The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha during Monsoon Session 2017. The Bill is currently being examined by a Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament. It seeks to establish a Resolution Corporation which will monitor the risk faced by financial firms such as banks and insurance companies, and resolve them in case of failure. For FAQs explaining the regulatory framework under the Bill, please see here.
Over the last few days, there has been some discussion around provisions of the Bill which allow for cancellation or writing down of liabilities of a financial firm (known as bail-in)., There are concerns that these provisions may put depositors in an unfavourable position in case a bank fails. In this context, we explain the bail-in process below.
What is bail-in?
The Bill specifies various tools to resolve a failing financial firm which include transferring its assets and liabilities, merging it with another firm, or liquidating it. One of these methods allows for a financial firm on the verge of failure to be rescued by internally restructuring its debt. This method is known as bail-in.
Bail-in differs from a bail-out which involves funds being infused by external sources to resolve a firm. This includes a failing firm being rescued by the government.
How does it work?
Under bail-in, the Resolution Corporation can internally restructure the firm’s debt by: (i) cancelling liabilities that the firm owes to its creditors, or (ii) converting its liabilities into any other instrument (e.g., converting debt into equity), among others.
Bail-in may be used in cases where it is necessary to continue the services of the firm, but the option of selling it is not feasible. This method allows for losses to be absorbed and consequently enables the firm to carry on business for a reasonable time period while maintaining market confidence.3 The Bill allows the Resolution Corporation to either resolve a firm by only using bail-in, or use bail-in as part of a larger resolution scheme in combination with other resolution methods like a merger or acquisition.
Do the current laws in India allow for bail-in? What happens to bank deposits in case of failure?
Current laws governing resolution of financial firms do not contain provisions for a bail in. If a bank fails, it may either be merged with another bank or liquidated.
In case of bank deposits, amounts up to one lakh rupees are insured by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC). In the absence of the bank having sufficient resources to repay deposits above this amount, depositors will lose their money. The DICGC Act, 1961 originally insured deposits up to Rs 1,500 and permitted the DICGC to increase this amount with the approval of the central government. The current insured amount of one lakh rupees was fixed in May 1993. The Bill has a similar provision which allows the Resolution Corporation to set the insured amount in consultation with the RBI.
Does the Bill specify safeguards for creditors, including depositors?
The Bill specifies that the power of the Corporation while using bail-in to resolve a firm will be limited. There are certain safeguards which seek to protect creditors and ensure continuity of critical functions of the firm.
When resolving a firm through bail-in, the Corporation will have to ensure that none of the creditors (including bank depositors) receive less than what they would have been entitled to receive if the firm was to be liquidated.,
Further, the Bill allows a liability to be cancelled or converted under bail-in only if the creditor has given his consent to do so in the contract governing such debt. The terms and conditions of bank deposits will determine whether the bail-in clause can be applied to them.
Do other countries contain similar provisions?
After the global financial crisis in 2008, several countries such as the US and those across Europe developed specialised resolution capabilities. This was aimed at preventing another crisis and sought to strengthen mechanisms for monitoring and resolving sick financial firms.
The Financial Stability Board, an international body comprising G20 countries (including India), recommended that countries should allow resolution of firms by bail-in under their jurisdiction. The European Union also issued a directive proposing a structure for member countries to follow while framing their respective resolution laws. This directive suggested that countries should include bail-in among their resolution tools. Countries such as UK and Germany have provided for bail-in under their laws. However, this method has rarely been used.7, One of the rare instances was in 2013, when bail-in was used to resolve a bank in Cyprus.
 ‘Modi government’s FRDI bill may take away all your hard-earned money’, India Today, December 5, 2017, http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/frdi-bill-banking-reforms-modi-government-india-parliament/1/1103422.html.
 ‘Bail-in doubts — on financial resolution legislation’, The Hindu, December 5, 2017, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/bail-in-doubts/article21261606.ece.
 Section 52, The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017.
 Report of the Committee to Draft Code on Resolution of Financial Firms, September 2016, http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Financial%20Resolution%20Bill,%202017/FRDI%20Bill%20Drafting%20Committee%20Report.pdf.
 The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Publications/PDFs/dicgc_act.pdf. s
 Section 55, The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017.
 The Bank of England’s approach to resolution, October 2014, Bank of England.
 Recovery and resolution, BaFin, Federal Financial Supervisory Authority of Germany, https://www.bafin.de/EN/Aufsicht/BankenFinanzdienstleister/Massnahmen/SanierungAbwicklung/sanierung_abwicklung_artikel_en.html.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to conduct an off-cycle meeting today to discuss the failure to meet the inflation target under Section 45ZN of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. As per the Reserve Bank of India Act (RBI), 1934, MPC is required to meet at least four times each year, to discuss the macroeconomic issues in the country, and take policy decisions to address those. This is the second time MPC has conducted an off-cycle meeting in 2022-23. The meeting is scheduled in light of inflation being consistently high for nine consecutive months.
In this blog, we discuss what the inflation targeting framework is, examine retail and wholesale prices, and the divergence between them.
What is the inflation targeting framework, and what happens if inflation is persistently high?
In 2016, Parliament amended the RBI Act, 1934 to change the monetary policy, and introduce an inflation targeting framework. This framework prioritises price stability to achieve sustainable GDP growth. Price stability allows investors to confidently invest their money for productive activities, without worrying about it losing value. Price stability also maintains the purchasing power of consumers, i.e., the ability to purchase a good (or service) with a given amount of money.
As per the new framework, the central government, in consultation with RBI sets: (i) an inflation target, and (ii) an upper and lower tolerance level for retail inflation. The target has been set at 4%, with an upper tolerance limit of 6% and a lower tolerance limit of 2%. The upper and lower limits indicate that although it is desirable for inflation to be close to 4%, deviation between these limits is acceptable. The target and bands are revised every five years. In March 2021, the existing targets were carried forward.
Retail inflation has been above 6% for the past nine months, and it has been above 4% from October 2019 onwards (See Figure 1).
Figure 1: Consumer price index (year-on-year; in percentage)
Sources: Database on Indian Economy, Reserve Bank of India; PRS.
If inflation is above or below the prescribed limits for three quarters, RBI must submit a report to the central government explaining why prices have been rising (or falling) persistently, what will be done to correct that, and an estimate as to when the target will be achieved.
The MPC uses tools such as interest rates to control the level of inflation in the economy. One such rate is the policy repo rate, which is the rate at which RBI lends money to banks. An increase in the policy repo rate makes borrowing money more costly, and hence is expected to control inflation by reducing the money supply. MPC increased this rate from 4% in April 2022 to 4.4% in May 2022, to 4.9% in June 2022, to 5.4% in August 2022, and to 5.9% in September 2022.
Breaking down the Consumer Price Index and the Wholesale Price Index
Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the general prices of goods and services such as food, clothing, and fuel over time. Retail inflation is calculated as the change in the CPI over a period of time. Goods and services such as petrol, food products, health, and education are considered for its calculation, which are assigned different weights (See Table 1). Between February 2022 and August 2022, the average annual inflation was 6.9%. The rise in prices of subcomponents of the CPI during this period is indicated in Table 2.
Table 1: Assigned weights for the calculation of CPI
Sources: MOSPI; PRS.
Table 2: Average inflation of some CPI components
Sources: Database on Indian Economy, RBI; PRS.
CPI is not the only index that measures inflation in an economy. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) measures the wholesale prices of goods. A change in wholesale prices reflects wholesale inflation. Table 3 indicates the weights assigned to goods for calculating the WPI. Manufactured goods include metals, chemicals, food products, and textiles.
Primary articles (23%) include food articles, and crude petroleum and natural gas. Fuel and power (12%) include mineral oils, electricity, and coal. WPI has remained above 10% from April 2021 onwards. It reached an all-time high of 17% in May 2022. This was driven by the inflation in metals, kerosene and petroleum coke, fruits and vegetables, and palm oil.
Table 3:Assigned weights for the
Sources: Ministry of Commerce and Industry; PRS.
Why has WPI inflation been consistently above CPI inflation?
Movements in the WPI have an impact on the CPI. For almost a year and half, CPI inflation has remained below WPI inflation. However, as per the design of the indices, it is expected that CPI would remain above WPI, and that any increase in WPI would reflect in the CPI after a time lag. This is because retail prices include taxes (as a percentage of price), while wholesale prices do not. Additionally, some of the goods in WPI act as inputs in the goods considered in CPI. An increase in input prices would lead to higher retail prices after a time lag.
We discuss possible reasons for why CPI has remained below WPI for a year and a half.
Figure 2: Consumer Price Index and Wholesale Price Index
Sources: Database on Indian Economy, Reserve Bank of India; PRS.
Composition of indices
As indicated in Table 2 and 3, the composition of the two indices varies. For instance, prices of manufacture of basic metals, chemicals, and machinery grew at an average rate of 13% between February 2021 and September 2022. They contribute 7% to the WPI. These are input goods for producing final goods and services such as automobiles, which are included in the CPI. The rise in prices of transport vehicles, communication devices, fuel for transport, and housing (CPI components) rose by 6% during this period.
The Ministry of Finance has observed that wholesale prices did not feed into retail prices (from March 2021 onwards) as wholesalers absorbed the rising input costs and did not pass them on to retailers. In August 2022, it noted that as retail prices are rising now, the pass-through may occur.