Almost every week, Mahesh Kumar Jain, IDBI Bank Ltd’s managing director and chief executive officer (CEO), catches a flight from Mumbai—where the bank is headquartered—to Delhi to meet officials of the finance ministry who represent the majority owner of the bank, and discuss ways of turning it around. Jain flies economy class, as part of the austerity drive that the bank has launched to cut costs. His record at Indian Bank—which he had led first as an executive director holding charge of managing director and CEO (between June and November 2015) and then as the boss till he took over the IDBI Bank assignment on 3 April 2017 in a sudden swap that sent IDBI Bank chief Kishor Piraji Kharat to Indian Bank— was impressive, but can he turn around IDBI Bank? Laden with bad assets, IDBI Bank over the past two fiscal years has posted Rs10,738 crore in losses.
Within a month of taking over as a deputy governor at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 20 January, Viral V. Acharya, addressing a banking technology conference of the Indian Banks’ Association, chose to speak “with a certain sense of urgency” on the need and ways to “decisively resolve Indian banks’ stressed assets”. This speech of Acharya, 43, RBI’s youngest deputy governor post-liberalization, reminds us of another one—also by a deputy governor—two decades ago.
In media and India’s financial circle, speculation is mounting on the “deteriorating” relationship between the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the “attack” on the central bank’s autonomy. During the so-called demonetisation exercise in November-December 2016 when high-value currency notes worth 86% of money in circulation were withdrawn all of a sudden, the Indian central bank did everything it could do to support the government move. This annoyed many, including a couple of past governors of RBI, who found the central bank being subservient to the government.
Last week, Spain’s largest lender Banco Santander SA announced taking over struggling Banco Popular Espanol SA for a symbolic value of €1. Santander also plans a €7 billion ($7.88 billion) rights issue to infuse capital and provide for the bad loans of Popular, the country’s sixth biggest bank.
The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) first bimonthly policy of the current financial year in April projected average inflation of 4.5% in the first half of fiscal 2018 and 5% in the second half. Two months later, on Wednesday, it pared its inflation projection substantially—to a range of 2-3.
India’s retail inflation dropped to 2.99% year-on-year in April from 3.89% in March.