One of the fastest-growing economies in the world may be staring at a recession for the first time in the last four decades. In fact, experts are even talking about a Great Depression ahead for India. These telltale signs are enough to cause panic among debt investors, already hit by the IL&FS default debacle. Interest rates, too, are on a decline, and are pulling down yields or returns. Real rates are already in the negative zone because of higher inflation and lower interest rates. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is also stressing on growth by reducing interest rates to support demand. “This situation of negative real interest rates is going to stay for some time,” says Rajesh Cheruvu, Chief Investment Officer of Validus Wealth, a wealth advisory firm.
There is likely to be one more rate cut of 25 basis points (1 basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point) in the near future. The balance sheets of the two big issuers of debt — the government and the corporate sector — are also not in the pink of health, which raises concerns on credit risk.
The priority of investors today is to protect their capital investments. So, where should one invest his or her hard-earned money in these times? A number of options are available under fixed income schemes — from fixed deposits, company deposits and debentures to public provident fund (PPF) and debt schemes of mutual funds. The returns range from 5 per cent to 10-12 per cent per annum. Though there are decent returns, liquidity and tax benefits, nothing is guaranteed if one goes beyond the government paper. So, investors need to tread carefully.
CASE FOR FIXED INCOME OPTIONS
Economic slowdown and likely recession set to increase credit risk
Insured FDs, PPF and good funds offer assured returns
There is safety of capital in fixed income securities
MF debt schemes offer diversified portfolio under single scheme
Tax benefits on interest and deduction under 80C up to ₹1.5 lakh/ annum
The Fixed option
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