India’s turbulent financial situation of 2008-2013 – An RBI Governor’s perspective

“Who moved my interest rate: Leading the Reserve Bank through five turbulent years” is a book by Duvvuri Subbarao, former Governor of Reserve Bank of India. Reading the book was such an exhilarating experience that it made me put down my views of this exceptional leader and banker in a blog post.

Duvvuri Subbarao has a brilliant writing style. He does not try to sensationalize various events during his tenure as RBI Governor. Instead, he takes a very sensible approach of talking about the challenge, its impact, actions he took, constraints he had and the outcome of the actions. I simply cannot stop praising his writing style. He also gives an excellent account of the work done by RBI, its front line managers and its senior leaders.

You do not have to be a finance or banking expert to understand this book. Anyone who is informed about the 2008 US mortgage crisis, 2010 high inflation situation in India, various financial scams in the country during 2008-2013 period, high interest rates, Saradha scam, Microfinance scam, monetary policies – will find this book extremely interesting to read. D Subbarao gives us the behind the scenes actions that were taking place to create these problems and how the various Government and Banking officials were working to minimize the impact on Indian economy.

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The book focuses on all key functions that come under the purview of RBI. Subbarao eloquently describes how monetary policies are framed and the challenges he has had in ensuring media, markets and finance experts do not sensationalize his policy changes. He also takes us through the friction he had with government on inflation control measures. Financial inclusion and awareness is another area he dedicates few chapters for. The relationship between RBI and other banks is also explained very clearly.

D Subbarao also writes about some interesting events (with him in focus that are linked with each other. He had a role to play in pledging India’s gold to IMF during 1991 crisis and he, as RBI Governor, bought gold from IMF in 2010. As Finance Secretary, he wrote a letter to DoT asking them not to proceed with 2G auctions in 2007 (this letter was one of the evidences against the UPA government in 2G scam) and his 2-year extension in 2011 as RBI Governor was approved by UPA due to turmoil created by the same 2G scam.

IIT. IAS. Finance Secretary, Govt of AP. Finance Secretary, Govt of India. Governor, RBI. You do not need any better credentials to write a book. As a reader this book gives the highest level of satisfaction.

Only drawback to the book is that it lacks any visual representations (like graphs, charts, pictures, etc). Readability factor of the book could have been further improved with some insightful visualizations. But again, this is just a minor thing.

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