India also started feeling the heat of global slow-down. Inflation ruling well above 12% has now slipped into single digits and it has been reported below 9% for the last week. The rupee continues to trade volatile against the USD and again slipping below the Rs49 mark yesterday. The Prime Minister is making statements to the effect that more pain is in the offing for India. Exports have gone down to a great extent both in manufacturing and service sector (IT) resulting in lesser inflow of foreign currency. FII sales in the stock markets are continuing and the demand for the greenback remains constant.
Coming back to the main question of interest rates in the econcomy, the auto manufacturers and real-estate developers are crying hoarse about the high interest rates which is affecting the demand for their products. Of course, the interest rates alone cant prop up an industry, but it is a definitely a critical factor. With the increasing cost of money, Indian industries have started delaying or jettisoning capacity expansion plans. Many projects could not achieve financial closure due to lack of funds in the market. Now the Government started stepping in through RBI by giving out signals of low interest rate regime. Now there is no threat of demand led inflation, Government is keen on reducing the interest rates in the economy. RBI, under a new head, D Subbarao, started using the monetary tools to bring down the rates to banks and financial institutions. It has aggressively cut the CRR rates by 3.5% over the last 2 months. It has reduced the reverse repo rates and opened up the window for lending to banks and mutual funds.
With the signals becoming clear that Government favouring a lower interest rate regime, the banks has started reducing the lending rates. Of course, the PSU Banks have taken the lead in this instance as they are more amenable to the Government's intervention in the interest rates. The measures taken by the RBI is expected to pump in more than 200,000 crores of Rupees into the system and it should relieve the current pressure on the credit. The interest rates may also start coming down over the next couple of months. Though term deposits are not as tax efficient as FMP's, it is still better to have a good percentage of your fixed income investments in the form of term deposits, as it gives the needed liquidity and the redemption terms are much more easier compared to FMP's. Therefore, I think it is one of the best times to commit funds to Fixed Deposits with banks to take advantage of the high interest rates offered by them.
State Bank of India offers 10.50% for 1000 days deposit and other private banks like Karur Vysya Bank, City Union Bank, Lakshmi Vilas Bank are offering 11.00% on term deposits for 400 days or more. State Bank's deposit scheme was very popular that it garnered more than Rs1000 crores on a daily basis during the first few days of this campaign. Remember, the deposits in the name of Senior Citizens fetches 0.50% more than the normal rates.
Enjoy this small window of high interest rates and commit your term deposits at attractive rates. Make hay while the sun shines!!!