The USD -INR ratio stayed at 54-55 levels due to the massive inflow of USD into emerging markets as the US Fed kept their economy awash with cheap money. However, a few weeks back, the US Fed hinted at reducing this liquidity, and immediately the Rupee depreciated to levels of 61 to a Dollar.
A depressed Rupee means that the prices of fuel (which is imported) will be high – and that in turn impacts the prices of transported goods (like food grains and vegetables) and the general inflation. With Inflation high, RBI would not be able to easily reduce the interest rates and that means that the cost of capital to Industries would be high – which in turn impacts the GDP growth and the corporate performance. The devaluation also will make the price of Gold in INR go high. So even though the global prices of Gold have fallen, the Rupee price of Gold is again inching up. Also with this depreciation, the global (FII’s) investing into India lost on their returns and so they withdrew in large quantities – from Debt and from Equity markets in India. The FII’s moving out of equities has resulted in the sensex being very volatile.
I believe that the Rupee will stay in the 60 plus range – as I believe that India has economic problems that cannot be solved with the current government. The government’s inability to push through reforms announced last year is clearly visible to all. With elections planned for next year, I do not expect any bold reforms from govt in the coming months. Our current account deficit is high and we are still announcing measures like the food security bill which will put further pressure on the country’s finances. Only after the next elections, is there a hope of some bolder reform measures – and so till then I expect the Rupee to be under pressure and to be in the 60’s. Due to that:
- I foresee inflation being high and RBI finding it difficult to reduce the interest rates (despite the new RBI Governor).
- I foresee Gold hanging on at the current levels -not giving any great returns beyond 10% per annum– there could also be additional duties on Gold imports (to reduce the imports further).
- I see the sensex being volatile till the next elections – export sector like the IT sector would do well – FMCG and Pharma should do better than other sectors. Great companies like HDFC, Asian Paints, HUL will survive better than other companies. So there can be long term opportunities - but in the next one year, do not expect great returns from stock markets.
- I believe that the demand supply gap for urban housing in India is so large, that the urban real estate sector will continue to do well. So even though there are voices talking about a crash in urban real estate prices in India, I do not think that will happen – the markets will continue to give about 10-15% capital appreciation.
So what should you do?
- If you have short term money (less than one year) – keep it in liquid funds or short term debts funds – do not put it in long term debt funds as the interest rates are not expected to go down.
- If you have medium term money ( 1-3 years) – for those who do Mutual funds – I recommend sectoral funds in FMCG and Pharma sector. For those who do direct Equity – you can do select equity investing that can give you good returns. (I am sure my readers know that I have a private equity group for people interested in equity investments – if you want to be part of that group – please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to add you to this group. Here, I share my buy and sell activity real time – and you can chose to follow me. I am a conservative investor aiming at 20% returns per annum over 3 years)
- If you have long term money (3 years plus) – Urban real estate is a good bet even now. If you are in Bangalore and want some help – you can reach out to me.
- Gold - this is neither short term nor long term – it is a separate category by itself. If you have some gold in your portfolio – keep it - it is a good hedge against the flooding of liquidity unleashed by developed countries since 2008. But if you are looking for ROI, investing in gold now would not give you more than 10% per annum for the next one or two years.