What a roller coaster ride the past 3 months have been!
The rupee was trading at 48.6 against in the US dollar on 31st Oct 2011 and precipitated to touch 53.70 on 15 Dec 2011, a 10% drop. These were the historic lows for the currency and with RBI’s policy changes the rate as I write is 50 against the dollar with RBI reducing the CRR rate and rupee gaining 7% from the lows.
Inflation, falling growth numbers, uncertainity in Europe (which by the way still exists) and political roadblocks to financial reform were stated as the reasons for the weakness. All the reasons held resposible for rupees weakness are still there. Yes, inflation has eased a bit but thats pretty much the only change.
Among numerous suggestions aired to aid the rupee was for RBI to conduct open market purchases in style of Indonesian Central bank which burnt 8-9% of its foreign reserves to stabilise the rupiah. RBI however refrained and relaxed rules to make term deposits attractive for Non Residents Indians – and NRI’s did bring in money into India.
Lets see how has rupee faired against the other currencies in the past 90 days
Surprised – right!! You did not expect to see these numbers, neither did I.
Interestingly after 3 months the INR has returned back to almost where it started against all major currencies and even managed a small gain against GBP and EUR
Against the USD the losses are paltry 2.6% which is close to long term volatility number. JPY on the other hand does come up as unexpected top winner against the Rupee with gains of 3.4%, but the real numbers are the ones shown in the last column.
Extreme volatility is what the data screams – with rupee having lost over 10% against USD and JPY and over 5% against the other pairs.
Question now would be are we expecting another such bout of swings in the market?
I would say unlikely unless a sovereign default event happens.
and how about the direction of Rupee?
I am putting my money on a stable to moderately strong outlook. The RBI has held the repo rates, the CRR ratio has come down and with a weakened currency there should be a a bigger impetus on exports which should all be Rupee positive. However the political instability and global financial turmoil could more than negate any positive factors so 49 – 51 against the USD is what I would be looking at till end of 1st quarter.