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Barclays Sees 1991 Encore, Says Credit Growth To Fall To 10%

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Stating that the current economic scenario is similar to 1991-92 crisis, foreign brokerage Barclays today said credit growth of banks will slow down to 10-11 per cent levels, just like it did during the crisis in early 90s.

"The current macro context and consequently the monetary policy challenges are similar to those in FY1992," it said in a note.

Barclays drew a slew of parallels between the ongoing economic scenario and the one during the dark period of 1991-92, like a sharp GDP slowdown, strained external account and sticky inflation.

It can be noted that growth has fallen to a decade low of 5 per cent in FY13, the current account deficit is at a record high of 4.8 per cent, while the headline inflation also surged to 5.79 per cent due to the rupee depreciation, after showing ebbing for three months.

Top economic policymakers, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who ushered in the reforms in 1991 as a result of the crisis, have been repeatedly asserting that the scenario at present is not the same as 1991.

It added that in 1991-92, capital spending and credit growth were weak, and hence, going to the bond markets was an unattractive option for banks.

"If the FY92 scenario is repeated, credit growth could drop to 10-11 per cent," it said, conceding that this is contrary to the current focus on credit growth getting constrained because of weak deposit growth.

Barclays said given their inflexible cost structures, public sector banks would get impacted because of this while others like Yes Bank and Indusind Bank, which are witnessing a string of growth in operating expenses because of network investments will also be hit.

"A prolonged slowdown in credit growth would put pressure on the cost to income ratios of banks that have an inflexible cost base," it said.