Growing consumer base to shield India from worst of world slowdown

The Times 
September 19, 2011 10:28AM

POPULATION growth and the transition of hundreds of millions of Indians from eating just one meal a day to two will help to shield the country from the worst of the global economic slowdown, according to one of India's top bankers.

Uday Kotak, founder of the Kotak Mahindra bank, said the strength of India's rural economy and booming domestic consumption would sustain economic growth at more than 7 per cent for the next few years, almost regardless of what happens in the euro zone or the US.
He also claimed India's economy could be shielded from a prolonged slowdown in global growth by weaker oil prices, which would help to trim inflation and cut the country's hefty energy import bill.
"The average Indian today is far more secure about his or her future than a few years ago. We are crossing a tipping point in terms of per capita income," said Mr Kotak, a sitar-playing multi-billionaire who started Kotak Mahindra in 1985 with just two staff and $US80,000 borrowed from friends and family.

Central banks return as gold buyers

By Jack Farchy,
September 19, 2011 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
(Financial Times) -- European central banks have become net buyers of gold for the first time in more than two decades, the latest sign of how the turbulence in the currency and debt markets has revolutionised the bullion market.

The purchases are minuscule compared with the size of the global gold market, but highlight a remarkable turnround from a wave of heavy selling by European central banks.
The role of central banks in the gold market will be a central topic of debate at the annual London Bullion Market Association conference, the largest gathering of the gold industry, in Montreal this week. The switch from large selling to buying has helped propel the gold price more than 25 per cent higher so far this year, hitting a nominal record of $1,920 a troy ounce this month. The shift in Europe comes as central banks in emerging markets are also loading up on gold.

Mexico, Russia, South Korea and Thailand have all made large purchases this year, in a move to reduce their exposure to the dollar. Globally, central banks are set to buy more gold this year than at any time since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system 40 years ago -- the last time the value of the dollar was linked to gold.

"We're going back to a time when gold is seen very much as money," Jonathan Spall, director of precious metals sales at Barclays Capital, told in a video interview. "It has been a complete reversal of the attitudes we saw during the 1990s."

European central banks have added about 25,000 ounces, or 0.8 tonnes, of gold to their reserves in the year to date, according to data from the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.