Indian Financial Market Challenges

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The financial services sector is emerging from the worst financial crisis for 80 years. Tighter regulation, an overhang of debt in the west and the immense growth in the power of banks in emerging economies will transform the landscape of banking.

The global financial system suffered a profound and traumatic shock in September 2008 when US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed. As market players withdrew from the financial system, credit dried up and world trade collapsed, there was a real and immediate fear that the world was heading for a repeat of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Two years on and there is growing optimism that both the world economy and the banking industry are recovering from the impact of the financial crisis. But it is equally clear that the financial world has changed permanently, both in terms of who holds the balance of power within global industry and how banks will be allowed to operate in future.

Issues faced by Indian Financial / banking sector:

Issue 1-Issue of consolidation - It is the current buzzword in the banking industry worldwide. The largest bank in China with an asset base of over US $400 billion. In contrast, the total asset of the largest two banks in India, one in public sector and another a private entity, are US $105 billion and US $38 billion. These figures are extremely illuminating and the onus is on Indian banks to take cognizance of this fact. The Government has raised the cap on FDI in private banks. The Reserve Bank has, on its part, suggested certain changes in the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2003 that seek to address some of the legal impediments arising in the consolidation process.

Issue 2-The second issue of import is that of management of costs. Cost containment is a key to sustainability of bank profits as well as their long-term viability. In 2003, operating costs of banks, expressed as per cent of total average asset, was lower than 2 per cent in...
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