He also gave the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) high marks for using its reserves to stem the rupee’s fall.
“The rupee has fallen quite sharply this year. But it has fallen less than most other currencies,” Jamal Mecklai, CEO, Mecklai Financial Services Pvt. Ltd told IANS.
According to him, the main forces driving the rupee lower are the interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve to bring down the inflation. This has strengthened the dollar sharply and as a result, like all other currencies, the rupee has been under pressure.
“With the global equity markets nervous about the prospects of a recession, as a result of the interest rate hikes, risk aversion is high and so investors are pulling money out of emerging markets, including India,” Mecklai said.
Terming India comparatively in a good shape, Mecklai added: “We have had at least one month of positive flows. I think India is well positioned to benefit from the move away from China and the government must be credited for keeping the deficit under control.”
On the RBI’s actions in stemming the rupee’s fall, he said: “The RBI is the major reason why the rupee hasn’t fallen further. It has made it clear that it will use its reserves to prevent runaway depreciation. You buy an umbrella to use when it rains, said the RBI Governor. I give the RBI high marks this time.”
Queried about flight of foreign portfolio investments (FPI) Mecklai said India is in a better shape comparatively since the country is beginning to be seen as a real global player.
“Thus, investors won’t run too far away. Again, there is lot of talk about Indian government bonds being included in the global bond indices in a few months which could open wide the tap of debt inflows,” Mecklai remarked.
Citing the trade deficit is increasing sharply and with analysts calling for a weaker rupee to help exports Mecklai said: “My sense though, is that RBI is fully committed to protecting Rs.80 to the dollar and I think that is when the global winds ease. The rupee may even strengthen back to Rs.79 or a bit better.”
The fall in global oil prices will help to reduce the trade deficit. Further with India buying huge amounts of oil from Russia at a discount and the talks of rupee invoicing of oil imports would ease the trade deficit, he added.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at email@example.com)