India has spent nearly $100 billion in the past year to defend the rupee in a battle that has so far failed to staunch the local currency’s drop to a record low against the dollar on Friday.
Data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed that the country’s forex reserves have fallen to $545.7 billion as of September 16, from $550.8 billion a week ago, and a far cry from the $642.45 billion seen exactly a year ago. The reading is the lowest since October 2, 2020.
To be sure, some of the drop is also due to revaluation changes, given the dollar’s move upwards.
“The fall in reserves is a combination of factors such as intervention, balance of payments deficit, and the revaluation of reserves held in other currencies vis-a-vis the US dollar,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA in New Delhi.
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India’s currency fell to a record low 81 a dollar and has lost over 8 per cent so far this year against the greenback. The dollar has surged to a two-decade high against major currencies after the Federal Reserve signaled a longer-than-expected tightening cycle.
The data comes as RBI has mounted a strong defense in the last few weeks to soothe market fears over further currency losses. The decline in the rupee is also raising worries with impact seen on inflation, external deficits and company profits.
“You buy an umbrella to use it when it rains,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said earlier in July, indicating that the central bank had been using foreign exchange reserves to deal with currency volatility.
While India’s forex buffer should be sufficient to shield the economy against any major external shock, we expect the RBI to become more prudent in the latter part of the current fiscal year, Kotak Mahindra Bank economists lead by Upasna Bhardwaj wrote in a note.