CRR and Repo explained

This article was originally published in Postnoon on September 21, 2012

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), announced on Monday, that they with keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 8% and cut the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by 0.25%, to 4.5%. What does this mean for you (the readers)?

The repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends money to the commercial banks. Using this rate as the benchmark, the banks decide their Prime Lending Rate (PLR). PLR is the rate at which a bank lends to its most credit worthy customers. They add basis points (one basis point is 0.01%) to PLR, if a customer’s credit worthiness is lower.

The credit worthiness of a customer is determined by the repayment capacity of the customer, repayment of both interest and principal. It is also determined by the past record of the customer with respect to payments. For example, does the customer pay his credit card bills on time, does he pay his loan installments on time etc. There is an agency called Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL), which assigns a credit score to each individual depending on the past payments records. Banks use this score when determining the creditworthiness of an individual.

Now back to repo rate. So when repo rate goes up, our loans get more expensive as the banks will raise the PLR and if the repo rate goes down, our loans will get cheaper. RBI has kept this rate unchanged at 8% this time.

CRR is the percentage of money that the banks are supposed to keep with the RBI to meet the withdrawal demands for fixed deposits or any other time liabilities. The CRR is a percent of the Net Demand and Time Liabilities (NDTL) of the bank. When CRR is high, banks have lesser money with them to lend out. On the other hand, when CRR is reduced, the banks have more money with them to lend. This brings in more money supply in the market. Since RBI has reduced the CRR, the money supply should go up in the market.

What is meant by money supply going up? It means that the banks will have more money to lend, and hence more people may be able to get loans. This means that more money will be circulating in the economy. A few banks may decide to decrease the interest rates for auto or home loans. Though it is unlikely as the repo rate is same.

Why did the RBI not reduce the repo rate as well? That’s because they are being cautious. They are worried about inflation. If the repo rate is reduced, people will be able to borrow money at a cheaper rate. This will encourage them to borrow and spend. If they borrow and spend, the demand for goods and services will go up. If demand goes up, prices will further go up.

Hence, the RBI has kept the repo rate unchanged.

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