Tags: Roach | India | China | morgan

Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach: India Worries Me More Than China

Thursday, 29 Dec 2011 07:11 AM

China may be rattling nerves as the world watches to see if the Asian giant can avoid a hard landing, but India is a riskier play, says Stephen S. Roach, non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.

China, the world's manufacturer, is at risk to falling global demand for its products, which poses a problem since the economy grew so fast and saw asset classes like housing swell in the process.

Yet China has taken steps to curb inflation and has tightened regulation on home financing.

"India is more problematic," Roach writes in a Project-Syndicate column.
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"As the only economy in Asia with a current-account deficit, its external funding problems can hardly be taken lightly. Like China, India's economic-growth momentum is ebbing. But unlike China, the downshift is more pronounced – GDP growth fell through the 7 percent threshold in the third calendar-year quarter of 2011, and annual industrial output actually fell by 5.1 percent in October."

Furthermore, the Indian currency, the rupee, is in a free fall, and despite numerous rate hikes, inflation remains a problem at a time when the government is running a budget deficit of around 9 percent of gross domestic product.

Translation: India has no monetary or fiscal policy tools like in China, the U.S. or Europe that it could consider using to right its economy.

The saving grace for the sub-continent will be the survival of the euro, which Roach sees as likely.

"While I remain a euro-skeptic, I believe that the political will to advance European integration will prevail. Consequently, I attach a low probability to the currency union’s disintegration," Roach writes.

"Barring such a worst-case outcome for Europe, the odds of a hard landing in either India or China should remain low."

India’s inflation rate is the highest among the BRIC nations, which include Brazil, Russia and China, with its prices rising 9.1 percent in November from a year before, according to Bloomberg.

China, meanwhile, ran a 4.2 percent rate, while Russia reported 6.8 percent and Brazil came in at 6.6 percent.

Furthermore, India's infrastructure is in need of serious improvement.

"Even if the global economic slowdown provides some relief from inflation in the short term, India will continue to be at a disadvantage until it fixes its problems with power, roads and other infrastructure," says Arun Singh, a Mumbai-based senior economist at Dun & Bradstreet Information Services India, Bloomberg reports.

In 2009, China spent $539 billion on infrastructure, about 10.8 percent of its gross domestic product, compared with $99 billion, or 7.5 percent of GDP, for India, Bloomberg adds, citing Morgan Stanley research.

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China may be rattling nerves as the world watches to see if the Asian giant can avoid a hard landing, but India is a riskier play, says Stephen S. Roach, non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia. China, the world's manufacturer, is at risk to falling global demand for...
Roach,India,China,morgan
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2011-11-29
Thursday, 29 Dec 2011 07:11 AM
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