Have stayed completely away from crypto: IMF's Gita Gopinath | Exclusive

The valuation of cryptocurrencies saw a sharp fall from $3 trillion to $1.5 trillion. And like all high-risk assets, cryptocurrencies will have to be regulated, Gita Gopinath said.

Gita Gopinath
Gita Gopinath (File)

Crypto assets are an extremely risky, speculative asset class and with any risky asset there has to be regulation, International Monetary Fund’s deputy managing director Gita Gopinath told India Today TV at Davos, adding, “I have completely stayed away from it. But that’s just me and my level of risk aversion.”

“It went from about $3 trillion market to $1.5 trillion market in about six months - very quick moves. It is not a very easy-return investment. So these are very large risks you are taking,” she said, pointing out the risks involved with the digital currency.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the spring meeting of the IMF called for regulating the cryptocurrencies, saying that innovation is disruptive. She also stressed the risks posed by cryptocurrencies and unhosted wallets in enabling money laundering and terror financing.

Global growth was downgraded in April from 4.4% to 3.6% entirely because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Gopinath told India Today TV, adding that the war downgraded growth for over 80% of the world and upgraded inflation for almost all those countries as well.

“The cost of living is going up. China is slowing down due to lockdown. The realty sector is also slowing,” she said.

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China’s growth was also downgraded in April to 4.4%, the economist said. “If China slows down, Asia and East Asia will feel the pinch. Even the European Union will feel the impact of the spillover from China,” she warned.

“China’s zero-Covid strategy served it really well in 2020 and 2021. Even now, it’s an all-new variant. The strategy has to be to ramp up vaccinations,” she said.

“The slowing global economy has consequences for India. A reversal of portfolio flows to India is being seen and the external environment is not very supportive for growth.”

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“The shortage of coal is a major concern for the Indian economy,” the deputy managing director of the global monetary body said. India recently witnessed an acute coal shortage across the country with several power generating stations reporting crippling stocks.

“With some manufacturing moving out of China, this moment must be seized by other countries,” Gopinath advised.

“In the global supply chain, it is important to produce on a very big scale. That’s always been a challenge for India. Most Indian firms are small in size and do not have the scale. So, land and labour reforms are needed to form new policies to work on this.”

Speaking about the Reserve Bank of India increasing the repo rate by xx basis points, Gopinath said that the RBI was right to “move off-cycle to raise the rates due to inflation”.

“We have to be flexible and move in scale according to data coming in. India will have to keep the fiscal deficit in mind while giving subsidies and reducing taxes. The best way to do this is to give direct subsidies,” she added.

“India needs agricultural reforms and political support for them. Schooling and education is another area of focus.”