Half of calendar year 2023 is over. Unfortunately, there isn’t much ‘feel good’ news in the world, except in India, Middle East & few countries in Southeast Asia.
The mindless war between Russia & Ukraine continues. Other than helping clear the stockpile of weapons in few western economies & securing billions of dollars of fresh orders for manufacture of weapons, it has only resulted in destroying large areas in Ukraine & displacing millions of its citizens. The war resulted in much of Europe to go into recession. From a unipolar world with United States ruling the roost since the disintegration of USSR during 1991-92, the world is getting back to a bipolar world with the 2nd largest economy of the world, the communist China supporting Russia.
While politically the world has become bipolar again, economically countries have become more interdependent than ever before due to globalisation & WTO policies. This is posing a huge challenge to different economies, particularly to the United States and to the countries in Europe.
The Indian Government has played its cards smartly. Our country is beginning to see the benefit of China+1 strategy of the developed economies, not only for sourcing their product requirements, but also because they see India as a good investment destination. This has greatly helped the Indian economy to become resilient and not be affected so far by the war in Ukraine. The best indicator is the stupendous increase in Sensex & Nifty indices and Indian foreign exchange reserves crossing US$ 600 billion again. Many senior bankers feel that for the 1st time after many many years, all sectors of business are doing well. One can only hope this good show sustains for a longer time thereby helping Indian GDP reach US$ 5 trillion, sooner than later. The spoil sport can be poor monsoon, interest rate increase and unexpected events like political turmoil.
The ruling party at the centre got the shock of its life by badly losing State Elections in Karnataka. The smart electorate of Karnataka has punished the unexpected poor performance of the previous Government, apart from succumbing to the lure of multiple freebies offered by the winning party. While this has invigorated the opposition parties against the ruling party at the centre, it has also made the 2024 parliamentary elections more unpredictable. Anything can happen. What India requires is political stability and retaining its position in the world order & the goodwill generated during the past few years. What all this means to the business is the question? Uncertainty to a great extent. One never knows when the current positive sentiments will start turning negative, though there is absolutely no indication at present.
The Residential Real Estate sector is continuing to grow in a healthy way. Financial year 2023 is the best so far for the sector. The WFH/ A (work from home/ anywhere) culture continuing in a big way in USA & Europe has created millions of square feet of vacant office space in those countries, which has resulted in cautious approach by Indian & MNC companies in the tech sector to sign up new office space. Most experts feel this could be a cyclical and temporary phenomena. The good news is many MNC companies are increasing the size of their GCCs (Global Capability Centres) in India as a way to cut costs by offshoring work thereby helping to retain/ improve their profitability. This is the saving grace for the Indian Office Real Estate sector. The data localisation policy of the Indian Government has also resulted in increased demand for Data Centres. So also, the growing organised retail business has increased the demand for Fulfilment Centres/ Warehouses.
In such a macro environment, Brigade is trying to play its cards well but carefully. We have made headway in increasing our presence in Chennai significantly. We are trying to do the same in the highly competitive real estate market of Hyderabad.
While a number of new launches are slated in this financial year, obtaining civic authorities approvals is becoming more challenging than ever before, for a variety of reasons. By adhering to the multiple rules, administrative procedures and after overcoming red tape, if one succeeds in real estate business in India, they deserve to receive accolades and a pat on their back.
Rightly, the new Congress Government in Karnataka is talking of ‘Brand Bengaluru’ – to improve the image of the city which has taken a beating due to severe traffic congestion, insufficient infrastructure planning & implementation. Bengaluru deserves much better treatment by the State Govt.
Bengaluru, which contributes more than 50% of the tax revenue of the State; should receive similar share in the expenditure budget of the State to improve its infrastructure. Bengaluru is not just a city of Karnataka, it is now a Global City, known for innovation and home to 100s of MNCs.
Hyderabad with its superior infrastructure is already breathing down Bengaluru‘s neck and sure to overtake Bengaluru as an attractive investment destination, if the Karnataka Government continues to be complacent.
The advent of ChatGPT & AI (Artificial Intelligence) into our lives, slowly but surely, will have a profound effect, not fathomed by us so far. It will become a necessary evil in the years ahead. While there would be demand for people with new skills, it may also lead to thousands of job losses. So, it is very important for people and businesses to gear up the skills to keep pace with the ever changing technological advancements.
The festival season is approaching. My warm season's greeting to all our readers.
—Jaishankar CMD, Brigade.
The last 7-8 months have been the most challenging in this millennium. Economies the world over have been badly affected. Relatively speaking, India is less affected than the western economies and countries whose GDP is exportdependent. Indian exports comprise less than 20% of our GDP, as compared to 40% in the case of China and about 60% in the case of East Asian economies like Japan. Though, by and large, India is perceived as less dynamic and aggressive during the boom time, in the present circumstances, the country would be classified as conservative, wise and not greedy. Probably, the same rationale is applicable to Brigade Group also.
When will the economy recover to its previous glory? In my opinion, not in the immediate future, although one can say with reasonable confidence that the worst is behind us. There are several predictions that in 6–18 months, there will be a marked improvement in the world economy. A lot will depend on the US, which is the world’s largest economy, with its GDP 14 times bigger than India and with less than 30% of the population of our country.
The response by the developed countries to the global recession has been swift and substantial, which has helped in preventing the ‘recession’ from becoming a ‘depression’. Other than reduction of interest rates by 2-3%, the Indian government hasn’t taken many positive steps, as compared to say China, which is pumping in USD 250 billion+ to stimulate their economy. The biggest impetus to the Indian economy seems to come from unexpected quarters—parliamentary elections! An estimated Rs 10-15,000 crores is likely to be spent before 31 May. One shudders to think what kind of a fractured coalition of parties will come to govern us soon. We should all pray for a stable and progressive government at the centre.
As regards interest rates, since the inflation has been brought to under 1%, there seems to be tremendous scope and opportunity to bring it down further—at least by 2%. Interest rates should always be a function of inflation rate and GDP growth rate.
The welcome news is that Swiss banks and banks in other tax havens are willing to announce the names of the account holders. If the billions of dollars stashed away by corrupt businessmen, officials and politicians comes back to our country, it will be the biggest stimulus package we would receive to revive the economy.
Negative sentiments are on the downward mode, as can be gauged by the 50% jump in stock sensex in the last 2 months. But one can never be sure whether it is due to technical reasons and manipulations by the operators, or due to improved fundamentals of the companies. Even the real estate business has shown good signs of recovery from March onwards, though it is one of the last sectors to recover since the decision to acquire a property can always be postponed. But, a smart investor will treat the current situation as an opportunity to pickup good properties at reasonable rates. For those who missed the bus in 2002-04, this is the right time to buy.
As for NRIs, they cannot ask for more. It is a golden opportunity, what with the rupee depreciating by 25% in value against dollar (compared to January ‘08) and property prices having come down between 15-25%, depending on projects. Fence sitters are bound to regret it, if they don’t act now.
Brigade Group achieved a major milestone on 4 April ’09, with the opening of its 4-star serviced residences, with the internationally reputed Accor Group managing the co-branded property: Mercure Homestead. The positive feedback on the quality of rooms, F & B, and facilities like gym, spa and swimming pool is heartwarming.
June ‘09 will also see the opening of a second school—The Brigade International School—by Brigade Group’s not-for-profit trust, the Brigade Foundation. It is a boon for the residents of Whitefield and surrounding areas to get quality education with great infrastructure and convenience at a reasonable fee structure.
Team Brigade is making all efforts to quickly complete our flagship projects—Brigade Metropolis, Whitefield Road and Brigade Gateway, Malleswaram-Rajajinagar—which are in an advanced stage of execution. So also Brigade Courtyard in HMT Township, Brigade Palmsprings in J.P. Nagar, and Brigade Solitaire and Brigade Citadel in Mysore. I thank all our customers for showing their confidence, patience and support.