Quick off the blocks, Ms. Usha Thorat has written a good comment on the RBI monetary policy decision. Her last line was masterly.
As she points out in the first paragraph itself, RBI has increased the growth forecast, flagged fiscal policy risks and other inflation risks and yet, lowered the inflation forecast for the current financial year 2018-19. It is a tough one to explain away.
So, it is clear that they had set a goal for the policy meeting outcome today and worked backwards with the rationale. Of course, most human beings do that in most situations.
Frankly, there is so much uncertainty about both the growth and the inflation outcome right now for 2018-19 that one can pretty much justify any combination of projections.
Persnally, I would not set too much store by the recent uptick in some cyclical data. Hence, if I were in RBI, I would not have revised the growth projection higher.
Among the ‘forward looking’ surveys, the Consumer Confidence Survey must be a huge worry for the government. Together with inflation expectations, they present a double-whammy. Consumers are more pessimistic about their economic situation and expect inflation to be slightly higher as well! Would be a surprise if it is not reflected in the voting prefereences in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Also, the Industrial Outlook survey (81st round) is not all that rosy. Check out Tables 15 and 16 on the availability of finance from banks and from foreign sources respectively.
Finally, one thought for the central bank’s credibility. The central bank sounded hawkish in February. Its Chief Economist keeps voting for rate increase. Suddenly, it turns soft on inflation forecast when all the logic (including faster GDP growth) points to the risk of a higher inflation rate.
But, financial markets do not call out the central bank for this ‘tangled web’ of projections. It takes them at face value and rallies! Mission accomplished! It does redound to the institution’s credibility that financial markets, instead of calling its bluff, lap up its projections and policy action.
What does it say about the financial markets, of course? It continues to prove Eugene Fama wrong – day in and day out.
(Cheekily, I wonder if the decision, the inflation projection, the growth projection and the dovish commentary are all a compensation for the Gandhi Nagar speech?)