Saturday, June 26, 2010

9% growth is within sight

It looks as though we will touch 9% growth this year itself, assuming the monsoons don't disappoint. Earlier, most forecasts suggested that growth would touch 9% only in 2011-12. If we do touch 9% this year, it will be in the face of a still incomplete global recovery. Conclusion: our growth of 9% is not entirely contingent on a global boom, as some commentators had claimed.

The challenge is to insulate 9% growth from the vagaries of the world economy. More on this in my ET column, Boom or no boom, India can grow at 9%

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tribunal for educational institutions

The foreign universities' bill has attracted much comment. But another important piece of legislation has gone unnoticed. This is a bill to set up tribunals at the National as well as state levels for educational instititions.

The Hindu reports:

The Educational Tribunals Bill, 2010, provides for the establishment of the State Educational Tribunals and the National Education Tribunal. The tribunals will exercise power and authority on service matters of any teacher or any other employee of a higher educational institution, on matters relating to affiliation of any higher educational institution (not being an University) with the affiliating University, on matters relating to unfair practices by any higher educational institution and matters that might be assigned to them by any other law for the time being in force.

This is a long overdue step. Teachers in educational institutions have little recourse against arbitary actions of management and the judicial processes are too slow to provide relief. Many of the reputed educational institutions, including the IIMs, have not thought it necessary to have an appropriate Grievance Redressal Mechanism or Appellate Authority, something one would regard as an elementary requirement of good governance.

New IITs - plenty of action

State governments have been generous in allocating land to the new IITs, reports BS. Most will have more land than the older ones. IIT Mandi in HP will have 513 acres; IIT Hyderabad 531 acres; IIT Gandhinagar 385 acres; IIT Ropar 500 acres; IIT Bhubaneswar gets 936 acres intended for 1100 faculty and 11,000 students- talk about thinking big!

Some are already operating from makeshift premises. Others plan to use research scholars for teaching until a core faculty of adequate size is in place. The build up of faculty strength so far is impressive. IIT Hyderabad already has 40 faculty.

I have never subscribed to the talk of 'faculty shortage' at the IITs and IIMs. There are ways and ways of getting faculty and I believe the newer IITs and IIMs will do a better job than the older ones because of the compulsion to deliver. Besides, there is virtue in newness- new leadership, a new campus, new ways of doing things. I believe the setting up of new IITs and IIMs is one of the best things to have happened in higher education.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Emerging market banks- home bias is best

Emerging market banks have done much better in the crisis than their counterparts in the west, especially banks in India and China. Return on assets in the crisis years, one finds, was higher than in the pre-crisis years! With loan growth poised to boom, many of the banks in emerging markets will soon catch up with western banks in terms of market cap.

They should not, however, develop global ambitions. The western banks have not succeeded, by and large, on the global stage except for three banks that have been global for a long time now (Citi, HSBC and Stanchart). Home bias is a better prescription for emerging market banks. More in my last ET column, Grow, but don't try to rule the world.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Basel III will be delayed further

Tougher capital and other rules for banks are likely to be held back for longer than thought earlier, FT reports. The UK and the US believe that delay in implementation is preferable to diluting the norms.

The Basel rules were originally expected to be phased in by the end of 2012, but sources familiar with the discussions said that the latest idea was that the new rules were likely to be put in place between 2014 and 2016.

Another G20 source said that the transition period did not matter much because once the new regulations were agreed, banks would come under enormous pressure to meet them quickly or explain why they could not, even if the formal transition was much longer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

US bank reform

A mountain of labour producing a mouse. That's my judgement on the Senate bill on US bank reform. It's meant to convey to the public that Congressmen are being tough on banks without changing anything substantial on the ground. One of the things about the bill is that the details have to be filled in by the regulators later.

I wrote about this in my ET column but didn't get a chance to provide the link.

Prescriptions for the world economy

Not many expected sovereign debt to spook the recovery to the extent it has following the Greek/EU crisis. Deleveraging of private sector and household debt has proceeded apace. Now, there is pressure to deleverage government debt as well.

Nouriel Roubini and Arnab Das propose the following:

First, the eurozone must get its act together. It must deregulate, liberalise, reform the south and stoke demand in the north to restore dynamism and growth; ease monetary policy to prevent deflation and boost competitiveness; implement sovereign debt restructuring mechanisms to limit moral hazard from bail-outs; and put expansion of the eurozone on ice.

Second, creditors need to take a hit, and debtors adjust. This is a solvency problem, demanding a grand work-out. ....

Third, it is time for radical reform of finance. The majority of proposals on the table are inadequate or irrelevant. Large financial institutions must be unbundled; they are too big, interconnected and complex to manage. Investors and customers can find all the traditional banking, investment banking, hedge fund, mutual fund and insurance services they need in specialised firms. We need to go back to Glass-Steagal on steroids.

Last, the global economy must be rebalanced....
All but the third are unexceptionable. Going back to Glass-Steagal, to my mind, is infeasible and also inappropriate. Size is the problem; not scope.