Two weeks ago we touched upon the possibility that the US climatic deep fried black swan could soon stretch to India where the Monsoon season was 22% below normal conditions for this time of year. Today India is the locus of another flightless bird sighting following an epic powergrid meltdown which left half of its 1.2 billion people without power on Tuesday "as the grids covering a dozen states broke down, the second major blackout in as many days and an embarrassment for the government as it struggles to revive economic growth... More than a dozen states with a total population of 670 million people were without power, with the lights out even at major hospitals in Kolkata." Indicatively this is the same as every man, woman and child in America having no electricity. Twice over."Stretching from Assam, near China, to the Himalayas and the deserts of Rajasthan, the power cut was the worst to hit India in more than a decade. Trains were stranded in Kolkata and Delhi and thousands of people poured out of the sweltering capital's modern metro system when it ground to a halt at lunchtime. Office buildings switched to diesel generators and traffic jammed the roads." Hopefully, two events in a row don't confirm a trend. Although if indeed systemic, and if suddenly the Indian power infrastructure is unable to handle the local drought-related conditions, thus serving as a natural cap on economic expansion, all bets may be off as to the unlimited upside potential capacity of the BRICs.
More from Reuters:
"We'll have to wait for an hour or hour and a half, but till then we're trying to restore metro, railway and other essential services," Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters.
Shinde blamed the system collapse on some states drawing more than their share of electricity from the overstretched grid. Asia's third-largest economy suffers a peak-hour power deficit of about 10 percent, dragging on economic growth.
"This is the second day that something like this has happened. I've given instructions that whoever overdraws power will be punished."
The country's southern and western grids were supplying power to help restore services, officials said.
The immediate reason for this freak occurence? Precisely what we alone noted as a potential black swan two weeks ago:
The problem has been made worse by weak a monsoon in agricultural states such as wheat-belt Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in the Ganges plains, which has a larger population than Brazil. With less rain to irrigate crops, more farmers resort to electric pumps to draw water from wells.
Surely record blackouts qualify as an "unexpected consequence" arising from an "unexpected event." And it will only get worse before it gets better.
Power shortages and a creaky road and rail network have weighed heavily on the country's efforts to industrialize. Grappling with the slowest economic growth in nine years, Delhi recently scaled back a target to pump $1 trillion into infrastructure over the next five years.
Major industries have dedicated power plants or large diesel generators and are shielded from outages -- but the inconsistent supply hits investment and disrupts small businesses.
High consumption of heavily subsidized diesel by farmers and businesses has fuelled a gaping fiscal deficit that the government has vowed to tackle to restore confidence in the economy. But the poor monsoon means a subsidy cut is politically difficult.
Finally, the RBI apparently is unclear that one can solve every problem and created endless wealth and prosperity by printing.
On Tuesday, the central bank cut its economic growth outlook for the fiscal year that ends in March to 6.5 percent, from the 7.3 percent assumption made in April, putting its outlook closer to that of many private economists.
And yes, India does have its own currency which it can print with reckless abandon. It also happens to have a population that is just chomping at the bit to regain its status as the biggest demand driver for gold prices in the world from China.