The Rupee has fallen
from INR63.83/1USD at the beginning of January 2018 to around INR69.96/1USD
towards the end of August 2018, marking a fall of over 10% in eight months. In the
first week of September, it plummeted further to a new low of INR71.97/1USD
taking the YTD fall to close to 13%.
There have been a
number of consecutive triggers that have driven the Rupee downwards. On the
international front, oil prices have been rising steadily from levels of around
USD 50 per barrel a year ago to nearer USD 80 per barrel at present.
Unfortunately, India relies on imports to meet around 80% of its oil
requirements and any rise in the price of oil drives up the oil import bill and
hammers down the Rupee.
Another global affair
that has been causing the US Dollar to strengthen has been fears that most
leading nations will be pulled into a trade war sparring between the US and
China. During times of uncertainty, the value of the US Dollar tends to
Lastly, the US has
finally abandoned the easy monetary policy that it supported since the financial
meltdown in 2008. This, along with improvement in various US economy
parameters, has driven up the value of the US bond yields; the yield on 10-year
treasuries increased from nearer 2% a year ago to close to 3% at present. With
a rise in this benchmark rate, funds have begun to flow back into the US, causing
the US Dollar to firm up further.
Although interest rates
in the US and other FII home countries (Europe, Japan, etc.) are still low
compared to those in India, investments in India become relatively unattractive,
due to the depreciating Rupee. This could cause the rupee to depreciate
The depreciating Rupee
will drive inflation up, as the import bill, especially for oil, expands.
India, which has already been witnessing buoyancy in food prices in recent
times, as the government has increased its MSP to farmers, is likely to see the
RBI raising benchmark interest rates to keep inflation in check.
Impact on Lending/
With the RBI likely to
increase interest rates, on the back of a falling Rupee and upward pressures on
inflation, eventually, lenders will have to raise interest rates too. This will
impact retail borrowers as well as borrowers across the spectrum of business
activities, i.e. large, medium, small and micro enterprises.
· Enterprises that can raise the price of their products,
riding the inflationary wave,may be able to partially or completely pass the
increase in interest ratesand input costs to their customers.
· Enterprises with a large proportion of importedraw
materials will find their costs rising and may postpone expansion and,
therefore, borrowing. On the flipside, large and small exporters will benefit
from the falling value of the rupee and may seek to ramp up their operations to
make hay while the rupee depreciates.
· Retail borrowers, especially those with long term
commitments, such as housing loans, may avert higher EMIsby opting for longer
tenures, in the hope that the current concoction of factors raising rates will
According to many, the
Rupee is still overvalued in real terms,as the factors driving it down continue
to have a strong play. This translates into expectations of further
depreciation in the Rupee. However, as the RBI has a considerable forex
reserves kitty (USD424.5 billion or around Rs29 lakh crore, as at end March
2018) at its disposal, it is well equipped to defend the rupee from steep falls
and volatility. With that, any further depreciation is likely to be gradual and
well-paced and, therefore, can be built into the business decisions of individuals
The interest rate rise,
which is also likely under the current circumstances, is not likely to be sudden
and steep either.