Asia-Pacific News

India retains fastest-growing major economy tag despite cash crackdown


India's economy defied expectations on Tuesday to retain the title of the world's fastest-growing major economy, despite the pain caused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock cash crackdown.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to an annual 7.0 percent in October-December from 7.4 percent the previous quarter. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 6.4 percent growth rate. India's growth was higher than China's 6.8 percent for the last three months of 2016.

The federal statistics office retained its growth forecast for the fiscal year ending in March 2017 at 7.1 percent.

Photo courtesy Hindustan Times

The figures surprised economists, who had expected the economy to take a bigger hit from Modi's decision last November to outlaw old 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee banknotes, taking out 86 percent of the currency in circulation virtually overnight.

"Perhaps this data is not capturing the impact of demonetisation," said Aneesh Srivastava, chief investment officer, IDBI Federal Life Insurance Co.

"I am totally surprised and stunned to see this number ... I believe that, with a lag, we will see an impact on GDP numbers."

The data also backs the central bank's assessment, which all along maintained the economic disruption caused by Modi's shock monetary therapy as a transitory phenomenon.

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