ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Volatility of Stock Returns

This paper investigates the volatility of stock returns in some Asian emerging markets in terms of the volatility of domestic and external factors. We found that both domestic macroeconomic variables and international variables are found to have explanatory power for stock return volatility. The evidence strongly suggests the presence of a significant contagion effect and integration of capital markets in this region. We also document that the role of government in terms of fiscal and monetary policy in the smooth functioning of the stock market is crucial in this region.

In Small Doses

The Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy announcement for the first half of this fiscal year is very much on the expected lines. There are no dramatic pronouncements on the macroeconomic front – the governor had earlier already ruled out any reduction in the Bank rate or the cash reserve ratio – no big bang reforms, no new announcements on the recent stock market/banking fraud. Nothing to unnerve the markets or unsettle the economy. Instead the policy carries forward the overall reform agenda – albeit in fits and starts – even as it tries to plug the loopholes in the system that have come to light in the context of the latest scam. However, market observers looking to find some admission of regulatory lapse on the part of the RBI are likely to be disappointed. Apart from a brief mention that the policy is being “presented at a time when serious lacunae have emerged in the functioning of certain segments of the financial system”, there is no elaboration of whether the central bank’s own supervisory lapses – of the clearing house or of urban cooperative banks/ commercial banks – contributed to the market operators’ shenanigans.

Monetary Policy Underpinnings

The objective of this paper is to capture the historical perspective in respect of monetary policy underpinnings with particular reference to India, the limitations and constraints in pursuing monetary policy objectives and throw light on current mainstream economic thinking and perspective in the context of changing economic environment worldwide.

The Changing Monetary Environment

In the recent past the RBI has been using open market operations to sterilise the inflows of foreign capital so as to contain domestic monetary expansion. Due to a rise in the income velocity of base money this has created an incentive for the government to resort more to market borrowings from banks which has raised real interest rates and which exerts a depressing impact on the growth of economic activity along with creating pressures for the inflation rate to increase. The changed environment calls for a reduction in government expenditures which, whilst reducing interest rates and enhancing the level of economic activity, will also help nudge the economy to a lower inflation level.

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