Indian home loans float only in one direction—up. Successive Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governors have tried to use a mix of benchmarks, moral-suation and nudges to get the banks to be fair to a set of borrowers who now account for a large part of the banks’ loan books, but loan rates have remained sticky at higher levels. As borrowers, we know the pain of having a loan that gets very quickly revised upwards when the policy rate rises, but stays high when the policy rates fall. Banks have managed to manage all benchmarks tried out every few years by RBI. The BPLR, base rate and the MCLR are the various benchmarks (read about these here) tried out over the past. Each time a new benchmark was introduced, RBI expected banks to pass on the rate cuts, but each time it failed.
As I breezily recommend an index fund to anybody who is risk averse and still wants “better” return than a bank deposit, I forget to take into account a slice of the reader and viewer segment which does not know the assumptions or the formulae behind this sweeping prediction of the future that I like to make: Indian equity will give an average return of about 15%, year-on-year (y-o-y), over the next 10-15 years. You’ve heard this statement over and over again so often that it almost seems like a basic rule. But it takes a vigilant reader of the paper to ask the obvious question: what is the basis of this statement and if past returns do not guarantee future returns, how can we predict what the markets will do in the next few years? Writes Anantha Padmanabhan from Bangalore: “Today the economy is booming, however, over the next 15-20 years is it feasible to have such a year-on-year growth of the Sensex (and thus the economy)? Historical data over the last 15 years is fine, but going forward I am a little sceptical. What makes us say that the markets will give a 15% year-on-year return over the next 20 years?”
What if a kilogram was a variable? Or a kilometre? How’d you react if the vendor was free to decide what a kg would measure today? The vendor could then choose to give you five mangoes a kg when he bought mangoes at Rs25 a kg, he could define a kilogram such that you got just four when the price he faced went up to Rs30 a kg. And if prices fell to Rs10 a kg, he had the power to define the kilogram at five mangoes a kg.