Friday, September 19, 2014
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El milagro indio sigue vivo

NUEVA DELHI – A juzgar por lo que dicen algunos, la rosa económica india ha perdido su lozanía. Pese haber estado aclamada hasta hace poco como la próxima gran historia de éxito, el país se ha visto asaltado últimamente por malas noticias.

Abundan las historias de huida de inversores (debida principalmente a una ley tributaria restrospectiva promulgada en este año para recaudar impuestos por las transacciones extranjeras de empresas indias), inflación en aumento, al subir los precios de los alimentos y del combustible,  y luchas políticas intestinas, lo que ha retrasado una nueva política encaminada a permitir la inversión extranjera directa en el sector del comercio minorista de la India. Algunos han declarado incluso que “el caso de la India” ha concluido.

Pero el pesimismo actual es tan exagerado como el optimismo del pasado. Precisamente cuando el mundo ha afrontado una crisis y una recesión económicas mundiales sin precedentes, a consecuencia de la cual la mayoría de los países han padecido tasas de crecimiento negativas en al menos un trimestre durante los cuatro últimos años, la India sigue siendo la economía grande que más crece, después de China.

Se han citado muchas razones para explicar ese éxito. Los bancos y las instituciones financieras de la India no sintieron la tentación de comprar valores respaldados por hipotecas y participar en el “exquisito” comercio de derivados que arruinó a varias instituciones financieras occidentales y, aunque las exportaciones de mercancías de la India registraron descensos del 30 por ciento, aproximadamente, las exportaciones de servicios siguieron prosperando. Además, las transferencias de los indios que trabajan en el extranjero siguen siendo importantes, pues aumentaron de 46.400 millones de dólares en el período 2008-2009 a 57.800 millones de dólares en el período 2010-2011, la mayoría de ellas procedentes de la comunidad de trabajadores manuales indios en países del Golfo.

Por último, el sector exterior representa tan sólo el 20 por ciento, aproximadamente, del PIB de la India. La mayor parte de la economía es asunto interior: los indios que producen bienes y servicios para otros indios que los consumen en la India.

El sector privado indio es eficiente y emprendedor y compensa las insuficiencias del Estado. (Un chiste antiguo sugiere que la economía india aumenta por la noche, cuando el Gobierno duerme.) La India es experta en encauzar los ahorros nacionales en inversiones productivas, razón por la cual ha dependido mucho menos de la inversión extranjera directa e incluso está exportando capitales a los países de la OCDE, donde puede controlar y gestionar bien los activos en mercados financieros complejos. De hecho, la India, patria del mercado de valores más antiguo de Asia y dotada de una democracia próspera, tiene los sistemas básicos que necesita para hacer funcionar una economía del siglo XXI en un mundo abierto y en proceso de mundialización.

Hay otras razones para explicar la confianza en que la India capeará el temporal. No sólo tiene este país considerables recursos propios para invertir, sino que, además, a medida que la persistencia de la recesión mundial reduzca los rendimientos en Occidente, los inversores extranjeros volverán a interesarse por él.

Aun así, muchos se inclinan por comparar a la India desfavorablemente con China, por lo que vale la pena examinar algunas cifras macroeconómicas. La mitad del crecimiento de la India ha procedido del consumo privado y menos del diez por ciento de la demanda exterior; en cambio, el 65 por ciento del crecimiento real del PIB de China procede de las exportaciones y sólo el 25 por ciento del consumo privado. Así, pues, China es más vulnerable ante las crisis exteriores.

Además, la India tiene la mayor tasa de ahorro de los hogares de Asia, con un 32 por ciento de ingresos disponibles. De hecho, los hogares representan el 65 por ciento del ahorro nacional anual de la India, frente al 40 por ciento de China. Los préstamos fallidos representan tan sólo el dos por ciento de las carteras de créditos de los bancos indios frente al 20 por ciento de China. Y la fuerza laboral de la India ha estado aumentando casi un dos por ciento anual en el último decenio, mientras que la de China ha aumentado menos del uno por ciento.

Dejando aparte a China, la economía de la India creció el 6,5 por ciento en el período 2011-2012, con un aumento del sector de los servicios del nueve por ciento, que representan el 58 por ciento del crecimiento del PIB de la India: factor estabilizador cuando un mundo en recesión no puede permitirse el lujo de comprar más productos manufacturados.

Según los cálculos de McKinsey & Company, la clase media india llegará a ascender a unos 525 millones en 2025, una vez y media el tamaño de la clase media de los Estados Unidos, según las proyecciones existentes. Según el censo del año pasado, los 247 millones de hogares del país, dos tercios de ellos rurales, comunicaron un aumento en la tasa de alfabetización de hasta el 74 por ciento, frente al 65 por ciento en 2001. Tan sólo en los dos últimos años, se inauguraron 51.000 escuelas y se nombró a 680.000 maestros.

Un impresionante 63 por ciento de los indios tienen ahora teléfonos, frente al nueve por ciento de hace un decenio; el año pasado se instalaron cien millones de conexiones telefónicas, incluidos cuarenta millones de ellas en las zonas rurales, y la India tiene ahora 943.500 millones de conexiones telefónicas. Casi el 60 por ciento de los indios tienen una cuenta bancaria (de hecho, en los tres últimos años se han abierto 50 millones de nuevas cuentas bancarias, principalmente en las zonas rurales de la India).

El año pasado, se aumentó en 20.000 MW suplementarios la capacidad de generación eléctrica, con 3,5 millones de nuevas conexiones eléctricas en la India rural. Gracias a ello, el año pasado 8.000 pueblos recibieron corriente eléctrica por primera vez y el 93 por ciento de los indios de las ciudades pequeñas y grandes tiene ahora al menos algún acceso a la electricidad.

Todas esas tendencias son buenos augurios para el futuro económico de la India y no están aminorándose: la India se propone invertir un billón de dólares en desarrollo de las infraestructuras en los cinco próximos años, la mayor parte en forma de sociedades público-privadas, lo que brinda oportunidades muy interesantes a los inversores.

El panorama real de unos avances constantes es muy distinto de la impresión de un Gobierno presa de la inacción y la parálisis política. Como ha dicho modestamente el Primer Ministro Manmohan Singh: “Yo seré el primero en decir que debemos mejorar, pero que nadie dude que hemos logrado mucho”.

Traducido del inglés por Carlos Manzano.

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  1. CommentedAbhimanyu Sharma

    Shashi Tharoor is almost right here, we can actually measure growth by cell phone connections, its a lead measure, (China is ahead of us in that too). But the metric you use for slums and villages is standard of living (which is poor in India & China). By the way China has become the 2nd largest economy (5 trillion $) and it has done better than us in past 20 yrs . If we were to believe that we are doing ok, then I feel we should consider this- what would have happened if there were no credit crisis in the world? who would have done better, China with its enormus manufacturing of goods (with increased consumption of goods in world) or US/EU/Brasil/Russia/SA or India? So, I guess a good question is were we on the right track, or are we?

  2. CommentedViswanathan Suresh

    Mr. Tharoor selectively plucks macro-economic data to bolster his thesis about the so called Indian miracle. Whilst I do not wish to nitpick on his cherry picked data, I am somewhat surprised that he chooses to completely ignore the severe inhibitors to growth that frustrate and drive away entrepreneurs and investors alike. Mr. Tharoor does not mention the rampant corruption at all levels of the political class and the bureaucracy, the crumbling infra-structure, a clogged up judiciary and a broken educational system to name a few. What matters is not the addition of 20,000 watts of extra power but the availability of this power to industries and domestic consumers; a vibrant democracy is an asset but not when democracy equals dynastic rule or a caste based spoils system; 63 % of Indians may have phones but an equally relevant question is how many have access to clean water or toilets. Yes, the 1990s might have dismantled some superficial aspects of the licence raj but still, India remains a country where it is incredibly hard to do business. The World Bank`s "Ease of Doing Business" rankings available at www.doingbusiness.org/rankings/ puts India at # 132, with Nigeria at 133 and even Pakistan at a more respectable 105.

    Perhaps Mr. Tharoor could explain whether he is still optimistic given my cherry picked numbers too.

  3. CommentedMurali Krishna Hari

    Dr Sashi Tharoor, i have great respect for you for your intellectual knowledge, but you dont know the ground reality in India. Please visit villages and slums, you will know what exactly is India. We cannot measure growth based on number of cell phones. Please understand following facts which are Government data
    1) 46% children are malnutrtion
    2) 50% still practice open defecation
    3) 25% of India is under left wing extremism
    4) Reading skills of our children are very poor

    We have to progress a lot.

  4. CommentedManish Maheshwari

    // Not only does India have considerable resources of its own to put towards investment; as the persistence of global recession drives down returns in the West, foreign investors will look anew at India.//

    --- Tharoor was making the case for Foreign investment into India as late as June 11, 2012? The man is completely clueless. Even Indian businessmen are investing outside India these days. How can a government that persistently runs huge budget deficits and current account deficits have ''considerable resources of its own"?

    Let me cite another example of his cluelessness. Shashi Tharoor, when he was the (thoroughly undeserving) Deputy Foreign Minister of India used to argue that India has ancient civilisational links with Iran, which is the foundation of Indo-Iranian diplomatic relations.

    Little does he know (and he really knows little) that the last major interaction between India and Iran was Nadir Shah's invasion of 1739 when he plundered Delhi's treasury and killed 100s of thousands of civilians in cold blood. A man who thinks that this is what constitutes the foundation of a modern diplomatic engagement between India and Iran, should not only be ignored and but also never allowed to come anywhere near a position of power where he can cause immense harm with his woolly ideas.

      CommentedViswanathan Suresh

      Mr. Manish Maheswari,

      I dis-agree with your view that the Iranian Nadir Shahs invasion of Delhi in 1739 should determine India`s relations with Iran. Countries have all fought horrible wars against each other and made up later, often through trade links. The wars between Germany, France, Italy, the UK etc. have indeed resulted in horrendous casualties. But that has not prevented these countries from forging new ties predicated on peace, trade and open borders.

      You may not agree with Mr. Tharoor`s views or policies but he surely is a learned man and I respect his erudition. Additionally I doubt you have any evidence to buttress your claim that Mr. Tharoor was clueless about Indo-Iranian history of the 18th century. Assuming of course that it is relevant and should form the cornerstone of Indo-Iranian relations in 2012...

  5. CommentedSankaran Sivaramakrishnan

    Mr Tharoor is very good at misrepresenting facts to suit his political convenience. His party, the Indian national Congress and the people who run the party are chiefly responsible for the gloom that prevails.

    The "Loot Politics" of UPA constituents has been thoroughly exposed.

  6. CommentedAlok Shukla

    Seems very interesting points, though no one talks about
    #1 . the rottenness of governance at Center and State level. Despite of an eminent economist at the helm of affairs seems complete paralysis at policy making level.

    #2. Collectively the electorate are giving a decisive mandate which crimps whoever comes to power, seems to me a -ve spiral.

  7. CommentedSudhanshu Neema

    Is it even possible for the private sector to compensate for the state's inadequacies ?? Just wondering !! I mean when was the last time a private enterprise showed interest in improving the justice system, provide basic services, maintain law and order.

  8. CommentedSudhanshu Neema

    Dear Sir,

    I would like to bring to your notice a mistake of fact here. The tax law is with the objective of collecting taxes from foreign companies' Indian transactions, not Indian companies' foreign transactions.

    Provided that the reference is made to the General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR), announced by the Hon'ble finance minister during the budget speech.

  9. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    As Raghuram says, India's growth is a no-brainer; only if it exceeds a hurdle rate of 8% to 9%, it is really worth a discussion, otherwise it simply means that something is amiss. A growth rate of 5% to 6% is recessive, when normal inflation is at a high rate and when a burgeoning populace seeks pastures of hope from every bit of offering that comes at a price. Pricing of opportunities for the larger sections of people is a bizarre tale of resource allocations that have gone wrong, when all the shine is left to the few, in the echelons that are close to either power or wealth; the institution building for this has been left to the lurch that coalition politics knows the better of, or worse.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  10. CommentedAmar Harolikar

    Hi Shashi, Agree with you. Though I need to make clear that I don't hold the current leadership in high esteem. Pasting below a story I did a few days back.

    India’s Growth Story Intact: Interpreting macro numbers and trends the right way

    There has been a lot of debate about India’s growth story coming to an end, with many top brokerages like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs cutting GDP forecasts to sub 6% levels. However, my analysis shows India’s growth story is not only intact, it continues on a robust path.

    The gloom-and-doom scenarios being painted today are an exact repeat of the phenomenon that happened during 2008-09 when the debate started that India’s growth story might be over and the Morgan Stanleys and Goldman Sachses of the world cut the GDP forecast for FY10 to sub 6% levels and some to even sub 5% levels.

    What happened next?

    In FY10, India posted a GDP growth rate of nearly 8%!

    So what went wrong with all the doomsday scenarios for India? Two things went wrong.

    First, an undue importance was placed on year-over-year (YoY) growth rates without looking at the trend in absolute GDP. That’s a simple number interpretation issue. A case in point is all the gloom surrounding the sub 6% YoY growth rates posted in the last two quarters of fiscal 2008-09 and the latest 5.3% YoY growth posted for the March 2012 quarter.

    Second, not looking at the long-term trend and the impact of business cycles. That’s an economic analysis issue. Take a look at the chart below. I have compared the trend in absolute values of India GDP with that of U.S. GDP since 2005. I have compared just the India and U.S. trends in order to clearly explain how long-term growth rates and business cycles need to be interpreted. To facilitate a comparison, I have indexed the GDP values by initializing the starting values to 100.



    As you can see, the chart speaks for itself. The trend in U.S. GDP is like a straight line, having grown only a total of 7% in the past six years. India GDP, on the other hand, is on a strong uptrend, having grown more than 80% in the same period. Within this long-term trend, the ups and down of a normal business cycle can clearly be seen.

    Understanding long-term trends and business cycles, more often than not, does not need complex models. Most of the time simple charts and a bit of common sense work well enough. For those who would rather look at complex models, the RBI website is the right source, not brokerage research reports. There is some fantastic analysis available on the RBI site, the summary of which is that a growth rate in the 8% range is now the new normal.

    Current Economic Problems: More imagined than real
    ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

    The U.S. economy faces some structural issues, which are very real. Meanwhile, in India, the challenges to the long-term growth trend are more imagined than real.

    The problems facing the Indian economy today are more tactical and cyclical rather than of a strategic or long-term nature. It’s not as if everything is hunky dory – no it’s not. There are challenges around fiscal deficit, current account deficits, governance and reforms. But all these challenges have pretty much existed for the past six years during which the economy continued to grow at a very healthy rate.

    So, Is India’s Growth Story Intact?
    ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

    As of now, yes.

    As the chart clearly shows, the long-term trend in India GDP is fully intact and issues like the slowdowns in 2008 and 2011 are simply the business cycle playing itself out.

    So, is there nothing that can derail the growth story? Of course, there are many factors which can do so. But it’s only major structural changes that can derail India’s growth story, things like a significant fall in competitiveness in services exports, a rollback of reforms and such like. Not factors like dollar volatility, oil prices and minor variances in fiscal deficit.

    India has continued to grow at a steady pace for six years, a period characterized by a slowdown in reforms, the Lehman meltdown, dollar volatility, high fiscal deficits, high food prices and what not. Factors like these have only caused the normal ups and downs of a business cycle in India, and I forecast that they would only cause normal business cycles going forward, too.

    So, What Happens Next?
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    In the next phase of India’s business cycle, the continuing drop in commodity prices, oil prices and interest rates will speed up the recovery process. Corporate profitability, which has already improved significantly, would post some handsome growth numbers. All these would result in a continuing GDP uptrend.

    Amar Harolikar
    Unknown Insights

  11. CommentedAmar Harolikar

    Pranab is right - growth story intact

    Pranab Mukherjee has given statements in press saying that S&P report is not based on fresh rating action, and that there would be a turnaround in country’s growth prospects in coming months.

    I believe him to be right. My analysis shows that India growth story is intact and the gloom and doom scenarios being painted is due to inability of analyst’s to interpret numbers correctly, and an undue focus on business cycles at the cost of long term trend.

    As for S&P, as per my previous story, one has to be wary of their reports and ratings. In 2009 they had downgraded India sovereign rating just three months before the markets did an upward breakout and growth numbers turned around !

    India’s growth story is no thanks to the current government, but is a tribute to a basic resilience and the underlying growth momentum of Indian economy itself.

    India growth story is intact, not because of government action, but notwithstanding government inaction !

    Amar Harolikar
    Unknown Insights




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