India's Inclusion in JPMorgan's Bond Index: A Game Changer for Its Markets

by Alina Khan

Published On Jan. 19, 2024

In this article

The recent inclusion of India in JPMorgan’s global bond market index marks a significant milestone in the country's financial landscape. This strategic move, commencing on June 28, 2024, and spanning over ten months, is set to enhance India's position in the GBI-EM Global Diversified Index (GBI EM GD). By March 2025, India's weight in the index is projected to reach 10%, with the AUM of GBI-EM-GD standing at US$ 213 billion. Furthermore, India's presence in other indices within the GBI-EM suite, which collectively hold AUMs of US$ 236 billion, underscores the scale of this development. Initial inflows from this inclusion are estimated to be in the range of US$ 20-30 billion. This inclusion is a testament to India’s progressive steps in promoting foreign participation in its domestic market, with 23 Indian government bonds under the Fully Accessible Route (FAR) being eligible with a notional value of Rs 27 lakh crores, or US$ 330 billion.

Projected Debt Inflows and Market Impact

The anticipation of US$ 20-30 billion in index-related inflows is just the tip of the iceberg. A significant portion of these inflows will stem from India's 10% weight in the GBI-EM index, with potential for additional inflows due to heightened interest in Indian government securities from foreign investors. Despite recent government reforms, the share of Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) in government securities remains relatively low. The inclusion of Indian securities in the index is poised to revolutionize the investor landscape, potentially reducing the cost of capital and attracting a broader investor base. This could lead to a desirable push in demand for these securities and favorable yields.

Effects on Balance of Payments and INR

India's inclusion in the JP Morgan GBI-EM index is likely to boost FPI inflows into debt, potentially augmenting India’s Balance of Payments (BoP) surplus. However, the full impact of these inflows is expected only after June 2024. With India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) projected to reach approximately 2% of GDP in FY25, these inflows will be crucial for funding the higher CAD and building up foreign exchange reserves. The expected inflows necessitate rigorous monitoring and intervention by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), particularly to maintain the USD/INR exchange rate within the anticipated range of 82-84/$ in FY25.

Liquidity and Challenges

While the near-term liquidity scenario appears pressured, the medium-term outlook seems more favorable, particularly post FY25. The RBI's management of this situation, potentially through Open Market Operations (OMOs) and reverse repo adjustments, will be critical. However, the inclusion of India in the global bond index is not without its challenges. The inherent volatility of FPI flows, influenced by external factors, could lead to increased financial market volatility, impacting both the bond market and the domestic currency. This necessitates robust monitoring and intervention by the RBI to ensure market stability.

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Implications for Bond Yields and Borrowing Costs

India's fiscal deficit, targeted at 5.9% of GDP for the year ending March 31, 2024, implies substantial government borrowing. The inclusion in the index, by providing an additional source of funds, is expected to cap bond yields and reduce government borrowing costs. Benchmark bond yields are projected to decline by 10-15 basis points to around 7% in the coming months. This will also positively impact corporate borrowers, whose borrowing costs are benchmarked to government bonds. Nonetheless, the increased foreign inflows may heighten volatility in bond and currency markets, potentially prompting more active interventions by the government and RBI.

Outlook for the Rupee

The larger debt inflows anticipated from the next financial year are poised to ease the financing of India’s current account deficit, thus alleviating pressure on the rupee. The index inclusion-related inflows, estimated to be close to $24 billion, will significantly offset India's $81 billion current account deficit, as projected by IDFC First Bank for the next financial year. This development heralds a new era for the Indian rupee, potentially enhancing its stability and reducing the need for frequent interventions.

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To Sum Up

India's inclusion in JPMorgan’s global bond index is a transformative development for its financial markets. This move not only reflects the country's growing prominence on the global economic stage but also signals a maturing and increasingly attractive investment landscape. The anticipated influx of funds is expected to provide substantial support to the Indian economy, particularly in managing its fiscal and current account deficits. However, the associated risks and volatility underscore the need for vigilant oversight and strategic management by the RBI. As India navigates this new phase, the overall impact on its financial markets, currency, and economic stability will be closely watched by investors and policymakers alike.

Read other interesting articles on the India growth story:

  1. Are Foreign Investors Bullish On India? Will Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) Invest In The India
  2. Why we are bullish on the India Growth Story?
  3. Buying Stocks in November & December? Evidence of Seasonal Patterns in Global & India.

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