02/18/2017 - The Roundtable Insight: Jayant Bhandari On India’ Demonitization And Investing Using The Principles Of The Austrian School Of Economics

FRA is joined by Jayant Bhandari in discussing emerging trends resulting from India’s demonetization, along with suggestions for investment in a Trump world.

Jayant Bhandari is constantly traveling the world looking for investment opportunities, particularly in the natural resource sector. He advises institutional investors about his finds. Earlier, he worked for six years with US Global Investors (San Antonio, Texas), a boutique natural resource investment firm, and for one year with Casey Research. Before emigrating from India, he started and ran Indian subsidiary operations of two European companies. He still travels multiple times a year to India. He is an MBA from Manchester Business School (UK) and B. Engineering from SGSITS (India). He has written on political, economic and cultural issues for the Liberty magazine, the Mises Institute (USA), Mises Institute (Canada), Casey Research, International Man, Mining Journal, Zero Hedge, Lew Rockwell, the Dollar Vigilante, Fraser Institute, Le Québécois Libre, Mauldin Economics, Northern Miner, Mining Markets etc. He is a contributing editor of the Liberty magazine. He runs a yearly seminar in Vancouver titled Capitalism & Morality.

 

UPDATE ON INDIA

India is becoming crazier by the day. In the last two weeks, the Indian government has come out with two new regulations which now make it illegal for people to do transactions of more than 300000 Rupees ($4500USD) in cash Remember this is a country where more than 95% of consumer transactions are cash-based. This country is becoming increasingly a police state. Everywhere people are losing jobs, food prices have fallen quite a bit, and farmers are going to face horrendous problems. In a country where more than 50% of the population lives on daily wages, if you have an economic crisis they will go hungry.

About 75-80% of Indians live in rural areas, but even in towns often there is no electricity. Only about 25% of India is connected by internet, and the connection is fairly unreliable. In rural areas there might be a bank among 50 villages. These people might need to walk 30-50km to take cash out of the bank if the government forces them to deposit. If you earn $1-2 every day, would you have time to walk for three hours each way to deposit your cash? This is an impossible situation.

EMERGING TRENDS

This has completely disrupted the economic structure of the country. Food prices have fallen quite substantially in the last few months, not because of excess supply, but because there has been a significant reduction in demand. This tells you only one thing: poor people cannot afford to buy food. Farmers can’t make money because prices have fallen so much, which means they’re dumping their produce. This means in the next cycle, these farmers will not be producing food. Food prices will be higher three months from now than they were before demonetization happened.

In the smaller villages, people have taken up bartering, but bartering only works well with tribal peoples. In a modern economy, bartering doesn’t work because you can’t do all of the transactions.

This is going to fail mostly because Modi wanted to impress a western audience that he was very pro-market, and he’s failed so badly that this will hopefully delay western governments approaching cashless societies.

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AUSTRIAN SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS

Keynesian economics is superstition and irrationality. Keynesian economists believe that by running the printing press you can generate wealth. The only way to understand the world is through the understanding of Austrian economics, which is nothing but the common sense of rational economists.

The reality is that cash has no inherent value. It’s based on regulatory edict. Investors should stay outside the currency system. Money should be kept in jurisdictions where you have more trust in – internationalize to protect yourself. The more you spend outside the cash and banking system, the better it is for you.

There are property companies in Hong Kong and Singapore that are trading for 50% of their net present value. These companies offer you anything from 5-10% dividend yield. When you focus on countries that provide you very good downsize support, and you invest in companies with almost assured revenue and profitability, you put yourself in a situation where you continue to make a profit. There’s so much similarity between value investing and Austrian economics. One is how to invest your money; the other is an understanding of economics, and there is a huge amount of overlap. You want instruments that provide a higher yield than what the bond markets offer.

Precious metals are a great way to store your value. You could invest in properties, or property companies. Diversify yourself internationally and invest in countries that have a very good history of protecting your properties.

INVESTING IN A TRUMP WORLD

One does not necessarily have to agree with Trump’s policies, but he’s trying to do what he promised to do. There’s no other example in modern politics where a politician tried to do what he promised to do during elections. He’s trying to improve America’s position in the world, so if he succeeds America’s economy will improve quite a bit.

Trade can be a gray area, and it might be a negotiating ploy that Trump is using. Maybe he wanted to get Mexico to approve building a wall by making the subject much bigger than it actually was so Mexico would ignore the key thing – building the wall. Freedom of movement is important, but a lot of immigration is creating a lot of problems for the western world.

Nothing he’s doing is destroying the economy of the United States. It’s entirely possible that you can reduce the prices and improve the profitability of American companies and increase employment in the US, provided that Trump continues to do what he said he would do. As long as he’s taking the country in the right direction, countries and the stock market and investments will respond to that.

Abstract by: Annie Zhou <a2zhou@ryerson.ca>

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