As India gears up for a general election in the spring, an increase in populist rhetoric among the country's political parties may spook some investors. Sukumar Rajah, senior managing director and director of portfolio management, Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity, is more relaxed. He believes this jockeying for position is part and parcel of Indian politics and feels that the country's solid fundamentals continue to present a positive story for investors.
In the lead up to Indian general elections, we've come to expect an increase in populist rhetoric from the political parties vying for power.
This year is no exception. The general election is due to take place in April and May 2019, and we've already seen a number of manifesto promises designed to appeal to India's large rural community, including: farm loan waivers, subsidies, and a reduction in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and unemployment allowances.
今年也不例外。大选将于二零一九年四月和五月举行，我们已经看到不少旨在吸引印度广大农村社区的宣言和承诺，包括：免除农业贷款、给予补贴、降低商品及服务税 (GST) 和提供失业津贴。
A number of these measures could have significant fiscal implications for India's economy and have raised eyebrows among many investors.
However, we take a more pragmatic view. We believe India's growth path, underpinned by policies put in place since 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is well-enough established to withstand any short-term challenges.
然而，我们仍然秉持更加务实的观点。我们认为，二零一四年以来，印度总理纳伦德拉·莫迪 (Narendra Modi) 实施的一系列政策为印度的增长道路提供了支撑，足以承受任何短期挑战。
These policies, including the introduction of the GST, a revamped bankruptcy code, bank recapitalization and increasing foreign direct investment limits across sectors, as well as the Make in India initiative, have helped India become the fastest-growing major emerging-market economy in 2018, at 7.3% GDP growth.1
这些政策包括引入商品及服务税 (GST)、修订破产法、银行资本重组、提高各行业的外国直接投资限制，以及“印度制造”(Make in India) 倡议，帮助印度成为二零一八年增长最快的主要新兴市场经济体，GDP 增长 7.3%。
Whatever the outcome of the election, we believe, there is little scope for any new government to implement radical, populist policies, due to the set up between the government and its dependency on the Reserve Bank of India to balance its budget deficit. So, in our view, it's unlikely we'll see any major changes made to legislation whoever forms the new government.
我们相信，无论选举结果如何，任何新政府实施激进民粹主义政策的空间都很小，因为政府要依赖印度储备银行 (Reserve Bank of India) 平衡预算赤字。所以我们认为，无论是谁组建新政府，他们都不太可能会对立法做出任何重大改变。
If Modi is re-elected, we don't expect many material changes to India's economic path.
Even if Modi doesn't win outright, we think it's likely his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will still play some role in forming the new government, possibly as part of a coalition.
即使莫迪没有直接当选，我们认为，他领导的印度人民党 (BJP) 很可能仍在组建新政府方面发挥一定作用，或会成为联合政府的一部分。
Reasons to Be Optimistic
We think we're at a turning point for earnings growth. The last few years for earnings growth have been challenging, due to the effects of demonetization, implementation of GST and the impact of negative headlines from non-performing loans. We think it's likely we'll see a gradual improvement in earnings growth, which would be supportive for equities.
In the longer run, we believe the case for investing in India remains strong as fundamentals appear solid and long-term growth drivers give us reason to look at India in a positive light. Projected gross domestic product growth for 2019 remains relatively robust at 7.5%, and is estimated at 7.7% in 2020.2 By comparison, China's economy is forecast to grow at a slower rate of 6.2% this year and in 2020.3
India continues to benefit from secular growth drivers such as favorable demographics, infrastructure investment, urban consumption growth and increasing income levels. At present, we think consumption should partly aid India's development going forward, with domestic consumption set to become a US $6 trillion opportunity by 2030.4
印度继续受益于长期增长驱动因素，包括有利的人口结构、基础设施投资、城市消费增长和收入水平提高。目前，我们认为消费应该在一定程度上有助于印度未来的发展，到二零三零年，其国内消费有望带来 6 万亿美元的商机。
A prudent combination of less tax and increase in government spending, along with an increase in private sector capital expenditure (capex), should likely further sustain growth.
In summary, despite some risk-off sentiment we've seen towards Indian equities in the lead up to the election, we believe there's still a case for investing in India. Even if there was a surprise election result, we believe the impact from uncertainty would be felt in the short term, because fundamentals remain intact.
The comments, opinions and analyses presented herein are for informational purposes only and should not be considered individual investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or to adopt any investment strategy. Because market and economic conditions are subject to rapid change, comments, opinions and analyses are rendered as of the date of the posting and may change without notice. The material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region, market, industry, investment or strategy.
What Are the Risks?
All investments involve risks, including the possible loss of principal. Investments in foreign securities involve special risks including currency fluctuations, economic instability and political developments. Investments in emerging markets, of which frontier markets are a subset, involve heightened risks related to the same factors, in addition to those associated with these markets' smaller size, lesser liquidity and lack of established legal, political, business and social frameworks to support securities markets. Because these frameworks are typically even less developed in frontier markets, as well as various factors including the increased potential for extreme price volatility, illiquidity, trade barriers and exchange controls, the risks associated with emerging markets are magnified in frontier markets. Stock prices fluctuate, sometimes rapidly and dramatically, due to factors affecting individual companies, particular industries or sectors, or general market conditions.
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1. Source: International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook Update, January 2019.
2. Source: World Economic Forum, Future of Consumption in Fast-Growth Consumer Markets: India, January 2019.
4. Source: World Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund, January 2019. There is no assurance that any estimate, forecast or projection will be realized.