Balance sheet stress that had been building before the coronavirus outbreak will probably worsen, Priyanka Kishore, head of economics for South Asia and South-East Asia, wrote in the report. She projects potential growth for India at 4.5% over the next five years, lower than 6.5% before the virus.
“It’s likely that headwinds already hampering growth prior to 2020 — such as stressed corporate balance sheets, elevated non-performing assets of banks, the fallout in non-bank financial companies, and labor market weakness -– will worsen,” she said. “The resulting long-term scars, probably among the worst globally, would push India’s trend growth substantially lower from pre-Covid levels.”
The contraction hasn’t deterred Prime Minister Narendra Modi from reiterating his target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025 from $2.8 trillion. While the government has announced a slew of measures to support growth, they have fallen well short of expectations to boost demand, leaving the central bank to do much of the heavy-lifting. A paper published by the Reserve Bank of India last week predicted Asia’s third-largest economy has entered a historic technical recession. Official data is due Nov. 27.
The International Monetary Fund predicts GDP will shrink 10.3% in the year to March 2021 as Modi’s sudden lockdown paralyzed activity. While a sharp rebound is forecast as economic activity resumes, there are lingering scars.
HSBC Holdings Plc said India’s potential growth could drop to 5% in the post-pandemic world from 6% on the eve of the outbreak and more than 7% before the global financial crisis.
“All supply-side factors feel the effect, with only human capital’s contribution unchanged from the pre-virus baseline,” Kishore said. “Capital accumulation takes the biggest hit because we expect balance-sheet stresses to worsen following the crisis, lengthening the investment recovery cycle.”