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The Rate Plateau 📶

The RBI, for the second time in a row left rates unchanged at 6.5%, last week. It maintained that the cumulative hike of 250 bps over the last year is transmitting through the system, and that its full impact of containing inflation would be seen in the coming months.

The RBI also maintained its stance that unchanged rates should be looked at a pause, and not a pivot, and that there could be further tightening if required. The pause had largely been priced in and consensus expectations were already hinting at a continued pause. That left the markets unmoved by the RBI’s announcement.

On a similar note, the US markets too have been factoring a pause in the Fed’s rate hike trajectory. Reasons in the US extend a little more than inflation inching down a little to include:

  1. The collapse of four lenders,

  2. A steep 500 bps increase already marking the sharpest in history,

  3. Wait for more data for more informed decision making

  4. Leading indicators suggesting a recession in the next 12 months

  5. Despite adding more jobs, the unemployment rate leaped up, and wage growth was strong but slower than expected - showing some pockets of weakness, compared to all-round strength earlier

The rate plateau however seems only applicable to the RBI and Fed. Expectations from the ECB are of a 25 bps rate hike in the upcoming decision - the central bank has already raised rates by 375 bps in the last year.

Expectations of a continued hike in rates in Europe despite it already being on the brink of a recession (and while Germany is already in a recession) have been led by the 6.1% inflation seen in May, which is lower than 7% in April, but is still way higher than ECB’s target of 2%.

Markets in the US and in India have seen a rally since inflation numbers started easing, and since rate plateauing started getting factored in. However, the nature of rallies are materially different across the two countries.

While the US is said to have been climbing a wall of worry (rise despite deteriorating economic conditions), India continues to be the fastest growing large economy in the world, making the Indian rally ‘relatively’ healthier.

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