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Printing money: We need to solve it, not kick the can, says Uday Kotak

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Printing money: We need to solve it, not kick the can, says Uday Kotak

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Uday Kotak tweeted: “Central banks and sovereigns globally have 1 medicine for all problems: print money. Distorts value and values. Like climate change it is the future generation’s problem. We need to solve it not kick the can. Future is here. Future is now.” Unabated currency printing by Central banks have pushed up asset prices to stratospheric levels. The problems this has resulted in, need to be tackled now, and not left for the future.

Printing money: We need to solve it, not kick the can, says Uday Kotak
As the markets continue their northward march, despite the US Federal Reserve this week saying it will pare down its monthly asset purchases, banker Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra Bank, put things in perspective when he tweeted: “Central banks and sovereigns globally have 1 medicine for all problems: print money. Distorts value and values. Like climate change it is the future generation’s problem. We need to solve it not kick the can. Future is here. Future is now.”
From the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 to the Covid-19-led meltdown of economies, Central banks have resorted to one formula to save the day – printing notes.
Yes, the trillions of dollars pumped into the world economy, led by the US, has kept disaster at bay. Asset prices did not fall, stock markets did not sink and there was no run on currencies. But all this has come at a price.
Take the case of the US. The trillions of dollars of bond buying has buoyed up the markets. But how long can this continue? Early this week, the US said it would begin winding down its monthly asset purchases later this month at $15 billion per month. But it’s a long, long way away from stopping printing new notes. Even at that tiny rate of pullback in the addition of new notes, there was fear in certain circles that markets would take a tumble, a la the Taper Tantrum of 2013.
The excess money found its way into the stock markets and worldover markets zoomed. In India, after a sharp fall immediately after the second wave hit the country, the markets zoomed – what’s more, it continues to rise. It has risen to levels unthinkable a couple of years ago giving stocks eye-watering Price Equity (PE) ratios, which most experts feel is unwarranted and unreasonable. Yet, the march continues and everyone’s happy for now.
But the crunch will come when the liquidity begins to dry up; when the note-printing stops. At that time, holders of these assets with highly inflated prices will obviously try to sell them. But will there be enough takers for these assets? No, would be the emphatic answer most experts would say, going by past experience.
So, when Kotak says it’s a problem that’s been created by this generation of decision-makers but one which they have no will to tackle, he’s hit the nail on the head. It’s being left to the future to be tackled.
Economists wonder if the zero-interest, below-zero-interest rate regime can ever be brought to an end. There’s no clear answer to this question because the consequences could be long and very painful. But like Kotak says, the can should not be kicked down the lane any further. For, the ‘Future is now’, it’s got to be tackled ― now.
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