The expansion of the BRIC economies has both advantages and disadvantages for Western countries. Their consistently high growth rates have created a much wider market place for Western firms and a much needed additional source of consumer demand, especially in times of recession. Countries such as China have had double digit growth rates, with others like India experiencing growth rates of just under 10%. But are these impressive growth rates now beginning to fall?
For the last 2 years, the growth rate in the Indian economy has been sub-5%, with growth in the 2013-14 financial year at 4.7%. Though some sectors, including agriculture have experienced buoyant growth, it is other sectors that have been holding this economy back. Manufacturing contracted at an annualised rate of 1.4% over the quarter, while mining contracted by 0.4%. With a growth rate of just under 5%, one might think that this was good – after all many Western economies have only recently entered positive growth. However, the Indian economy has a rapidly growing population and it is estimated that 10 million additional jobs each year must be created. It is this figure that requires such a high growth rate – estimated at around 8%. Thus, the sub-5% growth recorded for 2 years is insufficient to sustain the required job creation.
There are many factors that appear to be holding growth back. High inflation has been a problem for some years and the Indian currency has been relatively weak and volatile. Together, these issues have created an environment of uncertainty and if there’s one thing that investors don’t like, it’s uncertainty. This has therefore led to a lack of investment in the economy, which is a key component of aggregate demand and hence a key source of economic growth. Furthermore, interest rates rose last year, thereby pushing up the cost of borrowing and the rate of credit growth has also slowed. These factors collectively have led to lower foreign investment, domestic investment and spending, which have all contributed towards more subdued growth than in the past. Glenn Levine, a senior economist at Moody’s said:
India’s economy continues to grow well below potential as a combination of supply‐side constraints and the adverse effects of an underperforming government weigh on capital expenditure and hiring … It will be a while before the Indian economy is expanding above 6% again.
However, many economists remain optimistic about the prospects of Asia’s third-largest economy. Inflation appears to be under control and the currency has gained strength. Many believe that more investment supporting government policies will be the kick start the economy needs and this will in turn encourage firms to begin investment. It may be the new leader of this country, Narendra Modo, that will jump start the economy. The Prime Minister is expected to back policies to stimulate growth, who will direct more spending at infrastructure, simplify taxes and introduce policies to attract foreign investment. Adi Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej group said:
As soon as investors see the first signals of growth-supportive policies, you will see a definite turnaround on the ground.
The coming months will be crucial in determining how quickly the Indian economy is likely to see a return to near double digit growth. The new government has indeed promised policies to boost the economy, but the annual budget will confirm whether this promise is likely to be kept. Given the dependence of Indian jobs on a fast growth rate and the dependence of the Western world on the continued growth of the BRICs in creating a wider market for our exports, the fortunes of India are extremely important. The following articles consider this economy.
Indian economy grew at 4.7% in 2013-14 The Times of India (30/5/14)
India’s economic growth disappoints BBC News (30/5/14)
India’s GDP grows 4.7% in fiscal year, missing government forecast Wall Street Journal, Anant Vijay Kala (30/5/14)
India’s economy expands 4.7pct in fiscal year 2013/14 Reuters (30/5/14)
India’s economy still underwhelms CNN Money, Charles Riley, Alanna Petroff (30/5/14)
FY14 GDP growth at 4.7%; India sees worst slowdown in 25 years The Economic Times (30/5/14)
India growth below 5% adds pressure on Modi to spur investment Bloomberg, Unni Krishnan (30/5/14)
Jim Armitage: ‘Modinomics’ in India has helped growth, but not for all Independent, Jim Armitage (17/5/14)
- Using a diagram, explain how economic growth can be created through (a) demand-side measures and (b) supply-side measures.
- Why would higher interest rates reduce growth?
- Why does high inflation create uncertainty and what impact does this have on business investment?
- India has experienced a weak and volatile currency and this has contributed towards a lack of foreign investment and low growth. Using a diagram, explain why this could be the case.
- What sort of government policies would you recommend for the Indian economy if you had become the new Prime Minister and your primary objective was to boost economic growth?
- Why is the expansion of the BRIC economies, of which India is one, so important for Western economies?
The rate of growth in India has fallen to its lowest level since the first three months of 2009 – the period when many countries were plunging into recession. Although the annual rate was still 4.4% in Q2 2013 (a rate most Western governments would love to achieve!), it had averaged 8.2% from 2003 to 2007 and 9.5% from 2010 to 2011 (see).
And the rupee has been falling in value (see chart below). The exchange rate of the rupee to the dollar has depreciated by 21% since the start of the year and by 14% since the beginning of August (click here for a PowerPoint of the chart). This has pushed up the price of imports and raised fears that inflation, already approaching 10%, will rise.
There have also been concerns about the health of India’s banking sector, with worries over the possible rise in bad loans.
One result of all these factors is that the confidence of investors has been shaken. Bond prices have fallen and so too have share prices. The Mumbai Sensex index fell by 11.5% from 22 July to 27 August. Worried about possible capital flight, the Indian government imposed capital controls on Indian residents on 14 August. It has, however, since ruled out limiting the outflow of funds by foreign investors.
The following articles and videos look at the causes of the current economic problems and what can be done about them.
India’s sliding economy Aljazeera (24/8/13)
Economic woes grow for Indians as rupee continues to slide BBC News, Sanjoy Majumder (30/8/13)
What is behind the Indian economy’s fall from grace? BBC News, Yogita Limaye (30/8/13)
Indian rupee: How onions reflect health of economy BBC News, Nitin Srivastava (30/8/13)
The rise and fall of India’s economy NDTV (20/8/13)
Is the Indian economy heading for a doom? NDTV, Dr Arvind Virmani, Adi Godrej, P N Vijay, Sanjay Nirupam and Prakash Javadekar (20/7/13)
Can Rajan stabilise India’s economy? FT Video, Stuart Kirk and Julia Grindell (7/8/13)
India in trouble: The reckoning The Economist (24/8/13)
PM warns of short term shocks, attacks BJP for stalling Parliament The Economic Times of India (31/8/13)
External global factors led to rupee slide: Manmohan in Lok Sabha Hindustan Times (30/8/13)
India seeks allies to defend rupee as growth skids to four-year low Reuters, Manoj Kumar and Frank Jack Daniel (30/8/13)
Rupee charts in uncharted territory Reuters, Saikat Chatterjee and Subhadip Sircar (30/8/13)
Indian Prime Minister Says Rupee Crisis Will Only Make Country Stronger Time World, ilanjana Bhowmick (30/8/13)
Is India in danger of another crisis? BBC News, Linda Yueh (8/8/13)
India’s GDP shows continuing slowdown BBC News (30/8/13)
Slowest India Growth Since 2009 Pressures Singh to Support Rupee Bloomberg, Unni Krishnan (30/8/13)
- Why has the rupee fallen in value so dramatically? Is there likely to have been overshooting?
- What are the economic consequences of this large-scale depreciation? Who gain and who lose?
- What factors are likely to affect the rate of growth in India over the coming months?
- Why is the Indian economy more vulnerable than many other Asian economies?
- What economic policies are being pursued by the Indian government? How successful are they likely to be?
While the Western world has struggled with economic growth for the past 6 years, emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India have recorded some very high rates of growth. Throughout 2012, there were signs that these economies were not going to be the saviour of the global economy that we all thought. But, as we enter 2013, is it these economies that still hold the hope of the West for more positive figures and better economic times?
The article below from BBC News, in particular, considers the year ahead for the Asian economies and what it might mean for the Western world. Although these countries are by no means safeguarded against the impending approach of the US economy to their fiscal cliff or the ongoing eurozone crisis, they have seemed to be more insulated than the rest of the world. A crucial question to consider is whether this will continue. Furthermore, are the growth levels and policies of a country such as China sustainable? Can it continue to record such high growth rates in the face of the global economic situation?
The Japanese economy has been in serious trouble for a couple of decades, but measures to boost growth for this economy are expected. If these do occur, then western economies may feel some of their positive effects. At present, there is a degree of optimism as we enter the New Year, but how long this will last is anybody’s guess. The following articles consider the year ahead.
Asian economies face regional and global challenges BBC News (1/1/13)
Asia faces hard road ahead China Daily, Haruhiko Kuroda and Changyong Rhee (31/12/12)
Asia to continue rise despite US fiscal cliff Economic Times, Sugata Ghosh (1/1/13)
‘3.6% growth’ for global economy next year China Daily, Alvin Foo (28/12/12)
Asian economies surge ahead despite global slowdown Coast Week, Ding Qilin and Hu Junxin (4/1/13)
Global grind The Economist, Robin Bew (21/11/12)
- Why have the Asian economies been more insulated to the global economic conditions over the past few years, in comparison with the Western world?
- What challenges will the global economy be facing over the coming year?
- What challenges are the Asian economies facing? How different are they from the challenges you identified in question 3?
- Why is the rate of exchange an important factor for an economy such as Japan?
- What does a low exchange rate for the yen mean for European countries? Is it likely to be seen as a good or bad thing? What about for South Korea? Use a diagram to help you answer this question.
- Why is the economic situation in countries such as China and India so important for the rest of the global economy? Use a diagram to illustrate this.
Many developing Asian countries have experienced rapid and yet relatively stable economic growth over a number of years. In other words, this has not been a short-term unsustainable boom associated with the expansionary phase of the business cycle – with aggregate demand expanding more rapidly than aggregate supply. Rather it is the result of a rapid growth in aggregate supply.
Over the period from 2000 to 2011, several Asian countries experienced average annual growth rates of over 4% and some, such as China and India, much more than that, as the following table shows. The table also shows forecasts for the period from 2012 to 2017. The high forecast growth rates are based on a continuing rapid growth in aggregate supply as the countries invest in infrastructure and adopt technologies, many of which have already been developed elsewhere.
Average annual economic growth rates