrected the undervalued stock when it revalued the company at a price equivalent to the cost of building a similar enterprise. He put forward this theory with the name replacement cost theory. This theory was a fallacy on his behalf or an illusion he resented to the public to justify his investments. Such was his influence in the stock market that his words would be blindly followed similar to that of a religious guru.
He would use the money from the banks which was temporarily in his account to hike up the demand of certain shares. He selected well-established companies like ACC, Sterlite Industries, and Videocon. His investments along with the market reaction would result in these shares being exclusively traded. The price of ACC rose from Rs.200 to nearly Rs. 9000 in a span of 2 months.
The banks were aware of Harshad Mehta’s actions but chose to look away as they too would benefit from the profits Harshad would make from the stock market. He would transfer a percentage to the banks. This would also enable banks to maintain profitability.
The Scam within the Scam
Harshad Mehta noticed early on the dependence of the RF deals on BR’s. In addition to this, the RF deal system also placed a great deal of reliance on prominent brokers like Harshad Mehta. So he along with two other banks namely Bank of Karad (BOK) and the Metropolitan Co-operative Bank (MCB) decided to further exploit the system. With the help of these two banks, he was able to forge BR’s. The BR’s that were forged were not backed by any securities. This meant that they were just pieces of paper with no real value. This is similar to a situation where you can avail loans with no collateral. Harshad Mehta further would pump this money into the stock market increasing his amount of influence.
The RBI is supposed to conduct on-site inspections and audits of the investment accounts of the banks. A thorough audit would reveal that amount represented by BR’s in circulation was significantly higher than the government bonds actually held by the banks. When the RBI did notice irregularities it did not act decisively against Bank of Karad (BOK) and the Metropolitan Co-operative Bank (MCB).
Another method through which the collateral was eliminated was by forging government bonds themselves. Here the BR’s are skipped and fake government bonds are created. This is because PSU bonds are represented by allotment letters making it easier for them to be forged. However, this forgery amounted for a very small amount of funds misappropriated.
Exposing the Harshad Mehta Scam
Journalist Sucheta Dalal was intrigued by the luxurious lifestyle of Harshad Mehta. She was particularly drawn to the fleet of cars owned by Harshad Mehta. They included Toyota Corolla, Lexus Starlet, and Toyota Sera which were rarities and a dream even for the rich in India during the 1990s. This further interest had her further investigate the sources through which Harshad Mehta amassed such wealth. Sucheta Dalal exposed the scam on 23rd April 1992 in the columns of Times of India.
It has been alleged that the Bear Cartel ganged up on Mehta and blew the whistle on him to get rid of him and the bullish run altogether.
Aftermath of Harshad Mehta Scam Exposure
— Effect on the Stock Market
Less than 2 months after the scam was exposed, the stock market had already lost a trillion rupees. The RBI created a committee to investigate the matter. The Committee was called the Janakiraman Committee. As per the Janakiraman Committee Report, the scam was of the magnitude of Rs.4025 crores. This impact on the stock market was huge considering that the scam amounted to only 4025 crores in comparison to a trillion or 1 lakh crores.
This major fall, however, cannot be attributed to the scam alone but also to the governments’ harsh response. In an attempt to ensure that all the parties involved are brought to justice, the government did not permit the sale of any shares that had gone through the brokers in the last one year. This affected not only the brokers but also the innocent shareholders who may have gone through these brokers to purchase securities. The shares came to be known as tainted shares. Their value was reduced to pieces of paper as their holder was not allowed to sell them. This just resulted in a worsened financial environment.
— Effect on the Political environment
The opposition demanded the resignation of the then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh and the RBI Governor S. Venkitaramanan. Singh even offered his resignation but this was rejected by prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao.
— Effect on the Banking Sector
When the scam was exposed the banks started demanding their money back and recovery efforts made them realize that there were no securities backing the loan either. The Investments in the stock market by Harshad Mehta were tainted and had reduced by a significant value. A number of bankers were convicted. It also led to the suicide of the chairman of Vijaya bank.
— Further Investigation
The investigations revealed many players like Citibank, brokers like Pallav Sheth and Ajay Kayan, industrialists like Aditya Birla, Hemendra Kothari, a number of politicians, and the RBI Governor all had played a role in the rigging of the share market. The then minister P. Chidambaram also had utilized Harshad Mehta’s services and invested in Harshad Mehtas Growmore firm through his shell companies.
— Effect on Harshad Mehta’s Life
Harshad Mehta was charged with 72 criminal offenses and more than 600 criminal action suits. After spending 3 months in custody Mehta was released on a bail. The drama however never subdued but only intensified. In a press conference, Harshad Mehta claimed that he had bribed the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao for Rs 1 crore to secure his release.
Harshad Mehta even displayed the suitcase in which he allegedly carried the cash. However he CBI never found any concrete evidence of this. Harshad Mehta was now also barred from participating in the stock market.
Investigators felt that Harshad Mehta was not the original perpetrator who forged the bank receipts. It was clear that Harshad Mehta capitalized and made profits using these methods. They also saw the possibility of the bear cartels ganging up on Harshad Mehta to get rid of the bearish markets by blowing the whistle on him and having the scam exposed through Sucheta Dalal. This, however, drew the investigators’ attention to the bear cartel as well as they too had used the same means as Harshad Mehta. These other brokers were eventually tried too.
In addition to this, the IT department claimed an income tax owed to them Rs.11,174 crores. Harshad Mehta’s firm GrowMore had significant clientele and the IT department had linked all the transactions that may have involved Harshad Mehta or his firm with Harshad Mehta’s income. His lawyer addressed this as bizarre as Harshad Mehtas lifetime assets were worth around Rs.3000 crores. He highlighted the possibility where by making Harshad Mehta the face of the scam allowed other powerful players a chance to have the focus lifted away from them and escape or slowly be exonerated.
Life after Release and Death
Harshad Mehta made a comeback as a market guru sharing advice on his website and newspaper columns. In September 1999 the Bombay Highcourt convicted him and sentenced him to 5 years of imprisonment. Mehta died while in criminal custody after suffering from cardiac arrest in Thane Prison on 31st December at the age of 48.
Despite the scam, Harshad Mehta is still looked up to in certain circles, As reported by Economic Times some financial experts believe that Harshad Mehta did not commit any fraud, “he simply exploited loopholes in the system”. When Harshad Mehta was first released out of prison in 1992 he was greeted with cheers and applause as his return would signify the return of his bullish trend. It is doubted that if businessmen who have been embroiled in scandals with the likes of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi will receive the same welcome.
The Harshad Mehta scam can be looked on from two sides. The first as a scam where Harshad looted the stock market and the public or the second way where Harshad Mehta was made the scapegoat as someone had to be blamed and at the same time kept other influential people away from the limelight. The Year 1991 is generally referred to as the year of progress due to liberalization but if seen from this perspective discussed here it just makes one exclaim “ What a mess!”.
A detailed study on the 20 Lakh Crore Relief Package in India (First Tranche): Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on Tuesday will be remembered by many for a right smart spell due to two reasons. Firstly because the number we couldn’t fathom – 20 Lac Crore (20000000000000- 10% of our GDP) is now our relief package. Secondly for the word ‘Aatma Nirbhar’ (Self Reliance).
However, if observed the address holds much more gravity, especially in our preparation for the post lockdown economy. The direction chosen to move in is towards an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. To achieve this the Abhiyan has focused on the five important pillars- the economy, infrastructure, system, vibrant demography, and demand. It seems like a throwback to the 20th century Swadeshi movement with national leaders calling for local purchases. It is however evident that the economy can be saved from being plundered by COVID-19 by robust demand for Indian products.
Finance Minister (FinMin) Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Wednesday the First Tranche of measures that would be taken to attempt at reviving the economy. The focus would be on the factors of production. However, the traditional factors have been recast to suit the purpose of this Abhiyan. They are:
Ease of doing business
Compliance and Regulation
Due Diligence Observed
The FinMin also clarified that becoming ‘Aatma Nirbhar’ would not mean turning into an isolationist state that only looks inward. But instead, it talks about a country that can rest on its strengths and at the same time contribute to the globe. Today we have a closer look at the measures of the first tranche, the reasons for their implementation, and the path intended.
Measures to revive the economy -Tranche1
Nirmala Sitharaman announced the fifteen measures to revive the economy. They are directed towards the following sectors/measures:
MSME (Micro Small Medium Enterprises)
The FinMin has focussed a considerable portion of the relief towards Micro Small and Medium Enterprises( MSME). Of the 15 key decisions, 6 are directed towards the MSME. MSMEs are our nation’s dominant job creator by employing 11 crore people.
MSMEs contribute to 45% of the country’s manufacturing output, 40% of exports, and to 30% of the GDP. Considering the figures a relief package not directed towards the MSMEs survival would result in their closure and eventually mass unemployment accelerating the GDP decline. From the numbers above it becomes evident that ensuring their survival would mean saving the economy.
It can be noticed from above that there is a huge gap between credit requirements and credit available to MSMEs. Such a huge lending ability to bridge the gap is only possessed by financial corporations in the country. The government would not be able to fulfill the requirements simply because it does not have that much money to be directed towards MSMEs during an ongoing pandemic.
What are the means adopted to achieve this?
The government has two options here. Either directly give loans to the MSMEs or to take over the credit risk of the loans received by MSMEs from other sources. It becomes evident that the government has chosen the latter as the measures in Tranch 1 focus on this.
If in a normal situation if an MSME would approach banks he would be required to place a collateral of a value higher than the loan in exchange. The property available with MSMEs will be affected too as the outbreak has caused a fall in their prices as well. The Government of India(GOI) has rolled out measures where instead of collateral it acts as the guarantor for the loan. This means that in a case where the MSMEs fail to repay, the banks would still be able to recover the loan from the government. With the government acting as a guarantor the banks are encouraged to give out more loans to the MSME’s
The reforms that enabled this are:
1. Three Lakh Crore collateral-free automatic loans for MSMEs
Here MSMEs that have no more than 25 crores outstanding in loans and a turnover of at least Rs. 100 crores are eligible. An emergency credit line to businesses and MSMEs has been set up from NBFCs and banks for up to 20% of the outstanding credit as of 29/02/20.
The loans will be provided with a 4-year tenure with no requirement for the principal to be paid for the next 12 months. They will be required to pay interest however but at a capped limit set by the GOI. Here the GOI will act as 100% guarantor for both loans and interest. This scheme can be availed till 31st October 2020.
The Finance Ministry has estimated that this will help 45 Lakh business units to resume business utility and safeguard jobs.
2. Rs 20,000 crores subordinated debt for stressed MSMEs
Here the GOI will facilitate a provision for Rs. 20,000 crore as subordinate debt. This is aimed at MSMEs that are stressed and would be considered NPA (Non-Performing Assets) but still have managed to keep functioning. These MSMEs classified as NPAs would not be provided credit by NBFCs or banks. Here the promoter of the MSME will be given debt by the banks which will then be infused by promoters as equity in the firm. This will increase his respective ownership but will be liable for the debt received.
3. Rs. 50,000 crore, equity infusion for MSMEs through FOF.
The GOI here will set up a Fund of Fund which in turn will invest in its daughter funds. These daughter funds will provide equity funding to MSMEs that show growth potential. The GOI will invest 10,000 crores into the FOF. The remaining amount will be funded from institutions like LIC and SBI.
The MSME, however, will be encouraged to get listed on the main board of the stock exchange.
4. New Definition of MSMEs.
The FinMin pointed out before the announcement that this change of definition will be in favor of MSMEs. The new definition will revise investment slabs for those companies to be considered as Micro Small and Medium. In addition to the investment, it will also consider the turnover before classifying an MSME.
The new definition will also have no distinction between the MSME involved in manufacturing and service.
Micro will be those with investment up to 1 crore whose turnover is LESS than 5 crores.
Small will be with investment up to 10 crores whose turnover is LESS than 50 crores.
Medium will be those with investment up to 20 crores and a turnover of LESS than 100 crores
5. For government procurement tenders up to 200 crores will no longer be on the global tender route.
According to this global tenders that are worth up to 200 crores will no longer be available to global players.
This reform would encourage and provide MSMEs with the opportunity to procure these tenders without facing global competition.
6. Other incentives for MSMEs
MSMEs in the post lockdown environment will face problems of marketing and liquidity due to social distancing requirements. For these reasons, the GOI will launch an e-market linkage for MSMEs which will be promoted as a replacement for trade fairs and exhibitions. Fintech also will be applied to enhance transaction-based lending using data generated by e-market linkage.
In addition to this, all dues from the GOI and Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) will be released in 45 days.
This reform focusses on ensuring that the MSMEs are able to restart their business with ease after the lockdown as well. At the same time, their liquidity position would be improved to meet their immediate needs from the dues received.
Provident Fund Contribution
7. Reduction in rates for those covered in the first relief package.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package of Rs 1.7 lakh crores announced in the first phase of the lockdown, the GOI announced that it would contribute the employer’s portion to the PF. The companies eligible for this relief were those who had 100 employees earning less than 15000 per month. This relief was announced for a period of 3 months.
Moreover, this relief currently helps a total of 6 Lakh establishments during the months of March, April, and May. The FinMin announced that these establishments that are currently eligible would have these benefits extended to both the employees and the employer’s contributions respectively. The GOI will now pay 24% to the PF for a period of 3 months.
8. Reduction in rates for those not covered in the first relief package.
The FinMin also announced that those who were not covered earlier would now only be required to contribute 10% instead of the earlier 12% rate. This 10% contribution will be for both the employers and the employees for the next 3 months.
However, for state PSU and CPSE, the employer’s contribution will remain at 12% but the employees will be required to contribute only 10%.
The main aim of the PF contribution from the govt or rate reduction is to transfer more money into the hands of the employers and employees. The employers would have greater liquidity and hence would be able to use this to better survive. The employees, on the other hand, would have more cash in their hand which would cause a spurt in the demand in the economy. This will create liquidity of 6750 crores available to the employers and employees for the next 3 months.
9. 30,000 crore special liquidity scheme for NBFC/ HFC/ MFI
The scheme is available to those NBFC’s that are finding it difficult to raise debt in the COVID-19 environment. The special liquidity scheme of 30,000 crores was launched for this. Under the scheme, investment was made by buying investment-grade debt papers of NBFC HFC and MFIs. It is not necessary for the companies to be graded highly and be of high quality.
Purchasers of these debt papers will receive a guarantee from the GOI.
10. Rs. 45,000 crore Partial-Credit Guarantee Scheme(PCGS) 2.0 for NBFC’s.
With the PCGS already in place, the PCGS scheme is said to supplement it. This scheme will enable finance corporations that have low credit ratings to raise finances. In PCGS 2.0 the existing PCGS scheme will now be extended to cover borrowings such as primary issuance of bonds and commercial papers of these entities. Here ‘AA’ papers and below including unrated papers will also be eligible for investment. This will particularly benefit MFI that do not have ratings high enough to attract investments.
In this scheme, the first 20% of the loss will be borne by the guarantor i.e. GOI.
The main aim of both schemes is to provide liquidity to NBFC’s, MFI, and HFC. If they are provided with the liquidity it will lead to increased lending to MSMEs. So it can be said that even these 2 schemes are aimed at the MSMEs.
11. 90,000 crore liquidity injections of Discoms.
The working of the electricity sector requires Power Generation Companies(Gencos) to transfer electricity to Distribution Companie(Discoms) in respective states which is then transferred to the consumers and respectively paid for. The payments then trickle down to the Gencos. The Discoms currently owe Rs 94,000 crores to the Gencos. The lockdown unfortunately only alleviated the problems and troubles of the electricity sector as many industries were shut causing a fall in the demand. In the electricity sector, the units produced cannot be stored. Hence a fall in the demand causes a loss.
The FinMin unveiled that both PFC and REC will together infuse a total of 90,000 crores into all the Discoms against all the receivables they have. These 90,000 crores in loans will be extended against the state government guarantees with the exclusive purpose of discharging liabilities of Discoms and Gencos.
The loans, however, will be given to the Discoms for specific activities and reforms which include
Introducing digital payment facility by Discoms where necessary.
Liquidation of outstanding dues to state govt.
Plan to reduce financial and operational losses.
The benefits of this have also been aimed at being passed onto the consumers in the form of rebates for the power tariffs paid.
12. Relief to contractors
Central Agencies ( like Railways, Ministry of Road Transport and Highway, Central Public Works Department) have been directed to extend all contracts for up to 6 months. This covers both construction works and goods and service contracts. It covers obligations like completion of work, intermediate milestones, and extension of the concession period in PPP(Public-Private Partnerships) contracts.
To ease cash flows the GOI will partially release bank guarantees, to the extent contracts are partially completed. This move will also improve the cash flows for the contractors as they will be provided with liquidity which will help them meet immediate business needs when the lockdown is lifted.
TCS Chief Strategist Himanshu Chaturvedi said ‘ The Governments Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Initiative has recognized infrastructure as one of the 5 pillars. This is an acknowledgment of the sector’s role in India’s development and large scale employment generation.
13. Relief to Real Estate
According to this measure, the real estate is to treat COVID-19 as a ‘force majeure'(unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract) and extend registration and completion date by 6 months. The regulatory authorities may extend this for another period of 3 months if necessary. This was done so that the home buyers may get new timelines for delivery.
The GOI has also decided to provide projects that have been stalled due to a lack of funds with financial support. Projects that are NPA’s or undergoing NCLT will also be eligible for the proceedings. The maximum finance for a single project has been capped at 400 crores.
In order to provide more funds at the disposal of the taxpayer the rates of TDS for non-salaried specified payments made to residents and rates of the tax collected at source for the specified receipts shall be reduced by 25% of the existing rates.
This will be applicable for the rest of the year starting from 14/05/2020 to 31/03/21. These measures are estimated to release liquidity of Rs. 50,000 crore.
It has to be noted that this doesn’t bring down the tax liability of taxpayers, it leaves more money with them during the course of the FY. Individuals will still have to pay their tax liability every quarter or annually.
15. Other Measures
All pending refunds to charitable trusts, non-corporate business, from the GOI shall be issued immediately.
Income tax returns extended from 31st July 2020 and 31st October to 30th November 2020. The tax audit has been postponed from 30th September 2020 to 31st October 2020.
Ernst and Young Chief policy advisor D.K. Srivastava estimated that the measures announced on Wednesday amounted to Rs 5.94 lac crore, which includes both the liquidity financing measures and credit guarantees, although the direct fiscal cost to the govt. In the current financial year may only be Rs 16500 crore. As mentioned earlier the government has taken over the credit risk that the MSMEs and various financial institutions.
Hence the amount that the government would invest will depend on how much of the loans taken by the MSMEs and various financial institutions will default on. Furthermore, the real trajectory of the relief package can only be understood after it is viewed together with the measures in the Second and Third Tranch. Even more so on how many of these are successfully implemented. It still goes without saying that tranch 1 is nothing short of impressive.
Understanding Why Alcohol Prohibition Lifted in India: On May 4th the Central Government lifted the prohibition on liquor sales. What followed was a parade through all news outlets exhibiting Indians risking their lives in thousands just to feel half-seas over. Media focus on movie box office records has been replaced by alcohol day to day sales records being reported during the pandemic. Today we try to unravel why the center decided to do so and what possible implication it could lead to.
What does alcohol mean to the government?
— Alcohol and the Soviet Union
Mikhael Gorbachev, although some might know him as the Soviet Union President during its collapse, our generation will famously remember his character played in the TV show Chernobyl ( Another disaster he oversaw as President). In 1985 Gorbachev started an anti-alcohol campaign due to its ill effects on health and crime in society.
In the first half of the 1980s, 13000-14000 deaths were drunk accidents. Over 800,000 people were caught for drunk driving and by 1985 these numbers kept increasing. The soviet union faced multiple problems due to the influence of alcohol. Accidents at work were common and at a period the condition worsened to a point where crops were not even gathered due to intoxicated farmworkers (Socialism, SMH).
Gorbachev’s campaign was a success and the government claimed increased life expectancy in males and even reduced crime rate. But all this was just a silver lining to a darker cloud. The loss of 100 billion rubles of revenue from alcohol sales led to an economic crisis after the alcohol sales moved to the black market. The campaign ended in 1987. The Berlin wall fell in 1989. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
The data presented above shows the revenue a state earns from the sale of alcohol. Alcohol revenues make up to 20% of a state’s revenue. In the midst of the pandemic states like Delhi have faced a 90% fall in their revenues. For the state governments to fight the virus without any source of income will only lead to a nationwide economic crisis.
Punjab was the only state to officially request the government to ease restrictions over the sale of alcohol. Several other states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and those in the Northeast raised the issue informally.
The states named in no way represent a stereotype of the people’s dependence on alcohol but instead how the state governments depend on alcohol. Investing in alcohol has been the simplest and most profitable source of income for the state governments. In 2017 as per the Kerela State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) earned around Rs.600 for every Rs. 100 spent on alcohol. This example sums up why a government would actually consider investing in alcohol-based businesses. It incomes earned also explain why the prohibition on alcohol sale had to be lifted.
Problems with alcohol prohibition
Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, and Mizoram are the states in India that have prohibited all sale of alcohol to its citizens. It can already be estimated that just like Delhi, these states too will face a huge loss of revenue due to the lockdown. But these are just the beginning of their financial troubles as they would not be able to raise revenue from alcohol sales either.
If we believe that these dry states are successful in the prohibition of liquor it would present us to be too naive. By banning liquor the governments have only succeeded in diverting the funds from their pockets to the black markets.
Similar bootlegging practices can be expected in a nationwide prohibition. But what is even more troubling features of the prohibition are the thefts and the scams. An alcohol store, for example, was looted for 4.18 lakhs in Bengaluru. Scams promising delivery of alcohol had already begun to see the light of day during the 40 days of prohibition.
Even the manufacturing of illicit liquor saw an increase. The consumption of such illicit liquor is much more dangerous and harmful to health. All these crimes have resulted in wastage of police resources. The energies that could be focussed on controlling the virus were spread to solve these cases which could have been avoided.
Raising the price of Alchohol
After the confusion and the idea of social distancing being flouted on the first day of the alcohol prohibition being lifted, the government resorted to discourage guzzlers by raising the taxes. The Delhi government added a 70% corona tax. The state of West Bengal levied a 30% tax. However, the highest increase in the prices was from the Andhra Pradesh government. The prices were 75% higher after 3 revisions. The Karnataka and Tamil Nadu government also raised the excise on alcohol.
— The relation between prices and Alcohol
The reasons for the increased price lie in obtaining the twin objective of raising revenues and discouraging alcohol purchase. This is so that lesser people venture out of their homes in search of alcohol. A survey conducted in North West England with 22,780 in 2008 speaks differently. It was conducted to explore alcohol consumption changes if the prices were adjusted.
According to the survey, 80.3% considered a lower alcohol price would increase consumption. 22.1% considered that rising prices would reduce consumption. This meant that alcohol consumption was lower price elastic. This meant that you could lower alcohol prices to increase its consumption but an increase in price would still keep consumption at the regular levels. In other words, you can increase the harm by reducing the prices but not reduce the harmful effects of alcohol by increasing prices.
— Alcohol and Growth
( Source: The prices above are from the year 2017. The government would earn over 600% in the case above)
In India, a major portion of alcohol consumption is from the middle and lower-income groups. An increase in the prices of alcohol would not discourage a habitual drinker as discussed earlier. This increase would just decrease the disposable income or savings available for essential goods. Their spending on alcohol would deprive their children of nutrition and families of other essentials.
We just had a look at the impact of increased prices from an individual’s perspective. Let us have a look at what would be the case if due to this the consumption of essential goods is reduced in the economy. At the end of the day, it is essential goods that have the ability to kickstart the economy and not alcohol products. It is the demand for essential products that will enable industries to employ more labor. A study of the US states between 1971 to 2007 found that a 10% increase in per capita beer consumption resulted in a 0.41 percentage point drop in the annual income growth. The government has successfully increased its revenue but unfortunately directed demand away from essential products.
The points raised above have built walls to every decision taken in association with alcohol prohibition being lifted. The only exception being the decision to lift the prohibition itself.
Firstly the economy is too dependant on alcohol. The government cannot harvest any other source of income and liquor stores increase the risk of contraction. Secondly raising taxes does not discourage drinkers. Instead, it slows the opening of the economy. Thirdly a complete alcohol prohibition will only finance the black market and increases other crimes.
The following action taken by some state governments or possible consideration would help the government find a middle ground. Their application through states would result in being beneficial to both the government and the people.
— Open Alcohol outlets only after planning for appropriate social distancing measures.
The Supreme court on May 1st suggested the states to consider home delivery of alcohol. This would not only encourage social distancing the increased demand for home delivery would increase employment in the home delivery service. The food delivery company Zomato has already shown interest. This can be taken up by other delivery apps too. In a worst-case scenario even if any one of the parties comes in contact with someone who has contracted the virus, the linkage would be able to be traced by the app. This, however, should only be applied after ensuring age restriction are in place. West Bengal and Chattisgarh have already adopted the home delivery model.
The Delhi government has started issuing E-Tokens to buy liquor. Allowing only limited people at a set time only at particular stores with the pass. This also could also enforce social distancing but still involves the risk of venturing out.
— Reduce the price to levels the same as before the lockdown
The price increase has to be curbed. It is understood that the government is in dire need of income. This, however, will not even benefit the economy in the long term perspective as all revenue will stop once people run out of their savings. A habitual drinker will continue drinking even at higher prices. Also, the present condition involves people losing jobs and taking salary cuts. The price increase would do greater harm than good.
— Set a limit on Quantity
Settling a limit to the quantity available person is a very important step. We have already seen the survey earlier which concluded that a reduction in the prices would lead to increased demand. Hence applying the previous point without ensuring this will only negate all benefits. When clubbed with the first point, tracking the quantity via App or an online portal makes it easy.
All decisions being taken with the expectation of the worst would help us better prepare and forsee such situations. With no vaccine in sight for a year, all decisions must enable us to live accordingly for at least a year. The pandemic already has and will keep changing the way we live forever. Online Delivery with limits is the new Black!
Facebook- Jio Deal: The fourth of May bought us news different from those caused by the grim pandemic. In one of the first virtual deals, Mukesh Ambani and Mark Zuckerberg took to their Social Media to announce the agreement. According to the deal, Facebook would invest $5.7 billion in exchange for a 9.9% stake of Jio. This deal would be the largest investment for a minority stake by a tech company in India.
Soon after the deal was announced words bordering data privacy concerns and national security were thrown around. Today we go through what the characteristics of the deal are and its impact on the Indian markets.
How big are these numbers?
Facebook investing 5.7 billion (Rs.43574 crore) for 9.9% would mean that they have valued Jio as a $57 billion company. If we take a look at FDI Equity inflow from 2019, the US totaled at only $2.7 billion. Facebook has been sitting on a huge cash pile of $52 billion and the investment hardly covers 11% of its reserves.
If we change perspective, Reliance Industries has invested 1.8 lakh crore into Jio. This would peg 10% at 18000 crores. Although Jio has been a force to reckon with, remapping the telecom industry. Questions do arise over what the additional amount means? and what Facebook saw in Jio considering it valuable to invest in?
Industries likely to face immediate impact
Facebook has struggled with its plans to turn Whatsapp into a payment app offering similar services like Paytm. Jio, on the other hand, is facing challenges entering the online consumer segment. This deal with the right exchange of data could help each with their respective goals.
Facebook-owned Whatsapp is being planned to be updated as an ordering and payment app. Facebook would also be able to use Jio’s reach to local Kiranas to promote the model. This would enable us to order products from local stores through WhatsApp and also make payments through it.
Although Jio is valued mainly as a telecom service provider, just by going through the immediate plans the effects of this deal will span across 3 Industries. The telecom, online retail, and online payments industry.
— Online Retail Industry
Of the Rs.43574 crores, 15000 crores will remain with Jio. This will be invested in its online grocery store, Jio Mart. Data collected by WhatsApp would enable Jio Mart to understand the demographics better for operations. This, however, would be a cause for concern to existing heavyweights like Amazon and Flipkart.
Online Grocery Shopping has been one of the few sectors in India that have gained demand during the pandemic. Before the outbreak, only 1% of the 80,000 crores grocery market in India was represented online. After the lockdown was imposed the online grocery shopping represents 50% of the grocery demand in the country.
— Online payments industry
Whatsapp entering the online payment service would pose a serious challenge to existing players. The need for additional apps would be challenged when a single app would allow you to text, order, and pay. Whatsapp already running deep through Indian veins, at times even being upgraded as the prime source of news would only be upgraded to the status of a super app if its goals are realized.
With companies struggling with liquidity during the pandemic, a better time would not come for Jio to receive investment. The 5G debate is soon to be settled. The government would waste no time for spectrum sales to raise the revenue it is in desperate need of. The spectrum sale is aimed at 50,000 crores. This would make Jio the front runner. Closely followed by airtel looking for investments and Vodaphone-Idea as the smallest player trying to weather the tough times.
Facebook- Jio Deal: What’s in it for Facebook?
Although there has been no clear indication over the aims of the two companies. Facebook in recent times has faced stiff competition from Apps from China like WeChat and TikTok. Due to China being a market closed to foreign investments, the world views India as the next close contender. The coming together of the two giants will have more than what meets the eye.
1. Data – The New Money
To understand the role data plays we would first have to understand Facebook better. Have you ever searched for fashionable cloth wear that you always wanted? All this only to find yourself followed by advertisements related to the product on social media? Or perhaps an advert caught your eye and you decided to know more by clicking on it.
Did you spend the following week being bombarded by advertisements for similar products? Have these come to be by chance or does the universe really want to see you in a suede jacket to align with its plans for you along with the stars? Unfortunately not!
— The Facebook Business Model
Facebook earned a revenue of $70.7 billion in 2018. This amount seems too huge for a social media platform that offers its services for free. However, social media has been only a front for the data mogul.
The very business model of Facebook lies in gathering information from its users and sharing it with advertising companies or other MNCs. The data-based on user preferences is shared with advertisement companies that are willing to pay for it. The user is then made the recommendation accordingly. Last year alone Facebook made 84$ per user in the North American region.
Unfortunately, it can also be said that the very business model by Facebook hurls away client privacy and data protection. The media giant has already been involved in public spats with the Indian government. This was over the Indian government’s data privacy concerns. It led the government to pressurize Facebook to localize Indian data storage.
The deal has already raised these privacy concerns as Jio has over 388 million clients. Jio, however, may view this as an advantage. This is because India has been Whatsapps biggest client. Whatsapp has 400 million users in India alone ( larger than Jio’s customer base). The exchange of data between the two may provide them with the opportunity to understand the preferences and needs better. There still may exist a quid pro quo as Facebook would benefit from Jio’s deep reach in the Indian markets.
— The disruption caused by Jio to Global Data plans
Data is primarily the reason why companies like Google offer free Wifi in railway stations. Facebook too had plans under the name Express Wifi. Here solar-powered drones would provide free internet beamed through the air. These models were quashed after the entry of Jio entered the market in 2016. Jio’s free internet made innovative investments from global giants a waste.
The Indian market is said to double its smartphone users to 859 million by 2022. If Facebook is even to gain 100 million clients, it would result in additional revenue every year. These numbers put Facebook’s data and investment in Jio in the right perspective.
Most of Facebook’s plans have been always roughed up by the Indian Laws. Even its Free Basics program aimed at providing affordable internet service to less developed countries was banned in India. TRAI rolled out the judgment as it was said to infringe on the principles of net neutrality.
Jio’s lobbying ability would be just as important to Facebook as Jio’s market penetration. Whatsapps online payment service is also still under review from the government. If Whatsapp plans to successfully roll out the payment service app, it’s deal with Jio will play an important role. Reliance Jio has already proved time and again its lobbying prowess in Delhi. Otherwise, how would the PM be used in a private company’s advertisements. And the companies still be get away with a hefty fine of Rs.500?
3. A platform for other products
Investing in Jio could also see an opportunity for similar products existing in both companies. They span from retail and gaming to education.
Facebook also has plans to launch its own digital currency again in 2020. This makes India a market to be explored as the Supreme Court verdict in March legalized Cryptocurrency. This, however, will be under scrutiny from the RBI. This is due to the concerns over the effects it may have on the Rupee.
Facebook- Jio Deal: What’s in it for Jio?
Jio has proven its ability to compete across sectors. A deal of this magnitude will extend Jio’s reach and further enhance its ability to compete. We have already discussed how Facebook will be benefitted from Jio’s market base. Jio in exchange will be provided with the opportunity to further expand. This is because the number of users with WhatsApp still exceeds Jio’s customer base.
Mukesh Ambani in his 2019 Annual General Meeting of Reliance Industries announced that Reliance would be debt-free by 2021. This seemed like a longshot as the outstanding debt as of September 2019 stood at 2.92 lakh crore. Instead of an IPO, Jio has decided to sell off ownership and enter into a strategic partnership with investors.
This would not only reduce debt but also provide invested partners with benefits in exchange. The first attempt at this stood with the $15 billion deal with Saudi Aramco. Unfortunately due to the Crude oil crisis, the deal fell apart. Apart from the 15000 crores aimed at Jio Mart, the remaining amount would be utilized for debt reduction. Reliance has also signed an agreement of 7000 crores with British Petroleum for 49% share in its fuel retail. Forming clever alliances would ensure Jio’s survival in the long term.
Mukesh Ambani has made it clear to not trod the same road his brother did. Too much debt was a major factor that eventually led to RCom filing for bankruptcy in 2019. The Facebook deal would result in Jio having a better Balance Sheet.
— With regards to the Investment deal
According to former Airtel CEO Sanjay Kumar, the deal between Jio and Facebook can only be seen positively as it comes in a time where companies are cash strapped. Any Foreign investment in this period can only be seen in a positive light.
It has to be noted how Facebook has cleverly avoided being prey to oil price impact. They did this by directly investing in Jio instead of Reliance Industries, Jio’s parent company.
The deal, however, leaves a number of players affected in different industries. They will have to draw up new roadmaps. As now they will battle the pandemic and at the same time deal with the added competitive prowess of Jio. It would be unfair for Jio to be criticized on the ground of it being bought by a US MNC. Companies like Flipkart and Paytm are currently just tools for Walmart and Alibaba to be used in the Indian markets. The other companies in the telecom industry too have been financed from foreign investment.
— With regards to Data
When it comes to data privacy Mukesh Ambani’s stand provides some assurance. He has stated that data is a national resource. The value created by data generated should and be deployed by Indians. He also added that data generated in India shall remain localized within India’s geographical boundaries.
— With regards to the Future
India should take note of the Jio deal and encourage other industries to do so too. This is because global industrialists and investors will be looking for new markets to invest in. This can be expected as they would preferably avoid China due to the uncertainty in the future. Attracting investments would create jobs that were lost due to the pandemic. They would also provide the necessary boost required by the economy.
India must ensure that they are ready to contend for investments once the lockdowns are lifted. This would definitely save the plummeting economy.
“Imagine, always wanting to own something but not being able to, because that something was too expensive, maybe not worth the price tag or maybe it was the right price but your pockets were not deep enough to buy it”
The above thoughts must be crossing every investor’s or trader’s mind right now. The stocks which were expensive in January 2020 are right now available at a discount rate of 30%-50% in May 2020. So what led to this sudden decline in prices or undervaluation or availability at a sale? Is it just an impact of Global pandemic (COVID-19), or Is it the global uncertainties. Are we heading towards a bigger recession? Or Were these share prices simply too overvalued and had just the right trigger to correct them, which in this case was COVID- 19.
To get a little deeper into the discussion, let’s take an example of a few sectors. The auto sector, the health of which usually defines the ‘luxury health’ of a nation. But over some time we have seen a continuous decline in the Nifty Auto Index, which tells us a lot about the depleting health of the sector.
The Auto index which was trading near all-time highs of 11900 in January 2018 is right now trading near lows of 5000. As we can see that this decline in the sector started long before COVID-19 was born. This also tells us a lot about the consumer’s reluctance to spend less on luxury items and save more for future uncertainties. In the current scenario, most of the Auto sectors company shares are trading at almost half the price compared to early 2019 levels. The image below is the Auto Index for the last three years.
So, it is still the right time to buy or are these companies still overvalued, especially knowing that consumer demand for luxury goods will still take quite some time to bounce back. But, seeing the lucrativeness of the prices of various stocks (as they are trading at a discount of 30%-50% from top), one can start investing a portion of his desired investment now. But, it is advised to not to empty the full clip right now, as we could see some more correction in the market. So investing parts of portfolio over time is the best way ahead. And as the saying goes, “it is never a wrong time, to do the right thing”
Similarly, if we were to take the example of the Nifty Pharma index, this index was at peak during March 2015 (13,300 levels) and at its low during March 2020 (6700 levels). The figure below shows the Nifty Pharma Index Now, in this case, one can say that this might be the right time to start investing in this sector as the pharma products will have higher demand during this global pandemic and we can already start seeing pharma companies doing well over last two months.
The index has almost recovered to 9000 levels. So one can start building their portfolio have some portion dedicated to the pharma sector. Again SIP is the best strategy.
From the above discussion it very difficult to say that the recovery mode for the market has started or we have seen the bottom. One can never be sure. But one thing is for sure, that the market will recover sooner rather than later. One has to be very prudent and use his/her bias-free judgment to pick his or her investment strategy and timing.
One best way to do it by having a systematic Investment plan (SIP) and diversify his/her risk across sectors. It is near impossible for anyone to pick the top or bottom for any indices or sector. So it is advised to invest a portion of total desired investment and keep investing at systematic intervals of time. This way the investor will be able to average his price and a major movement in one sector or indices would not dent his portfolio significantly.
Hitesh Singhi is an active derivative trader with over +10 years of experience of trading in Futures and Options in Indian Equity market and International energy products like Brent Crude, WTI Crude, RBOB, Gasoline etc. He has traded on BSE, NSE, ICE Exchange & NYMEX Exchange. By qualification, Hitesh has a graduate degree in Business Management and an MBA in Finance. Connect with Hitesh over Twitter here!
A case study on Mukesh Ambani vs Anil Ambani: Ever since the Cain and Abel fallout at the beginning of time, sibling rivalries haven’t been uncommon. Cleopatra securing the throne by killing her siblings, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler’s tussle which led to the formation of Adidas and Puma.
Similarly, the unfortunate split of Liam and Noel Gallagher eventually led to the breaking up of the Oasis band. And also the recently famed but unworthy (probably staged) Rob and Kim Kardashian squabble. Today we take a look at the most famous sibling feud in the Indian Subcontinent. The Mukesh vs Anil Ambani row. Here, we’ll discuss what went right or wrong in the case of the brothers.
Mukesh Ambani vs Anil Ambani: The BAD
Indian business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani bought into existence the Reliance organization. At the time of his death in 2002, he had founded Reliance Capital, Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Power, and Reliance Industries. But the lack of a will led to a scrimmage for assets between his two sons, Mukesh and Anil Ambani.
Until 2002, Anil was the face of the company attracting foreign investment. Mukesh after dropping out of Stanford worked behind the scenes. He focussed on running the organization and also building Reliance Communications (RCom).
(Right to Left: Mukesh Ambani with Mother Kokilaben Ambani and Brother Anil Ambani)
Tensions began when Anil demanded RCom to even out the assets. Eventually, their mother had to step in to resolve the feud that had now spilled into the public eye. The assets were finally split, with Mukesh getting Oil and Gas, Refining, and petrochemical companies. Anil got what was called the rising sun companies- Electricity, Telecom, and Financial services segment.
The companies under Mukesh were known as Reliance Industries. The companies under Anil were known as Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group or Popularly the Reliance Group. The split of assets also came with a non-competition clause. According to this, the brothers were not allowed to venture into each other’s businesses for a decade.
The Reliance Industries Journey with Mukesh at its Helm
Under the leadership of Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industry slowly but steadily scaled new heights. By 2007, it was the first Indian company to exceed $100 billion in market capitalization. Although luck also played a role as Mukesh has been handed the petrochemical segment. The segment was based in the Krishna Godavari Basin. The basin has an excess of 1.2 billion barrels of crude oil. As time went by Reliance Industries ventured out into other segments that included the retail business, logistics, solar energy, entertainment (Reliance Eros), cloth, and SEZ development.
The most notable industry entered would be when Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries ventured back into the telecom industry. It used its earlier acquisition of a telecom company called Infotel and came out with Jio Infotel popularly known as Jio. His new venture, Jio, caused severe disruption in the Industry. Its entry led existing players in losses, merging with one another to weather the storm. Its entry also meant the end of the road for his brother’s Rcom.
— Where has Mukesh Ambani reached
It can be said that Mukesh Ambani has had a lot of Sunshine. Reliance Industries was ranked 106th on the Fortune Global 500 list of biggest corporations as of 2019. The company has been responsible for almost 5% of the revenue the government of India earns from Customs and Excise duty. Mukesh Ambani is said to have a net worth of $53 billion as of 2020.
According to Bloomberg, his wealth could help the Federal government for 20 days in 2018. This makes him Asia’s richest, a billion short of getting his entry into the top 10 richest list. He currently resides in Antilla which is claimed to be the world’s most expensive home at $1 billion. So much for a student at Stanford who wanted to work at World Bank or become a professor!
The Reliance Groups’ journey with Anil at its Helm
Anil Ambani also saw immense growth in wealth in the initial stages. Anil Ambani began his solo ride by investing in industries that provided quick returns. It goes without saying that the risk was high too. In 2005, he bought Adlabs which got him into the entertainment business. A few years later in 2008, he signed a deal with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks. The Film Lincoln produced by DreamWorks also won an Oscar.
In 2008, Anil was the world’s 6th richest person with $42 billion in wealth. One of the most notable investments was the Mumbai Metro project.
2014, however, started brewing trouble for Anil Ambani as his companies had taken huge debts. This year his media venture with Adlabs also collapsed and he had to resort to selling the screens. He also began selling a stake in the remaining TV businesses to Zee Entertainment. Other bad decisions quickened his wealth loss. This included venturing into the defense segment in 2016 with Reliance Naval and Engineering.
By 2019 the valuation of the defense company fell 90%. 2016 was also the year in which Mukesh Ambani’s Jio entered the Telecomm industry. This catapulted RCom further into losses. By end of 2019, Rcom had lost 98% of its valuation. This hit Anil hard as he held 66% of its stake.
— Where has Anil Ambani Reached
As of March 2018, the Reliance group had a total debt of 1.7 lakh crore. This led to affected his wealth and also his Rs 13,500 crore investment in Nippon the financial segment. By 2019 things got so bad for Anil, that he was threatened with jail if he did not pay dues to Ericson.
Anil Ambani was also summoned by the UK court where he was directed to repay 100 million loans from Chinese banks. He claimed in courts that he would not be able to pay as his net worth was zero.
Mukesh Ambani vs Anil Ambani: The UGLY
— 2008 Anil’s Intelligence Agency
The court approved spit of assets in 2005 did not end the rivalry between the two brothers. In 2008, Anil filed a defamation case against Mukesh suing him Rs 10,000 crores. This was due to an interview given by Mukesh to the NYtimes. Mukesh claimed that the distinguishing factor of Reliance from its competitors was the intelligence agency run by his brother which included a network of lobbyists and spies. They had infiltrated New Delhi to find facts that may seem trivial and other vulnerabilities of the bureaucrats to gain greater control.
— 2009 Pricing feud
The 2005 split of assets also included an agreement where Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries would supply his brother’s electricity generation segment fuel at $2.34 per million British thermal units. This was agreed for a period of 17 years.
However, Reliance Industries began setting a different price. They sold fuel to the Reliance group at $4.20 in 2009. The disagreement was dragged into the courts until the government intervened. The government allegedly did so as the government also has a share in the profits made by Mukesh. The cost of production to Reliance Industries was only 1$.
Anil took the spat into the front pages of the Times of India. Here Anil Ambani placed an advertisement accusing the Petroleum Ministry of favoring Reliance Industries. The Ad campaign further intensified the feud between the two brothers. In the end, the ruling was in favor of Mukesh.
— Outside Corporate
The competition between the two brothers was not limited to business. When Mukesh had bought a $52 million jet for his wife it was alleged that Anil bought his wife an $80 million yacht. The feud at this scale sounds bizarre as the brothers shared the same house till 2012. When Mukesh moved out to his $ 1 billion Antilla, Anil was building one for himself of the same value.
— Other controversies that involved the brothers
The Comptroller and Audit General of India alleged rigging in the auction mechanism for the 4G license. Infotel had acquired the license by bidding 5000 times its net worth. Infotel was then mysteriously sold to Reliance Industries.
Reliance vs. Kejriwal
Delhi CM Kejriwal in 2014 had filed an FIR alleging irregularities in the pricing of natural gases from Krishna Godavari Basin. He alleged that the gas was priced at 8$ even though it cost Reliance only 1$ in its production.
Proximity to politicians
Both the brothers have been accused of their proximity to politicians to gain an influential role. PM Modi’s close proximity with Anil Ambani also is alleged to have a role in the Rafale controversy which was later quashed by the courts.
Mukesh Ambani vs Anil Ambani: The GOOD
Even though the brothers have torn into each other in the last two decades, it is noteworthy that they also once ran Reliance together. It is also said that during the period they knew each other so well that they would finish each other’s sentences.
The biggest test of brotherhood in the Ambani family came when the younger was threatened to be jailed over non-payment of Rs 550 crore in dues. Mukesh swooped in for the rescue by clearing the dues on Anil’s behalf. Also, considering that Anil has no been convicted by the UK courts over a loan from Chinese banks, it looks like he received a lot more help.
10 Severely Affected Industries by Coronavirus: Late into 2019, we were made aware of the ongoing battle China was forced into by a novel virus called the Cobvid-19. At that time, we were also soon assured by the World Health Organization (WHO) of no clear evidence of human to human transmission of the virus.
Fast-forward to today, there are over three million cases and the virus wreaks further global havoc. There hardly remains any industry around the world that hasn’t been impacted. Over the last 20 years, the healthcare industry was seen as recession-proof. However, the pandemic has physicians and dentists reducing staff to cope with the changing times.
Today we take a look at the ten most severely affected industries by coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown. Let’s get started!
10 Most Severely Affected Industries by Coronavirus
Preventive measures of the airborne virus have led to the devastation of any business even closely associated with the tourism industry. The restrictions were first imposed against East Asian travelers and further extended to Europe. WHO also released a statement where they acknowledged that the transmission of the infection may occur between passengers in the same area of the aircraft. With no vaccine in sight, countries were forced to close their borders and eventually led to the suspension of all forms of travel.
The Economic Times has reported the aviation sector in India may lose as much as Rs 85,000 crores along with 29 Lakh jobs. The total stimulus package-1 stood at 1.7 lakh crore. Here, the workers in the airline industry that were not fired were forced into unpaid leave. According to equity master shares of most hotels, leisure, and airline firms have tumbled 60% to date. Falling fuel prices too didn’t provide any relief caused by the lack of demand.
The losses were not limited to commercial airlines but also any company connected with the industry. Leading airline manufacturers Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, and Embraer have been forced to suspend production and deffer orders. Some even laying off employees.
The IATA ( International Air Transport Association) on 24th March estimated a $252 billion revenue loss globally. By mid-April, ACI observed a 95% fall in traffic in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Indian airlines are estimated to incur a loss of 600 million USD. This information does not include Air India, one of the major Indian carriers.
The only demand that exists in the airline industry is those for aircraft storage. Runways and taxiways in normally busy airports were closed to make room for storage.
2. Automobile Industry
The last thing an industry experiencing a prolonged slowdown for more than 20 months now needed would be a period of inactivity. According to FTAuto, the Indian Auto sector earns gross revenue of 2000 crores per day. As the lockdown is prolonged the losses in the automobile industry keep getting added up.
What makes the auto industry further susceptible to being impacted by the virus is the dependence on various players for different parts. Even one missing part from Tier-1 or Tier-2 is enough to stop entire carmakers or whole industries. Considering that the Indian auto industry relies on China for 27% of the imports in 2020 has been a further worst year as the regions are dealing with the virus at different time periods. Unfortunately for India, Maharashtra aka the Indian Automobile industry has over 8600 cases.
— Recovery lessons from China
As China was at the epicenter of the virus, noticing how their industry reacted would help us potentially understand the industry may face. China has faced disruptions in its automobile industry even after localizing 95% of the production. Based on these figures prolonged disruptions can be expected in the Indian automobile industry.
If we take a look at the new car registrations the first half of February saw a drop of 92%. This was followed by a 47% drop in March. Despite this, the market bounced back rapidly. This, however, can be the psychological impact of the virus. People after the lockdown would prefer to avoid public transport, taxi, and other ride-hailing services.
3. Construction and Retail Industry
— Construction Industry
This industry suffers from the direct implications of the virus. The majority of the job losses due to the pandemic are in the construction sector. Presently most of the relief measures introduced by the government are directed towards workers in the real estate sector.
This is due to the high number of daily wage workers in the industry. The sector was already affected in the month of February and March. The effects are to last due to its reliance on China for Raw Materials. Even luxury construction segments are to face raw material scarcity. This is because Italy the world’s leading supplier for stone and furniture has been the worst hit. These inputs will be seen in the form of higher costs and delayed project completion throughout the industry.
— Real Estate Industry
The real estate sector in India will suffer immensely but indirectly due to the lockdown. This is because with people losing jobs and sources of income. Investment in the real estate sector is further doubted. As a result, housing sales are expected to fall by 25-35%. Due to the lockdown and fewer buyers will show interest in the retail spaces.
Coming months will also pose a potential threat to cash reserves if tenants are adversely affected by the lockdown. Also, the rising prices of raw materials may add to falling profit margins. The real estate industry currently may seem attractive to buyers whose jobs are unaffected by the pandemic. The price correction will allow buyers to acquire properties at cheaper rates. Also, the reduction in rates by the RBI will result in loans available at cheaper rates.
4. Textile Industry
The textile industry in India employs over 105 million and earns around $40 billion in foreign exchange. This industry similar to the construction industry is labor-intensive. And hence, it adds to the troubles due to the lockdown.
The nature of the industry will require concentrated relief efforts by the government. The city of Tirupur serves as the perfect embodiment of the textile industry. With over 10,000 factories it generates Rs 25,000 crores wealth through exports and the same domestically. A three-month loss due to the pandemic ould amount to Rs.12000 crore. Of the 129 Lakh people who depend on the city’s textile industry, 25% would have to face job losses.
The textile industry in India depends on China for both imports and exports. India exports 20 – 25 million Kg’s a month to China. These exports have been affected due to a lack of demand from China. Imports from China include $460 million worth synthetic yarn and $360 million worth synthetic fibers.
In addition, India depends on China for buttons, zippers, hangers, and needles which make up $140 million. The textile industry faces challenges not only from China but also from Europe. This is because of the countries affected by the pandemic like Italy and Spain have asked not to export to them.
The revival of the textile industry would only be possible with directed relief measures from the Indian government. This followed by a hopeful end to the pandemic in the next quarter. This will allow India to procure Apparel industries looking for an alternative to the Chinese textile industry.
5. Freight and Logistics
The freight and logistic industry face troubles due to the lockdown in three delivery phases
The fist includes loading. This is due to the lack of manpower.
The second involves the transportation phase. With many states closing their borders and truckers are being forced to abandon the consignment.
The final stage involves unloading issues also due to a lack of power.
Lack of drivers, loaders, and unloaders have plagued the supply chain.
The future after the lockdown is uncertain as the demand will decide if the freight and logistics industry thrives. The fear of economic uncertainty may force consumers to tighten their spending. However, to support all the other industries that will awaken after the lockdown will require an increase in capacity to meet the demands.
The three phases also highlight the problems that may still persist if the government only allows the transport of essential goods without focussing on loading and reloading concerns.
6. Metals and Mining
The steel production and allied activities such as mining have been covered under the Essential Commodities Act. This does not provide much relief as the producers and miners face the challenge of producing with all the demand wiped out.
The essential commodities act, however, does not cover nonferrous metals such as Aluminium, copper, zinc, and lead. These add to the troubles as unlike other industries metal production cannot be switched off and started again when required. The cost of starting again would involve losses incurred due to the disruption of the continuous process involving smelters and potlines.
The steel supply-side disruptions were already caused by China, Japan, and Malaysia who were impacted by the coronavirus much earlier due to the pandemic. They account for over half of India’s metal and metal production. The Nifty Metal index as of March 21st has already fallen 43% in comparison to 29% of the Sensex.
7. Oil and Gas Industry
The oil prices have faced a decline in value since Mid February.
The cheaper crude oil, however, will help in reducing the Current Account Deficit. This will also provide multiple other benefits for the government. The fuel subsidies provided can also be expected to decline. In addition, the government can also raise duties to boost revenue. The revenue mopped up can be used to revive other sectors.
The lockdown has reduced power consumption by 46000 MW since March 20th. This is one of the primary challenges faced by only the Power sector i.e. no scope for inventory. Units once generated during the lockdown are represented as lost demand. The lockdown has reduced power consumption due to industries being shut.
In addition, the government has asked power generators to continue the supply of power even if the payments are not received for the next 3 months. The only silver lining is the opportunity for gas-based power generation to take advantage of the low prices. But the reduced demand has kept them from leveraging this opportunity.
The Power sector has been a loss-making enterprise even before the pandemic. The total outstanding dues of the power sector stood at Rs 88,311 crores as of January 2020.
9. Consumer and Retail Industry
In retail Food and Grocery accounts for about $550 billion. The textile and apparel account for $65 billion. Consumer electronic durable is worth $50 billion. Each of these sectors is affected by the purchasing power in the hands of the consumers. The great lockdown has put stress on the purchasing power in the hands of the people. This is due to the job losses and availability of other sources of income.
In addition, people brace themselves by reducing spending on nonessential items in textile and apparel and the consumer electronic durables. The further impact will be based on the duration of the virus. The textile and apparel and consumer electronics may lose out on their seasonal demand. For eg. AC sales during the summer season.
Once the lockdown is lifted the size of the retail business will also play a role to determine how much stress it will face. Traditional and independent retailers generally have fewer employees. Bigger retail businesses will face the heat due to their large employee requirements to be met and additional burden due to rent.
10. Chemical Industry
The Chemical industry is worth 163 billion covering more than 80000 chemical products. The impact on the chemical industry is primarily due to its dependence on China for the procurement of raw materials.
As the table shows, not only India but globally every country has been severely dependent on China.
Any impact on the chemical industry will be further felt in the agricultural industry too. This is due to the dependence of fertilizer companies on China for imports of Raw Material.
The industries we observed above wouldn’t generally resort to laying off employees. This is because these industries it is more expensive for the new employees to be trained again in comparison to keeping them employed. The lay off’s show that the pandemic and the great lockdown has forced industries into a corner. The revival of these industries will require an individual industry-wise focus to boost the economy.
As we await another more considerable relief package it is worthwhile to notice how Germany aims at relieving its economy. Germany has announced a 500 billion dollar package. In this, the companies can avail loans at 0% interest and repay them once their companies are in a position to. The relief packages cannot be matched but a package making up a higher percentage of the GDP would provide the required boost.
It does not require a closer look at the above sector-wise impacts to notice overreliance on the Chinese markets. Such reliance would leave any economy crippled when the other is in crisis. This, however, does not mean that economies must close up after the pandemic. Finding other reliable markets to fall back on and not placing all the eggs in a single basket would suffice.
The current situation will have Indian industries competing with Chinese goods which will be cheaper due to the incentives provided by the Chinese government on exports. Competing with a country is complex especially when it also is the supplier of raw materials.
A detailed study to better understand Why the Crude Oil prices dived into Negative?: A month ago, on March 8th, 2020, ‘30% slash in the crude oil prices’ seemed to be the biggest headlines crude oil could ever get. However, on April 20th, the crude oil prices broke into the news for its extraordinarily inconceivable negative price dump. A negative price, theoretically, would essentially mean that you are to be paid for the purchase of the commodity. Today we try and decode how the crude oil prices ventured into the negative territory and what it would mean to us.
Does the ‘-ve’ represent all oils?
In short, the answer to the above question would be ‘No’. This is because there are multiple varieties of crude oils classified on the geography of their procurement, their quality, and other factors. This ensures their prices remain different just like other commodities.
Popular crude oil types are West Texas Intermediate( WTI), Brent Crude, Dubai Crude, OPEC, etc. An insight into the different types of oils would help us better understand why only a particular oil went negative.
— The Brent Crude
The Brent Crude oil is sourced from the waters of the North Sea between the UK and Norway. It consists of 0.37% sulfur. It is known to be of perfect suitability for the production of petrol. The fact that it is sourced from the sea makes its transportation cheaper from ships.
Financial Traders take delight in the Brexit crude oil as it is highly volatile. This gives it a larger scope to place their bets.
— The West Texas Intermediate ( WTI )
As the name suggests this oil is sourced from the US. The oil fields are drilled for their high-quality shale oil. The WTI crude oil consists of 0.24% sulfur. WTI is used in the production of diesel. However, being sourced from oil fields and the high cost of setting up pipelines make the ‘transportation and storage’ expensive.
The Dubai crude aka Fateh is a medium sour crude oil extracted from the United Arab Emirates. The OPEC includes oil from OPEC members like (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and also Murban crude from UAE). The Urals crude is sourced from Russia. Several other crude oils also exist like the Tapis, Bonny Light, etc.
Just like any other commodities, these crude oils are priced differently based on the quality, cost of procurement, etc. Of the crude oils named above, the WTI had been priced at $-37.63 on April 20th.
What affected Oil Prices?
The factors that played a role in the massive fall of the oil prices were
— Demand and Supply Factors
The demand and supply play the most important role while determining the price of a commodity. Political tensions and war have had an impact on demand. This is because countries prefer to stock up due to future uncertainties driving up the prices. This was also noticed during the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq.
— The Russia v/s OPEC standoff
In today’s scenario, however, controlling the supply chain could have played a big role. Major players like Russia and the OPEC (spearheaded by the Saudi) had a fallout. This was over an agreement to reduce production during the pandemic in order to match the reduced demand. Russia expressed dissent over this as it seemed to favor the US WTI once prices are adjusted.
Result: In retaliation, Saudi Arabia increased its production flooding the markets in order to hurt Russian producers from falling prices. Anton Siluanov Russian finance minister responded by saying that they could handle the situation even when the prices dropped to $30 a barrel. He added that the government would be able to operate without difficulty for four years.
These conditions may have been tolerated by WTI in a normal situation. But considering the pandemic where two-third of the world’s economies are facing lockdown led to a backfire. This led to a build-up of oil reserves with no one available to make purchases.
This was because the airline industry one of the biggest consumers of crude oil has most of their planes grounded. Vehicular consumption at its minimum with people quarantining themselves and working from home. With industries requiring crude oils for production shut, this led to a huge build-up of reserves.
Crude oil is priced based on the futures contracts set as benchmarks. Futures contracts are agreements to sell a commodity at a set agreed price and set date in the future. This is done due to the volatility of crude oil prices. Dealing in futures helps the producers and buyers possibly protect themselves from uncertainty. Producers and buyers enter into an agreement with a set price beforehand.
If in a situation the price set for crude oil increases at the set date the buyer is benefitted by the cheaper predetermined price. If in a situation the price decreases at the set date the seller makes a profit. This is because he can still benefit from the higher price as per the future contract.
In the crude oil future contract, however, there is another party of traders who serve as middlemen between the producers and buyers. The traders enter into agreements with the producers. They do this with no intention of acquiring the oil. They do this with the aim of earning a profit after entering into another contract with the buyers.
To combat this US President Donald Trump said the US would buy 75 million barrels to replenish the national strategic stockpile. This would also provide temporary relief to the oil businesses.
How did these factors lead to the eventual fall?
A discussed earlier the WTI already incurs additional expense due to the pipeline. In addition to this, the market was heavily supplied by the OPEC crude with no takers. To combat the price fall Saudi Arabia and Russia reached an agreement. They agreed to cut output by 9.7 million barrels per day for the next two months. This, however, was not enough to stop the prices from falling.
The reserves saved in Cushing, Oklahoma kept building up. The Eventual overflow led to a situation where producers began paying buyers to take the oil. But in such a case why did the producers not destroy the crude oil as it would protect them from further losses. This is because the U.S. antitrust law prohibits oil companies from coordinating their production.
In addition to this, the Future contracts of May saw no buyers. Both these issues further alleviated the problem. It eventually led to the oil prices moving into the negative territory.
What does this mean for the economy?
This meant that the buyers were in a position to be paid in return for the purchase of WTI oil. However, as mentioned earlier crude oil is traded based on future contracts. It would not enable a country to take advantage of these in a short period of time. Also, with the demand for crude oil dropped due to the lockdown the respective country reserves will not be able to hoard large quantities.
The Indian government may use any benefits arising to set off the losses due to the lockdown. However, It is not a completely rosy picture for the Indian Economy. This is because 7 million Indians currently reside in economies that depend on crude oil exports. Adverse fall in their crude oil due to the WTI will lead to adverse effects in their economy. Joblessness will further affect Indian states that depend heavily on the remittances that are transferred from these countries.
There also arises the question of the Indian Government benefitting directly from the WTI. In 2018, of the $106.7 billion worth of crude oil only $2.8 billion can be attributed to WTI.
The benefits of the fall in crude oil prices being relayed to commercial customers are doubted. This is because the government has not transferred the benefits of falling prices over to commercial consumers from the last two months. This also may be seen as a silver lining as in a situation of probable rises. The government may again hold their ground and not relay the losses in the form of high prices.
Low oil prices historically have been known to tip the scales of power from the producing countries to the importing countries. Low oil prices were also one of the reasons for the fall of the Soviet Union ( Yess… Chernobyl too!). Talking about the rebalancing of power, low oil prices are also known to encourage gender equality.
Studies with the Middle East as their prime focus have explained that oil production apart from various other reasons also impacts gender equality. Oil production being their biggest industry further discourages the women. With the number of women in the workforce reduced in turn leads to a reduced number of women with political interference. Further enhancing the patriarchal society. Talk about a silver lining.
The renewable resource industry is also in danger if crude oil products result in providing longer benefits.
When we look at these effects in the short term from the Indian perspective it really helps being tipped upwards especially when we are in the midst of ‘The Great Lockdown’.
“You need to revise discriminatory FDI restrictions, it is against the WTO principles of Non-discrimination and against free and fair trade” – Statement by China Embassy
The above statement came after the Indian government sanctioned new restrictions on FDI investment in India. According to these new sanctions, all the investments made by the neighboring countries in India will be under tighter scrutiny. These new rules have been specifically made keeping FDI flows from China in mind. India is trying to safeguard its interest by imposing these entry rules, as it is worried about the opportunistic takeover of Indian firms by Chinese firms in these financially vulnerable times.
As per these new sanctions, any companies (from countries that share its borders with India) will have to approach the Indian Government for permission, if they want to invest in India. Before these new sanctions, they could invest via the direct route in India. One needs to understand the fact that these new sanctions do not cap any limit on investment, it just reroutes the way to do it.
The existing FDI policies were earlier limited only to Pakistan and Bangladesh. Now, these new rules bring China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar within its gamut.
But why this sudden imposition of sanctions by India? This can be simply attributed to the fact that because of the COVID -19 pandemic, all the major stock indexes have taken a big hit and it’s made the valuation of all the companies very economical, vulnerable and attractive. So, to prevent the interest of these companies been taken over by opportunistic firms from neighboring border sharing countries, these new sanctions have been imposed.
According to a press note released by the Department for promotion of Industry and Internal trade on 17th April 2020,
“A Non-resident entity can invest in India except for sectors or activities which are prohibited. However, an entity of country which shares its borders with India or where the beneficial owner is a citizen of country which shares its borders with India, can invest only via Government route.”
In addition to this, a company incorporated in Pakistan can invest only via Government permission, only in sectors other in defense, atomic energy and other sectors prohibited in foreign investment policy.
An article published in the Times of India states that “this move is very similar to barrier imposed by other countries like Germany, Spain, Italy, and Australia to block predatory capital for hostile takeover by China”
Now, what is the difference between the Automatic route and the Government route?
In simple terms, through the automatic route, the investor has to just inform RBI about the investment made while in case of government route, the investor has to take permission from a particular ministry or department.
According to an estimate by India-China economic council, an estimated Greenfield investment of 4 billion USD (Rs. 30,000 crores) has been made in Indian startups. Such has been the growth of investment in the Indian market by Chinese investors. So, is it the right time for India to tighten its FDI policy stance? Only time will tell. But for the moment, India has safeguarded its long term considerations by blocking hostile buyouts and takeovers.
Moreover, as per the data published by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade,
“Between 2000 and 2019, FDI received from China was estimated around $2.3 billion dollars (nearly 14500 crore rupees) and all the other border sharing nations invested a combined FDI of 71 crore rupees”
This clearly explains the fear factor of the Indian Government.
The last nail in the coffin to introduce this policy by India would have been the purchase of 1.75 crore shares of HDFC Bank by China’s peoples Bank which increase its share in HDFC Bank to 1% from 0.2% earlier. This move is to safeguard the interest of Indian firms because of their current financial vulnerability.
Other major investments in India come via third part routes like Singapore. For example, $ 500 million (Rs. 3500 crores) investment from Singapore subsidiary firm Xiaomi (China Origin) should also have to be added to official statistics as this investment indirectly comes from country sharing a border with India.
The reports published by the ministry of finance do show a huge investment to the tune of $4 billion. This investment comes via online wallet like Paytm (backed by Alibaba), BigBasket, and cab service provider like Ola (sizable investment from China). Mobile phone manufacturers like Vivo, Oppo, and other Chinese phone manufacturers. In the Pharma sector, the acquisition of Gland pharma by Fosun Pharma for $1.1 billion, etc. are some of the direct and indirect investment by China in India.
These new policies won’t be applicable to the existing investment but any future investment will have to follow the new policy rules. Therefore, the latest rules imposed by India might look like a decision taken in haste, but these sanctions were always on cards. The breakout of the COVID-19 epidemic made this decision quicker and faster. So, to answer China’s claim that India is breaking the WTO rules of free trade, one can simply say that there is no restriction on investment that can be made but it has to be just done via Government route.
Anyways, a few questions still remain unanswered:
“It remains to be seen as to what would be the implications of these FDI sanctions over long time?”
“Looking at the gravitas of these sanctions, how does the future of trade and investment shape up for these two Asian giants?”
“Considering the importance of China and its expertise in technology and infrastructure, will the restrictions be relaxed in the future?”
Hitesh Singhi is an active derivative trader with over +10 years of experience of trading in Futures and Options in Indian Equity market and International energy products like Brent Crude, WTI Crude, RBOB, Gasoline etc. He has traded on BSE, NSE, ICE Exchange & NYMEX Exchange. By qualification, Hitesh has a graduate degree in Business Management and an MBA in Finance. Connect with Hitesh over Twitter here!
The weakening rupee against dollar meaning & significance: It may come across as a surprise to most of us if we were told that on 15 August 1947, 1 Rupee = 1 Dollar. Today, however, the Rupee stands at 76.16 in conversion from a dollar. In this article, we try and take a look at how this happened and get a clearer understanding of what these figures mean.
Although the Indian rupee can be traced back to ancient India, it derived its official role only in the modern era ever since it was managed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). After noticing current rates it does not take long to understand that the rupee has become significantly weaker in comparison to the dollar over the years. But why did this happen?
The requirement for the rupee to be first devalued came in 1951. This was because India opted for loans from foreign entities for their 5-year plans. The Indian economy, however, benefitted from this as it gave rise to foreign investments into India. This also gave a push to its exports as Indian goods were now cheaper in the global markets.
The wars faced in 1962 and 1965 further increased the devaluation needs to meet the requirements of the war. By 1985, the rupee stood at 12.57 in comparison to the dollar. Due to the enormous trade deficit of 1991, high rates of inflation saw the Rupee fall further to 22.74. The wars that followed, unstable governments, poor decisions, democratization, and ever-increasing deficit have brought the rupee to where it stands today.
How does the valuation system work?
India currently follows the floating exchange rate. To understand how we arrived at this we would have to first understand the role played by the US and the Bretton Woods agreement.
The two world wars had destroyed the European Economies. Most of the countries had resorted to borrowing loans from the US in exchange for gold during the war. This led to the US having the largest gold reserves after the war. This prompted the 44 countries to decide on the dollar as their reserve currency at Bretton Woods. They were in search of something stable as European currencies were on the brink of collapse after the war.
With the dollar backed by gold, it seemed like a good idea. The US had also promised the 44 countries that they would limit printing. In addition to this, they would also allow any country to exchange dollars for the gold reserve if the country in question decided.
However, as time passed it was noticed that the US was printing money as necessary to fund the Vietnam War. By 1971 the dollar in circulation was considerably lower than the gold reserves held in the US. This was protested by the French government and requested the conversion of their dollar reserve. This led to the then-President Richard Nixon canceling the Bretton Woods agreement and removing the US from the gold standard.
The earlier steps taken by US president led to the US dollar losing all is value. Nixon, however, cleverly reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries to accept only the dollar in exchange for crude oil. In return, the US would provide them with security. The countries accepted the proposal as they were already in a poor state after the Arab War.
This led to the dollar becoming much more powerful than ever before. It made it a necessity for all countries to have dollars to be exchanged for crude oil. This gave rise to the petrodollar and drove us into the era of floating rates. This is a system where the exchange rate is set by the forex (foreign exchange) demand and supply for the currency. Unlike a fixed system where the government can determine the rate.
Important terms that you should know
Before we go further into understanding if the current exchange rates are good or bad, we should first understand a few terms like Forex Reserve and Current Account Deficit.
— Forex Reserve
This is the amount of foreign currency held by the central bank of a country (RBI). The RBI then has the power to control the value of the currency based on the reserve. The reserve can be sold in exchange for its local currency. This would increase the demand for the local currency resulting in appreciation of its value. The foreign reserve of a country also acts as a guarantor.
— Current Account Deficit (CAD)
The Current Account is used to measure a country’s imports in comparison to its exports. When the value of a country’s imports exceeds the value of its exports it results in a CAD.
— Currency Appreciation and Devaluation
Say the current value of the 1$ = 70 Rupees.
If in future 1$ = 75 Rupees, we say that Rupee has devalued, i.e. it has fallen in comparison to the dollar. On the other hand, if in future 1$ = 65 Rupees, we say that the Rupee has appreciated, i.e. it has obtained a stronger position.
Determining the value of the Indian Currency
The CAD position and the amount of Foreign reserve leads to the value of the Rupee to be appreciated or devalued. Foreign investors play an important role as they increase the reserve surplus of a country. They invest only if they see value in a currency or market. The interest rates offered by the RBI also influence investors. They prefer to enter markets with high-interest rates. The increased demand for our currency leads to appreciation. If the Interest rates are low on the other hand it would lead to devaluation of the currency.
If the currency appreciates or becomes stronger it leads to imports becoming cheaper. The appreciation will, however, hurt the exports as our goods will be less preferred due to them being more expensive for foreigners. But this would also, unfortunately, increase the trade deficit.
When a currency appreciates and if the authority chooses to let it appreciate it chooses foreign investments over its exports. The NDA government has chosen foreign investments leaving the exports to fend for itself. This is because foreign investments will push the country’s growth rate at a much faster level than revenue through exports. Further, deficits can be directly covered through these investments and if the investments are directed towards government bonds then they can be directly focussed on infrastructural development and other welfare programs. But this scenario can be assumed only if the currency appreciates.
Indian Rupee at 76.16. What to expect?
2020 has proved to be a disastrous year so far for the economies all around the world. The rupee stands 76.16 in comparison to the dollar. With COVID-19 cases worsening and the economy in complete lockdown threatening to slip into a depression.
The government has announced a number of measures to combat the COVID-19 one of them being the RBI cutting the rates. The rate cuts were aimed at supporting ailing local businesses by making loans cheaper for them. This, however, was foreseen by the foreign investors as their exit started coming as early as the first week of March. This will lead to a shortage of investments in government infrastructural projects and welfare schemes.
The lower interest rates will lead to more money in the hands of individuals which in turn would lead to increased consumption. Increased demand would result in higher levels of inflation leading to the Rupee being devalued further. The government will have to focus on increasing the exports as Indian goods will be cheaper abroad due to the devalued rupee. This, however, would be an uphill challenge as all the other economies are also facing lockdown bracing for depression.
Sectorwise Effects of Weakening Rupee Against Dollar
The effects of the falling Rupee on different sectors will differ. It will depend on whether the sector is import oriented or export. An import oriented sector will face disastrous consequences as they will have to pay more for the same quantities. If the sector depends on export like the Indian textile sector it may be beneficial if the markets respond favorably.
One of the silver linings has been the fall of crude oil prices due to the Russian vs OPEC feud. This could help in maintaining the Rupee value. This could also have provided some relief to the ailing Aviation, Oil and Gas, and Power sectors but the government has not passed on the benefits of the reduced prices as the prices remain at the same level as those before the fall.
Does an appreciation of currency have to be good news?
( The Plaza Accord – 1985)
The best example to consider the effects of the appreciation of a currency would be the Japanese Yen. In the 1980s, the Plaza Accord was signed in an agreement to devalue to the dollar. This saw the Yen rise from the previous 270 per dollar to 80 per dollar within a decade. This may have proved beneficial to Japanese importers and tourists and had a disastrous impact on its export industry. This led to over two decades of economic stagnation and price deflation.
Today 1 Bangladesh Rupee = 1.28 Yen, but this does not mean in any sense that Bangladesh is performing better than the Japanese. Countries are known to intentionally devalue the currency in order to boost exports and tourism. This would also prove beneficial to the Indian tourism sector. This is because tourists target cheaper countries, but with the COVID-19 scare to persist even after it is controlled it seems like a long shot.
Appreciation of the currency, on the other hand, would also not immediately prove beneficial to the IT sector as most of the jobs are outsourced from the US and Europe due to the cheaper solution. If such a situation were to arise where 1$ = 1 Rupee, it would lead to large scale job losses. This is because companies would rather keep jobs in the US. This would lead to inflation further deteriorating the economy, eventually leading the currency to be adjusted to its original value.
If the Indian economy is to take the rupee appreciation seriously it has to be done by improving infrastructure, raising the living standards, alleviating poverty. The most important would be to increase quality production not only in our products but also in our human resource where both are competitive and better than standards available elsewhere in the world. This would increase demand and eventually lead to appreciation of the Rupee.
Biggest Stock Market Crashes in India: Stock Market crashes symbolize times of wealth destruction and pain to investors. They also symbolize times of opportunity and resilience to few. A stock market crash is when a market index faces a rapid and unanticipated severe drop in a day or a few days of trading. Today we look at some of the worst single-day falls that affected the Sensex over the history of Bombay Stock Exchange(BSE).
10 Biggest Stock Market Crashes in India
The table below shows the biggest single-day falls faced by the Sensex.
What Caused the Biggest Stock Market Crashes in India?
The first COVID-19 case in India was traced on January 30th, 2020. The following weeks involved what seemed like just a COVID-19 panic. This was based on the effects the companies globally would face with the worlds leading manufacturer China busy battling the virus.
February saw a silver lining for the Indian economy as an oil feud between Russia and OPEC resulted in a global crash in oil prices to $30 per barrel. This was over a dispute over the steps to be taken to face the demand slump. However, the benefits of the price slash were not relayed to the end consumers. The prices still are still set to those before the crash. The benefit of the reduced price still remains with the government.
March 6th saw Yes Bank at the brink of failure adding to the woes of COVID-19. This was due to the bad loans resulting in high NPAs with the bank eventually requiring government intervention. This further gave a clearer picture of the ailing banking sector. The markets saw a 1,000 point loss on March 4th and March 6th. Lockdowns imposed around Europe and ‘Emergency’ declared in the US saw Foreign institutional investors fleeing the Indian markets to invest in stable developed countries. As the COVID-19 cases kept worsening in India the markets entered a bearish slump.
On 23rd March the markets fell by a record of 13.15%. This was the largest fall in Indian market history. The lockdown which followed did not bring any relief to the stock markets. As of April, the markets had reached depths wiping out earnings from the last three years.
The 2008 financial crisis was known as the biggest disaster after The Great Depression. The financial crisis was caused by the bubble created by the housing market in the US. It trashed not only the ‘American Dream’ but also rippled on throughout the world killing many Indian Dreams too. The Ripple effect saw the market fall a number of times in 2008. The year 2008-09 had seen the Indian markets fall by over 50% from its high.
Harshad Mehta was known as “The Sunny Deol of the Indian Stock Market”, “ The Big Bull”, and eventually was the eponym to his scam. Harshad Mehta was a broker known for his lush luxurious lifestyle. He took advantage of the regulations which barred banks from investing in the stock markets in the 1980s and 1990s.
(The Big Bull, loosely based on Harshad Mehta’ life and financial crimes is under production and will star Abhishek Bachchan )
Harshad Mehta took capital from banks and invested them into the stock markets promising banks a high return. Mehta would invest in selected securities and the huge investments made on behalf of the banks would hike up the demand for those shares. He would then sell the proceeds passing a portion of the profit to banks. The stock markets crashed the day he sold off his holdings in the market due to the over-inflated stocks.
Indian stock market crashes to date were caused due to a variety of reasons like change of ruling parties, actions taken by the government (demonetization), ripple effect of international market crashes and now even pandemics. These crashes may seem like a picture of the riskiness and volatility of the Indian markets, however, they can also be viewed as a testament to the tougher times they have recovered from. Today the Indian Markets face bigger challenges and only time can tell how they cope with the forever changing environment of 2020.
Should Stock Markets Close Over Coronavirus Pandemic?: A walk down memory lane, India just lost their second wicket as Sachin walks back after 6.1 overs. This moment from the 2011 World Cup final has been etched in our memories. With the two important pillars gone lets hypothetically imagine someone decides to call it quits and shuts the TV off. What new levels to your anxiety would you discover? Similar is the anxiety-driven plight of an investor on hearing the news of market closure in tough times.
( The Sensex Index showing a 34.22% fall from Jan 17th to Apr 03)
The stock markets, however, face stakes a million times higher. Ever since the Sensex summited at 41945.37 points on 17th January, it has fallen a total of 34.22%. The Sensex broke the max single-day fall a number of times, losing over 13% in a day ( on March 23rd) and ended at 27590.95 points as of 3rd April. After the government took additional measures by imposing a lockdown to fight Coronavirus, the ANMI ( Asociation of National Exchange Members) requested the SEBI to close the stock market.
This request was made due to the difficulty faced by employees of member partners to commute to work amidst the lockdown. The request also included that the markets should be shut till the depository and broking services are declared essential by the government. We can also see #bandkarobazaar trending on twitter but this was supported mainly to avoid further fall of the market.
Today we look at the historical market closures, reasons supporting a market shutdown and also why such an action may be detrimental.
Historical Stock Market Closures
Dating back to the 19th century the stock markets have been shut a few times around the world over dreadful occasions. The most infamous of these market closures being the 9/11 crash in the US, where the market was closed for a week.
HongKong had halted its trading in wake of The Black Monday crash in 1987 and Greece closed its markets for five weeks in 2015 during the economic crisis. Moreover, the stock exchanges have been forced to shut down a number of times during natural calamities too.
Nonetheless, there also have been periods of extreme difficulty such as The Great Depression of 1929, World war 2, and even the 2008 crisis of our time where the market remained open.
Should Stock Markets Close Over Coronavirus Pandemic?
Argument for closure of the market
One of the major reasons for the call towards the closure of markets has been to reduce the volatility of markets and panic selling. A closure of the markets will give investors a few days to catch their breath and reevaluate their positions instead of blindly following the market sentiments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Why closure is required in the Current Scenario?
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing has become a necessity. This would prove challenging for stock market employees and the employees of dependant services to risk their lives by venturing out to work. This may further escalate to the market being crippled if they are infected.
Argument against the closure of the stock market.
— Investor confidence at risk
One of the major reasons against the closure of markets is that a market closure will further erode all investor confidence in a particular country. This will be caused due to the lack of transparency and data available to investors during the closure. In a time of crisis where investors are already panicking, a closure will only intensify their anxiety. This will increase the possibility of them selling out of the markets.
— Lack of liquidity
The effect the closure will have on the liquidity needs of individuals will also be severe. This is due to the fact that a number of individuals depend on trading for their daily income. Apart from this, investors depend on the stock market for liquidity. In a country like India, which is already troubled by the 21-day lockdown, the closure of stock markets will further intensify the liquidity issues. This is because a number of individuals have already lost their regular income by means of unemployment or pay-cuts. The stock market shutdown would further hurt them as converting their investments could have helped them through these difficult times.
Other Stock Market Closures around the world
The Philippines Exchange shut on March 17th following the lockdown imposed by President Duterte. The Sri Lankan markets also followed suit. The Philippine stock exchange, however, suffered severe losses once it opened up two days after the closure. The opening day slashed 13.34%.
We also take a look at the Chinese stock market which was one of the worst-performing stock markets in the world before the crisis. During the crisis, however, the SSE Composite Index fell only 10%. This was despite them being the epicenter of the pandemic, whereas markets around the world shed a quarter of their earnings.
The COVID-19 hit China at a different time in comparison to the rest of the world. The markets closed on January 23rd (also due to the Chinese new year when china was still battling COVID-19) at 2976 points and opened on February 3rd falling to 2746 points. During this period china had anticipated the effects and infused $173 billion into the markets but still suffered the loss.
However, the Chinese markets cannot be set as an example as only 4% of their market amounts to foreign capital. The rest remaining in the hands of the Chinese government, directly or Indirectly. Also, China is not known to release adverse data into the public eye. They have been accused of manipulating the actual figures of COVID-19 cases. They were also accused of suppressing the outbreak which then lead to a wider spread.
In this article, we tried to answer should stock markets close over coronavirus pandemic. In short, it could be assumed that investors around the world may forgive closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This, however, does not offer enough validation in support of the closure. Thanks to technology and additional support in the form of ‘Work From Home’ continuity can be ensured.
In addition, the stock exchange can take notes from the BCP plans of RBI. The individuals critical to the RBI continuity were moved to a secure location. Here, everyone involved including the support staff (hotel etc.) were quarantined. They will even be working with hazmat suits, maintaining social distancing with a backup team too. Hopefully, the show keeps going and market closures do not add to the woes of 2020.
21 Day Lockdown (COVID-19): Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, last week, the world witnessed the largest democratic lockdown of 21 days as announced by PM Narendra Modi on March 24th, 2020. As we enjoy the privileges at our homes for social distancing and take measures to avoid Coronavirus, a greater portion of Indian population struggles to take measures to ensure their survival. Today we take a look at the cost of such a lockdown and the possible future we are looking at.
There have been many views regarding the lockdown including the one put forward by Dr. Deepak Natrajan. He took estimates based on comparison with the cases in China and the respective death rate and after periodically adjusting for one year. Later, he arrived at the conclusion that the maximum of 25000-30000 estimated deaths in India due to COVID-19. This was done to bring up the comparison of the cost of the Lockdown.
Whether this 21-day lockdown would result in smashing the economy where a hundred thousand may lose their jobs is still a point of discussion. However, most economists are estimating this pandemic resulting in many more being affected by starvation in a country already facing poverty and malnutrition.
Dr. Deepak Natrajan went on to explain how the estimated deaths due to COVID-19 are a blip in comparison to the deaths caused in a year. The deaths in India currently stands at ten lacs per year. This also sheds a light on the dilemma faced by the government over imposition a lockdown. However, it didn’t mean that he encouraged the government to do nothing but instead opt for a different route which involved aggressive testing.
Immediate effects due to the 21-day lockdown
This was the first problem noticed after the lockdown was announced as people immediately resorted to the hoarding of commodities. It was done to cover the next 21 days as it was unclear from the PM address over availability of essentials and the lockdown was mistaken as a curfew.
As always, hoarding causes problems of availability. The reduced commodity results in businesses trying to benefit from the added demand by hiking up the prices which further alleviates the problem. This further reduces the purchasing power of large sections of the economy for commodity at higher prices.
– Exodus of Daily Wage Workers
The 21-day lockdown eliminated all job opportunities available to the daily wage workers and other workers in the unorganized sector. Their situation got worse with no savings to fall back on and added hostility from the landlords who viewed them as a COVID-19 threat. This inability to pay rent also lead to the exodus where workers started their journey home hundreds of kilometers away on foot.
( Migrant Workers trying to find a way out in Delhi)
Although they were further portrayed by the media as an addition to the existing problem, this was the only way out for these bread earners to escape the problems caused by the 21-day lockdown. They started this march to avail government relief in the form of deposits in Jan Dhan saving accounts and foodgrains available to their families in their hometowns. Moreover, any attention given by the state government arrived only after the exodus had already begun.
Announced Relief Packages
A relief package of 22 billion was announced by the finance minister 36 hours after the lockdown. It involved 50 Lac insurance coverage to the healthcare workers, a move in the right direction. However, there were a few schemes part of the relief that raised a few eyebrows.
– Increased wages – MGNREGA
The Finance minister announced increased MGNREGA wage by Rs.20 to Rs. 202 per day effective from April 1st. The wage increase is said to provide additional benefits to the workers. The logic to announce this as part of the relief is hard to understand as during a 21-day lockdown the work provided through MGNREGA is non-existent. The benefit of can only be availed after April 14th provided it is not too late. Moreover, the Finance Minister added that the workers will have a benefit of Rs 2000. However, this will only be available considering that that MGNREGA worker is employed for 100 days in a year.
The added benefit also seems to be unsuitable as the weighted average for the 2019-2020 record is already Rs.221 in the MGNREGA scheme. The unweighted average in major states is Rs.226 per day. The additional benefit on a closer look does not offer any relief to daily wage workers during a lockdown and also depends on the availability of work after the lockdown. The period after this 21-day lockdown is stated by many economists as a period of recession. This is arrived at after taking into consideration of the rise in unemployment as one of its factors.
– Food and Cash in hands of people.
The Finance Minister announced that Rs 2,000 will be deposited into the Jan Dhan Yojana Accounts of Farmers. Further, Rs. 1,000 will also be deposited into the Jan Dhan Accounts of pensioners, widows and the disabled. The Government is also to provide 5 kg of rice and 1 kg of pulses in addition to the existing amount received for the next three months.
In 2017 the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana saw the women ownership of bank accounts rise from 43% to 77%. This indicated that most of the accounts in the PMJDY were those of the spouses of the workers in the cities. To benefit from the relief provided, the individuals will have to travel back home which adds to the exodus.
(Pronab Sen-Chairman of the Standing Committee on Economic Statistics.)
Apart from this, the government also announced a hike on the withdrawal limit of EPFO to transfer cash into the hands of unemployed individuals. The Finance Minister also announced that the center will pay the PF requirements of both the employee and the employer for 90% of the employees (for the firms with less than 100 employees of salaries less than Rs.15000).
– Moratorium on Loans
The RBI allowed lending institutions to offer a moratorium to borrowers on repayment of all loans for 3 months. The banks that have approved this includes Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, IDBI, State Bank of India (SBI), Indian Bank & Central Bank of India.
This move will reduce the burden on the individuals and also provide them the purchasing power for necessities.
– Reduction of Rates
The RBI cut the repo rate and the reserve repo rate by 75 bps and 90 bps. The repo rate now stands at 4.4% and 4% respectively. This will result in a fall in interest on deposits and make loans cheaper. This is aimed to increase the spending and hopefully stimulate the economy. However, this was also done to ensure the enterprises that are affected by the pandemic can get back on their feet and avail cheaper loans.
If we take a step back from this very welcome rate cut and consider the state of the baking sector and their struggles with NPA’s, Non-Performing Assets (as in Yes Bank), it is hard to foresee banks lending to businesses that have been financially weakened due to the pandemic. Any loans given out would be a leap of faith and RBI must ensure that the benefit from rate cuts is transferred from the banks.
Lockdowns around the globe
Countries like Italy, Spain, and France have implemented a national quarantine. The total count of cases in Italy and Spain are currently over 100,000 and France over 50,000. The United States, having the most number of cases (over 210,000) has still not imposed a nationwide lockdown taking a different pill than that taken by India. The US has primarily focussed only on hotspots and 24 states have asked their residents to shelter at home.
China, which only a few months ago was one of the hotspots for Corona, imposed a lockdown but only in the hotspots i.e. Wuhan and Hubai (60 million people) which could also be one of the reasons why the stock market in China was not as badly hit as that of other regions. (Also read: Coronavirus Impact on Global Indexes (2020) – US, Europe & More)
However, these countries have followed aggressive testing measures. India, on the other hand, has one of the worst testing rates in the world with only around 43,000 tests conducted so far. This was despite having the capacity to conduct 12,000 tests per day. So far there have been 2000 confirmed cases in India. Countries like Korea have used rampant testing measures like ‘Drive-Thru Coronavirus testing centers’ to flatten the curve to total cases. This has enabled them to catch up with the spread and quarantine effectively.
The relief package announced by the US is at 2 trillion dollars to fight the coronavirus. A comparison of the $22 billion relief package in India would be unfair. When the relief packages are compared to the respective GDP’s, it showed that $2 Trillion is roughly 10% of the US GDP. Other countries like Canada, Singapore have roughly invested around 5% of their GDP’s. However, India has rolled out a package of just 0.8% of its GDP to fight coronavirus outbreak.
This comes after former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram mentioning in his ten-point plan of action that a minimum relief package of Rs 5-6 Lac Crore was required. Despite that, he didn’t see an economic recovery on the horizon and also termed the COVID-19 lockdown as the biggest crisis the country has faced. Even after the migration crisis post-independence, every famine since independence, the tsunami of 2004, the 2008 financial crash are all put together. This further puts doubt on the capabilities of the relief package.
Is the Indian economy headed towards a recession?
The IMF has already stated that the situation worldwide is worse than the crisis of 2009. They also mentioned that we have already entered a recession and a possibility that the global GDP will shrink by $2.3 trillion. So far 80 countries have already asked for the emergency fund from the IMF. Kristalina Ivanova Georgieva said there is a possibility that $2.5 trillion will be topped for the financial needs of emerging markets.
Subash Chandra Garg, the former Finance Secretary, and former Economic Affairs Secretary has stated that the Indian growth will likely be negative next year unless the government takes measures to prevent it. He also commented that the two-thirds of the economy has been severely hit and the GDP after the lockdown will be reduced by 5-6%. Economist Arun Kumar has also gone ahead to say that the current situation is worse than those faced during a war.
The GDP does not represent all the sections of the society accurately as those with high incomes though few pull the average towards rearer ends. Hence in a situation with a possible negative GDP in the coming quarter will mean that those in the lower-income sections are devastated.
— Extended Lockdown?
Despite having the worlds largest lockdown, researchers from the Cambridge university released a paper that suggests adding length to the lockdown to properly contain the virus. The paper suggested a three phase lockdown (21 days – 5 days rest – 28 days – 5 days rest – 18 days) or a continuous 49-day lockdown for the Indian region. Based on the observations of the current lockdown, the economy is operating at -50% of the GDP as per Arun Kumar. In addition to the effect on daily wage and unorganized sector workers, India cannot afford another extended lockdown without much more serious consequences.
There is a need to ramp up the testing done in India to catch up with the curve and hopefully flatten it. This is a necessity because the current scenario has exposed the cracks in the Indian infrastructure and its ability to cope with a crisis. India has one doctor per 10,000 people in comparison to 41 in Italy and 71 in South Korea.
— Inadequate relief measures
The current policies aimed at the poor in the form of increased income offer is just a mirage of actual help. A lot more has to be done to ease the suffering due to the lockdown t0 the poor. Any success in the relief package or hopefully a stronger revised relief package will require involvement and coordination with the state governments. The current exodus of workers could have been prevented if state governments were kept in the loop. The lockdown too would have been better implemented. Hoarding and police brutality are attributed to the lack of communication and direction from the government.
Subash Garg mentioned how over the last 70 years of our history there are no measures taken specifically to save and push businesses. The government has to roll out new policies to ensure this, especially in the current situation. Else these businesses will find it hard to start again. The severe times of 1990-91 bought forward reforms. Similarly to stimulate the economy, revised relief packages and new reforms are in need. It is already certain that the Corona Recession of 2020 (hopefully not depression) will replace all comparisons in the future that were earlier made with the 2009 crisis.
Indian Stock Market Crash in 2020: After making a peak of 42,273.87 points in Feb 2020, Sensex crashed over -38% by 23 March 2020 to 25,638.90 points. We are currently witnessing one of the fastest crashes in stock market history, even worse than the 2008 market crash as quoted by many leading market analysts. In this article, we are going to discuss the reason behind this stock market crash in 2020.
Here you’ll find everything that you want to learn regarding the Indian stock market crash in 2020. We’ll look into leading causes, facts, effects and what do economists have to say about the crisis. However, before we start the article, let’s first understand what exactly is a stock market crash so that everyone is on the same page. Let’s get started.
What is a stock market crash?
A stock market crash is when a market index faces a rapid and unanticipated severe drop in a day or a few days of trading. A double-digit percentage drop over a few days in the market index generally constitutes a stock market crash. A stock market crash may be caused due to economic bubbles, wars, large corporation hacks, changes in federal laws & regulations and natural disasters. They are generally followed by panic selling and can lead to bear markets, recessions and even depressions.
There have been a few measures to stop a crash. One being large entities purchasing massive quantities of stocks in order to curb panic selling. Trading halts have also been introduced but both these measures have not been proved to be actually effective in pausing a crash.
(The stock market crash of 1924 was one of the most unfortunate crashes where the Dow Jones Index lost 23% in two days and eventually led to ‘The Great Depression’.)
Do Stock Market crashes lead to Recession?
A stock market crash reduces the investors’ confidence in the economy and as the falling shares slowly wipe out investor wealth. Investors resort to selling off their holding at minimal costs. Due to lack of confidence investors also refuse to partake in the purchase of shares.
With the diminished wealth of investors and the valuations of companies dropping, it makes harder for companies to raise capital and secure debt. Companies in bad financial shape lead to layoffs resulting in a fall in demand in the economy. As the decline continues the economy contracts resulting in a recession. A stock market crash does not necessarily result in recession but a recession always results in a stock market crash.
The period between 17th January 2020 to 27th March 2020 saw the SENSEX lose 12,129.75 points. Multiple events were involved which led to a negative impact on the market.
The presentation of the Union Budget on 1st February 2020 coupled with the coronavirus panic led to the SENSEX falling by 2%. Later, WHO classified Coronavirus as a potential pandemic on February 28th, 2020 which led to both the Nifty and the Sensex ending with the worst weekly fall since 2009.
This was further followed by the shares of Yes Bank falling on March 6th due to bad loans and one of the worst NPA in the country. One of the founders of Yes Bank was also arrested on corruption charges. The fall after Yes Bank coupled with the effects of Coronavirus in Europe and the US resulted in the markets touching 35,636 points. (Read More: The Unravelling of Yes Bank – Fiasco Explained)
On 12th March the Sensex fell by 8.18% as a result of WHO declaring corona a pandemic. As the pandemic further spread and the number of cases in India worsened the stock Market plunged 13.5% on March 23rd. Besides, a countrywide lockdown of 21 days was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting from midnight March 24th. The lockdown was a necessity to curb the spread but it was the last thing the Indian economy required in its efforts to make a recovery.
A recession is typically described as 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth. However, a few more factors are also in play.
The NBER ( National Bureau of Economic Research) defines a recession as “ a significant decline in economic activity spread across the country lasting more than a few months visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.
With several predictions by notable economists indicating India having a negative GDP, the lockdown has further intensified all the other factors possibly directing the economy towards a recession due to lack of income to major portions of the sector, with tourism industry already facing unemployment, the other industries will definitely face the heat. The lockdown also guarantees a drop in production and a drop in wholesale retail and sales.
What has the Government done so far?
All efforts by the government began after the lockdown was announced. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a financial relief package of Rs 170,000 crores. The package included hugely appreciated Rs 50 Lac insurance cover to every individual in the health sector. The finance minister also announced 5kg of wheat and 1kg of pulses in addition to the existing scheme to over 80 crore individuals.
This too was appreciated as the 21-day lockdown would rid the daily wage workers of any source of income. The withdrawal limit of the EPFO was hiked. This was done to transfer cash into the hands of individuals. This would also provide support to unemployed workers.
In addition, the Finance Minister also announced that the center will pay the Provident Fund requirements on behalf of both the employer and also the employee for 90% of the employees. This will further reduce the burden on small businesses as it is targeted towards firms with less than 100 employees and those that have salaries less than Rs 15,000.
(RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das in talks with the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman)
The RBI announced a moratorium on EMI for the next 3 months and also cut the Repo rate by 0.75% to 4.4%. The Moratorium on EMI’s will reduce the burden on individuals.
The repo rate, on the other hand, will make it cheaper for individuals to avail loans, however, deposits will receive reduced interest. This is aimed at increasing cash in the hand of an individual resulting in an increased demand which in turn may lead to stimulating the economy.
What do economists have to say about the crisis?
— Raghuram Rajan
(Raghuram Rajan- Former RBI Governor)
Former governor of the RBI, Raghuram Rajan, known for predicting the 2008 financial crisis and recession in 2005, said in an interview that the most important requirement right now is to prioritize targets such as fulfilling supplies and physical resource requirements of the healthcare sector followed by reaching out to the poor and only then should the question of reduction of taxes and temporary income support should come into the picture.
On questioned about the impact coronavirus may have on the global economy he answered that due to the unprecedented situation we should first look into the Chinese economy and observe the relaxation placed in China and the response COVID-19 has to it and accordingly take an action depending on if the virus spread begins again after the relaxation.
This would mean that the lockdown would be required to be implemented for longer periods. He also said in the interview that it may be a little too early to predict if the COVID-19 pandemic will lead us towards depression. In addition, he further added that with a recession almost certainly on the cards we still can focus on avoiding a depression based on measures taken
— P. Chidambaram
( P. Chidambaram – Former Finance Minister)
The former finance minister advocated the lockdown but mentioned that a lockdown alone was not sufficient. He mentioned that a relief package of 5-6 Lac Rupees is the absolute minimum which is required. He also provided a 10 point action plan which included the direction of cash and food towards the urban poor, assurance that the employer will be reimbursed for any wages paid during the lockdown and also proposed cuts on the GST.
On being questioned about future economic recovery he answered saying that there is no economic recovery on the horizon. Although the growth for the last quarter stood at 4.7% due to corona as per global economic loss prediction of 2% percent the same may be applied to the Indian markets.
He also added that the situation the country is put in now is worse than the migration crisis post-independence, famines to date, the tsunami of 2004 and even bigger than the 2008 financial crash and in fact even bigger than all of them put together.
— Jayati Ghosh
(Jayati Ghosh – Indian Economist)
Jayati Ghost one of India’s foremost economists and also a Professor at JNU, Jayati Ghosh, took a much more critical stance to highlight the magnitude of the problem the lockdown will create.
According to Jayati Ghosh in a country like India, a lockdown of more than a week will have severe disruptions. The damage done by the lockdown is already greater than the damage caused by demonetization due to which the economy has still not recovered. A massive shock such as this will have a negative multiplier effect and will continue to permeate.
She added that lockdown which has already disrupted the demand within the economy, with the supply chain broken down will force farmers to get rid of their stock as they will not be able to sell their produce and any bulk buying or hoarding engaged in the consumer end will only lead to shortages in the economy.
On being asked on what effect this will have on the GDP she made it clear that she has reservations already of the GDP figures being fudged and are actually lower than that reported by the government due to which we may see negative GDP in the coming quarters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that if the nation does not impose the lockdown, the country and our families will be set back by 21 years.
After taking a closer look which makes it clear that a lot more has to be done before it further devastates the country if poorly implemented and makes one wonder that if so, by how many years is the economy going to fall behind due to the lockdown. The government has to have a plan in place instead of abrupt decisions followed by a plan that may fall in line with such decisions. This is required to keep the economy from falling into a depression at all costs.
While looking into the Indian stock market crash in 2020, we should also not forget that it took the Dow Jones Index almost 25 years to recover from the crash that had led to The Great Depression. The financial package announced which currently makes up 0.8% of the GDP does not even reach the bare minimum set by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram at 5 lac to 6 lac crore, let alone be compared to Western countries where they are set at 5- 15% of the GDP. The government still has to roll out policies swiftly to make the necessary yet draconian lockdown a success.
Coronavirus impact on Global Indexes (2020) – US, Europe, Russia, India & More: India, currently in stage II of the novel coronavirus with over 500 cases reported throughout the country. This has resulted in an entire country imposing a lockdown. The center is still caught up in its efforts to make the gravity of the situation heard with the PM himself addressing the nation. The PM also had requested the nation to take part in a self-imposed curfew along with a noteworthy attempt at a show of admiration for all the essential services.
Indians today are going through a phase never experienced before at any of the earlier outbreaks. However, this turbulent phase has not only been limited to our personal lives but also as investors we are breaking into bearish conditions. These conditions were not foreseen at the initial stages of the outbreak.
With the Sensex falling over 36.54% since January 31st we take a look at how some other notable indexes around the world have fared against COVID-19 and also look into the respective government responses in such economies. The table below shows how the following global Indexes have performed since January 31:
% Change: Jan 31 - March 23, 2020
Quick Start: What is an Index?
Indices are used as a benchmark to measure performance. An index consists of major companies listed in the stock exchange which are measured together to arrive at a value representative of the entire market over a period of time. The stocks involved are weighted based on the capitalization of the respective company.
Country-based indexes track how the national stock exchange is performing. The NIFTY in India consists of the top 50 stocks listed in the NSE. The Sensex in India is representative of the top 30 stocks listed in the BSE. Further, an index is also a market sentiment indicator.
Coronavirus impact on Global Indexes
— Coronavirus effect on Russian Markets (RTS – 41.74%)
The Russian Trading System (RTS) Index faced an overall drop of 41.74% since January 31st. However, the problems faced by the RTS were not limited to the coronavirus panic but also due to the oil price crash. The crash was caused due to the Russian fallout with OPEC. This had a critical effect on the Russian economy due to its main export being oil.
Coronavirus affected the market once it further spread through the European region. This further led to the Foreign Investors engaging in panic selling. Russian Sberbank which declared a $3.2 billion in profit still suffered a fall of 5% in its stock price.
CEBR a leading economic consultancy from the UK forecasted the Russian economy to sink by 4% in 2020. The forecast also included little expectation of a short term rebound. Although the central bank remains uncertain about rate cuts, Russia will create a $4 billion anti-crisis fund to protect its economy from the coronavirus shock.
— Coronavirus against the Brazilian market (BOVESPA – 41.04%)
It may seem surprising to find a South American country to have a market hit as hard as the BOVESPA Index. The BOVESPA Index suffers a 41.04% market fall even though it is not considered a hotspot for coronavirus. This was because of the dependence of Brazilian exports on the Chinese markets.
In 2018, almost 25% of Brazilian exports and almost half of the commodity exports were directed towards China. These suffered a hit during the demand slump China faced due to the outbreak. This added to the roadblocks created by their business-minded President Jair Bolsonaro over the development of the Amazon Rainforest. This has led to investors avoiding the Brazilian market particularly after his unfavorable stance towards the environment after the Amazon fires.
The outbreak indirectly led to foreign investors further exiting the market in the crisis. The Brazilian market faces a situation where it fails to attract dip buyers as well. Furthermore, even the 30 billion package unveiled by the government has been criticized over its failure too adequately apprehend the magnitude of the problem.
— Coronavirus against European Markets
The problems in Europe can be attributed to most of the countries considering Corona an East Asian issue. Europe is currently a hotspot for the COVID-19 with Italy, Spain, Germany, and France being hit the worst. All of their markets fell at around 30% with further lockdowns imposed. The stock markets in Europe were further impacted after Trump announced a ban of all flights headed from Europe to the US.
( The famous painting ‘Mona Lisa’ by Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci depicted with a medical mask over the coronavirus outbreak)
France also threatened to close its borders to the UK over its inadequate action taken towards containment of the virus. Over 6,000 people are suffering from the virus in the UK. The turmoil in Europe was further intensified with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel going into quarantine after one of her doctors was tested positive for coronavirus.
The European Central Bank is expected to cut interest rates into the negative territory. The Central Bank is to also extend long term loans to banks in an attempt to provide relief to Italy and the other European countries where coronavirus has a devastating effect.
Employment, Healthcare, Bonuses for Emergency Services and loans to Small and Medium businesses
Companies hit by Corona in addition to relaxed tax norms
Loans to Businesses, in addition, to pay to workers who lost jobs.
To fight Corona Epidemic
Small and Medium Businesses
Health services and Loan guarantee to Businesses
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority has also directed companies to not release preliminary financial statements for at least another two weeks due to coronavirus.
— Coronavirus against the US Markets ( Dow Jones – 32.14%)
The US also suffered from the ignorance and underestimation of the virus. The virus has currently affected over 45,000 people in the US. Stock markets in the US were initially affected due to the crude oil price crash. This was due to the high marginal cost of production prevalent in the US which stands at 40$ per barrel whereas the barrel prices were slashed to around 30$ per barrel.
This was followed by the coronavirus panic and Trump travel ban against 26 European countries further impacting the Airline Industry. The number of coronavirus cases has exploded in the US since then.
(The ‘V-J Day in Times Square – New York’ iconic photograph depicted with medical masks over Coronavirus)
Measures taken by the US government include unemployment benefits, sick leave benefits, free coronavirus treatment including food and medical aid to people affected. Also, $50 billion has been announced as an immediate relief for the airline industry and $50 billion in further secured loans to other parts of the economy.
Congress is also further negotiating a 1 Trillion dollar rescue plan along with sharp rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. These measures have also led to corporations postponing layoffs in return for a big bailout.
— Coronavirus against the Indian Markets (Sensex – 36.20%)
With the Sensex falling 26.54% since January 31st and the Nifty 50 falling 31.85% in the last 30 days. Trouble began with the crude oil price fall which would have been welcome in any other situation as India relies heavily on import of crude oil. Any benefits due to the price fall were put to a halt due to the effects of coronavirus on the airline and tourism industry and eventual lockdowns which resulted in a drop in demand. With the officially reported cases within the country touching 500, the question remains if the healthcare infrastructure can bear the burden of an increase in cases.
The RBI announced that it will conduct an open market purchase of bonds worth up to Rs 15,000 crore besides announcing a fresh round of fund infusion from variable-rate repos. With the cases in India increasing the government has called for lockdown in multiple states which will further affect the volatility of the market.
However, the RBI has also created a unique Business Contingency Plan(BCP) by setting up a team of 90 process critical members from the RBI of which only half will work at any given time whereas the remaining half will wait on stand-by, 60 key personnel from their external vendors and 69 additional support staff, all to work in a War Room during the outbreak. A facility has been hired where the 219 members will be hosted.
Precautions are taken to an extent where all personnel will also be donning hazmat suits. This also includes the support staff involved in maintenance, security, kitchen, front desk, and the administration. The BCP also involves maintaining isolation and social distancing of the 219 members.
In addition to the actions taken by the RBI, the state governments are also resorting to providing financial relief to those affected by the respective lockdowns imposed.
— Coronavirus against the Chinese Markets ( SSE Composite Index – 3.15%)
The Chinese Shanghai Composite Index (SSE) has fallen 0.04% since 3rd February. These figures would not form a fair comparison as the epidemic hit China first in December, whereas all the other regions faced the pandemic in the other European countries increasing in February and March itself.
However, even when the fall is measured since December the net impact on the Chinese market lies at 4.53%. Then how is it possible that of all the countries China has one of the least impacted stock markets even after being the worst-hit place by a coronavirus and also being the point of origination.
The Chinese government imposed stringent lockdowns and also suffered a 10% fall between 22 January to 3rd February. This was followed by the central bank announcing that it would inject $174 billion worth of liquidity into the market through reverse repo operations in addition to rate cuts.
The Chinese policymakers found ways to reach vulnerable households of Social Security Fees, Utility bills and provided them with other immediate requirements during the lockdown. Also, the most important economic effect against the virus would be the aggressive stand taken by the authorities by doing everything necessary particularly by ramping up its healthcare needs, stringent lockdowns which gave a brighter outlook in terms of economic prospects as life slowly resumes in China.
However, Goldmann has forecasted that the Chinese economy instead of growing by 2.5% will contract by 9% in 2020.
The Road Ahead
(The Bullish Markets enjoyed previously by investors have come to a full stop. Interestingly stocks of gaming companies like Ubisoft are expected to be on the rise after lockdown and quarantine measures taken by the governments worldwide)
Lockdowns are now becoming a necessity. Rate cuts and infusion of cash into the economy seem to be the only way out to protect economies from the COVID-19 quicksand. However, we have currently seen countries that are facing coronavirus in the 3rd stage generally have a stronger infrastructure and better healthcare facilities but are still not able to cope.
Nations with a poorer infrastructure will face an impossible task if the spread of the virus spirals out of control. This calls for aggressive measures to the taken to prevent the spread of the virus in these countries until a suitable vaccine is officially declared by the WHO.
Pertaining to the current scenario banks like JP Morgan have forecasted a coronavirus driven recession that will rock the US and Europe by July. Deutsche Bank has also warned that based on current trends we could be facing a severe global recession over time.
Life During Coronavirus Times: In the last few weeks, if you’ve been living in a metropolitan city in India, you might have noticed several changes. A lot of usual day-to-day activities that you used to easily perform in previous months, might not be accessible to you now. For example, going out for dining with friends, attending the gym, relaxing at parks, partying, etc.
The reason behind all these changes is the pandemic coronavirus, an infectious disease caused by a new virus, that was originally found in China, and which later spread throughout the world. As of 22nd March 2020, this virus has affected over 340,000 people worldwide and resulted in the death of over 14,000 people. Here’s a live counter of coronavirus pandemic with real-time counts and world news:
As Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person (when they cough or sneeze) and its vaccine has not been found yet, the government has taken various steps to tackle the situation and to limit its spread. In this post, we are going to discuss such changes that have already been made in India and its effects in the short and long-term. Let’s get started.
Changes Made to Tackle Coronavirus
Here are a few of the big and necessary changes that the government and the Indian population have implemented to fight back with coronavirus. Although these changes are temporary, however, they may last even for months:
1. Social Distancing
Although not a new concept, nonetheless, a lot many people are not familiar with social distancing. It is a set of non-pharmaceutical infection control actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease.
As this virus is contagious and spread by touch or when people come in contact, it is suggested to maintain a minimum distance of 1 m (or 3 ft) with others and not to indulge in groups bigger than five. Social/Physical distancing is the most common change seen in this coronavirus days.
2. Work from Home
A lot many corporate employees are mandatorily offered work from home for a sustained longer period for the first time in their career. Almost all big and small companies in the metropolitan cities have now given work from home to their employees. Although this might have resulted in lower productivity. However, work from home means less physical interaction, less traveling and minimal spread of the virus among colleagues at the workplace.
After the success of ‘Janata Curfew’ started by PM Narendra Modi on 22nd March 2020, over 75 districts in India have now imposed a complete lock-down. As a lock-down is the only noticeable successful strategy that been followed by other big countries infected by the coronavirus, Indian states have also started implementing a similar lock-down/curfew strategy.
4. Travel Ban/Restrictions
As of 22nd March 2020, all the international flights are banned. Moreover, on the same day, Indian Railways also announced to cancel all passenger trains, and reduce suburban trains. By passenger trains, the ministry of railways means all mail, express trains, suburban trains, passenger trains, Kolkata Metro Rail, Konkan Railways, etc.
Effects of Coronavirus Spread
If the spread of coronavirus is not contained, the number of cases and casualties in India is expected to increase in the upcoming weeks. The total number of affected cases has already crossed +400 in India. The above-mentioned changes may help to fight back the virus. Nonetheless, here is a few common effects that may be noticed among the people because of coronavirus changes:
1. Dealing with Fear, Social (& Mental) Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are quite common during a pandemic. As the number of cases with coronavirus casualties in India will increase, it may increase the fear and anxiety among the population.
2. Personal cleanliness & hygiene
To control the spread of this contagious virus, washing hands frequently and cleanliness are a few of the key steps. Indians have now started taking care of their hygiene and cleanliness.
3. New kind of patriotism
Because of different changes made in the country like International travel ban, lock-down, and country first approach, it is expected to see a rise of new kind of patriotism among people. During Janata Curfew (22nd March 2020), we’ve already seen how the people of India appreciated the work done by Doctors, and servicemen by banging thalis, ringing bells and clapping hands for five minutes at 5 pm.
Financial and economical Effects
Now, let us talk about the stock market, finance and economy. How coronavirus days may impact us financially and economically:
1. Continued Bear Market
During the coronavirus days, the share prices and market have already witnessed a sharp crash. Within less than one month, all the major market indexes have fallen over 30%. Nonetheless, it is expected that the market will continue to run in a bear market for a continued longer duration. This is because the aftermath of this pandemic virus will take a lot more time to make things normal, both in the personal and professional lives of people.
2. Pay-cut or lay-offs
Due to the spread of the virus, a lot of companies are not able to perform well and their revenues are continuously tanking. And in order to avoid bankruptcy or financial stress, these companies may have to cut salaries, delay new hirings or even lay-off some employees. Moreover, the lay-off scenario may be worse in some highly affected industries like travel, tourism, hotels, airlines, bars, malls, etc that are heavily affected by the lockdown.
3. Rise of online businesses
Although the market and economy are continuously falling during the coronavirus days, however, there may be a silver lining for a few sectors during this time. A few industries like online learning (Byju’s, Unacademy, etc), online payment (Phonepe, Paytm), Online Grocery (Bigbasket, Amazon), E-commerce, etc are performing quite well as people are opting for their product/services from their homes. These industries are expected to boom during the coronavirus days.
In this post, we tried to discuss a few common changes and their effects in India during the coronavirus days. Nonetheless, these are just assumptions and it might be a little early to say what will exactly happen.
The next two weeks are quite crucial for India in its fight towards coronavirus and they may be the deciding factor. In these times, how the government of India and its people handles the situation will play a major role among the changes, effects, and aftermath that we may see in the future. Take Care and till next time…!
Hi, I am Kritesh (Tweet me here), an NSE Certified Equity Fundamental Analyst and an electrical engineer (NIT Warangal) by qualification. I have a passion for stocks and have spent my last 4+ years learning, investing and educating people about stock market investing. And so, I am delighted to share my learnings with you. #HappyInvesting
Duopolies in Indian Market:Visa vs MasterCard, Boeing vs Airbus, Coke vs Pepsi, Netflix vs Amazon prime, etc are some of the companies that have already been etched most notable duopolies throughout the world. Be it a boon or a bane, these mega-corporations cannot be named individually without mentioning the other. Such has been the tale of Duopolies, their fierce competition, and respectful cooperation eventually forming an interdependence where each has scaled summits.
(Rivalry noticed through Advertisements)
(Pepsi responded to the above-attempted sale of Coke’s secret ingredients by notifying Coka-Cola)
In this article, we further look at Duopolies that have shaped and extended their segments, particularly in the Indian markets.
Duopolies in Indian Market
— Zomato vs. Swiggy – Food tech
A decade ago Dominoes and their ’30 minutes or free’ scheme stood for food delivery in India. However, the real credit has to be given to Zomato and Swiggy for the development of the Food tech industry in India. They have now formed an integral part of our lives and also sets the perfect example of a duopoly in the Indian context in the food tech/delivery industry.
Zomato was founded in 2008 initially as a website that provided information on restaurants, access to their menus, the ability to view and provide reviews. However, they eventually ventured into the food delivery segment. On the other hand, Swiggy was set up as a food delivery platform from the beginning in 2014. Both competitors have used a strategic discounting model to attract and keep customers. Moreover, advertisements through social media have played a significant role in their growth and competition.
Strategies used by Zomato
Each of these corporations has strategically acquired other new entrants to enhance their growth to gain an upper hand. This was also done to use them as a doorway into new markets. Zomato has made 12 acquisitions which include companies throughout the globe. The acquisitions are involved in restaurant search service, table reservation, restaurant management platforms, logistic tech startups, food delivery startups with their most notable recent acquisition being UberEats. Zomato has also acquired companies involved in drone technology focusing on the possibility of a future with drone-based food delivery.
Strategies used by Swiggy
Swiggy also has made notable acquisitions like 48 east, Scootsy logistics and also invested in Fingerlix- a ready to eat food brand. They also enhanced its customer base by easing the payment systems for working customers by partnering with Sodexo. In addition, Swiggy has also partnered with Indifi technologies, a financing program for partner restaurants.
The strategies used by Zomato and Swiggy show how the food tech duopoly in India has competed using the technique of an acquisition. As mentioned earlier, this was also used as a medium to enter new markets and build on the structure already set up by the company taken over.
But when the pages are flipped over it also shows the difficulty a startup could face when competing with companies having greater control over the market. This is because they have already built resources over the years and are ready to burn through cash even after going through losses. They will eventually have to give in to the offer placed by either of the duopolies as it would be an uphill battle to compete with strategic discounting employed by either of the companies.
The ride-hailing segment in India is dominated by Ola and Uber. Uber a globally recognized corporation known for its ride-hailing service in 785 metro cities worldwide. They entered the Indian market in 2013 and currently boasts 14 million rides a week in India. Ola, on the other hand, had a three-year head start and currently boasts a reach of over 250 cities with 28 million weekly bookings.
Strategies used by Ola vs Uber
Ola and Uber too have used the strategies of acquisition and investment. Uber acquired Kareem particularly known for its service in the middle east and Ola has invested in VOGO to further its reach in the two-wheeler ride-hailing segment. Both Uber and Ola have competed aggressively in all road transport segments ( inc. two-wheeler, three-wheeler).
They have also entered other segments namely the food tech industry with Uber initiating UberEats and Ola acquiring Foodpanda. Uber has also extended its service to other means of transport through UberAir which uses VTOL aircraft in the US and also UberBoat in Mumbai at the jetty from Gateway of India to Alibaug. In addition, they are particularly keen on developing self-driving cars to be introduced in the ride-hailing segment.
However, in the case of Ola and Uber, we also see another side of the duopoly segment. Ola had been earlier accused of attempting to eliminate competition by lowering prices. This makes it impossible for new entrants to survive and then hiking prices when convenient.
Besides, both Ola and Uber have been accused of overcharging in situations where the same ride is charged different amounts based on the day, time, profile, history, rating of both the rider and the driver. This was opposed as both attempt to show a front of transparency to attract customers to their reasonable pricing. The same surge in pricing would not be acceptable when applied by local players.
They have also been accused of baiting riders with discounts and bonuses and then hiking fares without passing the gain from the price hike to the drivers. One of the main reasons that Uber and Ola have been in controversy is the fact the drivers are not considered employees of these corporations. They are instead considered as ‘contractors’ as this allows them to skirt legal obligations mandated towards employees.
If we look into the strategies used by Uber at a global stage to remain market heads they would seem to be straight out of a conspiracy novel. Uber to compete with Lyft in new York had formed a street team to gather information on Lyft’s expansion plans and lure their drivers into Uber. In 2014, 177 employees of Uber were accused to have intentionally ordering and canceling 5560 rides.
Uber also has been criticized for the development and implementation of the software tool ‘Greyball’ which was used to gather user data from their phones and avoid giving rides to law enforcement officers and those involved in sting operations. Uber also used the Ripley a panic button 24 times at the times of raids. Ripley would shut off and change the passwords of the staff computers when initiated. The controversy with Uber gets worse as they have been accused of implementing ‘God View’ a function used to track journalists and politicians.
When it comes to E-commerce the duopoly Flipkart and Amazon are said to have a combined market share of over 90% in the Indian market. Flipkart was founded in India in the year 2007 whereas Amazon had been launched in India in the year 2012.
Strategies used by Flipkart and Amazon
In comparison, the homegrown company ‘Flipkart’ has been a market leader even when facing Amazon. Flipkart being an Indian company has used this to its advantage by spreading its reach even to rural areas whereas Amazon had initially limited itself only to metro cities. Almost 45% of Flipkart’s sales currently come from smaller towns and cities giving them an edge over Amazon in India. Amazon, on the other hand, has targeted metro cities which formed 65% of its sales.
Flipkart too as noticed in the earlier examples has used similar strategies of acquisition ( Myntra, Jabong, PhonePe, and eBay). Amazon, on the other hand, has relied less on acquisition and more on forming partnership with local logistic companies to bolster business.
The entry of Walmart into India through the purchase of Flipkart gives an insight of means used by MNCs to enter new markets. This was also used by Zomato and Uber in the previous examples.
Disrupting a Duopoly
The duopoly held by MasterCard and Visa in the international payment segment was disrupted by the introduction of RuPay in India. After noticing multiple examples of new entrants not being able to compete with already set Duopolies eventually leading them to being acquired, the question arises on how RuPay was able to achieve this in India.
RuPay belonging to the domestic payment system was set up in India in the year 2005 by the Board of payment and Settlement systems by the Reserve Bank of India. The RuPay card was introduced in 2012. As the processing of the transaction in RuPay is within India they are lower than that of MasterCard and Visa. This is because the processing in MasterCard and Visa take place abroad resulting in a higher processing fee along with their higher fee structure.
The rise of RuPay can also be attributed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had publicly endorsed it. One of Modi’s schemes namely the PM Jan Dhan Yojana helped RuPay contend with global players. Here, financial services, bank accounts, and a RuPay card were made available to most of the rural population free of cost.
Government support, Deep Pockets and a focus on the local problems that MNCs overlook seem to have worked for RuPay to become the top player in India. However, this led to the government facing a lot of backlash on the global stage with Visa and MasterCard crying foul and alleging that Modi used patriotism which they viewed as a way of protectionism against them.
After considering three of the most notable duopolies in India we can note that for the successful functioning of a company a certain degree of cooperation is required to maximize the profits. With both companies acting as a check on each other the greatest benefit reaches the consumer.
Example – strategic discounting used by Zomato and Swiggy. These benefits are not available in a monopoly. It is also important for the government to maintain stringent checks to avoid the formation of cartels. The best comparison can be seen in Uber. The management has been termed as a ‘ Group of Thugs’ in the US ( where it has a market share of over 65%) due to its unethical practices. In India however due to a stronghold by its competitor Ola it has had to forego its ‘win at all costs’ attitude which was also later forgone in its operation in the US.
Another disadvantage a duopoly may have is on the stakeholders in the operating region, particularly its employees. All the companies taken as an example burn through cash without achieving profitability for a considerable period of time. This is done to survive the competition and eliminate new entrants. Failure of any of the companies will result in mass layoffs. Even if they enter a position of being acquired, employees that may increase duplication of jobs will not be hired.
Acquiring a major market share does not then limit the competition in the Duopoly to each other. In the future, we will see many new entrants ready with deep pockets to take on these duopolies.
Amazon seems to be keen to make an entry into the food-tech segment. Also the Mukesh Ambani backed Jiomart has just made an entry into the eCommerce platform offering attractive incentives to users like savings of Rs. 3,000 on pre-registration.
The telecom sector, on the other hand, seems to be headed towards a duopoly with the supreme court taking a strong stand against Vodafone-Idea which owes the government $3.9 billion in dues interest and penalties. In the coming years, India will see Duopolies entering other segments and at the same time disrupt those that are currently in play.
Indian Markets Weekly Wrapup: As investors searched desperately for sightings of a leeway from the slumping market, last Thursday provided a worse off trajectory with WHO declaring coronavirus a pandemic. This led to the chokehold on various industries being tightened as it seemed to have contributed to the perfect two-punch combo to knock the Indian markets into a bearish slump.
Investors watched on as 11 lakh crore worth of wealth vanished with Sensex crashing by 2929.26 points. It was accompanied by the Bank Nifty falling 2951.45 points along with Nifty 50 which continued slipping further with a 950.40 points loss as Foreign Portfolio Investors sold off their holdings in the Indian markets. All closing at a two year low on Thursday.
The Wreckage through the week
The Indian market has already been suffering from the jabs from the economic slowdown, with added political tremors felt throughout the country due to riots, followed by the Yes Bank fiasco. Here we look at some other major events throughout the week.
— The Oil price hook
Last week, the crude oil prices were slashed to $30 a barrel. The cause was rooted in the Russian refusal to corroborate with Saudi Arabia in their plans to increase the crude oil output due to supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus scare. The scare had resulted in a worldwide demand slump.
This news only added to the Monday Blues in the US where the marginal cost of production touches $40 per barrel. Also globally, as this was the biggest drop in crude oil prices since the Gulf War.
However, this came as a relief to the Indian markets. Being the third-largest oil importer even a dollar drop per barrel would eventually result in an annual reduction in the import bill by Rs 10,700 crores. The benefits are still doubted due to the impact of the falling rupee against the dollar which currently stands at over Rs 74.
The novel coronavirus outbreak had a devastating impact on any industry based in China or majorly dependant on China. By March 2020, the novel virus spread out to 119 countries. This was followed by the existing panic being materialized which already had investors all around the world bracing themselves for further impact on the market.
On Wednesday 11th, March 2020 with cases touching over 118,000, World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This was followed by a bloodbath the following day which wiped out most of the bullish movement achieved by the Sensex and the Nifty in the last two years confirming investments in India to be locked in a bearish state. This also led to a global turmoil with Dow Jones(US) posting a 10% fall, its largest loss in history and the FTSE ( London) losing 11%.
Indian Stock hits after Coronavirus being declared a Pandemic
The following notable stocks touched their lowest in 52 weeks on 12th, March 2020:
Reliance Industries (RIL)
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
Notable Industry-wise effects
— Corona vs Healthcare Industry
Other significant effects are also to be faced by the Healthcare industry in India as over 90% of the medical supply is sourced from China. Supply disruptions are already faced in sourcing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients(APV) from China which are used in the manufacturing of antiretrovirals used in the treatment of HIV. These are crucial as they are also currently being tested on patients infected with COVID-19.
— Corona vs. Airline and Tourism Industry
With WHO declaring coronavirus a pandemic, countries affected entered a lockdown. US banned travel from Europe and travel has been discouraged by the government.
This has led to the airline industry being affected by IndiGo airlines announcing an expected fall in the quarterly earnings after noticing a 15-20% fall in their bookings on a day to day basis. The shares of Indigo fell over 12% while Spicejet fell by nearly 20%. An even more severe impact expected in the tourism industry.
— Corona vs. Agriculture Industry
The effects of COVID-19 are now being experienced even in the agriculture industry due to its dependency on pesticides. The raw materials required are imported from China. The imports range from 40%- 90% depending on the chemicals required. If the current scenario persists this will eventually affect the food industry due to a reduction in the availability of pesticides which has already been plagued by rumors on a variety of foods that may aid the spread of the virus.
— Corona vs. Sports
Any action taken specifically to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 is laudable, but we can still note and relate to the impact that has been on entertainment and sports.
With multiple sporting leagues being canceled or played with closed doors the 13th edition of IPL has been suspended till April 15th. Estimated losses touching Rs.10,000 crores if canceled.
Effect of Coronavirus on Sectoral Indices
Last week, every Indian sectoral indices faced major losses (with only BSE Telecom facing a loss at 1.35%). All the remaining sectoral indices facing losses from 7.5% to 16.03%
Biggest Losers – Nifty Indexes
Outlook by End of the Week
With Friday, 13 March 2020, came the silver lining where market movements of Thursday were not repeated. Due to the effects of COVID-19 bearish markets were realized which were also noticed during the outbreak of SARS in 2003, Bird Flu in 2004, Ebola in 2014, and Zika in 2016. Here we can learn that the markets have always recovered into bullish positions and eventually performed better than ever.
Indians have already witnessed several decisions taken by the government that have led to being financial disasters, resulting in the eventual economic slowdown in the recent past. However, when the future of India is considered, there is little that can be done by a government in such market scenarios where it is trying to make up for the lead already gained by an outbreak.
Best option being to direct its focus on the root causes which involve the prevention of the virus spread and finding a cure before its too late. We have already learned from the effects on China and Italy where such outbreaks entering a lockdown phase result in graver consequences on the economy.
The Unravelling of Yes Bank:With news of Yes Bank shares tumbling with over 85% downfall (since 1st July 2019 till 6th March 2020) and founders accused of money laundering, it made Yes Bank hard to be recognized as the same bank that once attracted so many retail and veteran investors. Even big players such as Rakesh Jhunjhunwala made investments of over one crore in Yes Bank shares in the past.
In this post, we are going to cover the Yes Bank fiasco story in order to understand what exactly went wrong with Yes Bank. We are going to discuss how this stock (that was once the darling of the investing community) turned out to be one of the worst wealth destructors in recent years.
Yes Bank History
(Rana Kapoor: Co-founder, Yes Bank)
Incorporated in 2004, Yes Bank was founded by Rana Kapoor who headed the bank till 2018. His other co-founder – Ashok Kapur suffered demise during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai which eventually led to an internal feud between his next of kin and Rana Kapoor.
Despite all these, Yes Bank also withstood many obstacles including the demonetization cash crunch which eventually worked out in their favor. It helped them rising up to become one of the digital transaction leaders having over 1,000 branches, 1,800 ATMs and over 1,8000 employees throughout the country by 2019.
What led to Yes Bank losing +85% in market value?
On 5 March 2020, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced taking control of Yes Bank in an attempt to avoid the collapse of the bank. Although the stock crash may come as a surprise to many, there seem to evidently be many red flags placed by Yes Bank on the road to this date – 5th March 2020.
— Bad Investments
This began with Global financial services firm UBS flagging serious concerns in 2015 over the loans given out by the bank which included debt-ridden Cafe Coffee Day, DHFL, Anil Ambani led Reliance and also currently bankrupt and grounded airline Jet Airways.
— Manipulated NPA
Due to multiple bad loans Yes Bank started gaining undue attention from the RBI over their Non-Performing Assets (NPA). This was because Yes Bank was avoiding recognition of these bad loans as NPA, but instead resorting to providing these borrowers with extended new loans or having their existing loans restructured. This led to a wrong portrayal of NPA’s that shows the percentage of total loans or advances that are in default or in arrears.
Anyways, it was promptly caught by the RBI in 2015, 2016 and also in 2017 which involved the RBI directing Yes bank along with several other banks to report transparently. The stressed loans given out by Yes Bank stood at Rs 50,396 crores as of September 2019.
— Founders Dumping stock
In January 2019 Yes Bank announced that Rana Kapoor would step down from his CEO position due to restrictions placed by the RBI over the extension of his tenure. This was also followed by Kapoor along with other investors dumping their stake from Yes Bank in November 2019 which also led to a severe fall in the stock prices.
This came as a surprise as Kapoor’s earlier twitter handle claimed otherwise.
Within a month of Ravneet Gill taking over as head of Yes Bank on March 2019, Moody’s estimated their NPA to stand at 8% (which is an extremely high rate). This gave the picture that eight percent of all loans given out by Yes bank were Bad loans and hence they also downgraded them.
The gravity of the situation was realized when the rating was compared to that of countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada having an NPA of less than 1% followed by countries like China, Germany, Japan and the USA having an NPA of less than 2%.
(Ravneet Gill, Former CEO)
Due to multiple factors that involved bad investments, manipulation of the balance sheet, dumping of holdings by the founders and a high NPA eventually led to the RBI imposing a moratorium on the bank on March 5th, 2020, due to which individuals were allowed an aggregate withdrawal of only Rs.50,000 till April 3rd, 2020 initially.
This action was taken by the RBI to avoid a situation of a bank run where all the depositors demand their deposits be withdrawn in full, particularly in cases where the stakeholders have lost their trust in their bank (a scenario of which Yes Bank has become a prime example).
The ailing banking sector in India which has relied on government intervention time and again has held State Bank of India (SBI) the Indian government bank to step up for the rescue of Yes Bank. SBI announced that it will purchase ownership of 49% with a Rs 7250 crore investment. Along with this, HDFC and ICICI are investing Rs.1000 crore each, Axis Bank investing 600 crores, Kotak Mahindra Bank investing 500 crores, Bandhan Bank investing 300 crores forming the dream team along with Jhunjhunwala, Damani and Azim Premji Foundation altogether making up an investment of over 12000 crores.
The SBI rescue does not only aim at providing financial relief to Yes Bank but also aims at avoiding any further panic among the depositors of Yes Bank and possibly avoid a bank run. Steps were further taken with the initial moratorium which was capped with a withdrawal limit of Rs.50,000 till April 3rd will now be lifted on March 18th at 6 p.m.
SBI has also appointed Prashant Kumar as the new CEO who had earlier worked in SBI and has an experience of over 30 years in the Banking sector. The SBI is also to nominate two officers as directors in the additional new board with RBI to appoint more directors if necessary.
(Prashant Kumar, Newly Appointed CEO)
Ravneet Gill who had earlier helped Deutsche Bank achieve one of the lowest NPA as the CEO failed to steer Yes Bank away from the course set by Rana Kapoor. The former CEO and founder currently face allegations over his involvement in money laundering and corruption but the dream bailout team has somehow managed to shine a light at the end of the tunnel.
While the government plays the blame game with the opposition, we should take into consideration that the rising NPA involves multiple Indian banks having NPA’s higher than that reported by Yes Bank. As reported by CARE Ratings, it has put India in a ranking bracket which includes countries infamously known as PIIGS ( Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) who have faced severe debt crises in the recent past.
Moreover, with the economic slowdown already faced by India along with the recent Coronavirus scare and Oil price crash, the road doesn’t look bright for the government to take on added responsibilities of rescuing private banks.