EMIs down by Rs 20 per lakh, we will all buy cars now

Sep 30, 2015

- By Vivek Kaul

Vivek Kaul
The Nobel Prize winning physicist Albert Einstein once said: "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

This line is believed to be the source of another quote that often gets attributed to Einstein: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." Irrespective of whether Einstein said this or not, it remains a very powerful quote.

It is typically applicable in scenarios where we are trying to explain things to people. And in our zeal to explain things we end up making things much simpler than they actually are. Now take the case of the Reserve Bank of India's decision to cut the repo rate by 50 basis points (one basis point is one hundredth of a percentage) to 6.75%, yesterday. Repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends to banks and acts as a sort of a benchmark to the interest rates that banks pay for their deposits and in turn charge on their loans.

This immediately led many analysts and experts who appear on television to conclude that EMIs will now fall and hence, people will borrow more and buy cars, bikes, homes, and so on. This simplistic sort of analysis you would have read by now in your daily newspaper as well.

Only if it was as simple as that.

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The banks borrow deposits at a certain rate of interest. They lend these deposits as loans at a higher rate of interest. Hence, for banks to cut the interest rates at which they lend, they first need to cut interest rates at which they borrow.

Further, even if banks cut deposit rates, after a cut in the repo rate, they may not cut lending rates or they may not cut lending rates to the same extent as the deposit rates. As the RBI said in a statement released yesterday: "The median base lending rates of banks have fallen by only about 30 basis points despite extremely easy liquidity conditions. This is a fraction of the 75 basis points of the policy rate reduction during January-June, even after a passage of eight months since the first rate action by the Reserve Bank. Bank deposit rates have, however, been reduced significantly, suggesting that further transmission is possible."

Before yesterday's 50 basis points cut in the repo rate, the RBI had cut the repo rate by 75 basis points between January and June 2015. In response to this banks had cut their lending rates by around 30 basis points on an average. They had cut their deposit rates more.

Why was this the case? In some cases, banks were simply trying to make more money. In other cases, particularly in case of public sector banks, the banks also had to deal with a huge amount of bad loans that had been piling up. Basically banks had lent money to corporates, who were no longer returning it. In this scenario, in order to maintain their profit levels, banks decided to cut their deposit rates more than their lending rates.

Further, banks also need to compete with small savings schemes offered by India Post. Hence, they cannot cut interest rates on their deposits beyond a point, unless the interest rates offered on the small savings schemes are cut as well.

The larger point being the "transmission" as experts like to call it from a repo rate cut to falling interest rates on banks loans, is not so straightforward, as it is often made out to be.

In the press conference that happened soon after the RBI rate cut, the economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said that the government would review the interest rate offered on small savings schemes like the Public Provident Fund (PPF) and post office deposits.

Soon after this, the State Bank of India cut its base rate by 40 basis points to 9.3%. The cut will be effective from October 5, 2015. Base rate is the minimum interest rate a bank charges its customers. This cut by the country's largest bank is expected to force the big private sector banks to act as well and cut their base rates. Andhra Bank also cut its base rate by 25 basis points to 9.7%.

Hence, this time the transmission of lower interest rates after a repo rate cut is likely to be faster than in the past. Nevertheless, does that mean consumption will pick up because interest rates are now slightly lower?

Let's do some basic maths to understand this. SBI currently offers a car loan at 10.05% to men, 35 basis points above its base rate of 9.7%. For women, the rate of interest charged is 10%.

A car loan of five years of Rs 5 lakh at 10.05% would mean paying an EMI of Rs 10,636 in order to repay the loan. With the base rate being cut by 40 basis points, a new car loan would be offered at an interest of 9.65%. This would mean an EMI of Rs 10,538 or around Rs 100 lower. Hence, for every Rs 1 lakh of loan, the EMI will come down by around Rs 20 (Rs 100 divided by 5).

So, does that mean people will now buy cars because the car loan EMI will be down Rs 20 per lakh? Does that also mean that people were earlier not buying cars because the car loan EMI was Rs 20 per lakh higher?

If the car industry is to be believed that seems to be the case. Rakesh Srivastava of Hyundai Motors told the news-agency PTI that the rate cut was a "festival gift" from the RBI. R S Kalsi of Maruti Suzuki said: "On the whole, it gives a good signal to customers. The market so far has been moving very slowly but with this (rate cut) sentiments will improve. It gives the much-needed boost to the market in the pre-festive season."

In fact, Pawan Munjal of Hero Honda also joined the rate-cut kirtan and said: "It has come at an opportune time as it will help in raising customer sentiment during the festival season."

Hero Honda as you would know is in the business of selling two-wheelers, motorcycles in particular. SBI currently charges 12.85% on its Superbike loan. The EMI on a Rs 50,000, three year loan, would work out to Rs 1681.1. With a 40 basis points cut, the new interest rate will be 12.45%. The EMI on this will be around Rs 1671.5, or around Rs 10 lower.

So people will go and buy bikes because the EMI is Rs 10 lower now? And they were not buying bikes earlier because the EMI was Rs 10 too high?

This sort of simplistic logic on part of corporates and analysis on part of the media, really beats me.

People will consume and buy things when they feel confident about their economic future. This will happen when they see job security and steady increments on the way. Steady increments will come when corporate profits start growing, which isn't the case currently. Corporate profits will start growing when the corporates are able to clean up the excessive debt that they have on their balance sheets now, among other things. And all this is easier said than done.

At the end of the day, monetary policy can only do so much.

Postscript: I would also suggest that you read the excellent piece by Tanushree Banerjee, Co-Head of Research at Equitymaster, on yesterday's rate cut. You can read the piece here.

Vivek Kaul is the Editor of the Diary and The Vivek Kaul Letter. Vivek is a writer who has worked at senior positions with the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) and The Economic Times, in the past. He is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. The latest book in the trilogy Easy Money: The Greatest Ponzi Scheme Ever and How It Is Set to Destroy the Global Financial System was published in March 2015. The books were bestsellers on Amazon. His writing has also appeared in The Times of India, The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Business World, Business Today, India Today, Business Standard, Forbes India, Deccan Chronicle, The Asian Age, Mutual Fund Insight, Wealth Insight, Swarajya, Bangalore Mirror among others.

Disclaimer: The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

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6 Responses to "EMIs down by Rs 20 per lakh, we will all buy cars now"

Parthiv

Oct 2, 2015

Well, sentimental positive effect, it sure is ! so, though not immediate, but in the long run, lower interest rates do help all generally, investments pick up, because of that, job opportunities also increase, and with that, personal borrowing also should increase ! but the immediate effect would not be much like these auto players are projecting !

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neha

Sep 30, 2015

logic that people will buy becoz rates r down is absolute nonsense, specially blders who feel high rates have decreased sales....

now this notion of builders will also be shattered..

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Velmurugan

Sep 30, 2015

Hi Vivek, you have been crying hoarse on this point so many times in the recent past or at least whenever the RBI policy was due and people were clamouring for a rate cut. Move over economics, it is marketing time now and marketing is all about perceptions and managing it. Watch out for those eye-popping ads which are going to claim that if you miss this season, you shall never be able to buy that house or that car or that anything that you have been waiting for. Everybody except the gullible consumer knows you are right, but then the short-term compulsions are too strong to admit it, for no one has the time to think about tomorrow. It is another day, we shall see that later.

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SundaraVaradan

Sep 30, 2015

Rate cut:
Every Analyst is talking about cut in EMI, better sales, better sentiment.... But, why no body is talking about loss-of-bank-deposit...?
Sales Gimmick..my dear... Sales Gimmick... Sales people are paid for it....! (Initially some people are also fooled to think of great EMI... till they suffer the truth...)

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Prasad

Sep 30, 2015

Well said Vivek. EMIs are not gonna bring demand. Only price corrections will bring back demand. Yesterday was a desperate attempt by RBI and govt to revive demand. If it not followed by price cuts by corporates, it will fail. The one who sells at right price, will do well.

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AMN

Sep 30, 2015

If someone had taken a Rs.1 crore housing loan for 15 years at 10% and his interest comes down to 9.6%, then his EMI reduces by 2.3% from Rs.107,461 to Rs.105,027.

A decent amount of saving. Especially if he is convinced that there are more rate cuts to come.

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