Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Rupee and Bitcoin

Rupee should be equal to Bitcoin or 4,500 American dollars, whichever is more.
A strong rupee is in national interest. Those who do not want a strong rupee are anti-national.
Recently RBI reduced repo rate by 25 basis points. Some say RBI should have reduced repo rate by 50 basis points. Repo rate is the rate at which banks can borrow money from RBI for short durations. Lower repo rate pushes up growth. Higher repo rate lowers inflation. Lower repo rate allows banks to lower their interest rates and encourages entrepreneurs to borrow and invest in long term projects.
The reality is that entrepreneurs do not worry about interest rates. They borrow whatever is the interest rate. Officially the borrowing is for investment in long term projects. Unofficially money borrowed is spent or other things including buying foreign properties. Then they default. Banks go for corporate debt restructuring or strategic debt restructuring which is advantageous to the borrower. He pays less interest. His shares are bought at higher price. In some cases no restructuring happens. Banks are left with bad loans of lakhs of crores of rupees which are known as non-performing assets. Reliance Communications has borrowed 45,000 crore rupees and has defaulted. Essar, Bhushan Steel and many other companies have borrowed and defaulted. Banks do not mention the borrowers. They keep their identity secret. Borrowers default to one bank and go to another bank. After borrowing from a dozen or more banks the situation is irredeemable. Public sector banks are looted and robbed without consequences. It is kleptocracy and lootocracy. Public sector banks belong to the people of India and they are the losers.
Zero inflation is good and right. Those who say India should have an inflation rate of 3-4% are wrong. It is wrong to say low inflation can cause stagnation and compare India to Japan. Japan is a dying country. More people die in Japan than are born. In five years Japan’s population declined by a million. Japan’s economy was once first in the world. With decline in population came decline in economy. Now Japan’s economy is third in the world. There is exploitation in Japan. Employees are made to work long hours. Some have committed suicide. One of them was a doctor. Few entrepreneurs have lot of wealth. Vast majority of employees do not earn enough to marry and have children. Some companies have cheated for long and now are on the verge of bankruptcy.
Drop in investment-to-GDP ratio from 35% in 2003 to 28% now is not due to interest rate. It is due to retrospective amendments to laws regarding taxes and what some called tax terrorism during P. Chidambaram’s time as Finance Minister. There is uncertainty about the rule of law. When a company wins a tax case in Supreme Court and the government amends the law retrospectively to nullify the judgment there is no faith left in the country and government. Vodafone case kept investors away.
Some say the world today is caught in a low-interest regime and therefore RBI should reduce repo rate. European Central Bank cut its overnight deposit facility rate to below zero, to -0.1% in June 2014. Central Banks of Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan and Hungary followed. Bank of Japan cut its current account deposit rate to -0.1% in January 2016. India with high interest rates attracts capital flows causing rupee to be stronger than it should be and this stunts exports and growth.
There are two counter-arguments for the above argument. First, the world is not caught in a low-interest regime. Bank of England increased interest rate by 25 basis points during the same period. Federal Reserve Bank of USA increased interest rate thrice in a year. If many countries are doing something foolish does not mean we should do the same. By the way, most European countries are dying countries.
Second, there is more to exports than interest rate or exchange rate. What is necessary is bought irrespective of the price. It is said in 1917 one rupee was equal to thirteen American dollars. Now, 64 rupees are equal to one American dollar. The rate fluctuates on a daily basis. When India became independent it was 3.36 rupees per dollar. India devalued rupee in October 1949 and it was 4.76 rupees per dollar. On 6/6/1966 it became 7.50 rupees per dollar. After that the rupee has seen downside. Its low point was 68.80 rupees per dollar. Now it hovers around 64 rupees per dollar. This has not helped exporters. Exports don’t go up when rupee value comes down. Any benefit is of short time. Exporters get less after that. Imports cost more. Most exports have import components. There is no gain by low interest and low exchange value. Exporters have profited many times. Any loss due to strong rupee is temporary. If exporters suffer for some time due to a strong rupee, so be it. The country is greater than all exporters put together. Vested interests of a section of the people should not hinder country’s progress.
In spite of Modi’s Make in India slogan, India imports Apache helicopters from USA and defence requirements from many countries. Exchange rate does not matter.
A strong currency commands respect. Devyani Khobragade would not have been humiliated if rupee was strong. As Deputy Consul General in New York she would have paid minimum legal wage to her maid if rupee value was equal to one dollar or more.
In 17 years the government of USA has borrowed 21 trillion dollars from FRB. FRB has printed notes valued at 85 billion dollars per month for five years or so and after that it gradually reduced the printing. This was done in the name of stimulus. Rupee value against dollar should have gone up many times. That did not happen shows lack of self-respect and hold of vested interests.
In January 2009 when Bitcoin transactions began a Bitcoin value was 10 cents. Now a Bitcoin value is around 4,500 dollars. Rupee should equal Bitcoin progress and move forward. Bitcoin is dominant among cryptocurrencies.
India should make rupee a global currency. There should be no sudden demonetisation so that there is no inconvenience to people all over the world. Any demonetisation should be after a minimum of one year of announcement and notes should be accepted by RBI or other banks without time limit. People should be free to take rupees out of India without limit.
Shiv Sena is critical of BJP for offering 15 crore rupees each to Congress MLAs in Gujarat to switch sides. It shows demonetisation has failed and BJP has black money.

Updated: August 19, 2017 — 7:32 am

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