Believing the ‘Beginning-of-the-year’ Forecasts

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2016 of the Gregorian calendar has just concluded. India , officially, as per Nehruvian dictat, follows the Saka era. In my limited interface with the government, over the years, I have never received any letter from the government even mentioning the optional Saka era.

A vast majority of the country follows the Vikram era. This era is largely lost upon the political and social elite of the country which is, predominantly, anchored, in the ‘western’ tradition. The corporate world is also, largely, dominated by this class. There too the Gregorian calendar is the popular framework of working.

The New Year is celebrated by a large part of the elite of this country as January 1. The immediate preceding week having the celebration of Christmas makes it largely blocked for much serious business activity.

This is not a rhetorical observation. It has implications on search for identity and quarantining one’s place in the global system.

Consider the period of Ramazan as a factor in the Middle East. The world knows that these are special days and factors in the office timings while dealing with them. Examples can be multiplied.  However the bald truth remains that the Gregorian calendar does dominate the business cycle in India. Hence the media in the fortnight around the New Year is, replete with business forecasts.

Of course, in the British tradition our financial year ends on 31st March. Australians begin their financial year on 1st July and many other economic zones have other financial New Year’s.

Till not so long ago, traditionally, the Indian budget was presented in the afternoon in the Parliament because ever since the budget presentation began ,it had to be in time in UK for their business hours to  begin.  Mercifully we have now got beyond that. This year’s parliamentary budget session is to begin from Feb.1.

Identity requires a ‘form’. The Indians are often identified with Dhoti. It may be worn cross-legged or waist tucked in front or back. Indeed a certain percentage of the population, however small does not wear dhoti. Identity is the business of perception & conditioning. 

The larger point is, that around January 1 is the time when business forecast are attempted by many of the western educated elite, in India. Irrespective of the reliability and credibility there is no dearth of people who have suggestions to give for the new year’s economy  While making an inventory of the concerns raised, the front runners as of today, in the class of international economic variables, is  US Federal Reserve and the raise in rates at a faster pace than earlier on. The theme of OPEC and oil prices continues to keep the economic analyst and the soothsayers busy. The coming in of the GST and the current ‘demonetisation’ process is a matter of endless speculations.

If this was not all, the political uncertainty of Europe, the likely redefining of the London economic market and of course the impending swearing in of the unguided-missile called Donald Trump, continue to catch everybody’s attention.

India goes on endlessly with its cathartic political sloganeering, as China contributes its share to the volatility of global financial markets. Today the flow of capital to US assets have pushed the dollar to over a decade’s high and Renminbi is being subjected to downward pressure. The Chinese economy and its leveraging corporate balance sheet remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery.
Be that as it may, no narrative, like the one above, can be complete without reference to the fact that in all the wisdom that is pouring out in the media-- there is no reference to the biggest and the most lucrative market of them all.

It is the market of arms and armaments. This unlisted market perhaps determines the state of the global economy more than any other single product or service. It is duly serviced by tax havens and by experts outside the acknowledged global system agencies or at best subterranean streams of the existing political systems.

One wonders about the calendar, form, content, price and worth of economic forecast. I am entitled to ask, what is the price of believing the forecasts of the flourishing-industry-and-trade of financial analysts?

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