Indian economy world’s shining star: S&P chief economist

NEW DELHI: Amid the slowing global economy, India is in pretty good shape due to reforms, the government’s investment push and the large domestic market, and robust growth appears to be sustainable for the next few years, S&P Global Ratings global chief economist said on Friday.
“India is the shining star of the global economy right now. It’s been a little bit under the radar. In a world where almost everyone is slowing down India will be posting7+% growth this fiscal year and 6.5% for the next,” Paul Gruenwald told TOI.
“India is less vulnerable than many other countries given the size of its domestic market. As long as global capital flows continue to behave, there’s been a little bit of volatility, and given the fundamental story, India looks to be in good shape for the next couple of years,” said Gruenwald.
India’s economy is likely to grow in the 7-7.5% range in the current fiscal and will retain its position as the fastest-growing major economy. It faces the challenge from a slowing global economy, stubborn price pressures and rising interest rates but experts reckon that growth will be robust.
Gruenwald said balance sheets of larger firms were in good shape and government financing had become more efficient both on the revenue side with the rollout of GST and on the expenditure side with targeted transfers. “Maybe the one missing piece is the private sector capex and if we can get that going then it points to a good sustainable story,” he said.
Gruenwald on Friday said the RBI needs to be watchful of the US Federal Reserve’s action to enable them to respond to the fast-changing policy landscape.
“I think the point is that India and other emerging markets have to be cognisant of what the US Fed is doing and they cannot ignore the Fed. The US ha s this wonderful position where they can make monetary policy and not worry too much about the rest of the world but all of the emerging markets, including India, have to take into account what the Fed’s doing,” said Gruenwald.
“So there is a risk that if the Fed has to do more to get inflation under control in the US and raise rates more, that might kind of push rates higher across the entire emerging markets, including India,” said Gruenwald, adding that it would put pressure on emerging markets to do more.
On the issue of whether controlling inflation should not be left to monetary policy alone, Gruenwald agreed with the view that both monetary and fiscal policies should work in tandem.
“It’s always better what we call the policy mix is well aligned. If an economy is overheating and there’s too much demand pressure, ideally you would want the government to be reducing demand, and also the monetary authority to be raising rates and tighten financial conditions, and those two policies would work together to slow demand,” said Gruenwald.
“In a perfect world, monetary and fiscal policy should be working together. What is complicating things in the past few years is the supply-side inflation drivers, from supply chain disruptions to energy and food prices. Central banks can’t really control those,” said Gruenwald. He said the tricky part now for central banks is to try to gauge how much of the inflation is coming from domestic policies and how much is coming from the rest of the world.
“There are a lot of conflicting signals right now, looks like supply chain pressures are easing and continue to ease, it also looks like, for now, energy prices may be flat, so inflation fro m that source is moderating. But the core part is really heating up. It’s a tricky balancing act for central banks to tame inflation and put the economy on a more sustainable growth path,” said Gruenwald, adding that the Covid-19 shock and supply-chain disruptions had made it more difficult for central banks.

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