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If you think Kingfisher stock will soon be not worth the paper it is printed on – its price crashed to a life-time low of 9.62 rupees a few days back – then you may be mistaken.
The stock is coming in handy across kiranas all over India to settle petty transactions and compensate for chronic shortages of 5 rupee coins and 10 rupee notes.
“I resort to Kingfisher shares whenever I run out of change. Earlier I used to give toffees to settle balances but now customers prefer Kingfisher stock because it has more liquidity. It has more than made up for the paucity of coins in circulation,” gushed Gulshan Kumar, a small retailer in Ghaziabad.
In fact, the beleaguered airline stock is rapidly establishing itself as another standard unit of denomination in the Indian currency system. “People now frequently ask me to give them 2 Kingfishers worth of cigarettes [approximately Rs.18]. And the best part is I gain ownership of a part of the airline in the bargain, Mallya rocks,” raved Joginder Lal, a petty retailer from Connaught Place, New Delhi.
It is unclear how the stock entered into circulation but one plausible line of explanation posits that disgruntled investors converted their equity in Kingfisher airlines into piggybanks for their kids. Then it was only a matter of time before these kids liquidated their holdings to purchase ice-cream, toys and other assorted items of greater psychic value, thereby leading to the sudden precipitation of an enormous volume of Kingfisher stock in the informal cash economy.
In addition to its utility value as a substitute currency, Kingfisher stock may also gain in numismatic value, feel experts. “It is of limited quantity and will cease to have relevance as a claim on Kingfisher’s income stream and assets in the likely scenario of the airline declaring bankruptcy. This will make the stock a collector’s item. So I would advise people to occasionally hoard some of the stock that comes into their hands by way of circulation,” contends Goga Jain, the famous New Delhi based antique collector, who has managed to amass 10,000 shares in this manner.
The RBI has hailed Mallya’s yeoman contribution to the Indian currency system. “Kingfisher stock has greatly stabilized money supply and enhanced liquidity in the informal sector of the Indian economy. For this, the RBI will forever remain indebted to the King of Good Times,” said RBI Governor Subbarao, during a keynote speech to the Bankers Association of India.
“However, that does not mean we are going to bail out Kingfisher,” Subbarao hastened to add.