The Indian rupee continues with its free fall against dollar having fallen up to 18% in Dec 2011 from its year’s high in July 2011. Rupee has been Asia’s worst performing currency this year.
The depreciation of rupee against dollar means that now it takes more rupees to buy a dollar; thus indicative of an increase in the demand of dollar. In absence of sufficient dollars to cater to the increased demand, there is supply-demand mismatch which causes the price of a dollar to rise against the Indian Rupee.
The impact of a depreciating currency varies across businesses. Export oriented industries such as IT services which earn revenues in $ and incur costs majorly in rupee gain from the fall in rupee. In contrast, the import oriented industries such as Oil Management Companies which import crude are negatively impacted due to fall in rupee as they end up paying much higher for the imports. Furthermore the Indian companies that have raised debts in foreign currency will have increased burden to service interest payments.
One way of reducing such losses is to hedge against currency movements. But since it is very difficult to forecast exchange rate, the risk due to sharp changes in currency rates are not completely mitigated . How much a company hedges and at what rates, is therefore based more on the risk appetite of a company rather than on the accuracy of forecasts. Among the top 3 Indian IT firms, Infosys, is the biggest beneficiary of the current depreciation given that its hedging for $ receivables is lower than that of TCS & Wipro.
Left on the markets and the economy, exchange rate adjusts on its own and again settles to a value such that there is no arbitrage. Till the rate settles, changes in exchange rate will have large implications on the domestic prices, company’s profitability and government finances. But sometimes, these movements can be very steep and a sharp incessant fall can destabilise the economy and put government under pressure to intervene. Which is when, the Reserve Bank of India, central bank to the Government of India takes rescue measures by selling or buying dollars or other open market operations to improve dollar supplies and ease the fall of rupee.