Watch FII debt flows for rupee volatility
Sushmita V Gopalan 24 June 2013

Until now, all eyes have been on FII investment fluctuations in the equity market. However, as we watch the consequences of the massive pull-out of FII investment from the debt market play out, it emerges as a new source of volatility for the Indian rupee

In June 2013 foreign institutional investors (FII) pulled out Rs22,000 crore from the debt market. This is a staggering amount, because as much as 12% of total FII investment in the Indian debt market flew out in a span of 21 days. To put things in perspective, the second largest FII outflow from the debt market was less than Rs8,000 crore in March, 2012 and the largest outflow from the equity market where much more foreign money has come in, was about Rs17,000 crore (7.2% of total FII investment) in January 2008.

This came at a time when the current account deficit (CAD) was already precarious, having reached an all-time high of 6.7% of GDP at the end of 2012. India’s trade deficit too reached a seven-month high in May at $20.14 billion because of an almost 90% annual increase in gold and silver imports. These factors have together, compounded and exacerbated the volatility of the Indian rupee. However, FII investment and exit from the debt market has now emerged as one of the main factors that will determine the value of rupee, a value that will be set through a path of far greater volatility.

It is interesting to note that the equity market in comparison, has witnessed a drop in FII investment only of a little less than Rs2000 crore, less than 1% of total investment. This is a very small figure as compared to January 2008 and October 2008 which both saw pull outs of over 7%.  Large pull outs from equity markets often tend to be self-limiting. If a significant amount of capital was to flow out of an equity market, equity prices would drop considerably. Buyers would then step in to take advantage of lower prices, thus mitigating the impact of a mass-selling. However, this has not happened in the bond markets, possibly because bond prices still remain high.

While foreign flows into the equity market have always been a determinant of the strength of the rupee, the phenomenal growth of FII in debt over the last few years has created a new source of vulnerability for the rupee. FII inflows and outflows are often exogenously determined factors that the Indian government can have little control over, such as the tapering of quantitative easing (QE) by the US Federal Reserve.

When the rupee falls, foreign investors stand to lose from their Indian holdings, leading to a possible pullout from the market. A volatile currency also means that foreign investors need to pay more to hedge against a rising foreign exchange risk. Although yields from Indian debt are higher than other emerging markets like Brazil, Mexico and Hungary, these relatively high returns do not appear to be attractive enough against a falling rupee.

Two other factors have contributed to this massive pullout. The anticipated tapering of quantitative easing by the US Fed is likely to severely limit the liquidity at the disposal of FIIs to invest in emerging bond markets. The increase of treasury yields in the US, with the difference between yields in the 10-year US Treasury and the 10-year Indian G-Sec falling to 5.09% from 5.46%, also encourages a rebalancing of FII portfolios towards developed markets.

India’s immensely high current account deficit of about 6.7% of GDP increases the rupee’s sensitivity to disturbances in the external sector. One of the reasons that India managed to come out of the 1997 currency crisis relatively unscathed was that the CAD was low, at just about 1.25% of GDP in 1996-97.

After falling 1.5% against the dollar in response to massive pull-outs from the debt market, the rupee strengthened slightly on 21st June, closing at Rs59.26 against the dollar, up from Rs59.58 on 20th June. Inflows into the debt market, bolstered by Essar Steel’s 1 billion dollar fund-raising programme helped the rupee recoup to a small extent.
However, on Monday, the rupee weakened again. These fluctuations are indicative of just how vulnerable the rupee is under current circumstances. Volatility will only increase as the debt market grows and huge amounts of money move in and out. This increasing volatility is likely to have a seriously adverse impact on manufacturers of exports and investor confidence. The bridging of the current account deficit is also likely to become increasingly difficult.

Vinay Joshi
8 years ago
Ms. Sushmita Gopalan,

It was expected you answer my earlier post. FY13 CAD is 6.7%? Update us.

You yourself state that at CY12 CAD 6.7% but fail to answer why INR appreciated by 1%?

The same phenomenon & theory you use to put up your write up. Right.

In the first place you’re not defining debt? What is the difference between G-Secs & Essar bonds?

Kindly make it known that ‘no one’, in the world analysts, can predict bonds & take position.
Any economist will step on the happening or financial analyst not decisive to state.

The reason for me to post [apart from your no reply] was that you have explicitly attributed the fall of INR & outflows only to CAD, not analyzing global financials.

A valued post from Mr.Sachidanand [in response to me] was that you are right in the article put up by you. Nowhere in my earlier post I’ve negated it.

The aspect was one sided story, india centric, w/o fundamental analysis & as is the norm in the media creating euphoria by analysts. As if India squeezed!? What the hell?

I’ll quote Jim O’Neill, “India could teach the pessimists a lesson”. He is the person who coined BRIC.

Ms. Sushmita can you tell how big is Indian debt market? [of course with classification.]

So, what is 22KCR? Or pull out 12%! Should it make any difference if trillions of $ have been pulled out across the global financial system?

Please answer how much percentage of the debt market pull out it was? [of course classification.]
If you can!? If you can’t, the write up is contradictory.

Worldwide FII’s have sold treasury bonds in the ongoing scenario [esp EM’s] & if $3.5Bn worth sell off - a minor an aspect. [fine, if yields move up what about capital losses on bonds? Can you answer?]

Analyse bond slaughter with ref to India! The world over reversion of yields.

Well I accept that outflow pressurizes INR but to what extent? Is RBI comfortable at 60?

My earlier post to you quoted several aspects & Mr. Raghuram Rajan.

Is it not pertinent to attribute to the strengthening $ & the happenings worldwide?
Why is the $ strengthening? What fundamentals it has?

The $ Index has risen to 82.41 since June5.[June 25]

Mr. Raghuram Rajan in his recent speech at the Bank for International Settlements stated ‘ Asset prices are unlikely to remain stable IF the key intent of entry was to move asset prices from equilibrium’.

Ms. Sushmita, you’ve not answered why CAD surplus countries currencies have been depreciated? Answer.

The currency futures on NSE – [Jun,25] USDINR 280514 – Close 62.4 against USDINR 290713 Close 60.1125 with 26,316 trades.

Ms. Sushimta you have not answered me as per my earlier post – what the top five players play – [1+1+3] rather three on NSE & three on MCX? In MCX cross linked brokerages & other brokerages.

The INR has fallen from 30 to 40 to 50 to 60. What has been FIIs movements then? WHY now?

The sentimental phenomenon of global markets in crash mode with PRC in bear phase.
PRC 3.5trn in reserves! Why so? They do not know the meaning of CAD!!

The PRC manufacturers are setting up factories [FDI] in Vietnam, why? Is it capital flight?

Worldwide stock indices had a fall, US S&P500 fell 1.8% [June 25] it was a concern but since March 2009 it rallied by 147% high. So sentimental cue.

Why commodities are falling? Copper lowest since 2010.

So the QE3 threat should be out for market sentiments.
[I think by Sept’13 or so there will be tapering by 20Bn$.]

Ben B has been the most aggressive Fed CM, but he will have to take a call.
He will demit office Jan’14.


Dayananda Kamath k
8 years ago
don't you feel it is pre-determined game of congress. they very well know that block period for govt securities is coming to end. they brought in back dated amendments. now they are opening up for negotiated deal. the dealer who gave the blow is made president.and created a situation that fii s will get a good chance to rule the maket by rbi opening up local currency futures markets. and all the amenments are to sell the country to foriegners. now sebi is bringing in diluted kyc norms for fiis. it is preplanned to sell the country before 2014. and create havoc. fu
8 years ago
So far FII activity in equity investments were closely watched. It is imperative that Debt activity should also be watched more closely by Investors in share markets. It is increasingly becoming difficult for Investor to monitor so many things . As it is Pre Market conducted by NSE has become a joke. Today, Pre market SGF Nifty was showing strong opening. But within minutes, markets fell , only to recover later in the day and again fell from top. Very volatile markets completely unnerves Investors
Vinay Joshi
8 years ago
Ms.Sushmita Gopalan,

In the first place you’ve only concentrated on Indian scenario & not on global financial & bourses. India’s CAD is NOT 6.7% AS STATED BY YOU!? CORRECT IT!?


First & foremost you failed to analyze the global situation, Ben Bernanke since mid may had kept the world economies guessing [rather on tenterhooks] & should they be bracing for the worst? Will or will he not?

Actually QE3 is an open ended!
Today a month after we have some perspective outlined but what in the present global scenario?

But the spook of pulling out from EM’s by FII’s is not outlined by you or may not be aware.

Analytically has to be balanced with the fundamentals not singling INR – THOUGH YOU HAVE NOT ATTRIBUTED THE BASIC CAUSE, is it unknown phenomenon?

Can you answer now? Ben B has stated what he had to state yet global markets nervousness, currencies & equities put together are not seeing a clearer line. There’s no reassurance.

[Bit diverting – is RBI happy at 60 or 60+? Prez Obama said Ben B has stayed in his post longer than he wanted!? Our RBI Guv. has no such wish. Ben B was Bush nominee who enjoys confidence of Obama, YET INDEPENDENT IN POLICY.SO IS OUR D.SUBBARAO.]

The world currencies depreciated against the US$, South African Rand -10.38%, including currencies of surplus CAD countries, so what is your aspect of INR? Q3 CAD 6.7% why INR appreciated by 1%? Answer. Ms.Sushmita.

Can you answer my question? US 10 yr bond yields have reached all time high @ 2.39% so why FII’s not be invested in Indian 10yr @ 5+%?


Ms. Sushmita INR is actually lower than it should be, within 3 or4 weeks FII’s will throng Indian bourses. They will realize it. The QE1&QE2 enormous amounts by FII’s has been in illiquid & riskier junk bonds. SO THE PRESENT withdrawal to balance it out, EM’s pay a price for that.

To quote Mr. Raghuram Rajan, monies looking for int’l diversification, absolute returns for low return years, will come [pension funds, sovereign funds], Right now US pension funds are short of US$4Trn! Will they not look for solid returns!? Only EM’s possibility.




It’s a bird story. Do not get on the hype wagon.

It makes no difference as long as fiscal in place & speculative forex trading is curbed.
I’ve also stated gold importers -traders hoarding & no retail buyers investing.

Again to quote Mr.Raguram, look at the metrics & REER we are gearing up to overcome.

Ms. Sushmita, oil at $145 then, the oil futures were more than combined value of all recognized bourses of the world. [mkt.cap.]

So your article of FII’s pulling out be re-written.
[actually for a moment I had thought you were Ms.Shyamla, RBI [retd], Dir.]

Await your answer if any.

Replied to Vinay Joshi comment 8 years ago
As I understand, the object of the article was India centric & not global. Naturally Ms. Sushmita cannot be faulted for explaining what happened with Indian Rupee. She is perfectly right in her analysis. Global phenomenon is only a side story. If inflows from cheap $ are coming down due to tapering tip-off from Ben Bernanke, then the attraction of investing in Indian paper will slowly vanish in thin air. This will have cascading effect on Indian markets and we will see further reduction in Share market indices. I find nothing wrong in this article
Vinay Joshi
Replied to sachchidanand comment 8 years ago
Mr. Sachidanand,

In India centric one has to take into consideration global cues.

What has happened to INR is the same that has happened to other global currencies. So why isolated ref?

In no way i've faulted the article, the only contention was its happening in all markets world over.

If $ cheap then why cheaper JYen not coming in or CNY Renminbi?

FIIs sell DIIs purchase, attractive valuations.

I do appreciate your valued post, also see my post above apart from my earlier post.


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