An Indian Spring in the making?
Or, looking back at 2013
It didn’t really seem like it during the year but as I think back on it, 2013 seems like a pretty significant year in more ways than one.
First off, for the markets of course. I think a significant bottom of long term proportions was created in this year. I think it is significant because it was a business cycle bottom for the financial services. Brokers folding, Retail/Institutional desks shutting down, advisors shutting shop, brokerage rates falling even further etc., etc. were all visible.
The rise in the index to new highs with continued inflow from FIIs even as domestic funds continued to be on selling side showed that select stocks continued to rule the market. The ‘real’ market of small and mid caps dropped around 15% for the year but appear to be making a comeback in the last four months, implying that the stock buyer may be back.
Domestic MFs found takers for closed end schemes, something that can save their skin in these depressed times. And perhaps, the market itself!
Rupee went for such a toss that it took down several other ships with it. After that emotional tailspin, it is now stabilizing. But everyone’s confidence is completely shaken whether they were in bonds, real estate or equities or commodities. This should lead to a lot of ranging action for multiple months.
In the world of politics something incredible happened. Mango people won! This could not have happened without the intelligentsia class having voted in big numbers. I see this as a major change in the political landscapes. Jokers were getting into power because the educated public did not go out to vote. NaMo and Kejriwal have certainly galvanized the thoughts of the educated class even as they are instilling hopes into the hearts of the rural mass. It would not surprise me to see a smaller version of an Arab spring occur in India! No despots here to overthrow but hasn’t the old political machinery rotted enough to become a despot all by itself? What will this herald for the future? It is an exciting thought.
Movies all became 100cr affairs. Slicker, glossier, heroinesgrew longer legs and heroesbuilt ever more six packs and both were on considerable display. The Indian prude seems to have been despatched to the hills. Mall culture takes hold ,lifestyle changes dramatically with Audis and Mercs becoming a ‘normal’ car and all of us eating in swankier (and a lot more expensive) restaurants every week. I wonder if the CPI is capturing these aspects and inflation is therefore understated by many percentage points!
It was the year when rapists finally got into the papers and deservedly got exposed. This most heinous of crimes was being largely ignored but 2013 had some startling cases reported and that caught the public attention as few other matters did. While this does make paper reading a bit morbid – suddenly there are just so many more cases all over the country of abuse against women- but at the same time it shows the triumph of the media power. While one may not agree with everything that Arnab Goswami says but he and his ilk have to be credited with the combative kind of journalism that seems to at least making wrong doers accountable. That is a big step forward.
So while bidding goodbye to 2013, I do think it was a watershed year, one in which women plight became a highlight, politics got exciting again, dousing the deep cynicism that we had all developed for it, the Rupee went on a roller coaster and seems to be getting off it, asset classes proved to be difficult to call and trade but at the end of the year hopes of markets redeeming themselves after several years of wild trends emerged. That more than anything would make the year memorable, for market men!