From the blog, Riding the Elephant by John Elliott, Fortune’s India correspondent
India has unsophisticated investors. I’m talking about stock market investors of course following the stock market crash, with Mumbai’s key Sensex index plummeting 19% from an all time and over-priced high of above 21,000 on January 8 to under 17,000 by Tuesday. Such a remark, judging from past Riding the Elephant experience, will generate a furious tirade of comments, especially from readers based in the United States who are always anxious to protect India’s reputation.
But how else can you explain a market which swings from such extremes. Last week it mobilized bids totaling an astronomic $180 billion for the $2.9 billion initial public offering launched by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power (which has yet to produce a revenue stream). On Monday and Tuesday, it crashed, seemingly ignoring the country’s strong economic fundamentals. As Palaniappan Chidambaram, India’s finance minister, pointed out when he tried to calm nerves during the slide, the fundamentals are strong. The economy, he pointed out, is growing at around 9%, and the prime minister’s economic advisory council is forecasting 8.5% for 2008-09.