Thursday, November 24, 2011

How to find your creditworth online in India - You can for Rs 450

For Rs 450, individuals can now get a copy of their credit history and credit score - the document which in recent years has become an important determinant of whether an individual is eligible for a loan on not. 

On Wednesday, Credit Information Bureau of India (Cibil) - a central agency which collects and maintains borrower information from lenders across the country said that it will make available online the Cibil Transunion score. This score along with a record of credit history is used by lenders as a measure of creditworthiness. The score ranges between 300 and a maximum of 900. A score of 800 is considered good and often eligible for loan by most lenders. 

The main advantage of obtaining the report from Cibil is that borrowers can find out in advance how good their score is. If the overall score is low the borrower can strive to improve his profile by paying all future dues on time and bringing down his overall borrowing. Also borrowers can take corrective action if there has been misrepresentation by lenders. 

Obtaining the report is a three step process. Borrowers have to log onto the Cibil website and fill in the online request form and make a payment through either card or online banking. The report is released after the borrower identifies himself by answering three questions based on his credit history. 

According to a Cibil spokesperson factors that determine an individual's credit score include timeliness in repayments, extent of borrowing and the extent to which borrowings are unsecured. Interestingly an individual without any loans or credit cards will not have any credit history. As against this a borrower with small loans who has been repaying on time will have a good credit history. 

Although Cibil has been around for several years it is only the last two years that lenders have begun to extensively use the bureau as it now has a detailed history of almost the entire borrower population in India. After the passage of the credit information bill, banks have been incorporating in their loan agreement a clause that permits them to share borrower information with the bureau. 

Consumers benefit from the bureau as it emboldens lenders to make loans faster without having to independently investigate the borrowers track record. Home loan providers such as HDFC have been using Cibil to ascertain whether the borrower has defaulted in the past or whether he has multiple home loans.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Food inflation falls to 11.81% for week ended October 29

Food inflation declined marginally to 11.81 per cent in the week ended October 29, but the slight moderation in the rate of price rise provided little respite to consumers burdened by high prices of essential kitchen staples like vegetables and pulses.

Food inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 12.21 per cent in the previous week ended October 22. The rate of price rise of food items stood at 12.68 per cent in the corresponding week of the previous year.

As per data released by the government on Friday, vegetables became 26.05 per cent costlier on a year-on-year basis during the week ended October 29. Pulses grew costlier by 13.27 per cent, fruits by 11.70 per cent and milk by 11.79 per cent.

Eggs, meat and fish also became 12.74 per cent more expensive on an annual basis, while cereal prices were up 4.07 per cent.

However, onions became 19.31 per cent cheaper. Wheat prices were also down 1.77 per cent year-on-year during the week under review.

Inflation in the overall primary articles category stood at 11.43 per cent, compared to 12.08 per cent in the previous week. Primary articles have over 20 per cent weight in the wholesale price index.

Inflation in non-food articles, including fibres, oilseeds and minerals, was recorded at 6.41 per cent during the week under review.

Fuel and power inflation stood at 14.50 per cent during the week ended October 29, unchanged from the previous week.

With $85 trillion, how India can become world's largest economy

According to a study by US banking group Citi, India will be the world's largest economy within 39 years. Indian GDP in 2050, measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), will be $85.97 trillion. China, in second place, will have a GDP of $ 80.02 trillion and the US $ 39.07 trillion (see chart). 

With an estimated population in 2050 of 1.63 billion, India will thus have a per capita income of over $53,000 - in the range of today's wealthiest countries like Switzerland and Norway. Sounds too good to be true? Of course it is. 

On paper - mathematically - Indian poverty should disappear by 2050. The reason it won't is that huge inequalities in income will persist unless we rapidly implement second-generation economic reforms which deliver real benefits to the bottom of India's socio-economic pyramid. 

The first chart in our three-chart collage shows the ranking of the top five countries by GDP in 2050 as per Citi's projections. Indian GDP in 2011 is estimated at $4.45 trillion (PPP). To reach $85.97 trillion in 2050, the Indian economy will have to grow at an average annual rate of 8.1% a year for the next 39 years. Optimistic? Perhaps, but not overly so. 

The Citi study relies heavily on India's two dividends - demographic and democratic. The demographic dividend will ensure that India has the largest number of working-age people in the world (over 800 million) between 2015 and 2035 before tapering off as our population reaches a plateau of just over 1.60 billion and starts ageing (as China's already is). Fertility rates of increasingly educated urban and rural Indian women will dip from today's 2.6 to 1.7, which is when a country's birth and death rates equalise. 

A large number of working-age Indians between 18 and 60, however, will be less than optimally productive if they remain poorly educated and are therefore unemployable. To gain from our 20-year demographic sweet spot, education reform must clearly top the government's agenda. Infosys mentor N R Narayana Murthy was partly right when he said that the standard of IIT students has fallen. It has. Too many are rote-learners, spewed out by coaching classes, not creative thinkers. 

Education reform must start with government-run primary schools. Shockingly, in some villages, primary schools have no teachers, no students and an empty shed that serves as a classroom. The government spends 52,000 crore on education every year. That is less than it spends on fertiliser subsidy alone ( 55,000 crore). 

The second dividend Citi banks on to project India's rise to the top of the GDP rankings in 2050 - especially in comparison with China - is democracy. China's autocratic government, the argument goes, can command 10% GDP growth, build superhighways and create gleaming infrastructure. 

But beneath the towers and the maglev bullet train tracks of Shanghai lurks social tension. As China's per capita income rises, its 1.34 billion people will increasingly yearn for real freedom: a free press, an open Internet and, most crucially, democracy. 

If the Chinese government can't deliver on these, a "Chinese Spring" a decade hence cannot be ruled out. That could plunge China into years of uncertainty. Throughout history, as countries grew richer, they grew freer. Will China prove an exception? Unlikely. By that token, India's democracy is a double-edge scimitar. Our raucous, open society takes us two steps forward economically and then one step backwards. 

Kingfisher Airlines' Vijay Mallya questions duty to fly loss-making routes

Tycoon Vijay Mallya, whose cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines cancelled scores of flights this week, drawing the ire of the government and travellers and spooking investors, questioned on Saturday whether it was the carrier's duty to fly loss-making routes. 

Shares in Kingfisher, the country's second-largest airline by market share, fell as much as 18 per cent to an all-time low on Friday as investors fretted about the viability of the carrier, which acknowledged it had been late in paying salaries in recent months. 

Media reports suggest that the government had decided in principle to allow foreign airlines to own up to 24 percent of Indian carriers, a move that could throw a lifeline to Kingfisher and its struggling rivals. 

The report claims that the matter would be put before the cabinet of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the next four weeks. 

Mallya, the flamboyant liquor tycoon who owns a cricket team and a Formula One racing team, asked on the social networking site Twitter whether it was Kingfisher's duty to fly loss-making routes while it was being heavily taxed by state governments. 

Or should the airline be financially prudent and fly profitably, he asked. 

Late on Friday, Kingfisher said it was dropping unprofitable routes and speeding up a fleet reconfiguration, which would see its daily schedule of flights drop to 300 from 340. It recently said it was exiting the low-fare segment of the business. 

The carrier, whose share price has dropped 70 percent in 2011, bringing its market capitalisation below $200 million, also said on Friday it "does not see any risk to its future or long-term viability". 

Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said he would approach the finance minister to seek emergency bank assistance for troubled airlines. 

Gold hits record high of Rs 29,265 on seasonal demand

Gold prices today surged by Rs 175 to touch an all-time high of Rs 29,265 per 10 grams in the bullion market here today on rising seasonal demand amid a firming global trend. 

Silver also jumped up by Rs 800 to Rs 57,850 per kg. Traders said Gold spurted on heavy buying by stockists and jewellery makers to meet the ongoing marriage season demand amid a firming overseas trend as concerns about Europe's debt crisis boosted the demand for the metal as a protection of wealth. 

In New York, gold shot up by USD 6.60 to USD 1,765 an ounce. 

Back home, gold of 99.9 and 99.3 per cent purity shot up by Rs 175 each to Rs 29,265 and Rs 29,125 per 10 grams, respectively. Sovereign rose by Rs 850 to Rs 23,300 per piece of eight grams. 

Likewise, silver also climbed on brisk buying by industrial units. 

Silver ready jumped up by Rs 800 to Rs 57,850 per kg and weekly-based delivery by Rs 825 to Rs 57,750 per kg. 

Silver coins shot up by Rs 1,000 to Rs 67,000 for buying and Rs 68,000 for selling of 100 pieces.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Infosys close to acquiring Thomson Reuters unit: Report

India's Infosys Technologies is close to acquiring Thomson Reuters' healthcare business for $700-$750 million, an Indian newspaper reported. 

The Business Standard newspaper cited sources close to the development as saying India's No. 2 outsourcer was the front-runner for the business and an announcement was expected shortly. 

Both news and information provider Thomson Reuters and Infosys declined to comment. 

Money lying idle in savings accounts to fetch more now

The money lying idle in your bank account will now fetch you more returns, with the Reserve Bank of India completely deregulating interest rates on Tuesday. The savings or the SB account, which fetched account holders a measly 4%, was the last bastion of administered pricing imposed by the banking regulator and sets the stage for competition among banks to attract more deposits by offering attractive interest rates to consumers. 

The new system comes into effect immediately and would replace the existing one, which has been in place since 1978. 

Within hours of the policy, private sector player, Yes Bank, increased the return on its SB accounts to 6%. Other banks with a relatively lower share of retail deposits such as IDBI Bank and Kotak Bank may follow suit in a bid to poach customers from rivals. Although the small banks lack the distribution network, they are likely to play the upstart by targeting salary accounts with the larger banks.