India’s recently crowned central bank head (and predecessor of the IMF’s Nostradamal Olivier Blanchard), Raghuram Rajan, has not had it easy since taking over India’s printer: with inflation through the roof, and only so much scapegoating of gold as the root of all of India’s evils, Rajan announced an unexpected 50 bps interest rate hike two days ago in an attempt to preempt the massive EM capital flight that has roundhoused Turkey, South Africa, Hungary, Argentina and most other current account deficit emerging markets. Whether he succeeds in keeping India away from the EM maelstrom will be unveiled in the coming days, although if last summer is any indication, the INR has a long way to fall.
Hinting that the worst is yet to come, was none other than Rajan himself, who yesterday in an interview in Mumbai with Bloomberg TV India, said that “international monetary cooperation has broken down.” Of course, when the Fed was monetizing $85 billion each and every month and stocks could only go up, nobody had a complaint about any cooperation, be it monetary or international. However, a 4% drop in the S&P from its all time high… and everyone begins to panic.
The reason for Rajan’s displeasure is because he believes that the DMs owe the EMs a favor: “Industrial countries have to play a part in restoring that, and they can’t at this point wash their hands off and say we’ll do what we need to and you do the adjustment.”Sorry Raghu – Bernanke hightailed it out of here and as Citi’s Steven Englander pointed out yesterday, left you “to twist in the wind.” Feel free to submit your thoughts on the matter in the overflowing complaint box in the Marriner Eccles lobby.
Instead of doing this, however, Rajan continued complaining to Bloomberg:
“Fortunately the IMF has stopped giving this as its mantra, but you hear from the industrial countries: We’ll do what we have to do, the markets will adjust and you can decide what you want to do,” Rajan said. “We need better cooperation and unfortunately that’s not been forthcoming so far.”
Rajan said yesterday developed countries might not like adjustments emerging markets take to cope with the outflows, without elaborating on specific measures. His surprise Jan. 28 move to raise the benchmark repurchase rate by a quarter point – – adding to increases of 50 basis points since he took over the Reserve Bank of India in September — was to stem consumer-price inflation running at close to 10 percent, he said.
“In an environment when there is external turmoil, we have to get our house in order and we can’t postpone that,” Rajan said. “So a collateral benefit of getting inflation down is that you also strengthen the belief in the value of the rupee.”
“When there is huge outside turmoil, even today post the Federal Reserve withdrawing stimulus further, it is extremely important that we both be seen on the same page.”
You know – this is truly wonderful: for once a central banker admits that his peers are on the verge of losing control of the globe – of course not in those words as the result would be sheer panic upon the realization that central bankers are just as clueless as everyone else – because while conducting central planning in one country is somewhat feasible for a period of time, doing so across every country across currencies, and capital markets, is impossible. And the Indian knows this.
He also knows that in a worst case scenario, the Indian Rupee will crash and burn and make last year’s record devaluation of the INR seem like breakfast at Gideon Gono’s. Which means that doing the right thing would mean allowing the people – his people – to preserve their wealth in the only real currency that will withstand whatever Emerging Market collapse may be headed this way. Gold.
Instead, what did the Indian Central Bank do? This.
- Jan 21 – The government raises the gold import duty by 2% to 6%.
- Jan 22 – The government more than doubles the duty on raw gold to 5%.
- Jan 30 – Finance Minister P. Chidambaram says there are no plans for additional taxes or curbs on gold imports.
- Feb 1 – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plans to introduce three or four gold-linked products in the next few months.
- Feb 6 – The RBI says it would consider imposing value and quantity restrictions on gold imports by banks.
- Feb 14 – The central bank relaxes rules on gold deposit schemes offered by banks by allowing lenders to offer the products with shorter maturities.
- Feb 20 – The Trade Ministry recommends suspending cheaper gold jewellery imports from Thailand.
- Feb 28 – India keeps its gold import duty unchanged in its annual national budget, defying industry expectations.
- Feb 28 – India proposes a transaction tax of 0.01% on nonagricultural futures contracts, including for precious metals.
- March 1 – The Finance Minister appeals to people not to buy so much gold.
- March 18 – The Reserve Bank of India says it is examining banks that sell gold coins and wealth management products to identify “systemic issues”, with a view to closing any legal loopholes.
- April 2 – The Finance Ministry suggests it is unlikely to raise the import tax on gold further to avoid smuggling and would instead introduce inflation-indexed instruments.
- May 3 – The RBI restricts the import of gold on a consignment basis by banks.
- June 3 – The Finance Minister says India cannot afford high levels of gold imports and may review its import policy.
- June 5 – India hikes the gold import duty by a third, to 8%.
- June 21 – Reliance Capital halts gold sales and investments in its gold-backed funds.
- June 24 – India’s biggest jewellers’ association asks members to stop selling gold bars and coins, about 35% of their business.
- July 10 – India’s jewellers announce they might continue a voluntary ban on sales of gold coins and bars for six months.
- July 22 – The RBI moves to tighten gold imports again, making them dependent on export volumes, but offers relief to domestic sellers by lifting restrictions on credit deals.
- July 31 – India hopes to contain gold imports well below the 845 tonnes that were shipped last year, the Finance Minister says.
- Aug 13 – India hikes the import duty on gold for a third time in 2013, to 10%. Duties for silver and platinum are also increased to 10%. The customs duty on gold ore bars, ore, and concentrate are increased to 8% from 6%.
- Aug 14 – India turns the screws on gold buying again, banning imports of coins and medallions and making domestic buyers pay cash.
- Aug 29 – India considers plan to allow commercial banks to buy gold direct from ordinary citizens
- Sept 19 – India hikes import duty on gold jewerly to 15%
And so on.
So thank you for your fake concern Raghuram, but if you really wanted to help your people when the hammer hits, you would lift all capital controls on gold now, and allow your population to preserve their wealth in the only way they have known for the past two thousand years – by converting it into the barabrous relic. And since you won’t, enjoy reaping what you and your demented central-planning peers have sown.