Preview – 2009

One phrase to sum it all – ‘Hold tight, brave the storm’

Now that we are done with the excitement and enthusiasm of ushering in the New Year and all that, let’s look at what 2009 has in store for us.

With the hypothesis of ‘data doesn’t lie’, let’s look at some of the news across the world and India before meshing in our conclusions depending on the data  –

a) RBI has cut key lending and borrowing rates, esoterically called repo and reverse repo rates (Simply put, these are rates banks pay to borrow from the RBI and get from the RBI for keeping cash there). Repo stands at 5.5% and Reverse repo stands at 4%. RBI cut interest rates for the fourth time since October and has unveiled thousands of crores of stimulus package. If this doesn’t amount to ‘measured panic’, I don’t know what is.

b) In September-October 2008 timeframe, inflation was 12%. It is around 6.6% now. (Inflation, as a simple concept, is rise in prices). Since inflation has reduced from 12% to 6.6%, it is a good thing, no? Actually and worrisomely not. In usual circumstances, reduction in inflation is good for the economy. However, we now have a serious risk of deflation where it might touch 0% or go negative. Economics 101 will tell you that reducing inflation is a slightly easier job than pulling out an economy out of deflation, or even worse stagflation (Lots of jargon like inflation, deflation and stagflation used. Our dear friend Wiki has loads of explanation on them).

c) If Indian economy was on the rise over the past 4-8 years, Real Estate in India was on cocaine. Simple example. In 2003, a 2 BHK (bedroom-hall-kitchen) in one of the very good localities in Hyderabad cost Rs. 17 lakh. In 2007, the same flat costs Rs. 50 lakh. That’s close to a 200% increase. I am not sure any of our salaries rose by 200% in the same period, barring a lucky few. If income doesn’t keep up with investment avenues (or is it the other way round), sooner or later, that particular investment avenue has to be disbanded. Now that we hear that prices are coming down (drastically in some places), speculators will go out of business which will lead to a further spiral. My call is that real estate should correct itself by atleast 20% if not more by end of 2009.

d) Other general news in India includes

– Investments being drastically cut down by manufacturing and service companies.

– Risk of layoffs (massive in some places) to calibrate supply and demand (the offshoot of this being that people would be fraught to take home loans where EMI is more than 1/3rd their net income and hence further reduction in real estate demand)

– Good startups would find it difficult to find funding, and hence many a innovative idea would die a death for now.

– With banks not reducing interest rates in line with RBI reduction (although they had no problems increasing it immediately when RBI was increasing the rates), discretionary spending will drastically reduce. Small businesses will have difficulty getting working capital (Wiki again!) to sustain their business in this difficult economic scenario.

e) Globally, US has cut interest rates close to zero percent, while Japan magnanimously has reduced interest rates from 0.3% to 0.1% to stimulate the economy. US, UK and Japan are already in a recession, while I believe Asia will be truly hit by a recession in 2009. Asia’s biggest revenue generator is exports. With worldwide spending clampdown, exports have already taken a hit and are expected to take a bigger hit in 2009. US’s economic stimulus package – $850 billion, China’s stimulus package – $585 billion. Aren’t those numbers just plain awesome. I think they are avoiding mentioning a ‘trillion’ since it sounds a big number. In fact, I forget the number of zeroes in a billion or trillion now. South east asia’s manufacturing and shipments are down dramatically and expected to continue over the next half year. I wonder what’s up with Antarctica?!

By now, you would have arrived at a conclusion that I am extrapolating at a doomsday scenario. Not really. The end of 2009 will see some light, although recession is going to continue well into 2010.  IT service providers especially will benefit due to the strong dollar-rupee equation along with increased outsourcing from US and UK companies. The health sector is not cyclical and will not be affected by the recession. There are some stocks which you can really buy cheap (although, for the risk of repetition, the word ‘value’ is being bitch-slapped around in media for any and every stock). As Buffett says, ‘I don’t know what will happen 1 year down the line or 5 years down the line. The only thing I know is if I invest in good businesses, they will give me a decent return over the long run’. The advice is valid both for stockmarkets as well as life.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • RSS Subscribe to feed

  • Advertisements
    %d bloggers like this: