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Debt Trap


wealthymatters

Here’s a small allegory for you:

X is a youngish executive with an annual income of 10 lakhs. Over the last few years, he has taken  loans for all sorts of reasons. So much so that last year, his annual EMIs amounted to a total of 5.4 lakh. What is worse is that he is also unable to cut down on his expenses by much. Last year, he spent a total of almost 16 lakh.

To finance the spending and the EMIs, he took fresh loans of 5.25 lakh. He has borrowed from everywhere — on the many credit cards he has, against his property, informal loans from friends and relatives, from his employers etc.etc. In just the last year, he has actually borrowed almost as much as the old EMIs he has paid. So, he is now roughly borrowing as much as he is repaying in interest and principle.

X’s problem is that he an incurable optimist. Every year, he is convinced he will get a big salary hike and bonuses and then starts spending under this assumption. Of course, the increased income never lives up to his fantasies. So, he eventually finds himself out of pocket. He then makes some attempts to control his expenses, but is never successful. The inevitable result — even more loans. This year is no different. He is so convinced that he will get a big bonanza from his employer that he has gone ahead and taken a vehicle loan to buy a car. 

However, even if he gets the salary and bonus he is hoping for,the repayment on old loans will be an even bigger proportion of his income.X is none other than the government of India. The numbers above have been scaled down to an individual level by dividing them by a crore. X’s income is 10 lakh and the government’s total revenue is 10.3 lakh crore. X has paid 5.4 lakh as EMIs while the government has paid  5.4 lakh crore for debt servicing.

In personal finance, the idea that someone with an income of 10 lakh should be paying 5.25 lakhs as EMIs is alarming,especially when the loans have not gone to build assets that will put put money fast,same is the case for  governments. During the UPA 2 regime, total government debt has increased to three times what it used to be, which is an increase of 21% a year. Nothing else in the economy is growing at that rate.The current government has already exhausted the legitimate borrowing capacity of our economy for the the next five years. Now, all that remains is to bend our backs and repay it.No matter the government we manage to elect this time,the good times are not coming back soon.

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About Keerthika Singaravel
Engineer,Investor,Businessperson

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