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Economist on India

February 7th, 2007 · No Comments

The Economist writes that the Indian economy is overheating.

Fast growth is essential to pull millions of Indians out of poverty, so it is sad to pour cold water on this story. But that is precisely what is needed when there are so many alarming signs of overheating. Across India prices are rising fast, factories are at full capacity, loans are piling up. Yes, the economic reforms of the early 1990s spurred competition, forced firms to become more productive and boosted India’s trendor sustainablerate of growth. But the problem is that this new speed limit is almost certainly lower than the government’s one. Historic data would suggest a figure not much above 7%well below China’s 9-10%.

When you mention overheating, many analysts point towards China. Yet India displays far more symptoms of the disease. Inflation has risen to 6-7% (compared with 2.8% in China); a record 99% of Indian firms report that they are operating above their optimal capacity; and credit is expanding at an annual rate of 30%, twice as fast as in China. Unlike China, India also has a widening current-account deficita classic sign of overheating, as domestic output fails to keep pace with surging demand. And if you are looking for a stockmarket bubble, Indian share prices have risen more than four-fold over the past four years, far more than in China. If something is not done, then a hard landing will become inevitable.

Tags: Emerging Markets