Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Liquidity conundrum in Nepal and more

The interbank rate went below 3% and the central bank offered to mop up liquidity (NRs 2 billion through 14 day deposit collection auction) to ensure real interest rate stays between 3% and 7% (what it calls an interest rate corridor). However, BFIs offered NRs3.9 billion. This is contradictory to the claim by BFIs that there is liquidity/credit shortage. Most BFIs are hitting the CCD limit of 80% now. 

It happened last year as well (and in the past as well) and the NRB came to their rescue by bending rules to compute CCD. Now, the BFIs are again seeking help from both NRB and MOF to help them increase deposit as remittance inflows are decelerating and public capital spending is not too high till the first half of FY2018 (two main sources of deposit of BFIs). It is a classic case of moral hazard: repeatedly running into the same self-inflicted problem (a result of faulty operations and management) and seeking relief from the regulatory (which, surprisingly, has done what BFIs wanted on regulatory front in this particular issue). It would further foster this behavior if MOF and NRB agrees to offer NRs80 billion (from its treasury surplus of NRs330 billion) as deposit to BFIs to rescue them from the current mess.

Federation of Contractors Association of Nepal (FCAN) alleges that price of cement has gone up by Rs 100 per bag (50 kg), while steel rod has become dearer by Rs 7 per kg compared to prices before the provincial and federal elections. A bag of OPC cement is being retailed at Rs 910, while steel rod now costs Rs 85 per kg. Contractors say this is a deliberate increase in prices but producers say it is because cost of raw materials (clinkers and transportation) increased. 

Paddy output is expected to be about 5.15 million tons, down 1.49% from FY2107 on account of late and uneven pattern of monsoon, and flooding in August in Terai plains. MOAD had earlier projected a record paddy harvest. The latest estimate is not going to lower agricultural output growth as the country has seen abundant maize harvest, according to MOAD.

The production of summer crops—paddy, maize, millet and buckwheat—is expected to grow 1.87% to 8.03 million tonnes this fiscal year. In FY2017, the country recorded its largest paddy production in history with a 21.66 percent jump to 5.23 million tonnes.

About 60% of primary school students (class 2 and 3) in community schools cannot even write a simple sentence in Nepali language, according to Ministry of Education. The result is based on a survey of 72,538 students in 2,650 community schools in 11 districts. 

"Sluggish wage growth, lower crop planting, fluctuating prices paint a dismal picture for farmers and the agriculture sector.

Planting of wheat, the main winter crop, between October and early January was 5% lower than a year ago due to lower sowing in Madhya Pradesh by close to a million hectares; area under oilseeds was lower by over 5%. Rajasthan accounted for most of the decline in oilseed cultivation because of 0.7 million hectares lower sowing of mustard. Similarly, data on nominal rural wages, a bellwether for rural demand, is showing sluggish growth. According to the labour bureau, in October 2017, nominal rural wages for ploughing (men) rose 6.6% year-on-year."

Mihir Sharma writes: "Just as growth appears to be no longer a pressing problem, another familiar threat has reappeared: India’s macroeconomic numbers don’t look quite as stable as they should.

India is snowed under with sovereign and quasi-sovereign paper; it seems like practically every state government and public-sector company wants a piece of India’s bond market. In response to this flood of debt, the yield curve has steepened by a whole percentage point since July. And the government made things even worse by announcing at the end of December that it would borrow more money from the markets this financial year than planned -- a fallout, perhaps, of uncertainty about revenues in the first year of the new indirect tax system. In other words, it’s not exactly the best time for Modi to be planning new spending. 

[…]The federal government is supposed to bring its fiscal deficit down to 3 percent of GDP this year; that’ll be a near-impossible task if transfers to farmers are also to be increased."