The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
We examine the evolution of nontradable and tradable prices in the Indian economy over 1980-2002 and find widening differentials: the real exchange rate has been appreciating. This might seem unsurprising, since India's rapid per capita income growth suggests Balassa-Samuelson factors at play. However, after 1990, the tradable-nontradable labor productivity gap, the driver of real appreciation according to Balassa-Samuelson, virtually disappeared. So what explains the real appreciation? Assessing the role of both demand and supply factors, we find that demand pressures arising from higher income growth accounted for much of the relative price increase during the post-reform period. Falling import prices also contributed significantly, along with an increase in government spending.