For many years India was one of the most promising emerging markets. Real gross domestic product growth averaged more than 8 percent per year from 2003 through 2010, but by fiscal 2013 (which ran through March) the nations economic expansion had slowed to an annual rate of 5 percent the lowest level in more than a decade.
It continues to falter. Just last month both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank slashed their GDP forecasts for the current fiscal year, from 5.6 percent to 3.8 percent and from 6.1 percent to 4.7 percent, respectively. Those reductions didnt sit well with the current government, especially with national elections only months away. Chakravarthi Rangarajan, chairman of Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs economic advisory council, dismissed the institutions as unduly pessimistic and insisted that growth would meet or beat 5 percent this year.
However, with myriad problems besetting Indias economy, few market observers believe that much will change by the time polling begins in May. Inflation remains high Indias wholesale price index rose 6.46 percent year-over-year in September, up from 6.1 percent in August and the fastest rate since February as does the current-account deficit, which neared $88 billion, or a record 4.8 percent of GDP, in fiscal 2013. That was up from $78 billion, or 4.2 percent of GDP, in the previous fiscal year.
Growth has been one concern that we think will continue into early 2014, asserts Jyoti Jaipuria, head of India research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Mumbai. The fiscal deficit will also be a concern. Over the next six months, however, the primary focus of investors will likely be the elections and what the nature and shape of the new government is.....