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Past Event

Development Seminar @ Brookings India: D. Subbarao on leading the RBI through 5 turbulent years

Past Event

D Subbarao, Subir Gokarn, T N Ninan

“Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I believe I should have addressed the NPA problem (in the book). Even as when I was writing my book, I was not very sure that I have anything to add to the public discourse except to say that some of the causes for the crisis owe to action or inaction of the RBI on my watch.”
— Duvvuri Subbarao, Former Governor, RBI 

Subbarao, who was the RBI governor during the height of the global financial crisis that started with the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, said another Lehman-like moment was unlikely.

Here are some of the highlights of what Subbarao had to say in an event organised by Brookings India.

Finance Ministry to RBI: Change in World View?

Being a finance secretary is a lot different from being the governor. But more specific issue, did I put pressure on Governor Reddy by myself or as a messenger for Mr Chidambaram? I don’t think I put pressure. But I did act differently in the Reserve Bank and as finance secretary.

For example, on exchange rate, certainly we would tell Dr Reddy, our view on the exchange rate, but there is very fine distinction between communicating your view and putting pressure.

Finance minister is in a position to put pressure, since he’s got leverage. The finance secretary doesn’t have much leverage. So I wasn’t putting pressure. But I was certainly communicating some unpleasant decisions on behalf of the government to Dr Reddy. And I was also involved in managing some of the skirmishes between the finance minister and the governor, between the government of India and the Reserve Bank. But there was no crossing the border and putting pressure.

Handling of Inflation

One of the big drivers of inflation was the fiscal problem and we used to point it out. We used to talk to the finance minister and the prime minister about it. But there’s a point beyond which you cannot go. What else can you do? You cannot shout from the rooftop that the government is the sinner. So the inflation problem was attributed to the RBI, although not all the factors driving inflation were in the control of the Reserve Bank.

Another Lehman-like Crisis Possible?

I can’t say we will not have another crisis. I don’t think there are unknown unknowns today like there were in 2008. There are known unknowns. To that extent I think a Lehman-type moment is unlikely, but a crisis is certainly possible.

Brookings India held its Development Seminar @ Brookings India on August 5, 2016, with former governor of the Reserve Bank of India D. Subbarao who talked about his latest book published by Penguin (July 2016), “Who Moved My Interest Rate? Leading the Reserve Bank of India through Five Turbulent Years”.

Discussants at the talk were: Subir Gokarn (Executive Director, International Monetary Fund) and T N Ninan (Chairman, Business Standard).

Development Seminar Series Photographs

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Distinguished Fellow Rakesh Mohan (former deputy governor of the RBI) and Shamika Ravi (Senior Fellow, Brookings India) at the 1st Development Seminar on “Transporting India to the 2030s” on July 1, 2016

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Distinguished Fellow Rakesh Mohan at the 1st Development Seminar @ Brookings India

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Rakesh Mohan (former Executive Director for India to the IMF) speaks to the audience during the Development Seminar “Transporting India to the 2030s by Dr. Rakesh Mohan” on July 1, 2016

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Dr. Subir Gokarn (Executive Director, IMF, and founding research director of Brookings India) at the Development Seminar on “Dr D. Subbarao on leading the RBI through 5 turbulent years” on August 5, 2016

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Dr. D. Subbarao (Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India)

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Senior Fellow Shamika Ravi launches her report “Building Smart Cities in India” on August 19, 2016

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Amitabh Kant (CEO, NITI Aayog, Government of India) launching Brookings India research paper “Building Smart Cities in India: Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam” on August 19, 2016

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Shri Amitabh Kant (CEO NITI Aayog, Government of India) during the Development Seminar on smart cities at Brookings India on August 19, 2016

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Dr. Rinku Murgai (Lead Economist, World Bank) presents a paper on “Pathways to Reducing Poverty and Sharing Prosperity in India” on November 2, 2016

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Panel including Shamika Ravi (Senior Fellow, Brookings India), during the Development Seminar “The Online Education Revolution and India” on February 17, 2017

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R. Subrahmanyam (Additional Secretary, Technical Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development) speaks of the government’s SWAYAM initiative, during the Development Seminar on February 17, 2017

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Dr. Alex T. Tabarrok (George Mason University, Virginia) gives his talk on Disruptions due to Online Education at a Brookings India Development Seminar

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The audience listening to the panel during the Development Seminar “Environmental Challenges in India” on January 20, 2017

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Shamika Ravi (Senior Fellow, Brookings India) and Prof. Somanathan (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi) listen to Dr. Ajay Mathur (Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute) during the Development Seminar “Environmental Challenges in India” on January 20, 2017

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Dr. Ajay Mathur (Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute) speaks during the Development Seminar “Environmental Challenges in India” on January 20, 2017

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Prof. E. Somanathan (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi) engages with the audience during the Development Seminar “Environmental Challenges in India” on January 20, 2017

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Prof. E. Somanathan (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi) presents his work to the audience during the Development Seminar “Environmental Challenges in India” on January 20, 2017

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Professor Shivaram Rajgopal (Columbia Business School) and Shamika Ravi (Senior Fellow, Brookings India), listen to Somasekhar Sundaresan (Advocate) during the Development Seminar “Corporate social responsibility in India: Law, implementation and evidence” on Dec 12, 2016

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Sumit Agarwal (Vice-Dean of Research, National University of Singapore) during our Development Seminar on Disguised Corruption: Evidence from Consumer Credit in China on July 22, 2016

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Shamika Ravi (Senior Fellow, Brookings India) and Sumit Agarwal (Vice-Dean of Research, National University of Singapore) engage with the audience in the Development Seminar “Disguised Corruption: Evidence from Consumer Credit in China” on July 22, 2016

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Brookings India Senior Fellow Shamika Ravi with S.Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India

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Brookings India Senior Fellow Shamika Ravi introducing Prof. Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

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Prof. Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, presenting his talk on “America’s Economic Anxiety”

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Executive Director Harsha Vardhana Singh, Ambassador Arun Kumar Singh and Senior Fellow Shamika Ravi listen to Prof. Jonathan Morduch’s presentation

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Dr. Neeraj Kaushal discusses immigration and its discontents

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Dr. Neeraj Kaushal presents her work on Immigration and its Discontents

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An audience member asks a question during the Q&A session of the “Immigration and its Discontents” Development Seminar

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Viral Acharya answers to questions from the audience at the Development Seminar, “The Real Effects of Unconventional Monetary Policy”

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Viral Acharya presents at the Development Seminar, “The Real Effects of Unconventional Monetary Policy”

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Viral Acharya interacts with the audience at the Development Seminar, “The Real Effects of Unconventional Monetary Policy”

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About Development Seminars Series @ Brookings India

The Development Seminars Series @ Brookings India is a platform for global scholars to present their work to a curated audience of senior government officials, politicians, journalists, academics and policy enthusiasts. The format of the seminars includes a senior researcher as a lead presenter and a government/industry expert to discuss the results and relevance within the Indian context. The fundamental focus of the seminar series is to draw research-based insights to shape and influence policy dialogues in India, through purposeful and pointed discussions.

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