The 'near zero' credibility of Indian 'right' economists

"No matter how you slice it, budget 20xx is one of the best content budget of the last two decades"

"Budget 20xx should be regarded as one of the best, perhaps the best, since 1996."

"Budget 20xx is probably the most brilliant economic and political document since the path-breaking budget of 1991."

Can you guess the budget being talked about in the above statements and also the persons who made these statements?

One would expect that the above statements are about the budget of a particular year by 3 different economists. If you think so, then you are wrong. All the three statements above are by the same person about budget of three different years, 2014, 2016 and 2017. In other words, every year, this economist terms the budget as the best in past two decades. 

The names are not important here. This is symptomatic of Indian right economists. I had earlier blogged about the sycophancy of economists supporting demonetisation (here and here). They deliberately cherry pick, force fit and misinterpret data. The same is the case with much celebrated book by the Indian right; I blogged about it here. Nobel Laureate economist Angus Deaton also has written some charitable words on this phenomenon a decade back.

This is not a one-off incident. It's a regular pattern. The popular economist commentators of the Indian right go to large extents to force-fit the data, often exploiting the grey areas. The less we talk about the non-economist commentators writing on economic matters, the better. One can safely say that they now have zero credibility.

One can empathize with their desire to bring emphasis on growth but it doesn't mean that one has to be intellectually dishonest. It isn't expected from anyone, the least from the people in academia, whose job is to search for the truth.

Of course, there are notable exceptions on the Indian right but that's not the point here. There will be exceptions everywhere. We are talking about the most of the Indian right economists who popularly and frequently write in media.

With cheer leaders like this providing cover fire, it may not be a surprise if our governments come up with another dangerous idea like demonetization and again get away with it.


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