‘Fall in markets is problem of markets, not economy’

With Indian and some other emerging markets witnessing a major plunge on global growth headwinds, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Wednesday said these falls are actually ‘markets’ problem’ and not of the economy. However, the “problem in markets can hit the real economy also,” Rajan said here at World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting. Rajan said there have been huge flows in emerging markets but one should also understand that tremendous changes are taking place in emerging markets.

“For example, in India there is a massive online market that allows people in small towns and villages to buy things online. Real estate growth has been huge. A trader from Kashmir can sell his carpets to customers anywhere in the world,” he said. Rejecting suggestions that the fall in various emerging markets were due to weakness in their economies, Rajan said, “I think it is markets problem and the market problem can hit the real economy too”. Speaking at a session on The Growth Illusion, the RBI Governor said, “We are in a world (where) we are not quite sure (what) the fundamental value of an asset is”.

After there was some anticipation that central banks would start reducing rates, some asset classes have started finding their own levels, he said. 

“It’s not very clear whether we have benefitted from the way the rate tightening happened in recent years at various central banks. Some central bankers in the past, including in the US, had indeed done a great job,” Rajan noted.

Speaking at the same session, UBS chief Axel Weber said there has never been a decoupling in the world economy and if the US stays on the course then dollar is going to get stronger. He said people do not believe that the US Federal Reserve has got a lot of room for manoeuvring of rates to boost growth and there are better examples across the world such as in India for ways to stimulate the economy.

Stating that “we are in a world of make believe,” Rajan wondered, “what exactly are the fundamentals?”. “Perhaps it takes time for efforts to show up in terms of asset prices, productivity etc and then times have changed. Earlier we used to see movie in theatres but now we see on handheld devices,” he noted.
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