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It was baptism by fire: D Subbarao on his early months as RBI Governor

Recounting his early months as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2008, D Subbarao today said that “it was baptism by fire.”

India TV Business Desk [ Published on: July 20, 2016 17:53 IST ]
D Subbarao
Image Source : PTI D Subbarao

Singapore: Recounting his early months as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2008, D Subbarao today said that “it was baptism by fire.”

Recalling those days, Subbarao said  that it was a  time when Lehman Brothers had  collapsed which pushed the global financial sector into a "near death" experience.

"I was plunged into crisis management even before I could settle into the job," Subbarao said here at the launch of his book 'Who Moved My Interest Rates'.

"It was baptism by fire," Subbarao said on his early months as Governor of the RBI.

The 66-year-old former Governor admits to being a "greenhorn" as he started his five years stint at RBI during what were turbulent times both in India and around the world.

Subbarao was the 22nd governor of RBI from September 5, 2008 till September 4, 2013.

Launching the book at the South Asian Diaspora Conference in Singapore, the civil servant cum economist said that his entire five-year term at the helm of the Reserve Bank was marked by one crisis after another.

Even as India recovered from the crisis sooner than most other emerging markets, there was hardly any respite as the Reserve Bank had to battle a decade high inflation.

In the final year of his tenure at the Reserve Bank, he had to mount a defence of the exchange rate which fell steeply as a result of the taper tantrums.

The objective of the book, according to Subbarao, is not so much to defend his record or establish his legacy but to explain the circumstances in which acted.

The book is also an attempt, he said, to demystify the Reserve Bank, so that people understand what the Reserve Bank does and how it impacts their lives.

"Only when there is such broad based understanding can people hold the Reserve Bank to account for results. To believe that RBI is fixated on inflation and does not care about growth is wrong," asserted the former Governor.

RBI tries to maintain price stability, low and steady inflation, which is a necessary condition for sustainable growth, he added.

Speaking of his challenges in defending the exchange rate in the midst of the taper tantrums, the former Governor said that predicting market traction to policy moves can be very difficult as markets respond in very unpredictable ways in crisis times.

(With PTI inputs)

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