Prof. Jayanth R. Varma’s Financial Markets Blog

A blog on financial markets and their regulation

Tapering Talk: Why was India hit so hard?

Barry Eichengreen and Poonam Gupta have written a paper on how the “Tapering Talk” by the US Federal Reserve in mid 2013 impacted emerging markets.

In order to determine which countries were affected more severely, Eichengreen and Gupta construct a “Pressure Index” based on changes in the exchange rate and foreign exchange reserves. They also construct a Pressure Index 2 that also includes the impact on the stock market. By both measures, they find that India was the worst affected within a peer group of seven countries. The peer group includes all the countries that Morgan Stanley have called the Fragile Five (Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey); in addition, it includes China and Russia. The Pressure Index 1 for India was 7.15 compared to a median of 3.46 for the peer group. Since the Indian stock market did not do too badly, the Pressure Index 2 for India was slightly better at 6.57 compared to a median of 4.63 for the peer group.

Turning to why some countries were hit harder than others, the paper finds:

What mattered more was the size of their financial markets; investors seeking to rebalance their portfolios concentrated on emerging markets with relatively large and liquid financial systems; these were the markets where they could most easily sell without incurring losses and where there was the most scope for portfolio rebalancing. The obvious contrast is with so-called frontier markets with smaller and less liquid financial systems. This is a reminder that success at growing the financial sector can be a mixed blessing. Among other things, it can accentuate the impact on an economy of financial shocks emanating from outside

In addition, we find that the largest impact of tapering was felt by countries that allowed exchange rates to run up most dramatically in the earlier period of expectations of continued ease on the part of the Federal Reserve, when large amounts of capital were flowing into emerging markets. Similarly, we find the largest impact in countries that allowed the current account deficit to widen most dramatically in the earlier period when it was easily financed. Countries that used policy and in some cases, perhaps, enjoyed good luck that allowed them to limit the rise in the real exchange rate and the growth of the current account deficit in the boom period suffered the smallest reversals.

Clearly, India’s increasing integration with global financial markets imposes greater market discipline on our policy makers than they have been used to in the past.


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