Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is the Q3 GDP growth rate of 6.1% a good or a bad number?

The short answer to the question: It depends on your viewpoint. Such a GDP growth number can not be seen in isolation, but in comparison with what has happened before and what is happening elsewhere.

Here are a few reasons why the number is good, and a few more reasons why the number is bad. The idea is not to confuse readers, but to provoke thinking and debate.

Reasons why Q3 GDP growth of 6.1% is good

If you look at the growth figures in some of the developed economies – particularly those in the Eurozone where even a 2% growth figure is considered gooda 6.1% growth figure should be celebrated with fireworks and champagne. The stark difference in growth figures is one of the reasons FIIs are investing big sums in our stock market.

High growth usually leads to inflation and therefore, high prices for goods and services. A more moderate growth figure has helped to tame inflation to a certain extent.

The Q4 GDP growth figure is unlikely to be much higher, but things are likely to improve from here on as there is usually a spurt in spending by the government sector to utilise left over funds from the previous year’s budget. In other words, the economic cycle may be bottoming out – which it usually does a few months after the stock market bottoms out.

Reasons why Q3 GDP growth of 6.1% is bad

This was the lowest growth figure in nearly 3 years, and almost 35% lower than the heady figure of 9.5% growth seen 5 years back.

There is evidence of economic slowdown everywhere – particularly in the manufacturing sector. Even services sector is slowing down. If growth doesn’t pick up soon, the FIIs may just pull out their money and invest it elsewhere.

Government’s fiscal deficit target for the year has already been exceeded in the first 10 months. That, coupled with the rise in oil prices, means that inflation may rear its ugly head again. The RBI may feel constrained to leave interest rates at the current high levels, or reduce it only marginally. That in turn will lead to slow growth in the next financial year.

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