Friday, January 08, 2010

Right time to withdraw the stimulus???

So now, when we speak of India, we have the debate on whether it is too early to withdraw the stimulus package. India’s stimulus had a lot less to do with pumping money into the system than it had to do with tax cuts to the industry, lower interest rates and so on. So now, many feel that the recovery has been fragile and so stimulus should continue at least till September 2010. I am tempted to call in my great ‘Band Aid’ concept here :) . Are the wounds still green? And would prematurely pulling off the band-aid hurt? Observers and analysts feel, yes. I ask, was there a wound in the first place? What recovery are we talking about? We never slipped into negative growth, that defines a recession. We went from 9% GDP growth to 5.5% and now we are back at 7.9% GDP growth. Even this quarter the growth is expected to hover around the 8% mark. So, I ask – stimulus for what?

China entered into a stimulus since her economy was steeped in exports to the developed world and when the developed world was hit, it stopped consuming. And so China’s bread and butter was stolen away. But we are not so dependent on exports. And we can’t say that just because everyone in the world is stimulating themselves, we need to continue as well. If we keep up stimulation when the economy looks good to go, we’d be fuelling inflationary pressures. Through easy credit we’d be stepping into callous lending! At an extreme, we could be stepping into sub-prime territory in lending! Stimulus packages are a burden on the Government kitty and they divert funds away from much needed developmental expenditures. If India has been less hit by the Great Recession, we must thank our economy for having been resilient. We must thank the policy makers for quick action. And we must capitalize on this resilience to bounce back and out of stimulus-induced growth. The leading economic indicators spell cheer for India and so now is the time for the stimulus to be slowly decreased and eased off. This may be a bold step, but extreme times call for extreme measures.

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