Global Financial Environment

If there is any arena of economic activity that has become extremely global in recent decades, it is finance. The world of finance has changed markedly over the past 40 years or so. During the early part of 1970s world economy witnessed scarcity of international liquidity primarily due to gold linked fixed monetary standard. There was also a growing realization that for achieving sustained growth with stability, it would be necessary to have open trade, liberalized external capital movements and a relatively flexible domestic monetary policy. Industrialized countries and emerging market economies took steps to liberalize capital account and allow capital to move across the globe.

Simultaneously, efforts were made to remove distortions in the domestic financial sector through financial sector reform measures. With the technological improvements in electronic payments, world economy became increasingly integrated in terms of trade, investment and financial flows among countries over the past decades.

There are primarily three traceable aspects of the growth of financial markets, which have led to financial globalization.

These are:

(i) Significant expansion and deepening of the existing markets,

(ii) Emergence of new financial markets like derivatives

(iii) Development of secondary markets for many instruments.

A number of developing countries, especially in Asia, that moved early on to the path of economic liberalization had experienced large capital inflows. Large capital inflows, however, carried with it risk of financial sector vulnerability. The world economy had witnessed many financial crises. The experiences helped in for setting regulatory and supervisory framework, in proper place, to ensure the safety and stability of financial systems. The costs of financial crisis falling on the sovereign governments, the notion of financial stability has come to occupy a centre-stage in public policy along with the requirement of ensuring that the efficiency of financial sector is high.

The sub-prime crisis, which engulfed the world economy, has called for establishing a new international financial architecture. According to the IMF’s Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR), the widening and deepening fallout from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis would have profound implications on financial system. Financial markets remain considerably stressed because of a combination of weakening balance sheets of financial institutions, continued process of deleveraging, free fall in asset prices and difficult macroeconomic environment in the wake of debilitating global growth.

The global financial system has proved to be woefully inadequate, particularly in view of the manifest structural deficiencies in meeting the regulatory requirements of the present-day international financial system of the Bretton Woods architecture. The extraordinarily synchronized nature of the sub-prime crisis makes it necessary to launch the creation of a “Global Monitoring Authority” to promote global supervision of cross-border investment, trade and banking with the fast-growing economies. Even in this era of sweeping globalization, the free play of unfettered market mechanism is fraught with great danger. The market on its own is not enough. Accordingly, the governments must play an important role in shaping the economic policies and the broader frame of reference.

Experiences from India

India’s link with international trade is as old as the Indian civilization. Prior to colonial rule, India was known as the hub of manufacturing goods and artifacts. During the colonial rule India was converted to a raw materials suppliers to rest of the World. On the eve of independence in 1947, foreign trade of India was typical of a colonial and agricultural economy. Trade relations were mainly confined to Britain and other commonwealth countries. Exports consisted chiefly of raw materials and plantation crops while imports composed of light consumer goods and other manufactures. Over the last 60 years, India’s foreign trade has undergone a complete change in terms of composition and direction. The exports cover a wide range of traditional and non-traditional items while imports consist mainly of capital goods, petroleum products, raw materials, and chemicals to meet the ever-increasing needs of a developing and diversifying economy.

For about 40 years (1950-90), foreign trade of India suffered from strict bureaucratic and discretionary controls. Similarly, foreign exchange transactions were tightly controlled by the government and the Reserve Bank of India. From 1947 till mid-1990s, India, with some exceptions, always faced deficit in its balance of payments, i.e. imports always exceeded exports. This was characteristic of a developing country struggling for reconstruction and modernisation of its economy. Imports galloped because of increasing requirements of capital goods, defence equipment, petroleum products, and raw materials. Exports remained relatively sluggish owing to lack of exportable surplus, competition in the international market, inflation at home, and increasing protectionist policies of the developed countries.

Openness of Indian Economy

Beginning mid-1991, the government of India introduced a series of reforms to liberalize and globalize the Indian economy. Reforms in the external sector of India were intended to integrate the Indian economy with the world economy. India’s approach to openness has been cautious, contingent on achieving certain preconditions to ensure an orderly process of liberalization and ensuring macroeconomic stability. This approach has been vindicated in recent years with the growing incidence of financial crises elsewhere in the world. All the same, the policy regime in India in regard to liberalization of the foreign sector has witnessed very significant change. Over the years issues related to trade policy, export strategy, tariff policy, current account dynamics, exchange rate management, foreign exchange reserves, capital account liberalization, external debt and aid, foreign investments and WTO have been the center of discussion under the International Trade and Finance.

Openness of an economy relates to its cross-border movements of goods, services and factors of production. The basic indicators of openness is the Trade -GDP ratio, which has been increasing and staying above 15 per cent which a good indicator of an open economy. The sharp increase in the inflows of foreign private capital into India in the 1990s has increased the cross-border financial integration. Another way to measure degree of financial openness is to gauge the co-movements of indices in the domestic stock market and international stock market.

The ongoing process of reforms in trade, industry and finance, India’s openness to cross-border trade and private capital has increased considerably since 1993-94 indicating thereby the progressive integration of domestic financial markets with the international financial markets. Table 1.1 indicates the FDI and Foreign Portfolio Investment in US$.

In India, the very short-term interest rate is the inter-bank call money rate, which is an overnight rate. It is highly volatile in nature and significantly affected by the development of foreign exchange market, which, in turn, is influenced by the international financial developments. The significant correlation between call money rates and ‘three month’ and ‘six month’ forward premia is an encouraging sign of openness of Indian Economy.

Table 1. 1 Indicators of Openness of Indian Economy
Year Foreign Direct Investment

(US $million)

Foreign Portfolio Investment

(US $million)

Trade GDP (%)
1993-94 586 3567 22.62
1994-95 1314 3824 23.28
1995-96 2144 2748 24.70
1996-97 28121 3312 22.65
1997-98 3557 1828 21.54
1998-99 2462 -61 18.57
1999-00 2155 3026 19.05
2000-01 4029 2760 19.45
2001-02 6130 2021 17.95
2002-03 5035 979 19.97
2003-04 4322 11377 22.08
2004-05 6051 9315 26.83
2005-06 7722 12492 30.41
2006-07 19531 7003 33.03
2007-08 34362 27271 40.39
2008-09 35168 (-ve)13855 38.94
2009-10 25834.41
2010-11 21383.05
2011-12 35120.80
2012-13 22423.58
2013-14 24299.33
2014-15 30930.50
2015-16 40000.98
2016-17 43478.27

Economic and financial sector reform measures, which has been continuing in India since 1991, have facilitated in the process of International financial integration. Trade barriers have been declining and tread-GDP ratio and capital inflows have been accentuating. Various segments of money market are integrated. There is evidence for integration between money and foreign exchange markets. Political risk, high transaction costs, high taxation, capital controls and capital market imperfections, which were the barriers of international trade and investments, have been reduced significantly over the years. The economy has been consistently moving towards the path of noticeable degree of globalization and integration with the world financial markets.

(1) Financial planning and control (supportive tools);

(2) Efficient allocation of funds among various assets (investment decisions);

(3) Acquisition of funds on favorable terms (financing decisions).

Financial planning and control must be considered simultaneously. For purposes of control, the financial manager establishes standards, such as budgets, for comparing actual performance with planned performance. The preparation of these budgets is a planning function, but their administration is a controlling function.

The foreign exchange market and international accounting play a key role when an MNC attempts to perform its planning and control function. For example, once a company crosses national boundaries, its return on investment depends on not only its trade gains or losses from normal business operations but also on exchange gains or losses from currency fluctuations. International reporting and controlling have to do with techniques for controlling the operations of an MNC.

Meaningful financial reports are the cornerstone of effective management. Accurate financial data are especially important in international business, where business operations are typically supervised from a distance. When the financial manager plans for the allocation of funds, the most urgent task is to invest funds wisely within the firm. Every dollar invested has alternative uses. Thus, funds should be allocated among assets in such a way that they will maximize the wealth of the firm’s stockholders. There are 200 countries in the world where a large MNC, can invest its funds. Obviously, there are more investment opportunities in the world than in a single country, but there are also more risks. International financial managers should consider these two simultaneously when they attempt to maximize their firm’s value through international investment.

One of the primary roles of the financial manager is to acquire funds on favorable terms. If projected cash outflow exceeds cash inflow, the financial manager will find it necessary to obtain additional funds from outside the firm. Funds are available from many sources at varying costs, with different maturities, and under various types of agreements. The critical role of the financial manager is to determine the combination of financing that most closely suits the planned needs of the firm. This requires obtaining the optimal balance between low cost and the risk of not being able to pay bills as they become due. MNCs can still raise their funds in many countries thanks to recent financial globalization.

This globalization is driven by advances in data processing and telecommunications, liberalization of restrictions on cross-border capital flows, and deregulation of domestic capital markets. International financial managers use a puzzling array of fund acquisition strategies. Instead of merely focusing on the efficient allocation of funds among various assets and the acquisition of funds on favorable terms, financial managers must now concern themselves with corporate strategy. The chief financial officer is emerging as a strategic planner. In an era of heightened global competition and hard-to-make-stick price increases, the financial fine points of any new strategy are more crucial than ever before

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