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Banks Are Not Benefiting From The Rate Cut: They Are Not Borrowing From The RBI

You think banks are benefiting from the RBI rate cut? The RBI rate cut reduces the rate at which RBI lends money to banks. So banks would benefit if they were borrowing money from the RBI,

They are not.

Here’s yesterday’s “money market update” from RBI:


There’s a lot of stuff out there but in order to not confuse you:

  • Repo = what banks borrow from RBI
  • Reverse Repo = what banks give to the RBI as excess money they have
  • Marginal Standing Facility = Bank borrowing but at higher rate

You can see from here that despite the rate cut, banks aren’t going all gung ho and borrowing from the RBI.


From July, here’s how the situation has been:


For most of the last three months, banks are not borrowing money from the RBI at all. (Other than the few days when the tax payments caused them to need overnight liquidity as corporates took out money).

Banks are parking money with the RBI instead.

The rate cut effectively only reduces the interest they get (since the rate cut has taken RBI’s interest rates lower).

Therefore, the rate cut is negative for banks!

Why Aren’t Banks Lending?

Banks would be happy to lend if they found the right opportunities. They could have lowered their interest rates earlier too (after all, they weren’t borrowing from the RBI at all, so RBI’s rates didn’t matter). They just chose not to, and chose to get a very low interest rate from the RBI instead (about 7.24%).

The fact that they chose to park money with the RBI and not elsewhere tells you how lousy the credit situation must be – no one wants to borrow from them at their rates, they refuse to lower rates, and keep the lower income instead.

My deduction: the reason they refuse to lend now  is not because they don’t see the obvious (cut rates and lend) but that they are spooked by potential NPAs.

Now, after the rate cut, they have cut rates and STILL have excess cash that they are parking with the RBI. This data better change soon; otherwise it’s much worse than we are being told.


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  • rkg says:

    SEBI data shows corporates have borrowed 2.42lac crore in H1 FY 2016, compared to 1.45lac crore same period last FY
    The collective loss in banks’ loan book is possibly finding its way as investments
    Quite right you are when you say banks ” are spooked by potential NPAs.”
    Ideally, the large rate cut should translate into larger treasury profits – which should be used to clean up the NPA mess – alongside, blacklisting the defaulters and punishing errant bankers.

  • May be this liquidity surplus is expected to evaporate with the onset of busy season and Rajan cut rates in anticipation of that. Perhaps that’s what he meant by ‘front loading’ the rate cuts. But I agree with your point – the rate cut doesn’t benefit the banks immediately. The media and the analyst community makes too much noise about such events, which impact only on the margin and that too with a lag.