After Raghuram's Rajan Raaga, it's Urjit's Patel Rap at RBI
As the Mint Street readies for a new sheriff, industry and markets want much more than a change in the quintessential signature on currency notes when a soft-spoken but effective Urjit Patel takes over from an outspoken and rockstar-like Raghuram Rajan.
"Figuratively and symbolically, the change in personality that Patel brings in to the top job at RBI appears to be very comforting to the industry and bankers who were often at the receiving end of the barbs, mostly in form of policy actions, from Rajan," a veteran banker said.
While everyone has been effusive in showering praise on Patel being chosen to succeed Rajan, many industry leaders, top bankers and influential marketmen said they are also keeping their fingers crossed on whether Patel will continue as the 'inflation warrior' he was for his current Governor or his corporate and finance background would help taper down RBI's "hawk-eye fixation" on checking inflation and the 'deep surgery' to remove bad loans.
The wish list that 'Dr Patel', as he is commonly referred to as, faces is long and could be difficult to fulfil on many fronts -- lower the rates, go easy on banks and borrowers, be liberal with grant of banking licences, safeguard foreign reserves and rather beef it up.
Ironically, Patel himself was the "Brahmastra or the master tool", as described by a top functionary at an informal industry gathering here, that Rajan used in his battlefield -- where RBI is required to control inflation without hurting growth while also catering to unending demands for rate cuts, and also clean up books of the banks from bad loans including those induced upon them.
The top functionary also told the industrialists and bankers present there that Rajan had been rooting for Patel as his successor as RBI Governor, presumably to ensure that his legacy continues and a continuity ensues in the monetary policy -- an idea which also gained currency with the government which did not want any further negative publicity or any adverse impact on currency, bonds and stock markets.
"This was also precisely the reason, why the government decided to make the announcement of Patel's appointment on a Saturday -- that is to ensure that the markets do not see any knee jerk reaction and influential marketmen and banks are asked to ensure availability of sufficient liquidity of securities as well as cash," a high-level source said.