The Indian market disappointed investors in 2019, with three key drivers behind its performance. These included the non-banking financial companies (NBFC) crisis, the Indian election and India/Pakistan conflict. Despite this, the prospects for 2020 and beyond remain positive.
The drivers of performance
Global markets were influenced by a range of events including the US/China trade war, slowing growth and recession fears in 2019. Alongside these concerns, the Indian economy was affected by a range of domestic issues, with three drivers of particular significance.
1. NBFC crisis
NBFCs offer similar services to banks but don’t hold a banking license. Some examples include equipment leasing companies or infrastructure financing. These companies have been responsible for much of the financial liquidity in India through short term borrowing from banks and mutual funds.
In late 2018, an NBFC called Infrastructure Leasing & Finance Services (IL & FS) defaulted on multiple loans and covenants across India. Banks and mutual funds stopped lending to NBFCs as a result, and this caused a liquidity and confidence issue across India. The crisis continued across the early parts of 2019.
2. Government election
Narendra Modi returned to power in the India election, which offers ongoing political stability. However, it is common in the lead-up to an election for incumbent governments to focus more on re-election than policy implementation and 2019 was no exception to this.
3. India/Pakistan conflict
Hostilities between India and Pakistan escalated in 2019, with the volatility subsequently felt in the economy.
The outlook for 2020
The Indian government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) implemented two key measures to manage the economic challenges of 2019. These included five rate cuts and a corporate tax cut to increase confidence, investment and liquidity. These are expected to support the economy for some time to come.
In addition, the Indian economy is likely to continue to benefit from factors like low inflation, ongoing political and economic reform and low stable crude oil prices. Like the broader Asian region, India should also continue to experience a growing middle-class and in turn, increasing consumption spending patterns that accompany this.
You can access India through the ETFS Reliance India Nifty 50 ETF (ASX Code: NDIA).
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