May 2020 \ Editor's Desk \ Editor’s Desk
Editor’s Desk

“We really can’t forecast all that well, and yet we pretend that we can ...

  • Sayantan Chakravarty

“We really can’t forecast all that well, and yet we pretend that we can, but we really can’t.”

—Alan Greenspan 

Even someone of the caliber of Greenspan, an economist who chaired the US Federal Reserve for 19 years, was once compelled to observe that man’s ability to forecast isn’t too great. As late as March when all seemed hunky-dory and we were looking forward to another IPL summer and the French Open, no one in the world could predict the ravages that COVID-19 would unleash. In May, hundreds of “experts” across the world are still pretending that they know exactly where their economies are going. At best, they are guessing. In India’s case, global rating agencies keep modifying GDP growth figures for the current fiscal with alarming frequency. The torrent of conflicting forecasts has been overwhelming. As Greenspan rightly says, we really can’t forecast.

The medical community is flummoxed as well. Amidst a raft of opinions flying around, one thing is clear—the scientists’ benchmark of 49 days lockdown has not been good enough to flatten the coronavirus curve in India. Now will 99 days be enough? No one knows with any degree of certainty. There is talk of the infection gaining ground once the monsoon rains soak up the nation. It is clear as daylight that infections are on the rise. The country’s tenuous social distancing norms dealt a severe blow to its liquor adventurism which lasted all of one day. Migrants wanting to return home have state officials at sixes and sevens. Watching India’s best economists, doctors, consultants and experts falter so repeatedly while forecasting the country’s future is not the most calming way of spending one’s lockdown days.

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