Category Archives: SGD INR

Indian Rupee is Overvalued and Chief Economic advisor agrees!!

Rupee is Overvalued and should depreciate – something I have been saying for 3-4 months now but for lack of time had not been able to do some research and share with everyone my thoughts behind the my assertion.

Reading the newspaper today I read Chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian’s view as told to Economic Times,

“I think we have to be opportunistic, when there is a chance to allow it to drift down maybe a little bit it drift down but when lot of capital is coming in intervene to keep it stable,” Subramanian had said. “I agree that there is a part of the community out there that wants a strong exchange rate, but that would be very detrimental to our exports”

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/government-hopes-rupee-reflects-its-true-value-finance-minister-arun-jaitley/articleshow/46695530.cms

The rupee has been stable against the dollar but has appreciated against a basket of currencies, severely effecting the exports competitiveness. India’s exports declined for third month running in February. Rupee has appreciated 22.4% against the euro in the current financial year. On a trade-weighted basis, and after adjusting for inflation, in February rupee was the rupee was over 24% overvalued against a basket of currencies of India’s six largest trade partners.

The below table shows the performance of Indian currency against major currencies and the Rupee has strengthened against every currency other than USD and Chinese Yuan, the direct impact of this strengthening is that exports to these countries be it Software, Services or Goods all become less competitive

INR comparitive chart 2015Now lets look at the competition – Countries that export goods and services to the nations above –  big ones being Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and the currency of all these countries have depreciated against Indian Rupee giving an advantage to competition.

INR Comparitive Chart 2015 2I think it’s a perfect time for India to weaken the Rupee while Oil remains low to boost competitiveness of exports and fill up our foreign exchange reserves. At the same time build oil reserves so that even when oil prices move up we don’t have to strengthen the currency in tandem to prevent the outflow of petro dollars.

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RBI Cuts Benchmark Rates – Now What?

The much talked about interest rate cut finally happened today. RBI Governor keeping true to his character surprised the markets with an earlier than expected cut taking India on a path different from Russia and Brazil where central banks have increased the benchmark rates in the past few weeks.

I must say it’s a brilliant move by the Governor to put the ball back into Finance Ministers court and push for structural fiscal reforms in the upcoming budget. The general sentiment has been that the higher rates are keeping India from growing which overshadows the fundamental issues of red tape, poor infrastructure and wastage in public expenditure.

The sustained fall in oil prices (thank Russia for occupying Crimea) has given India the much-needed window to push through reforms without being worried about stroking uncontrolled inflation.

The question is that will this rate cut and structural reforms be enough to achieve the targeted growth? No, absolutely not. The other key factor, which should not be ignored, is the exchange rate of the rupee against other currencies. To recap the last year – Rupee has oscillated between 58 and 63.5 against the US dollar (I use USD as a benchmark because the other rates are nothing but a cross rate). The fall in rupee has been less pronounced as compared to its Asian peers like the Malaysian Ringgit, Indonesian Rupiah, Singapore Dollar, Korean Won etc. On the global front, the Yen, Euro and Pound have also dropped sharply against the USD resulting in net gains by the Rupee against these currencies as well.

While the gains in Rupee boost the feel good factor about the India story – is a sustained gain in Rupee the right thing for the Indian economy? My take is that RBI would not let Rupee gain beyond the 62 mark to keep the exports competitive. There was evidence of this when RBI was seen buying dollars in the last week when Rupee gained sharply. With a generally weaker Rupiah, Ringgit, Peso and Riel the Indian exports would face tough competition in areas like garments, IT services, food grains and other manufacturing. Also with Euro and Pound weakening the demand from European countries would decline if the goods are not priced competitively.

With crude oil staying below 50, I think RBI would target the Rupee around 65 against the USD (at-least that’s would I would do, if I were the RBI governor). That would be a roughly 5% decline from the current levels and will bring it at par with other countries with export competitiveness. A sharp gain in the currency would negate any benefit that the lower oil prices would have and I don’t think the RBI or the finance minister would want that.

We should not forget that infrastructure reforms do not happen overnight and take years to fully have the desired impact.

What would that do to SGD INR – 45 mark would remain as the strong support for the pair with upside of Rs.50, but of-course remitting money to India and investing in NRE deposits would always remain a good option.

SGD INR: 50 with SG@50?

Ever since the Prime Minister Modi came to power the feel good factor about Indian economy and India has increased dramatically. All Indians, including me, are rooting for improved Indian economy – infrastructure reforms, streamlining of tax code, improved law and order and not to forget getting back the black money stashed in overseas accounts. The expectation also is for the Rupee to strengthen as reforms kick in and help kick-start the much-anticipated economic growth.

The past few months have seen the pair oscillating between the 46-49 range and the volatility in the forex markets has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. The pair dropped all the way to 46.5 after  the elections and bumped back up towards 49 only to test 46.5 again as the oil prices slid in the international markets (I was expecting a 45 floor as mentioned in replies to questions in the previous post).

SGD INR Dec 2014

INR has weakened against the USD to 63 as I had written earlier in (SGD INR: Post Election Euphoria) but interestingly SGD has also weakened in tandem. At one point in time the fall in SGD was greater as compared to INR and caused SGD INR to test 46.5.

Oil has fallen dramatically in the past few weeks and raised concerns of Central Banks not being able to meet their inflation targets prompting talk about monetary easing. A falling oil is good for India’s Forex reserves which has lent some support to the Rupee. On the other hand though the market sentiment remained weak as India’s trade deficit widened to one-and-a-half year high of $16.86 billion in November due to over six-fold jump in gold imports. Trade deficit in November last year was $9.57
billion.

The key events in play as I write are:

  1. Falling oil Prices and the rout of Rouble
  2. Bank of Japan’s push to achieve 2% inflation
  3. Expectation of FED rate hike in 2015

Falling oil prices can make the FED hold on to rate hike and also bring strength to SGD as the safe haven theory comes back into play. My expectation is for the Singapore Dollar to appreciate back to sub 1.30 level and Indian rupee to move upto 65 level which would bring the SGD INR back at the magical 50 mark in time for Singapore’s 50th birthday

 

SGD INR: Post the Election Euphoria

Time flies and it’s already June – I can’t believe that the last I wrote about INR was in February and whole world was speculating on the outcome of the Indian elections. I did not expect the BJP to win with a full majority given the polarisation of votes, combined with regional politics and was expecting a hung parliament. 

Based on that I had predicted that the Rupee would fall back to the 63 mark against the USD and 50 against the SGD (SGD INR: A storm in making). However, to my delight, the BJP did get a full majority. This meant that the uncertainty of a hung parliament and issues cropping up from coalition government were instantly non issues.

The markets reacted favorably to a government formed by progressive and reform oriented leaders and pushed the Indian Sensex to all time highs of over 25,000 and Rupee appreciated quite quickly to the Rs.58 mark against the USD. With many a Indians residing in foreign countries who remit money to India the obvious question was – Is the rupee headed to 55 against USD and should I transfer money to India now?

My answer to many such questions was – “the fundamentals of the economy don’t change overnight just with a stable government and the real effect of policy changes would take months to materialise and I still expect Rupee to stay over the 60 mark against the USD”

One of the first places to start when looking at fundamentals is Implied Exchange Rate calculation. Over the past years the spot rate has tended towards the Implied Rate Line (chart below: using SGD INR)

SGD INR 2014

and the calculation suggests that the SGD INR would move back towards the upward trending implied exchange rate line as the RBI is going to hold the interest rates steady – the inflation is still alarmingly high.

Other factors that would be playing against the Indian Rupee would be:

1. Crop losses due to el Nino weather changes

2. Increase in price of crude if the tensions in Iraq escalate

3. Global slow down in the background Ukraine crisis and escalation in South China sea

As I write the Indian rupee has already crossed the 60 mark against the USD and 48 against the SGD and I maintain that the INR would move towards the 63 and 50 mark against the USD and SGD in coming months.

SGD INR – Current Trend and Long Term Implied Rates

SGD INR has been holding strong over the past few weeks and even though INR has appreciated roughly 10% against the USD the appreciation against SGD has been roughly 5%.

Historic lows were 69 and 53 against USD and SGD and the currency trades at 62.5 and 50 as I write. SGD has shown stregnth as with its safe haven appeal.

The Long term implied rate for SGD INR tracks at 47 mark. Looking at long term trends the spot exchange rates tend to track back towards the long term implied rates.

Image

In the short term I expect the pair to hover around the Rs, 50 mark with the direction being decided based on international events.

 

INR – Directionless in 4th Quarter

The US debt and budget talks finally reached a resolution yesterday, the congress passed the bill and the much feared US default was averted and the financial markets breathed a sigh of relief. Interestingly the Indian Rupee has been pretty flat both pre and post the US saga.

The drop to 69 against the USD on 28 August was the low point for the Rupee and it steadily regained lost ground in September (Rupee Doing a Bungee Jump – Time to bounce back?) and hovers around 61 as I write.

I often ask myself what has really changed in the past month but can’t find a fundamental reason for the pull back. My take is that it was a technical pull back with Rupee being oversold. Yes one could say that RBI got a new Governor in Raghuram Rajan and that helped Rupees cause, but if changing governors could help the Rupee strengthen by 15% then maybe RBI should abandon monetary policies and use governors to set the direction of the currency :).

Looking at the fundamentals nothing really has changed in the past 2 months – RBI did come up with a FCNR scheme, increase the duty on import of Gold and television sets and a benchmark rate increase. The FCNR scheme is reported to attract 10 billion USD in deposits which would add no more than 3% to the foreign currency reserves. The increase in duty on gold has got the premium over spot soaring in indian markets and made gold smuggling attractive and the increase in duty on television sets has made travel to Thailand and Singapore less attractive – believe it or not bringing in television sets from overseas trips was a great way of subsidizing foreign travel.

On the policy front nothing really has changed in India and no progress is expected until after the next elections in 2014. On the global front there is still a lot of uncertainty and the fear of Quantitative Easing (QE) taper is still there. The general consensus is for no taper before late march 2014 but its an event that will happen sooner or later.

With all the uncertainty and political wrangling I expect the Rupee to remain directionless to the year-end.

63 should act as the pivot against the USD with a variation of 5% either side – a range of 60-65 would be the order. However against the SGD things should be slightly different with 50 acting as a strong magnet.

SGD INR: 44… 47… 50?

Now don’t tell me you haven’t wondered if SGD can fetch 50 Rupees per dollar 🙂 and I have to admit that with the current rupee weakness it does not look like a impossible number to achieve.

What’s transpired in past 2 months is nothing short of shocking…personally I never thought that the INR could go past the 60 mark against the US Dollar but then I did not expect the Indian Government to bring in the food security bill, in its current format either, which would cost 3.8% of GDP.

The GDP has already been shrinking and GDP growth is estimated to be well below the 6.5% mark as targeted earlier. With rampant red tape blocking foreign investment, tax evasion and upcoming elections the picture doesn’t look to change dramatically in the near future.

On 8th July the rupee breached the 61 mark against the USD and forced the RBI to step in with measures to stem the fall. Since then rupee has stayed below the 60 mark with a weak undertone.

On the other hand the Singapore economy posted a 3.7% growth for the second quarter of 2013. It was more than 15% growth on a quarter by quarter basis. The results looked good but the guidance does not suggest that the trend would continue.

In the meantime, to moderate the housing market, the Singapore government has come up with total Debt Servicing framework which promotes prudent borrowing practices. The SGD in the same time touched 1.28 and has sea-sawed between 1.25-1.28 mark.

So here is what I think is going to happen – The Singapore dollar would weaken towards the 1.30 mark against the USD. This would do well for the Singapore’s exports and the tourism industry. With the weakening of SGD there are rumours that the borrowing rates would slowly increase to keep the housing markets in check. I personally feel that the debt servicing framework is the first step to ensure residents don’t over leverage while buying a property and get in trouble when the interest rates move up.

So as always million dollar question remains what happens to the SGD INR 🙂

My take is that with INR at 60 and RBI showing resolve to not let is fall below and SGD hovering around the 1.26-1.27 mark the mean price for SGD would remain at 47. If the SGD weakens to 1.30 as expected and Rupee settles at 58 SGD INR should march back below  the 45 mark.

However if the RBI measures fail to have an impact the Rupee could weaken to 63 against the USD, mainly on account of rising oil prices which are the biggest drain on India’s foreign reserve. If that scenarios plays out then their is little to stop the SGD INR to touch the 50 mark.

However if I look at the Big MC Index the Rupee is undervalued by almost 60% using the purchasing power parity – more on that another day

SGD INR: Unexpected Rupee Weakness

The sudden weakness in the Rupee has caught most of us by surprise and has caused Rupee to cross the 45 mark once again agsinst the Singapore Dollar.

I was expecting the pair to face stiff resistance at 44 mark and not breach the 44 mark any time soon (Sgd Inr expected trend till end of June 2013). The rationale being that SGD and INR would both move in tandem against the USD which would make SGD INR a stable pair.

However SGD strengthened very quickly from the 1.27 mark against USD to 1.25 in a matter of few days on its safe haven appeal with the fear over slowing global growth and Fed reconsidering the pace of Quantitative Easing (QE). My expectation was for SGD to touch 1.28 before starting to strengthen again

Indian Rupee (INR) on the other hand weakened against the USD with rising Gold Imports and expanding deficit and is nearing 57 against the USD as I write.

Its worrthwhile to look at the long term Implied Interest Rates trend line for SGD INR with such sudden changes

SGD INR Jun 2013

Its quite evident from the trend line that everytime SGD INR has crossed the trend line it tends to reverse back to the mean. Every cross over is a good opportunity to convert to INR for investment or other purposes.

Market rumours suggest INR would touch the 58 mark against the US dollar which could see SGD INR crossing the 46 mark which for me would be a great level to convert.

My suggestion as always is convert in small amounts to average out your conversion rate as its not possible to catch the top and bottom of any market.

SGD INR: Expected Trend till End of June 2013

We are well into second quarter of the year and its time for an update on the SGD INR projection.

Even with my best intentions to share thoughts on the pair as early as April its only now that I got sometime. Neverthless there have been some interesting developments in the past weeks which can impact the movement of the pair and its a good time to try and ascertain the trend in light of these.

On April 13 2013 the MAS maintatined its tight monetary policy stance even though the GDP unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter of the year and On 3 May 2013, the Indian Central bank lowered the key rates to 7.5%.

There was a expectation that with slowing GDP growth the MAS would allow the SGD to weaken against the other currencies and the USD-SGD might touch 1.28 mark. However with the inflationary pressures the monetary authority decided to keep the band and slope of policy bank unchanged.

On the other hand the RBI lowered the rates to boost growth in the slowing Indian economy.

Both the events are positive for the respective currencies and though INR has remained around 54 mark to USD, SGD moved from lows of 1.25 to 1.23 after the news.

With both the currencies showing some strength the SGD INR pair would remain stangnant in the 42-44 band. The pair has formed a strong resistance at the 44 level and I do not see it breaching this in the next few months.

With slowing growth the SGD might march back towards the 1.25 mark which would push the SGD INR pair towards the 42 levels.

So if you are looking to invest in India then a exchange rate of 43.5 – 44 would be a good rate to use

SGD INR – Expected Trend till Mar 2013

Its hard to believe that we are already in February of 2013 and that calls for me to keep up on my promise and share with you my thoughts on SGD INR movements in the near term.

The trend so far has been inline with what I had expected in Dec 2012 – The pair has maintained the range of 42-46 with a downward bias (Read more: SGD-INR: How does 2013 look like?) and trades at 42.99 as I write.

SGD INR made multiple attempts to breach the 45 mark but have been unsuccessful. In the meantime a few interesting developments have happened on the fundamental front.

RBI came out and cut the rates by 25 basis points to stroke growth and the financial markets have taken a more “risk on” approach. The former would result in NRE deposit rates being lowered in the long term and the latter would attract FII in to the Indian Markets chasing growth.

At the same time the Indian Finance minister has promised financial reforms and started with reducing the fuel subsidies which helps reduce the Indian Budget deficit. This is also positive for the Rupee.

On the SGD front the currency has lost 2% against the USD and now trades at 1.24 as compared to 1.22 late last year.

These factors combined have seen SGD INR soften below 43 mark.

The question which people ask often is that how low will the pair fall and will SGD INR reach 45 again?

My view is that in the short term the pair would increase and move to cross the Rs.44 mark – The US debt ceiling discussions are due soon and so is Indian budget for 2013.

The uncertainty on the policy front would result in INR weakening against the USD which would mean a weaker INR against the SGD.

The recent spike in Crude Oil prices would add to woes for Indian Rupee.

So in-case the recent drop of SGD/INR has left you scrambling like Oct 2012 then don’t panic – next few weeks should give you an opportunity to see the pair touching 44 again.

 

Enjoy the Holidays and wishing you a very Happy Chinese New Year!! Gong Xi Fa Chai