Analysis of reasons behind the recent rise of dollar against rupee
Analysis of reasons behind the recent rise of Dollar against Rupee
This paper analyses the reasons behind the recent rise of Dollar against Rupee as shown in
the chart below.
Chart showing the fall of Rupee against Dollar in the year 2013
What happened to Rupee recently?
Why did that happen? A detailed analysis.
The impact of the fall in rupee.
What actions have been taken to curb it
Conclusion and References
The rupee has recently fallen to an all time low against the dollar in the foreign exchange
market which has led to several debates, discussions and reforms in the Indian economy. The
exchange rate of a currency has always been a topic of discussion as it indicates a number of
things ranging from the condition of the economy of a country to the policies that the country
has followed over the time.
Trend of Rupee in the past:
Before diving deeper into the most recent trend let us have a look at how the rupee has
performed in the past.
Rupee-dollar post independence:
When India achieved independence in 1947, there were no external borrowings in the balance
of payments sheet. Hence, the exchange rate on 15th August, 1947 stood at $1 = Rs1. But to
reform the poor economy, the Five Year Plans (FYPs) were introduced. The aim was to bring
about a reform in various sectors such as agriculture, transport, communications, industry etc.
For the reforms, government needed to raise money. Hence, it needed foreign borrowing and
this devalued `. The foreign borrowing was further reinforced due to the Indo-China (1962)
and Indo-Pak (1965) war. India borrowed mainly from the US and under pressure from the
US to continue providing further aid, the rupee had to be devalued against the dollar. So
rupee stood at $1 = Rs7 by the end of 1966.
Rise of dollar in 1970s and 80s:
Due to incompetence of Indian politics (ex: assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi) coupled
with robust economic growth in the US the exchange rate fell to $1 = `12.36 by year 1985.
By 1990, it rose to $1 = Rs17.5
India was in huge debts as the forex reserves fell to new lows post liberalization. So, India
borrowed large amounts from the IMF at the expense of devaluing the Rupee. As a result, the
rupee hit new lows of $1 = Rs24.58 during early nineties.
Fast forward to 2013 and rupee stands at $1 = Rs68.85 on August 28th 2013, it‟s lowest ever.
This paper analyses the reasons behind this sudden fall in recent times.
Reasons for fall in Rupee in recent times:
Going by the fundamentals of economics, the price of something rises if the demand rises but
supply does not.
So, if the demand of dollars rises (red lines) more than the increase in supply of dollars (blue
line), the price of dollars rises from P1 to P2. This is the general reason behind the rise in
dollar against the rupee.
Relation of fall in rupee to demand and supply:
Suppose a customer wants to import something from the US. For this he would need dollars
as rupee will not be accepted by the US. So the customer goes to the foreign exchange market
to exchange rupee for dollar. But he is not alone in the market. And given India‟s imports are
larger than India‟s exports, there are more people demanding dollar than there are people who
are demanding rupee. Hence the demand for dollar is higher and rupee is devalued.
The major reasons behind the fall:
Following are some of the relevant points. The points shall be explained in terms of demand
supply later on.
1) Huge Trade and Current Deficit: India imports more goods than it exports. This
results in a trade imbalance, known as a trade deficit. The figure was around $185
billion in March 2012.
2) Reduction in capital inflows: Lately, India has become an attractive destination for
foreign investors. India received $30 billion through FDI, in addition to $18 billion
through FII in 2011-12. But due to uncertain conditions in the Indian market, policy
paralysis within the government and other domestic issues, the inflows have started
reducing in 2013.
3) High inflation: Due to high inflation, most foreigners and NRIs tend to keep money
abroad. This is because keeping the same money in the country reduces its value due
4) US Fed’s Bond Buying programme: One of the most significant reasons is the
sudden withdrawal of FIIs from India. US Fed Reserve made an announcement
hinting at tapering off the fiscal stimulus programme (Quantitative Easing) which
they had introduced in 2008 to help the US recover its economy. In 2008, the US was
in an economic crisis. So, the then Central Banker of the US Fed, Ben Bernanke,
announced the idea of „Quantitative Easing‟. As a result, billions of dollars were
released in the markets as the Fed bought government bonds and injected money into
the economy. Due to the higher liquidity, the interest rates went down leading to a
boom in the emerging economies such as India, China, Brazil, etc. But this fame was
short lived. Ben Bernanke in June 2013, hinted at the withdrawal of the quantitative
easing programme owing to the recovery of the US economy. Investors started
panicking, rates of interest in the US increased and the exchange rates of these
emerging economies once again started to decline. Due to this withdrawal, not only
rupee but several other currencies are at their own new lows as is shown by the figure
below. The picture shows the fall in the prices of the Asian countries in the past 52
A different way to understand:
Lesser the dollar in the market, the more will be its value and hence lesser the value of rupee.
Let us see how excess imports impact Indian economy. The most important thing that India
imports is crude oil.
The countries from which India imports crude oil do not accept the Indian Rupee for
payments. They accept an internationally accepted currency such as Dollar or Euro. As India
can‟t print either of the currencies, it has to rely on other methods to accumulate
dollars/euros. The three main ways in which India gets dollars are as follows:
By exporting goods and services.
Foreign investment in India.
This tells us that in order to keep importing the oil we need to keep getting dollars from the
above resources. If India runs out of foreign exchange, it will not be able to import oil,
without which nothing will function. This balance of imports and exports is kept track of
using the Current Account Deficit. The CAD is the difference between the imports and
exports of goods and services of the country, which in India‟s case is continuously increasing.
One of the biggest factors worsening India‟s CAD is the ever increasing gold and oil imports.
The festival “Akshaya Tritiya”, for instance, contributes heavily to imports in gold which
made the CAD even worse. But given only a limited amounts of foreign exchange, India can
either buy more of gold or more of oil. If imports for gold go high, the available forex for
importing oil reduces. But demand for oil remains the same/increases, as a result it burdens
the economy even further.
One might suggest that eliminating gold imports can be the answer to improving rupee‟s
condition. But a lot of people in the country earn their livelihood by selling gold. So, the
problem will be solved not by eliminating gold imports, but by eliminating the ever rising
demand for gold.
Another reason- Indian politics:
Several reasons are cited for the fall in rupee. One of them is the incompetence of the
government. The people who vote for the government largely belong to the lower and middle
class families which vote not to have a better economy but to benefit themselves. As a result,
instead of focusing more on the economic reforms, government focuses more on other factors
as it has to maintain its voter base. How does this affect in the long run? Warren Buffet‟s
quote summarizes this well: Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been
swimming naked. Basically, the investors are interested in the Indian economy only as long
as things are going fine. But as and when there is a crisis they move their money to the more
profitable markets. Here is what S&P (Standard and Poor‟s) has to say about the economy:
“The combination of a weakening political context for further reform, along with economic
deceleration, raises the risk that the government may take modest steps backward away from
economic liberalization in the event of unexpected economic shocks”
Consequences of the fall in rupee:
Downgrading of economic status:
India is now at the verge of being downgraded to “junk” status. If this happens, India will be
the first in the BRIC category to lose the “investment grade”. A “junk” rating implies that the
country will be unable to repay back the debt it has incurred. India last had a junk rating in
early 90s. S&P has already revised its rating outlook to India from “stable” to “negative” in
Benefits to the traders:
Due to the fall, the exports to other countries will become cheaper. So the fall will make
India‟s exports more attractive to foreign consumers. But the imports will suffer due to the
higher costs. This gives an edge to the domestic producers to compete with the international
sellers. So, the result is higher exports and lower imports which should reduce CAD to some
extent. But the increase in exports will be limited as the goods exported require inputs which
need to be imported.
As petrol is deregulated and diesel is partly deregulated, the increase in exchange rate is
expected to be passed onto the consumers. If the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) increase
fuel prices, there will be increase in transport prices which will raise inflation.
Students studying abroad:
Because of the depreciating rupee, students abroad will pay higher fees and the barrier to
pursue education abroad increases.
Due to cheaper rupee, it will be easier for people to tour India than the other way round.
How RBI measures have helped recover the rates and why it is temporary:
The rupee has recovered from 68+ to sub 62 as of 14th October, 2013. Various reasons have
been cited. The main reasons being the following:
i) Introduction of a „subsidized‟ FCNR (B) deposit scheme. FCNR (B) – Foreign Currency
Non-Resident (Bank). This simply means that India is seeking help from Indians residing
abroad for increasing the inflow of dollars to the country. An FCNR account helps NRIs
looking to invest in India without worrying about any currency risks. The currency which
comes into FCNR has to be from the „permitted currency‟ which include USD, GBP, Euro,
What really happens in an FCNR is that the deposit made in the foreign currency is promised
back to the depositor later (1year – 5 years) at a forward rate on the exchange rate. This
forward rate is fixed by the RBI. The more the forward rate, the worse for the banks as they
will need to return larger amount of rupees after converting them into the required currency
to return. What RBI has done is that it has lowered the FCNR rates from 7% to 3.5%. This
has given the banks the incentive to raise FCNR funds as a result dollars start flowing in.
But this is temporary as the FCNR deposit window is open only until 30th November.
ii) The RBI also allowed banks to raise 100% of their unimpaired tier-1 capital through
overseas borrowing and allowed them to swap the funds at 100 basis points below the
prevailing market rate. What this means is that a few banks which qualify (have a certain
minimum level of capital) can enter into dollar-rupee swaps with RBI for any currency
borrowed by the bank after 10th September. The RBI has made the swap more profitable for
the bank by making available the swaps at 100 basis points lower than the market rate. 100
basis points are equal to 1 percent. This scheme also lasts only till 30th November.
An estimated $5.6 billion have come in through the above two moves by RBI.
iii) Tapering of Quantitative Easing has been postponed by a few months by the US. But it is
estimated that very soon (estimate - December 2013) the policy of easing will be withdrawn.
After the hint of tapering early in 2013, $11.5 billion of FIIs have been withdrawn. There is
still an estimated $26.5 billion worth of investment which can exit once the tapering starts.
Hence, this is another reason that the stabilization of the rupee is only temporary.
iv) The shutdown in the US slowed the growth of dollars.
v) The expected uncertainty due to upcoming elections in India keeps the investors wary of
investing in the market.
This term paper briefly overviewed the recent situation of rupee against dollar and justified
the possible reasons behind it. It also delved into the reasons leading to a recovery in rupee
after its fall.
The following two papers were referred:
Hierarchical Integration: The Dollar Economy and the
Rupee Economy – Anirudh Krishna and Jan Nederveen Pieterse
An analytical study on Indian Rupee depreciation against the dollar – S Singhal
The papers can be found at:
In addition to the above the following sites were referred: