Reserve Bank is facing a dilemma as rising inflation threatens stability, but concerns over economic growth and external vulnerabilities complicate interest rate decisions.
- Inflation Warning vs. Unchanged Rates: The RBI's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) left interest rates unchanged despite warning of high inflation risks, indicating a tough spot
- Inflation Acceleration: Inflation surged in Q2, surpassing RBI's projections, and MPC raised Q2 inflation projection, suggesting potential underestimation.
- Temporary Respite Hopes: MPC hopes for short-term relief from lower LPG and vegetable prices, with a readiness to use Open Market Operations if needed.
Balancing Growth and Inflation
- Unwillingness to Raise Rates: RBI's reluctance to increase rates shows concerns about fragile economic growth despite inflation threats.
- Doubts over GDP Growth: Doubts about the accuracy of GDP growth estimates and cautious forecasts indicate economic uncertainty.
- External Risks: Weak goods exports, erratic monsoon, and a weakening rupee pose risks to the RBI's 6.5% GDP growth projection for FY24.
Risk of Imported Inflation
- Weakening Rupee: The rupee's 0.7% depreciation since August increases the risk of importing inflation and external vulnerabilities.
- Question of Rate Hike: RBI must consider raising rates to address these risks and maintain economic stability.
- External Sector Vulnerabilities: Failing to raise rates could exacerbate inflation and external sector vulnerabilities, warranting a cautious approach.