Nishith Desai Associates

RBI & how its policies can start to affect the market

Disclaimer: This DD is to help start forming a market view as per RBI announcements. Also a gentle reminder that fundamentals play out over a longer time frame than intraday. The authors take no responsiblity for your yolos.
With contributions by Asli Bakchodi, Bran OP & dragononweed!

What is the RBI?
RBI is the central bank of India. They are one of the key players who affect India’s economic trajectory. They control currency supply, banking rules and more. This means that it is not a bank in which retailers or corporates can open an account with. Instead they are a bank for bankers and the Government of India.
Their functions can be broadly classified into 6.
· Monetary authority
· Financial supervisor for financial system
· Issuer of currency
· Manages Foreign exchange
· Bankers bank
· Banker to the government
This DD will take a look at each of these functions. It will be followed by a list of rates the RBI sets, and how changes in them can affect the market.
1. Monetary Authority
One of RBI’s functions is to achieve the goal of “Price Stability” in the economy. This essentially means achieving an inflation rate that is within a desired limit.
A monetary policy committee (MPC) decides on the desired inflation rate and its limits through majority vote of its 6 members, in consultation with the GoI.
The current inflation target for RBI is as follows
Consumer Price Inflation (CPI): 4%
Upper Limit: 6%
Lower Limit: 2%
An increase in CPI means less purchasing power. Generally speaking, if inflation is too high, the public starts cutting down on spending, leading to a negative impact on the markets. And vice versa. Lower inflation leads to more purchasing power, more spending, more investments leading to a positive impact on the market.
2. Financial Supervisor For Financial System
A financial system consists of financial markets (Capital market, money market, forex market etc.), financial institutions (banks, stock exchanges, NBFC etc) & financial assets (currencies, bills, bonds etc)
RBI supervises this entire system and lays down the rules and regulations for it. It can also use further ‘Selective Credit Controls’ to regulate banks.
3. Issues of currency
The RBI is responsible for the printing of currency notes. RBI is free to print as much as it wants as long as the minimum reserve of Rs 200 Cr (Gold 112 Cr) is maintained. The RBI has total assets or a balance size sheet of Rs. 51 trillion (April 2020). (1 Trillion = 1 Lakh crore)
India’s current reserves mean our increase in currency circulation is well managed.
4. Manages Foreign Exchange
RBI regulates all of India’s foreign exchange transactions. It is the custodian of all of foreign currencies in India. It allows for the foreign exchange value of the rupee to be controlled. RBI also buy and sell rupees in the foreign exchange market at its discretion.
In case of any currency movement, a country’s central bank can directly intervene to either push the currency up, as India has been doing, or to keep it artificially low, as the Chinese central bank does. To push up a currency, a central bank can sell dollars, which is the global reserve currency, or the currency against which all others are measured. To push down a currency, a central bank can buy dollars.
The RBI deciding this depends on the import/export and financial health of the country. Generally a weaker rupee means imports are more expensive, but are favourable for exports. And a stronger rupee means imports are cheaper but are unfavourable for exports.
A weaker rupee can make foreign investment more lucrative driving up FII. A stronger rupee can have an adverse effect of FII investing in markets.
5. Banker’s Bank
Every bank has to maintain a certain amount of reserve with the RBI. A certain percentage of a bank’s liabilities (anywhere between 3-15% as decided by RBI) has to be maintained in this account. This is called the Cash Reserve Ratio. This is determined by the MPC during the monetary policy review (which happens every six weeks at present).
It lends money from this reserve to other banks if they are short on cash, but generally, it is seen as a last resort move. Banks are encouraged to meet their shortfalls of cash from other resources.
6. Banker to the government
RBI is the entity that carries out ALL monetary transactions on behalf of the Government. It holds custody of the cash balance of the Government, gives temporary loans to both central and state governments and manages the debt operations of the central Government, through instruments of debt and the interest rates associated with them - like bonds.
The different rates set & managed by RBI
- Repo rate
The rate at which RBI is willing to lend to commercial banks is called as Repo Rate.
Banks sometimes need money for emergency or to maintain the SLR and CRR (explained below). They borrow this from RBI but have to pay some interest on it. The interest that is to be paid on the amount to the RBI is called as Repo Rate.
It does not function like a normal loan but acts like a forward contract. Banks have to provide collateral like government bonds, T-bills etc. Repo means Repurchase Option is the true meaning of Repo an agreement where the bank promises to repurchase these government securities after the repo period is over.
As a tool to control inflation, RBI increases the Repo Rate making it more expensive for banks to borrow from the RBI with a view to restrict availability of money. Exact opposite stance shall be taken in case of deflationary environment.
The change of repo rate is aimed to affect the flow of money in the economy. An increase in repo rate decreases the flow of money in the economy, while the decrease in repo rate increases the flow of money in the economy. RBI by changing these rates shows its stance to the economy at large whether they prioritize growth or inflation.
- Reverse Repo Rate
The rate at which the RBI is willing to borrow from the Banks is called as Reverse Repo Rate. If the RBI increases the reverse repo rate, it means that the RBI is willing to offer lucrative interest rate to banks to park their money with the RBI. Banks in this case agree to resell government securities after reverse repo period.
Generally, an increase in reverse repo rate that banks will have a higher incentive to park their money with RBI. It decreases liquidity, affecting the market in a negative manner. Decrease in reverse repo rate increases liquidity affecting the market in a positive manner.
Both the repo rate and reverse repo rate fall under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility tools for RBI.
- Cash reserve ratio (CRR)
Banks in India are required to deposit a specific percentage of their net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) in the form of CASH with the RBI. This minimum ratio (that is the part of the total deposits to be held as cash) is stipulated by the RBI and is known as the CRR or Cash Reserve Ratio. These reserves will not be in circulation at any point in time.
For example, if a bank had a NDTL (like current Account, Savings Account and Fixed Deposits) of 100Cr and the CRR is at 3%, it would have to keep 3Cr as Cash reserve ratio to the RBI. This amount earns no interest.
Currently it is at 3%. A lower cash ratio means banks can deposit just a lower amount and use the remaining money leading to higher liquidity. This translates to more money to invest which is seen as positive for the market. Inversely, a higher cash ratio equates to lower liquidity which translates to a negative market sentiment.
Thus, the RBI uses the CRR to control excess money flow and regulate liquidity in the economy.
- Statutory liquidity ratio (SLR)
Banks in India have to keep a certain percentage of their net demand and time liabilities WITH THEMSELVES. And this can be in the form of liquid assets like gold and government securities, not just cash. A lot of banks keep them in government bonds as they give a decent interest.
The current SLR ratio of 18.25%, which means that for every Rs.100 deposited in a bank, it has to invest Rs.18.50 in any of the asset classes approved by RBI.
A low SLR means higher levels of loans to the private sector. This boosts investment and acts as a positive sentiment for the market. Conversely a high SLR means tighter levels of credit and can cause a negative effect on the market.
Essentially, the RBI uses the SLR to control ease of credit in the economy. It also ensures that the banks maintain a certain level of funds to meet depositor’s demands instead of over liquidation.
- Bank Rate
Bank rate is a rate at which the Reserve Bank of India provides the loan to commercial banks without keeping any security. There is no agreement on repurchase that will be drawn up or agreed upon with no collateral as well. This is different from repo rate as loans taken with repo rate are taken on the basis of securities. Bank rate hence is higher than the repo rate.
Currently the bank rate is 4.25%. Since bank rate is essentially a loan interest rate like repo rate, it affects the market in similar ways.
- Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR)
This is the minimum rate below which the banks are not allowed to lend. Raising this rate, makes loans more expensive, drying up liquidity, affecting the market in a negative way. Similarly, lower MCLR rates will bring in high liquidity, affecting the market in a positive way.
MCLR is a varying lending rate instead of a single rate according to the kind of loans. Currently, the MCLR rate is between 6.65% - 7.15%
- Marginal Standing facility
Marginal Standing Facility is the interest rate at which a depository institution (generally banks) lends or borrows funds with another depository institution in the overnight market. Overnight market is the part of financial market which offers the shortest term loans. These loans have to be repaid the next day.
MSF can be used by a bank after it exhausts its eligible security holdings for borrowing under other options like the Liquidity adjustment facilities.
The MSF would be a penal rate for banks and the banks can borrow funds by pledging government securities within the limits of the statutory liquidity ratio.
The current rate stands at 4.25%. The effect it has on the market is synonymous with the other lending rates such as repo rate & bank rate.
- Loan to value ratio
The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is an assessment of lending risk that financial institutions and other lenders examine before approving a mortgage. Typically, loan assessments with high LTV ratios are considered higher risk loans.
Basically, if a companies preferred form of collateral rises in value and leads the market (growing faster than the market), then the company will see the loans that it signed with higher LTV suddenly reduce (but the interest rate remains the same).
Let’s consider an example of gold as a collateral. Consider a loan was approved with gold as collateral. The market price for gold is Rs 2000/g, and for each g, a loan of Rs 1500 was given. (The numbers are simplified for understanding). This would put LTV of the loan at 1500/2000 = 0.75. Since it is a substantial LTV, say the company priced the loan at 20% interest rate.
Now the next year, the price of gold rose to Rs 3000/kg. This would mean that the LTV of the current loan has changed to 0.5 but the company is not obligated to change the interest rate. This means that even if the company sees a lot of defaults, it is fairly protected by the unexpected surge in the underlying asset. Moreover, since the underlying asset is more valuable, default rates for the loans goes down as people are more protective of the collateral they have placed.
The same scenario for gold is happening right now and is the reason for gold backed loan providers like MUTHOOT to hit ATHs as gold is leading the economy right now. Also, these in these scenarios, it also enables companies to offer additional loan on same gold for those who are interested Instead of keeping the loan amount same most of the gold loan companies.
Based on above, we can see that as RBI changes LTV for certain assets, we are in a position to identify potential institutions that could get a good Quarterly result and try to enter it early.
Conclusion
The above rates contain the ways in the Central Bank manages the monetary policy, growth and inflation in the country.
Its impact on Stock market is often seen when these rates are changed, they act as triggers for the intraday positions on that day. But overall, the outlook is always maintained on how the RBI sees the country is doing, and knee jerk reactions are limited to intraday positions. The long term stance is always well within the limits of the outlook the big players in the market are expecting.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the problems facing the economy needn’t be uni-dimensional. Problems with inflation, growth, liquidity, currency depreciation all can come together, for which the RBI will have to play a balancing role with all it powers to change these rates and the forex reserve. So the effect on the market needs to be given more thought than simply extrapolated as ‘rates go low, markets go up’.
But understanding these individual effects of these rates allows you to start putting together the puzzle of how and where the market and the economy could go.
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