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Understanding India’s Economic Cycle: Key Characteristics

This article delves into India's economic cycle, offering insights into investment, consumption, global exports, and macro stability.

Investment Outperforming Consumption

India’s economic cycle is witnessing a notable shift, with investment taking precedence over consumption. In the period between 2003-07, investment growth surpassed consumption, driving a significant rise in the Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) rate. Currently, real GFCF growth remains robust, standing at 10.5%Y in 4Q23, propelled mainly by public sector investments. However, private sector capex is gaining momentum, with corporate profits recovering from a trough of 1.1% in F2020 to 5.4% in F2023. Conversely, private consumption growth is relatively subdued at 3.5%Y in 4Q23, highlighting the dominance of investment in driving economic expansion.

Public Capex Leading the Charge

In the ongoing cycle, strong public sector investments have spearheaded the investment surge. Government fixed capex as a percentage of GDP rose from 3.6% in F2019 to 4.0% in F2021, reflecting policymakers’ emphasis on supply-side reforms. This contrasts with the 2003-07 cycle, where private capex played a more pivotal role in driving the economic boom. However, public sector-led investments lay the groundwork for sustained growth, addressing infrastructure bottlenecks and paving the way for private sector participation.

Know: Capital Expenditure (CapEx) vs Operational Expenditure (OpEx)

Urban Consumer Dominance and Rural Catch-up

Similar to the 2003-07 cycle, urban demand is leading the recovery, with rural demand expected to catch up gradually. Jobs and income typically rebound first in urban areas, with the effects trickling down to rural segments over time. While rural recovery has been delayed due to successive shocks, recent improvements in rural household balance sheets indicate a positive trajectory. As rural demand strengthens, it is poised to converge with urban consumption levels, driving overall consumption growth.

Rise in Market Share in Global Exports

India’s market share in global exports is on an upward trajectory, mirroring trends observed in the early 2000s. Favorable external conditions and supply chain diversification efforts have contributed to India’s gains in goods and services exports. The services segment, in particular, has witnessed significant growth, with India’s market share rising from 3.7% in Dec-19 to 4.8% presently. Policy support for manufacturing and investments in infrastructure further bolster India’s position as a key player in the global export market.

Macro Stability Amid Growth

The current economic cycle exhibits robust macro stability, driven by productivity-led growth dynamics. Unlike the previous cycle, where macro stability risks were pronounced, the present cycle benefits from strong productivity gains and prudent policy measures. The central bank’s proactive stance, coupled with manageable inflation levels, ensures stability while supporting growth. Real interest rates remain elevated, providing a buffer against potential inflationary pressures.

Read: Decoding Macroeconomic Data

Conclusion

India’s economic cycle is marked by a shift towards investment-led growth, with public sector initiatives laying the groundwork for sustained expansion. While urban demand leads the recovery, rural segments are expected to catch up gradually, supported by improving household balance sheets. Additionally, India’s rising market share in global exports and macro stability measures further reinforce its position as a key player in the global economy. As the cycle progresses, continued focus on investment, consumption, and stability will be essential for driving inclusive and sustainable growth.

Disclaimer: This blog has been written exclusively for educational purposes. The securities mentioned are only examples and not recommendations. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet and is subject to changes. Please consult an expert before making related decisions. 
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