Why is India's currency on the slide?

New low against the dollar today.

The Indian rupee crashed to a new low against the US dollar today as foreign investors continued to pull their money out of the country. Following a slump of 3 per cent today, the rupee has now depreciated by 24 per cent this year from 55 per dollar at the end of 2012 to 68 per dollar currently.

According to Timetric wealth analyst Shekhar Tripathi the depreciation is being caused by a number of factors. These include rising oil prices and a high current account deficit. He stated "the price of crude puts tremendous stress on the Indian Rupee as India has to import the bulk of its oil requirements in order to satisfy local demand."

A lack of government reform has also been highlighted as a contributing factor as the Indian government could have introduced far more reforms during the boom years between 2003 and 2008. Instead they failed to sufficiently build infrastructure or liberalize markets for labour, energy and land during this period and now it is far more difficult to source investment for this.

According to Progressive Media analyst Sunil Agarwal "the lack of economic reform and political paralysis was a major cause of the recent depreciation with the Reserve Bank of India sending out mixed signals on monetary policy".

He also pointed to the recent recovery in the US which has encouraged US investors to pull their money out of emerging markets and invest more money onshore.

India’s problems are not limited to the recent depreciation. Despite relatively strong growth over the past decade India remains one of the poorest countries in the world with the bulk of the population still living below the poverty line.

According to the latest Credit Suisse Wealth Book India’s wealth per capita amounted to US$2,560 per person at the end of 2012 which is well below the worldwide average of US$31,500. It also compares poorly to other major emerging markets such as China (US$15,000) and Brazil (US$16,500) and perhaps most alarming it is well below the fast growing Indonesia (US$7,100).

The Indian rupee crashed to a new low against the US dollar today. Photograph: Getty Images

Andrew Amoils is a writer for WealthInsight

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A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear