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.
Why did Indian Stock Market crash in 2020?
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.
Is India headed towards a recession?
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.