Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Water Babies

India is essentially an agricultural economy. Now why say that?! Agricultural and related activities accounts for nearly 17% of our GDP and employs nearly 60% of our labour force. Any growth in our economy happens from grass root level. It is this 60% of the work force that drives our economy. Past five to six years have been very good for our economy. Our GDP grew by average 8 - 9%. Agricultural growth may just have been in range of 2 - 4 % but the multiplier effect it created has resulted in this superb economic growth. Stable livelihood that agriculture has given to our 60% of population has resulted in money in their pockets. This they have spent on consuming goods and services other sectors have produced thereby giving India its much to talk about GDP growth.
Some may lobby for placing greater importance to IT in our economy or some may lobby for more and more SEZ. Others may talk about liberal financial markets for FDI and FII to pour money into our economy and few on disinvestment and all sorts of infrastructure building. However the bottom line is, all we need to ensure is that this 60% of population's pockets are never empty!
People point at our young crowd of IT and finance people in malls and say this is where our future growth lies in terms of consumption and spending by them. Yes we are a consumerist society and a consumption driven economy but the real consumption is not driven by this tiny mass of people we see flocking in newly built malls, its driven by this very 60% of agriculture labours spread across the rural hinterlands of our country (places which we hardly visit).

Speaking about importance of agriculture in our economy, on what is the output of this sector largely depended upon? Sadly, its still the monsoons. Our irrigation facilities are not so developed across the states and these farmers largely depend on blessings of rain god for their good livelihood. Building great agricultural infrastructure is another topic all together and may focus on this some other day, right now focus is on monsoons vs stock markets.
There are many charts which show correlation between GDP numbers and monsoons. Stock markets are said to be voting machines for a short term and weighing machine for a long term. What do they weigh? They in general weigh the health of our economy or in a long term conform to the GDP numbers. So if GDP numbers are good, our economy is growing, stock markets would also tend to have an upward bias. So as monsoons are co-related with GDP and GDP with stock markets, isn't monsoon co-related with stock markets.
This is the last thought that can come to someone's mind. Stock markets and monsoon, ha!

Let me try to analyze this issue a bit. Here I am presenting a chart of rainfall as % to LTA (long term average) and returns of sensex (a barometer for stock market), for the next year. So like in 1998 rainfall was 106% of LTA, and sensex returns in 1999 were -4% relative to 1998. Both the charts are scaled so as to overlap one another so as to see a co-relation.

One can clearly see a strong co-relation between rainfall in a particular year vs performance of stock markets in the following year. So we look at all possible numbers IIP, FII inflows, broker community's sentiments and what not, but a simple analysis of an event which has greatest impact on the lives of people which in turn have greatest impact on our economy can provide us with almost all the answers. Can it?!!

So with the current performance of monsoons, what would be the direction of stock markets next year can be anybody's guess. The point here is that many times something simple is more effective than something complex and just because something is so simple, don't overlook or ignore or replace it with something complex and hard to understand.

A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought!


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