India Is Still Facing The Ill-Effects Of The Congress Era Inflation

India's PM Singh speaks during India Economic Summit in New Delhi
The devil, like beauty, always lies in the detail.

Sometime last week the Central Statistics Office(CSO) put out data which clearly shows that India is still facing the ill-effects of the inflationary era unleashed by the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Between 2008-2009 and 2013-2014, the average consumer price inflation was higher than 10%. Food inflation was higher than 11%. High inflation essentially forced people to spend more and in the process they had lesser money to save.

Take a look at the following table. The household savings fell from 23.39% of the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 19.06%. Nominal GDP does not take inflation into account.

In Rs crore 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
Household Savings 2065453 2233950 2360936 2380488
As a % of total savings 68.20% 66.40% 63.40% 57.20%
As a % of nominal GDP 23.39% 22.36% 20.94% 19.06%
Net Financial Savings (Gross financial savings minus financial liabilities) 642609 733616 862873 961307
As a % of nominal GDP 7.28% 7.34% 7.65% 7.70%
Saving in physical assets 1389209 1463684 1460844 1379411
As a % of nominal GDP 15.73% 14.65% 12.96% 11.05%

The household savings primarily comprise of financial savings as well as savings in physical assets and savings in the form of gold and silver ornaments. The overall household savings have fallen from 23.39% of the GDP in 2011-2012 to 19.06% in 2014-2015.

The household financial savings (i.e. investments made in fixed deposits, provident funds, shares and debentures and life insurance) rose marginally from 7.28% to 7.70% of the GDP.

What the table does not tell you is that in 2007-2008, before the Congress led UPA government initiated an era of high-inflation, the household financial savings had stood at 11.45% of the GDP. Between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, household financial savings fell dramatically. They haven’t really recovered since then despite lower inflation numbers.

In 2014-2015, the consumer price inflation was at an average of 5.83% during the course of the year. Food inflation was at 6.26%. The after-effects of the era of high inflation are still being felt. The low growth in household financial savings also explains why despite a massive fall in inflation, interest rates haven’t fallen at the same pace. If savings had risen at a much faster rate, the interest rates would have fallen more.

Savings in physical assets (homes, land, flats etc.) have fallen dramatically between 2011-2012 and 2014-2015 from 15.73% of the GDP to around 11.05%. This is again a reflection of the fact that people are not saving enough despite low inflation. One possible explanation for this is that incomes are not going up at a fast pace.

The other point that needs to be made here is that the real estate prices have gone way beyond what most people can afford. And that explains to some extent why household financial savings have risen between 2011-2012 and 2014-2015, but physical assets have not.

Now take a look at the following table. Companies (non-financial corporations) have been saving more over the years. Their savings have gone up from 9.59% of the GDP in 2011-2012 to 12.27% of the GDP in 2014-2015. What does this tell us?

 

In Rs crore 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
Savings of non-financial corporations 847134 990322 1218020 1532262
As a % of total savings 28.00% 29.40% 32.70% 37.20%
As a % of nominal GDP 9.59% 9.91% 10.80% 12.27%
Savings of financial corporations 272371 300599 294180 335679
As a % of total savings 9.00% 8.90% 7.90% 8.20%
As a % of nominal GDP 3.08% 3.01% 2.61% 2.69%
Savings of general government -158234 -160048 -148089 -131729
As a % of total savings -5.20% -4.80% -4.00% 3.20%
As a % of nominal GDP -1.79% -1.60% -1.31% -1.05%

 

It tells us that there are not enough investment opportunities going around and hence the profits that these companies are making are not being invested to expand but being saved. This is again a good indicator of the overall slow trend of the economy.

For sustainable economic growth to happen a country needs to produce things. As the Say’s Law states “A product is no sooner created, than it, from that instant, affords a market for other products to the full extent of its own value.”

The law essentially states that the production of goods ensures that the workers and suppliers of these goods are paid enough for them to be able to buy all the other goods that are being produced. Production of goods also creates new jobs.

A pithier version of this law is, “Supply creates its own demand.” And that is why industrial expansion is important for economic growth to happen. But currently that doesn’t seem to be happening.

(Vivek Kaul is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. He can be reached at vivek.kaul@gmail.com)

The column originally appeared on Swarajya on February 3, 2016

Advertisements

About vivekkaul
Vivek Kaul is a writer who has worked at senior positions with the Daily News and Analysis(DNA) and The Economic Times, in the past. He is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. Easy Money: The Greatest Ponzi Scheme Ever and How It Is Set to Destroy the Global Financial System , the latest book in the trilogy has just been published. The first two books in the trilogy were published in November 2013 and July 2014 respectively. Both the books were bestsellers on Amazon.com and Amazon.in. Currently he works as an economic commentator and writes regular columns for www.firstpost.com. He is also the India editor of The Daily Reckoning newsletter published by www.equitymaster.com. His writing has appeared across various other publications in India. These include The Times of India, Business Standard,Business Today, Business World, The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Indian Management, The Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, Forbes India, Mutual Fund Insight, The Free Press Journal, Quartz.com, DailyO.in, Business World, Huffington Post and Wealth Insight. In the past he has also been a regular columnist for www.rediff.com. He has lectured at IIM Bangalore, IIM Indore, TA PAI Institute of Management and the Alliance University (Bangalore). He has also taught a course titled Indian Economy to the PGPMX batch of IIM Indore. His areas of interest are the intersection between politics and economics, the international financial crisis, personal finance, marketing and branding, and anything to do with cinema and music. He can be reached at vivek.kaul@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: