India Sees Economy Slowing Even Without Modi Shock Cash Ban

  • FY17 GDP seen growing 7.1%; doesn’t include cash ban effects
  • Economists see forecast lowered in revised est. due Feb. 28

India forecasts its growth will slow to a three-year low even before the effects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cash clampdown start to show.

Gross domestic product will grow 7.1 percent in the year through March, the Statistics Ministry said in a statement on Friday. However, the numbers don’t consider data from November onward, when Modi shocked the nation by banning high-value bank notes, Chief Statistician TCA Anant said at a subsequent briefing in New Delhi.

The $2 trillion economy is expected to expand 6.8 percent this fiscal year, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 18 economists. That’s slower than last year’s 7.6 percent and the 7.7 percent expansion predicted before Modi’s Nov. 8 move.

"The negative impact from the demonetization is yet to be captured," said Sujan Hajra, chief economist at Anand Rathi Securities Ltd. in Mumbai. "Going forward, we expect significant revision to this estimate."

Modi’s decision had sucked out 86 percent of currency in circulation in a nation where 98 percent of consumer payments are made in cash. Indians had until Dec. 30 to deposit their worthless bills into bank accounts. The central bank hasn’t yet disclosed how much of money was deposited.

"Given the underlying volatility in bank deposits, for sectors of financial, insurance, real estate and professional services, we took a conscious view to not base projection in November figures due to demonetization," Anant said. He added that he wouldn’t speculate on the revised estimate -- due Feb. 28.  

  • Gross value added -- a key input of GDP -- is seen growing 7 percent compared with the previous fiscal year’s 7.2 percent expansion
  • The forecast is dominated by a 9 percent growth projection for services such as financial, insurance and real estate, compared with the previous year’s 10.3 percent
  • Other services such as trade and telecommunication will grow 6 percent versus 9 percent
  • Manufacturing 7.4 percent versus 9.3 percent
  • Agriculture -- the biggest employer -- will expand 4.1 percent versus 1.2 percent
  • Construction -- the biggest creator of jobs -- 2.9 percent versus 3.9 percent
  • Mining will decline 1.8 percent compared with growth of 7.4 percent

The Reserve Bank of India -- which left rates unchanged in December despite lowering its GVA forecast to 7.1 percent from 7.6 percent -- will cut the key rate to 6 percent from 6.25 percent this quarter, a Bloomberg survey shows.

The central bank is due to review policy on Feb. 8, a week after the government presents its annual budget for the year starting April 1.

"We expect monetary and fiscal policies to be sufficiently expansionary to support growth," said Rupa Rege Nitsure, group chief economist at L&T Finance Holdings Ltd. in Mumbai.

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