Thursday, 14 September 2017

Indian Economy Losing Steam Amid Soft IIP Numbers and Rising Inflation

The challenges for Indian economy seems to be mounting as data on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and consumer price index (CPI)-based inflation comes as bad news for the Narendra Modi government, with a clearer evidence of slowdown after growth of gross domestic product (GDP) crashed to its lowest last week.

The IIP data shows that it has grown by only 1.2 per cent, while it grew at 4.5 per cent in the same month last year, signaling that the industrial activity and manufacturing are still reeling under the impact of demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Adding to the woes, August's consumer price index inflation shot up to a five-month high at 3.36 per cent from 2.36 per cent in July, dampening chances of a rate cut by the central bank. According to economists, rise in inflation for two straight months has reduced the chances of another rate cut by the RBI in a policy review next month, which has a central inflation target of 4 per cent. Last month, the RBI had cut its key lending rate by 25 basis points to 6 per cent in view of softening inflation.

The GST rollout has caused many problems within the manufacturing sector, and reports suggest that the fall in IIP in June, mostly part of the formal economy, was because of pre-GST stocking. But the continued low rate of IIP in July showed that industrial recovery impacted by GST and demonetisation within eight months of each other is suffering under the weight of both the decisions.

However, the silver lining is that economists expect industrial recovery to gain momentum as the GST stabilises. 

Considering the inflation numbers, the GST has also made some services, such as health, transportation and communication, recreation and amusement, inflationary. Further, a surge in house rent allowance (HRA) for central government employees also pushed up inflation in rent to 5.58 per cent in August from 4.98 per cent in the previous month. Even when volatile inflation in food and petroleum is taken out, the resultant core inflation rose to 4.5 per cent in August, from 3.9 per cent in the previous month. However, economists are not perceiving inflation as a threat and expect it to remain in the targeted 4 per cent range. 
Latin Manharlal Group

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