BofAML Says RBI May Slash Rates For Third Straight Time In June
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das interacts with the media at the RBI office, in New Delhi. (Source: PTI) 

BofAML Says RBI May Slash Rates For Third Straight Time In June

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the Reserve Bank of India will cut its key policy rates by another 25 basis points, after Governor Shaktikanta Das’ weekend speech focusing on ways to revive growth.

Speaking at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington over the weekend, Das had stressed on reviving growth when inflation is trending below targets.

"We now expect the Monetary Policy Committee to cut rates by 0.25 percent to 5.75 percent on June 7," Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note. If done this will be the third straight reduction, taking the quantum of reduction in six months to a hefty 75 basis points.

The Wall Street brokerage had earlier said the next cut may be either in June or in August, and had added the rate action hinges on the rains.

In his speech, Das also presented "out-of-the-box" ideas like questioning why a rate cut should be limited to multiples of 0.25 percent and why a central bank cannot cut by 0.35 percent, the brokerage said.

It can be noted that the RBI is mandated to contain inflation at 4 percent in the medium-term with a 2 percentage points leeway either side. Lower inflation in recent months has resulted in the bank cutting rates by 0.50 percent in 2019 so far. March inflation printed at 2.86 percent, marginally up from the previous month.

The brokerage said headline inflation will come in at 2.6 percent in April as food prices will continue to fall. Core inflation, excluding food and fuel, is also expectedly peaking off to 4.8 percent in April from 5.1 percent in January, it said.

"Fundamentals do not support higher inflation. Tight liquidity is reining in demand-side inflation," it added.

Soft commodity prices limit supply side inflation, while global rate pressures are fading with the U.S. Fed turning dovish, it said.

Also read: MPC Needs To Be Mindful Of Core Inflation, Says JP Morgan’s Sajid Chinoy

The brokerage said there is a possibility of another cut in August as well but it will wait for the the monsoons before firming up its view.

Observing that the global financial crisis has exposed several limitations of conventional and unconventional monetary policy tools, Das on Friday had said monetary economics in emerging markets needs a rethink.

This includes challenging the conventional wisdom of modern central banks to hike or reduce their interest rates by 25 basis points or multiples thereof, Das said in a special address delivered on the sidelines of the annual Spring Meetings of the IFM and the World Bank.

Das said the unconventional monetary policies of advanced economies have resulted in "risks and spillovers" for the emerging markets.

Also read: Monetary Policy: MPC Cuts Benchmark Rate, Maintains Stance

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