Why India is doing better than most emerging markets


INVESTORS have fallen out of love with emerging markets. Since the start of last year emerging-market stocks have trailed their rich-world peers. Currencies are falling. Worst-hit is the Russian rouble, which has fallen by 30% against the dollar this year. The currencies of other biggish emerging markets, such as Brazil, Turkey and South Africa, have also weakened. For such economies growth is harder to come by. The IMF recently cut its forecasts for emerging markets by more than for rich countries. But India is a notable exception to the general pessimism. Its stockmarket has touched new highs. The rupee is stable. And the IMF nudged up its 2014 growth forecast for India to 5.8%. That figure is still quite low: growth rates of 8-9% have been more typical. But in comparison with others it is almost a boom. Why is India doing better than most emerging markets?

In part optimism about India owes to its newish government. In May Narendra Modi’s Baratiya Janata Party (BJP) won a thumping victory in elections on a pro-growth platform. Since then the BJP has strengthened its position in some key states. So far reform has been piecemeal. Procedures for government approvals have been streamlined. The powers of labour inspectors have been curbed. Civil servants now work harder. That has been enough to sustain hopes of further and bigger reforms. Yet much of the continued enthusiasm about India is down to luck. The currents that sway the global economy presently—the dollar’s strength; slowdown in China; aggressive money-printing in Japan; stagnation in the euro zone and falling oil prices—are less harmful to India than to most emerging markets.

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