Friday, October 17, 2008

Revisiting the first post of this blog

Rewiding almost 3 years into the past, I found my original post. Most of the observations made then have been vindicated by the turn of events. Three years later, the stock market is up 10% and looks very likely to go below 9k in the following weeks, thereby wiping gains for 3 years. The FII's have taken the Indian investor for a ride down a a tunnel of hell. As everyone reads the bad news, I'm thinking of what could be good prices to pay for apts in the year ahead ? Anything over 3000 is steep by any standards. Black money can chase other black money, however loans are in short supply so they cannot chase other loans. If a black money operator buys an apt paying 1cr, immediately the Income Tax folks will get alerted and will be on his case. The only place where they can hide money is to buy land/plots where there is a substantial portion in black. As state governments keep raising gudiance value, this avenue is closing as well. In Chennai the guidance of OMR road is up 10 times over the past 3 years. Hence speculation here attracts the Income tax bugs. The only avenue black money folks have is to fund builders, however given the state of the loan market, they will be unwilling to do so. The goal of every black money operator is to convert the black to white, but as avenues for the conversion evaporate due to increasing risk, storing black money under the matteress or in hidden cabinets seems to the only way. Any builder who is looking for money is paying 30% interest, this used to be the case in 2003. So the market is dull, people have lost money in the market upto 80% in many cases. How long can 10000 per sq/ft hold ?
and I just got this in the mail and couldn't come at a better time. A drop of 40% from the existing rates, However to take the risk of execution during a time of financial crisis is foolhardy. We will see these prices for ready to occupy apts soon.

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Friday, December 09, 2005
Asset Bubble or not ?
As the Indian economy grew by 8% as stated by the finance minster(12/9/2005), the sensex hit an all time high of 9057 and housing prices have continued to skyrocket in major metro areas.

One of the worrisome aspects of this growth is that low interest rates have helped companies in BIFR(chapter 11 for India) to come back with healthy balance sheets specifically due to debt-refinancing. (18% to 11%). The productivity growth or job growth is not wholly responsible for the growth. Also many of these restructured companies might pay themselves dividends or buy back shares thereby increasing the wealth of the directors, and owners and thus balloning the stock market beyond fundamental basis.

The white collar worker has to deal with the consequences of this semi-illusionary growth in the form of increasing property prices (10-20% year-over-year) and is borrowing heavily thanks to low interest rates.

As property prices push higher, the risk of default of these small apt buyers increases as global interest rates rise, energy prices push higher , inflation increases and the rupee devalues as the external debt mounts rapidly

Most Indians in the market for a apartment now have never experienced a downturn in the economy so they might find themselves highly shafted if they over-leverage themselves on the loans as well as the floating interest rates.

Unfortunately unlike the developed west , India has no reliable source of data available for real estate prices and transactions and most prices are rigged by a cartel of builders. I'm also skeptical of the media in reporting the truth since they too dont have any reliable data to go from and finally real estate agents, the less said about them the better.

This blog attempts to understand area development and price movements and if people contribute uncover hidden unsold inventory. I'll post information about Mumbai/Pune/Bangalore over which I can get anecdotal evidence or as I browse the news papers and talk to real-estate agents and builders. All articles and comments are welcome. I'll be the moderator of the comments so that the spammers dont take over.

This blog is inspired from a similar blog which is now a reliable source of data for various US housing markets.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Equity Funds attacked by bears

I was curious to see what the year to date performance could be on mutual funds on 10/15/2008 and here is the snapshot of the query. Not one diversified equity fund has shown any gains over the past 1 year. Attached is the picture which says it all. You can run other queries on the Mutual fund screener tool and find out the top losers over the past year or two but the amount of money lost this year is over 30% so all the gains made over the 3 year horizon are wiped out in half. If someone had put the same amount of money in a fixed deposit, they wouldn't have done too bad. The FII's have scooted with the gains and the brokerages have to be squarely blamed for deceiving the common Indian investor of their life savings.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Run on FMP's causing panic

This could be India's subprime and credit crisis which will affect the realty industry the most.

Sucheta Dalal & Debashis Basu say that withdrawals from Fixed Maturity Plans can turn into a huge problem

A full blown panic in the real estate and financial services sectors has led to the withdrawal of nearly Rs 30,000 crore from Fixed Maturity Plans of Mutual Funds in the past week alone. These funds are meeting all redemption demands by borrowing money at high rates of 20% to 24%. This may end up destroying parts of their corpus and may lead to losses for retail investors. Retail investors have (as usual) foolishly remained invested in FMPs lured by their pitch which touted them ‘safer than fixed deposits and offering higher returns and lower taxes’, on the assurance of ‘indicative’ returns, although MoneyLIFE magazine (FMPs Lose Shine) had repeatedly pointed out that the risks of FDs and FMPs are so vastly different that comparing them are like comparing oranges and apples. FMPs may end up being like the unregulated Overseas Corporate Bodies of the previous market decline. Someone needs to urgently look at what is going on inside them. Unfortunately, SEBI does not even gather data about the FMPs issued by mutual funds or the quality of securities in them.

The other problem today is super-liquid schemes that invest in the call money market. There was no regulatory oversight on these schemes and they have been allowed not to mark their investment to market and could claim to hold them to maturity even when it was a one-year paper. This has created a very dangerous situation today.

Finance and realty companies are the weakest link in the chain. Many FMPs have subscribed to short term AAA rated paper of finance and realty companies. The credit rating of these papers now looks doubtful. One finance company (belonging to the bluest of the blue chip business house whose previous finance arm was deeply involved in the 2001 scam), has also renewed its paper at an exorbitant rate of 32%.

The smarter, corporate investors are taking no chances and pulling out funds and exacerbating the salutation leading to panic. No regulator has bothered to collect data on the investment pattern of FMPs and liquid schemes and keep tabs on it. As result, the systemic risk posed by the redemption runs on these schemes and the shaky underlying debt securities in their portfolio is suddenly upon us and nobody knows whether the RBI should look into it or SEBI or both. Mutual funds that are borrowing to meet redemption are refusing to utilise their bank credit for this emergency, because they feel that it will only put information in the public domain and cause a run on the fund.