The Fourteenth Finance Commission: FAQs

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Sat, Feb 28th, 2015

The Fourteenth Finance Commission has recommended a radical increase in the share of taxes to be allocated to states. This blog tells you about the function of the finance commission, and the basis on which union taxes are allocated to various states.   Read more

Yoga, Yoni and the Union Budget

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Tue, Feb 24th, 2015

Great powers are attributed to the ancient Indian system of Yoga, including that of controlling crimes. We take a tongue-in-cheek look at how we can harness the power of yoga to manage the Union Budget! Read more

Interpreting Negative WPI Inflation

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Feb 19th, 2015

WPI inflation has turned negative as a result of the sharp decline in international crude prices. But rising food prices and the possibility of a reversal in crude prices suggest that RBI must remain watchful about price trends.   Read more

Negative Yields in Europe: Does it Make Sense?

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Tue, Feb 17th, 2015

European government bond issues are being oversubscribed, even at negative yields to maturity. This blog describes the investors who would like to invest in such bonds, and the scenarios under which they can profit from their investment. Read more

Statistical Magic: How the Economic Slump Vanished with the new GDP series

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Feb 11th, 2015

The new GDP series released recently shows that India is among the fastest growing economies in the world. Press reports have questioned the reliability of this new data. This blog explains the revisions made in the new series, its impact on macro economic analysis. Read more

The Skewed Financial Savings of Indian Households

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Arti Anand Bhargava on Mon, Feb 2nd, 2015

Data shows that Indians are traditionally inclined towards investments in fixed income instruments such as bank deposits and small saving schemes.  This article helps to trace the choices made by Indian households over the last 10 years, sometimes guided by regulation changes or asset class performance. Some interesting insights are evident! Read more

One Swallow does not make a Summer: Comparing India and China

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Fri, Jan 23rd, 2015

The IMF announcement that India's growth would overtake that of China in 2015-16 set off a market rally. But a meaningful comparison between India and China is possible only if one uses the right economic indicators and an appropriate reference period. Conclusions cannot be drawn on the basis of a single data point. Read more

How Vulnerable is India to an Economic Crisis?

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Jan 21st, 2015

The Mid-Year Economic Review introduced the concept of a Macroeconomic Vulnerability Index, or MVI, which indicates the potential for the occurrence of an economic crisis by combining three key economic indicators. MVI is a simple and effective early warning indicator, but must be used with caution. Read more

The RBI rate cut: A Signal of Support

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Fri, Jan 16th, 2015

The RBI cut the policy rate by 25 basis points on 15 January 2015, signaling the end of the interest rate tightening cycle. This action reflects the need to stimulate demand given that inflation pressures have subsided with falling crude prices. Read more

The Best Investment in 2015

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Jan 8th, 2015

The best performing asset classes have changed completely between the start and the end of 2014. The chief lesson for 2015 is to maintain a diversified portfolio that can benefit from debt, equity and commodities, while still beating major benchmarks. Read more

FII flows and market returns over the last 10 years

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Labdhi Mehta on Wed, Jan 7th, 2015

FII money is considered to be "hot" and "smart". We look at the last 10 years data to see if it holds true. This blog discusses the record high $25 bn FII inflows to the debt market in 2014 which surpassed the equity market inflows despite a good equity return.  Read more

Regulatory Snapshot 2014

Posted by: Girija Gadre on Mon, Jan 5th, 2015

In the year 2014, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, SEBI, introduced new regulations and made changes to existing once through circulars and notifications. This infographic shows a timeline summary of these events. Read more

Nifty's Journey over the Last 10 Years

Posted by: Arti Anand Bhargava on Fri, Jan 2nd, 2015

The sentiment in the Indian equity market is positive. Nifty gained 30% in 2014, breaking through the 8000 mark and creating some records along the way. The sentiment in the market is bullish. This blog tries to put this out-performance into perspective by tracing the journey of Nifty over the last 10 years.  Read more

How do banks respond to RBI's Rate Actions? Part 2: What are banks likely to do now, should RBI cut rates?

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Dec 18th, 2014

Monetary policy is effective only when RBI actions are transmitted to bank lending rates. Part 1 of this blog explains how the asymmetric nature of monetary transmission impacts base rates. In Part 2, we discuss how the way banks source funds impedes their ability to reduce base rates despite ample liquidity and strong deposit growth.  Read more

How do banks respond to RBI's Rate Actions? Part 1 : Banks respond faster to hikes, not cuts

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Dec 17th, 2014

Monetary policy is effective only when RBI actions are transmitted to bank lending rates. Part 1 of this blog explains how the asymmetric nature of monetary transmission impacts base rates. In Part 2, we discuss how the way banks source funds impedes their ability to reduce base rates despite ample liquidity and strong deposit growth.  Read more

Decoding the Yen Depreciation

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Nov 19th, 2014

The yen has depreciated by over 35% since the Abe government took over two years ago. The policies of Abenomics aimed to pull Japan out of decades of low growth and deflation. This timeline highlights key milestones in the yen-dollar exchange rate since the implementation of Abenomics strategies.  Read more

Impact of FATCA on investments by US persons

Posted by: Girija Gadre on Fri, Oct 17th, 2014

FATCA, a US legislation calls for reporting of offshore investments by US persons and places responsibility on foreign financial institutions to collect and report information. India, being a signatory, Indian Financial institutions must comply with FATCA rules. Investments and accounts of US based NRIs in India come under FATCA purview. Read more

The Rate Liftoff: Why Markets Don't Like it

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Sat, Oct 11th, 2014

As the US Fed ends its QE program, a phase of easy money is about to end. Nervousness about the expected US rate tightening has led to widespread volatility and sell offs in equity markets. In this context, the recent Fed stance of holding rates has bought a temporary calm. Read more

The Much Discussed Slowdown in Bank Credit

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Oct 8th, 2014

The sudden decline in bank credit growth has led to a view that investment will pick up only if interest rates are cut to stimulate the demand for bank loans. This blog dissects the possible reasons for the credit slowdown, ad explores the link between credit and growth. Read more

The Importance of the September 2014 Monetary Policy

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Oct 1st, 2014

The September 2014 monetary policy clearly signals that RBI will focus on controlling inflation. Its willingness and ability to reduce interest rates will depend on government actions towards supply side reforms, fiscal consolidation and measures to revive the investment cycle. Read more

The Statistical Truths in GDP growth

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Fri, Sep 12th, 2014

Real GDP grew by 5.7% during the quarter April-June 2014, at the highest quarterly growth rate since 2012. However, as the economy emerges from several quarters of poor growth, it is important to recognize the impact of a low base in giving a statistical boost to GDP growth. Read more

Can Bank Credit Provide Enough Impulse to Investment?

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Sep 3rd, 2014

The change in the flow of bank credit, or credit impulse, is better able to predict recoveries from a recession as compared to other credit variables. Data shows that though bank credit growth is poor, the credit impulse is rising. This suggests a strong possibility of a revival in investment. Read more

Debt Funds and FMPs- What Now? Part 2- Why Tax Can't be Avoided

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Sun, Aug 3rd, 2014

This is the full story. There is no real tax arbitrage in a debt fund any more.  SWP or STP, the tax is all the same as long as holding period is less than 36 months.  Read more

Debt Funds and FMPs - What Happens Now?

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Jul 28th, 2014

After the amendment to the Finance Bill, debt funds redeemed after July 10 will be subject to new tax rules. What are the choices for investors in FMPs and debt funds?  Read more

The Fiscal Deficit: How Achievable is it?

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Fri, Jul 18th, 2014

The Government has targeted a fiscal deficit of 4.1% of GDP for this year. The achievability of this target depends on key assumptions about growth, exchange rate, fuel prices and overall investment climate. Any deviation of actual conditions from assumed ones will result in a much higher deficit. Read more

How Do Tax Proposals in Budget-2014 Affect Debt Fund and FMP Investors?

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Arti Anand Bhargava on Sun, Jul 13th, 2014

The benefit of tax arbitrage for debt funds versus bank deposits is now gone. Investors must hold debt funds for three years to qualify for long term capital gains, instead of one. If sold earlier, the gains are added to their income just like they are with fixed deposits. Moreover, the investor pays a higher percentage in the form of DDT.   Read more

ECB: Easing into negative territory

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, Jun 9th, 2014

The European Central Bank made monetary policy history by switching to a negative rate for a key bank deposit rate. Shorn of the novelty, this is a simple strategy to boost bank credit and to control depreciation of the Euro, both with the aim of restoring economic growth. Read more

Finding Jobs for the Demographic Dividend

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, May 15th, 2014

More than 100 million persons are expected to enter the workforce between 2010 and 2020. There are few jobs in agriculture and manufacturing now, and services are not labour intensive. The challenge is to productively harness the demographic dividend by creating enough jobs in an economy with declining employment elasticity. Read more

Fiscal Deficit- How the Red Line was Honoured

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan and Uma Shashikant on Tue, Feb 18th, 2014

The fiscal deficit for 2013-14 was restricted to 4.6% of GDP, well within the promised "Red Line". This blog analyses how the government managed to achieve its target despite falling economic growth, low revenue collection and poor disinvestment. Read more

A New Year. A New Monetary Policy Framework?

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Sat, Jan 25th, 2014

The Patel Committee has recommended far-reaching reforms to monetary policy. The key idea in the report is that RBI should move to targeting CPI-based inflation and it should be both independent and accountable for achieving its targets. However, monetary policy is effective only if backed by sound fiscal policy Read more

A More Stable External Account

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Dec 12th, 2013

The RBI's strategy of compressing imports and attracting NRI funds through the FCNR(B) scheme has greatly eased the BoP situation. If FII inflows also pick up in the remaining months, India should be able to finance its current account deficit with foreign capital inflows without dipping into its reserves. Read more

CPI and WPI: Tough to choose one over the other

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Tue, Nov 19th, 2013

The new CPI index captures retail prices changes better than WPI. The two indices occasionally diverge, but since producers eventually pass on price hikes to consumers, a rising WPI is likely to pull up CPI too. Both indices need to be tracked to understand inflation patterns and monetary policy actions. Read more

Economic Slowdown and Corporate Profitability

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, Oct 21st, 2013

The private corporate sector has been hit by declining margins and high interest costs over the last four years. A recent RBI study shows that small and medium sized companies were the worst affected by rising interest rates.  If RBI increases rates in its October 29 policy, it may increase debt default or bad loans further.  Read more

Why did RBI increase the Repo Rate?

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, Sep 23rd, 2013

The RBI increased the repo rate by 25 basis points and simultaneously eased liquidity at the short end in its September monetary policy. The purpose was to swiftly suppress inflationary expectations and align monetary conditions with other emerging markets while lowering the cost of short term funds Read more

A Timeline of the Rupee's Slide

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan & Uma Shashikant on Wed, Aug 28th, 2013

The Rupee-Dollar rate continues to decline. Measures to manage its slide have not succeeded in reversing the depreciation. A time line depicting the slide and the events around it in July-August 2013. Read more

Tracking Every Dollar

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Aug 7th, 2013

India is expected to face a current account deficit of $85 billion this year. Capital inflows and import compression are likely to finance only a part of it. A deficit of $25 billion will remain, and may need special financing such as through a sovereign bond issue. Read more

India's Impossible Trinity

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Aug 1st, 2013

India's high current account deficit and vulnerability to reversal of foreign inflows have pushed down the rupee dollar exchange rate. In its efforts to maintain the value of the rupee and ensure capital inflows, the RBI faces the Impossible Trinity that prevents it from cutting interest rates. Read more

Carnage in Liquid Funds Explained

Posted by: Amit Trivedi and Uma Shashikant on Fri, Jul 19th, 2013

The RBI's measures to halt rupee depreciation led to a steep rise in short term market rates. NAVs of liquid funds fell sharply. This was a shock as it is generally presumed that liquid funds are free from market risk. This article attempts to explain this event. Read more

The Rupee Logjam

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Jul 18th, 2013

The rising current account deficit and India’s vulnerability to hot money flows has led to rupee depreciation. Given easy domestic rates, US growth revival, and a switch in China’s model to consumption led growth, this would be an ideal time to develop export capabilities, and fix the CAD problem for the long term. Read more

Monetary Policy: Why Doing Nothing Was Good Policy

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Jun 20th, 2013

Monetary policy actions cannot be viewed exclusively as a growth-inflation tradeoff. Exchange rate depreciation has inflationary consequences, and interest rate cuts can worsen depreciation by pushing out capital flows. In managing the forces of exchange rate, growth and inflation, the RBI chose to maintain status quo in the June 17 review. Read more

IIBs: Making Sense of the Cut-off Yield and Traded Price

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Jun 6th, 2013

The nominal yield of a g-sec, expected inflation and the real yield of an IIB are linked through a simple relationship. Trading opportunities in IIBs arise when market perceptions of inflation differ from the breakeven level. Such trading will enable the discovery of real yields and inflation expectations in the market.  Read more

Inflation Indexed Bonds (IIBs): Why 2% Coupon is a Good Idea

Posted by: Uma Shashikant and Deepa Vasudevan on Fri, May 31st, 2013

The first issue of inflation indexed bonds will be launched next week. The bond structure adopted for the IIB ensures that both interest and principal payments are protected against inflation. This note explains the usefulness of index ratios in adjusting payouts for inflation.  Read more

Volatility in the Japanese Government Bond Market

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, May 27th, 2013

The Abenomics policy aims to pull Japan out of deflation through strong monetary and fiscal stimuli, and structural reform.  Though GDP and stock markets have reacted positively, bond yields are high and rising. A combination of inflationary expectations, high government debt, and large bank holdings of debt are creating uncertainty in bond markets. Read more

Asset Purchases

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, May 23rd, 2013

Ambiguity in Fed statements about exiting the asset purchase program set up a volatile up and down day in stock markets around the world. Financial markets have come to rely on easy money through QE, any reversal could cause a sharp downturn in markets of emerging economies. Read more

Regulatory Arbitrage

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, May 20th, 2013

Regulatory arbitrage occurs when two sets of rules of regulations create a loophole that can be exploited without violating either law. Market players cleverly use such arbitrage in product design and features until these gaps are reduced or removed. Read more

NPS Returns

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Thu, May 16th, 2013

PFRDA released a press note showing the returns of the various NPS options for the year 2012-13.  The numbers look better than the PF and PPF returns. However, the methodology used to compute returns and the accounting practices are different, making it tough to compare NPS with these traditional products. Read more

Issues in Monetary Policy

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, Apr 29th, 2013

The market is expecting RBI to reduce rates and ease liquidity in its May 2013 policy. The premise is that declining core inflation has given RBI the ability to stimulate growth without fear of overheating. But the final policy decision would depend also on future expectations of inflation and current account deficit. Read more

BUDGET 2013-14: The Good News, The Bad News, and The Worry

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Feb 27th, 2013

As the country readies for the Union Budget 2013-14, macro economic indicators show both positive and negative trends. Conflicting indications in current account deficit, fiscal deficit, inflation, bank lending and interest rates have to be balanced carefully in the budget provisions. Read more

The Current Account Deficit

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Jan 31st, 2013

The rising current account deficit (CAD) raises concerns about India’s ability to attract foreign capital to fund the deficit. Recent policy reforms have improved sentiment, but the greater share of volatile and debt-creating foreign inflows in the capital account increases the risk of a BoP crisis. Read more

State Development Loans

Posted by: Uma Shashikant / Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Dec 19th, 2012

State Development Loans, or SDLs, are debt securities issued by states to fund their fiscal deficit. Their popularity has grown in recent months as they are considered low risk, yet provide higher returns than comparable central government securities.  Despite poor liquidity, they provide a yield advantage to institutional investors. Read more

The Widening Credit-Deposit Wedge

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Nov 14th, 2012

The wedge between bank deposits and its loans and investments has widened significantly in recent years due to declining deposit mobilization. As a result bank balance sheets show an increase in borrowings and high cost CDs. The impact of monetary easing on the changing liabilities structure needs to debated. Read more

The Inflation Growth Balance

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Thu, Nov 1st, 2012

Monetary policy often has to choose between managing inflation and growth. However, interest rate is only one of the many determinants of GDP growth. Both domestic and global downsides to growth are strong and out of RBI control. Focusing on inflation management appears to be the only option. Read more

Mutual Fund Industry Re-Energised, Indeed!

Posted by: Girija Gadre and Taruna Changulani on Mon, Oct 1st, 2012

When Sebi issued a circular on re-energising the mutual fund industry, it looked like a few aspects were left out.  The gazette amending the MF regulation was announced last week.  It carries all issues approved by the Sebi Board. In part 1 of three articles discussing the implications of these changes, we discuss the AMC angle in this blog. Read more

SEBI (Investment Advisors) Regulations, 2012 - A Review

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Aug 20th, 2012

SEBI (Investment Advisors) Regulations 2012 have been approved by its Board on August 16, 2012. The SEBI press release on Board meeting decisions provides some highlights of these regulations. What are the likely implications for distributors of mutual fund products? Read more

The Prudent Reserve Bank of India

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, Aug 6th, 2012

RBI has cut SLR rate by one percent and left other rates unchanged. This is a prudent measure, meant to ensure that banks have enough liquidity to tackle busy season credit pressures as well as potential liquidity shortages.   Read more

The India Consumption Story: Roti, Kapda and Cellphones

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, Jul 30th, 2012

Private consumption has been the most consistently growing component of GDP. Recently, however, there are signs of a slowdown. The Indian consumer has evolved to spending larger amounts on non-food items such as consumer durables, services and communication. The poor monsoon, inflation and falling real incomes  may derail this trend. Read more

Pause the Party: Uncertainties Ahead

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, Jun 13th, 2012

RBI is expected to cut rates and/or reduce CRR soon in order to spur economic growth.  Monetary easing tends to improve investment and consumption. But presently India faces external and domestic risks that may negate the beneficial impact of a rate cut. Read more

Entry of QFIs Finally Enabled

Posted by: Girija Gadre on Sat, Jun 9th, 2012

The Government has been acting with mixed speed in implementing the decision to allow foreign retail investors (christened qualified foreign investors).  In the meanwhile, the rupee has depreciated steeply, global institutional capital flows have dried up and the investor interest in Indian capital markets has dwindled.  Will the SEBI Circular of June 7, 2012 make a difference? Read more

The Risk-Averse Indian Investor

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Tue, May 29th, 2012

Indian households tend to hold most of their financial savings in safe low-return avenues such as bank deposits, insurance and small savings. This is largely due to inadequate information and fear of capital safety. Educating households could change their preferences and unlock significant savings for our capital markets.Indian households tend to hold most of their financial savings in safe low-return avenues such as bank deposits, insurance and small savings. This is largely due to inadequate information and fear of capital safety. Educating households could change their preferences and unlock significant savings for our capital markets. Read more

Accounting for the Rupee

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Wed, May 23rd, 2012

The recent depreciation of the rupee against the dollar is attributed to India’s widening current account deficit and reduced capital inflows. It is critical to implement policies that reduce the twin deficits. That will boost investor confidence and bring in capital inflows. Read more

Nurturing Financial Advisors - Part 3 - Don't oversimplify "Investors can and will pay for advice"

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Sat, May 5th, 2012

The onus of recommending the right product should be on the advisor who should earn the trail commission, while the agent earns a small token commission for his limited role.  As an extension of this principle, the exit load currently charged to the investor can also be collected from the advisor.  Read more

Nurturing Financial Advisors - Part 2 - Why Variable Asset-based Fee is Needed

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Fri, May 4th, 2012

Reputational capital in advisory business can be built only when assets under advice are evaluated by investors for performance.  This can be fostered only if advisors are able to earn a variable fee for their services. Such variable fees currently go to the distributor. Read more

Nurturing Financial Advisors - Part 1 - Defining their Role and Revenue Model

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Thu, May 3rd, 2012

A financial advisor  provides strategic and tactical advice to a household to manage its balance sheet efficiently. This function cannot be oversimplified to mean distribution of financial products, financial planning or risk profiling. The distinction between the advisor and the distributing agent is critical to avoid malpractices in the mutual fund distribution space.  Read more

Why RBI may not aggressively cut rates in H1 FY2013

Posted by: Deepa Vasudevan on Mon, Apr 9th, 2012

FY12 ended with (a) a market already crowded with government paper and (b) a structural liquidity deficit that was partly eased with an end-of-fiscal year CRR cut.  FY13 has begun with an ambitious borrowing program. The Union budget announced a fiscal deficit target of 5.1% of GDP for 2012-13. The deficit is to be financed through gross market borrowings of Rs.513590 crore. Read more

MFs Focus on Retailing ST Debt Funds

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Mar 14th, 2011

The mutual fund industry is currently aggressively offering open-ended short term debt funds to retail investors  -  a belated but welcome development.  The default choice of most investors is a short term debt product. RBI data shows that 75% to 80% of all bank deposits are held in the 1-3 year horizon. Debt funds have mostly been offered to corporate investors with retail participation somewhat restricted to fixed maturity plans (FMPs).  FMPs from 91-day to 730-day maturities are being routinely offered, but a sharply increasing short term interest rate makes a later product more attractive than the current one, leading to missed investment opportunities for investors.  What funds are doing is to reposition existing products or offer new ones to offer a short term retail debt product to investors. IDFC MF has a Super Saver fund in this space, ICICI Prudential MF and Reliance MF have Regular Saving Funds, DSP Blackrock has re-positioned its monthly income plan as the Savings Manager Fund in this space, and Templeton Income Opportunities operates in the same space.  Read more

Why Short Term Debt Funds Now?

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Wed, Jan 5th, 2011

The heightened levels of short term interest rates, leading to an inverted corporate bond yield curve has made decisions tough for investors in short term debt funds. It was expected that the liquidity crunch in June, triggered primarily by the 3G auctions, would ease soon.  The persistent shortage of liquidity extending into the last quarter of the financial year has been a surprise to many. Borrowings from the LAF window of the RBI persist, though the volume has reduced from Rs.1 lakh crore plus seen last month. The key factors contributing to the liquidity crunch are: Read more

Ensuring Liquidity in the Portfolio

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Fri, Oct 1st, 2010

I have begun to write a column in Business Standard from today called "Capital Account" that addresses wealth management issues for the investors. The first column is on liquidity and the flexibility it provides to a portfolio. Many investors focus on return and risk in an investment and fail to understand the liquidity constraints that a product choice can impose.  Read more

Worries at 20,000

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Wed, Sep 22nd, 2010

Amidst the celebration of the new high at the equity markets, I am somewhat worried. For an inveterate optimist who believes there are always good stocks to be found in the Indian markets, the worry is strange but strong.  Here are the four reasons why I have pared down my equity exposure and am unwilling to participate in the "rally". Read more

MF Returns: May 2010 CA Exam Question

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Tue, Sep 21st, 2010

The following question had been asked in the CA examination in May 2010 (Management Accounting and Financial Analysis [old syllabus] - question 2[b] on mutual funds). Read more

Mutual Funds: Fee-based Selling Alone Won't Do

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Sep 20th, 2010

Many seem to think that fee-based advisory is the only way to do financial product distribution. I argue the need to allow a range of services, in the interest of growth and expansion of the business.  Allowing only fee-based advisory may shrink the markets and may leave out the small investor. Read more

Distribution of Financial Products - Push vs Pull

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Sep 6th, 2010

Even as we continue to debate the lack of incentives for selling mutual funds and the mis-selling nightmares in insurance products, the space I was watching was the National Pension Scheme (NPS).  Here was the product that was perfectly designed, after years of research and filled with the good intention of taking pension products to the population that needed it most. The product was a good one, offered choices, was available at low costs and should have taken off, if the belief, especially among regulators, that a good product would sell from “pull” rather than “push.” Read more

RBI Circular on HTM Categorisation

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Wed, Aug 18th, 2010

RBI recently issued a circular clarifying the treatment of transactions in government securities in the 'held to maturity'(HTM) category.   Read more

Traded Prices for CPs and CDs

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Wed, Aug 18th, 2010

Sebi has made it mandatory w.e.f  16 August 2010 for all registered market participants (includes brokers and mutual funds) to report all trades in CPs and CDs within 15 minutes of completion, on FIMMDA’s reporting platform. The availability of a weighted average traded price for CPs and CDs will now bring them into the ambit of mark-to-market rules that apply to short term debt market funds. Read more

Securities and Insurance Laws (Amendment) and Validation Bill, 2010

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Aug 2nd, 2010

It is sad day for financial market regulation as the Lok Sabha passed the Securities and Insurance Laws (Amendment) and Validation Bill, 2010.  The ordinance validates the ruling the government made in the Ulip row between Sebi and Irda, even as Sebi's has petitioned the Supreme court. to have decided the case in favour of Irda, without as much as a hearing, and to have validated it as an ordinance, is a shame.  The backdrop to the formation of the new committee set up by the same Ordinance to resolve disputes between financial sector regulators could not have been worse. Read more

Inflation - Answers Still are on the Supply Side

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Aug 2nd, 2010

A late evening flight from any city to Mumbai provides ample thinking time. Laptops have to be turned off for landing and about an hour of hovering above the city is to be expected. Perhaps there are clues to the inflation number in this mess, I thought.  The passenger rush has increased significantly and airports are like yesteryear state bus-stands, despite the expansions. Airlines announce new flights and destinations everyday as there is an increase in demand. But they are unable to convert the increased demand to increased profits, since they lose money in costs of providing the services, including the fuel wasted hovering over major cities. Read more

NFO and MF Expenses - Gazette Notification of 29 July 2010

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Thu, Jul 29th, 2010

The Gazette Notification bringing about amendments to the SEBI (Mutual funds) Regulation was notified on July 29, 2010 and re-issued in a circular on August 6, 2010. The notification brings to effect two major changes that have earlier been proposed by Sebi. Read more

Deposit Rates

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Wed, Jul 28th, 2010

The quarterly review of monetary policy released on July 27th is likely to have an immediate impact on the pricing of bank deposits.  There are three reasons why this could be so. First, deposits have been growing at about 14% and credit at around 20% and the gap is expected to persist even after adjusting for credit demand from the telecom sector for spectrum payments. Read more

Investor Insights

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Tue, Jul 27th, 2010

Franklin Templeton Asset Management (India) has commissioned CIEL to write the content for their quarterly investor magazine called "Investor Insights". We wrote the lead story, a section on key happenings, concepts, the Q&A section in the magazine. Read more

CIEL's Booklet for the India Invest Karo Campaign

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Mon, Jul 26th, 2010

The Finance Minister flagged off the "India Invest Karo" campaign of UTI AMC which commenced from Gujarat, Assam and Kashmir simultaneously, reaching Kanyakumari in 100 days, covering over 100 locations en route. Read more

Train the Trainer Workshop

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Sat, Jul 17th, 2010

We called 12 of our all-India trainers who have been associated with us for a workshop at Mumbai on July 6, 2010. The objective was to take them through the training content for the new NISM-MFD examination and the NISM- CPE training programme. Read more

MTM Impact on Short Term Debt Funds - Part 2

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Thu, Jul 8th, 2010

The imposition of the new MTM regime on debt securities is expected to commence on August 1, 2010. The more-than-91-day tenor segment (i.e excluding liquid funds) is where the industry's AUM for this segment lies and therefore the concerns there are higher. Read more

The coming 91-day FMP boom

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Fri, Jul 2nd, 2010

The base rate regime has kicked in with some surprises.  Banks have chosen to announce rates that are lower than those of SBI, sign of a bolder pricing regime in short-term markets. Most base rates that have been announced, subject to revision in a quarter, are still higher than prevailing short term rates. Read more

New MTM Rules for Liquid and Debt Funds

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Thu, Jul 1st, 2010

The Sebi circular changing the mark-to-market (MTM) rules for liquid and debt funds comes into effect today.  The summary provisions are: Read more

Credit for Content

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Thu, Jul 1st, 2010

It is a strange world that content writers inhabit. While authors are placed on the cover of books and journalists given bylines for their writing, content writers seldom get the credit for what they do. Printing and production costs are seen as variable, while content is mostly treated as a fixed cost, measured in man-hours and 'bought' from the authors.  Royalties are tough to get and acknowledgements if any, are lost inside the inside pages. In the e-learning business, the claimants to content are so many, that the SMEs and IDs are mostly anonymous. At CIEL, we strongly protest this regime and have refused 'prestigious' assignments that asked us to write anonymous content.  In several instances, these pieces of writing have been branded by the buyer, sold at a profit, or distributed widely without the authors being mentioned.  Read more

SEBI Circular on Time-frame for CPE Completion

Posted by: Uma Shashikant on Thu, Jul 1st, 2010

SEBI has clarified in a circular dated June 24, 2010 that all those who have to undergo the mandatory certification for mutual fund distribution should complete the NISM's CPE program before the expiry date of the certificate Read more