Understanding Bull Markets in India
In this article, we are going to discuss the Bull run in Indian stock market. What is bull in share market, bull run stocks, in which period and scenarios do these bull runs happen in India etc?
The term “bull market” refers to a time or a period when the stocks are on an upward trend. It is derived from the term “bullish”. In this case, Bullish is a metaphor for charging or moving forward. It is important for us to understand what a bull India run signifies and what are its micro and macro-economic implications.
In a bull market India, the sentiments of investors are high. The small and mid-cap companies tend to take the maximum advantage of this optimism. There is increased cash flow in the market and hence the companies expand and grow at an accelerated pace. Apart from the growth of individual companies and the market itself, the economy of the nation also improves which is reflected by increased GDP growth.
India, being a developing economy, has witnessed several bullish periods since independence. Indian bull runs, on average, have lasted for 32 months with the longest and slowest one being the most recent one.
To better understand a “Bull Run” we must now look at the history of a few big bulls in Indian stock market.
The first one was the one in 1985-86. The Indian stock market bull of 1985 began with Rajiv Gandhi becoming the youngest Prime Minister of India after the unfortunate assassination of his mother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The death of Indira Gandhi shook the entire nation. The aftermath of the incident resulted in a triumphant victory for the Indian National Congress. Hence started the new age of Indian Politics. Market was, correspondingly, filled with optimism under the able and charismatic Finance Minister V.P. Singh. V.P Singh laid out a cognizant reform for long-term fiscal policy and rationalisation of excise duties.
Further, Rajiv Gandhi gave subsidies to corporate companies to increase Industrial Production which triggered dramatic growth in the economy, and consequently, the markets witnessed new highs. Rajiv Gandhi was also instrumental in bringing about the IT and Telecom Revolution. With prolific reforms from the new government, the market surged from 230 to 670 levels, a growth of nearly 3 folds, in a time frame of fewer than 2 years. The bull run came to an end with the disclosure of the Bofors scam in 1987 which shook the nation’s confidence and brought down the market in correction.
The country, however, did not wait for long to see another “bull market” which is infamously known as the Harshad Mehta Bull Market. This bull run started in the year 1991 which was again ignited by the formation of a new government when INC (Indian National Congress) returned to power by overthrowing the then ruling coalition government of Janata Dal, BJP, and other Left parties. Dr. Manmohan Singh became the Finance Minister under the Prime Ministership of PV Narasimha Rao. The historic budget of 1991 proved decisive and path-breaking for the Indian economy and thus triggered the skyrocketing uptrend of the Indian Stock Market. SENSEX shot up by around 300% in less than 18 months. The magnitude of this uptrend was such that it would result in a negative equity return for a decade. Unfortunately, this rally was fuelled by the notorious mastermind Harshad Mehta a.k.a the “The Big Bull”.
B. Com graduate, Harshad Mehta started his career as a salesperson in New Age India Assurance Company Ltd. During this time, he got attracted towards the Share Market and soon worked his way up to be named as the “Amitabh Bachchan of Stock Market”. In his scam, Harshad Mehta exploited the loopholes in the Banking System by forging fake bank receipts in Ready Forward Deals. In short, Mehta used to illegally raise cash from Ready Forward deals and invest it in the Share Market. The reputation of Mehta was such that he manipulated the entire stock market according to his will and managed to hike the demand of certain shares like ACC, Sterlite, and Videocon.This resulted in stocks like ACC (Associated Cement Company) jumping from Rs. 200 to Rs. 9000 within 3 months. The stock markets were overheated, and the ‘bulls’ were on a mad run.
In the end, the ACC cement Harshad Mehta sold off the majority of his stocks to book profits which irrefutably crashed the market. By 1994, the market came down to almost 30% of the 1992 peak value.
The dawn of the Internet in 1998 marked the next bull cycle in India. While the US was amidst the dot com bubble, Asia was under the Y2K scare (a bug that was expected to afflict Computer Systems in the year 2000. However, India was not daunted by this and took this opportunity to foray into global software markets by providing debugging services. Thus, began the rally of IT stocks in the share market. Within 2 years, the BSE IT index gained over 1000%. More than 30% of SENSEX was now made up of IT companies. All this resulted in the overvaluation of IT stocks and thus the market started correcting in 2000. During this period (1998-2000), SENSEX rose from 2,700 to almost 6000.
The next Bull Cycle began in the summer of 2003 which was brought by the Infrastructure and global Liquidity. After the dot-com bubble burst in the US and the Y2K incident in Asia, the global markets, including India, had corrected to considerable proportions. Sentiments of investors had now started to restore all across the globe. A significant characteristic of this Bull run, which made it distinct from the previous bull runs, was that it was not India-specific.
Many other countries like China and Brazil also climbed to all-time highs in this period. The US on the other hand was witnessing a boom in the realty sector which resulted in it being submerged in subprime mortgages. Banking sector of the US was eventually exposed in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Consequently, Wall Street crashed, and its impact rippled all across the world. As a result, the Indian Markets fell on several occasions in 2008. From peak levels of 20,000, SENSEX came down to 8,000. Thus, marked the end of another Bull Run and big bull share prices.
The bull run of 2013-18 is considered the longest bull run in Indian history. Nonetheless, it was also the slowest. During this period, SENSEX was at 18,000 level, its lowest, in 2013 and managed to touch 38,000 in August of 2018, i.e. growth of nearly 2 times in 6 years. The bull run started in 2013 with the rise of Modi in Indian politics. It was a period when anti-incumbency was at its peak and the nation was infuriated with the revelation of scams and corruption. India desperately wanted a new Leader. In 2014, Modi led his party, BJP, to victory with NDA forming the government at the centre. Before the National Politics, Modi had been the Chief Minister of Gujarat for three consecutive tenures. Industries in Gujarat prospered under his realm and he was therefore expected to reproduce the same results in the Centre as well. With initiatives like Make in India and Digital India, BJP did not disappoint the Market. In 2017, Mid-Cap and Small-Cap companies surged to new highs. The rally was expected to continue in 2018, but the NBFC crisis of September 2018 shook the sentiments of the investors.
Although the markets did not fall considerably, they were not able to grow at the same pace again. In 2019, the market was again shaken by global tensions (trade war between US and China) and volatility in crude price. With the highly criticised budget of 2019 coupled with the GDP rate falling below 5%, the bull run is now believed to be over.
Bull runs, thus, might provide lucrative opportunities for making quick money for traders, but, on the contrary, are not so welcomed by value investors (who are in for the long run). It is therefore rightly said by Mr. Warren Buffet, “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful”.