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What's floccinaucinihilipilification? Ask the Reserve Bank of India

Central bank watchers were left scrambling for their dictionaries to decipher RBI Guv's speech.

Bloomberg|
Updated: Aug 23, 2019, 11.37 AM IST
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Central bank watchers are already battling to predict policy makers’ next move after the MPC cut interest rates by an unconventional 35 basis points.
By Anirban Nag

As India’s economic climate becomes more complicated, so have the messages from monetary policy makers.

Central bank watchers were left scrambling this week for their dictionaries and Google searches to decipher parts of a speech by Governor Shaktikanta Das and minutes of the recent monetary policy committee meeting.

In the minutes, published on Wednesday, MPC member Chetan Ghate said “estimates of economic growth in India have unfortunately been subject to a fair degree of floccinaucinihilipilification. Notwithstanding this, growth is likely to pick up.” The Oxford dictionary says the word is a rare one originating in the mid-18th century to describe the action of estimating something as worthless.

On Monday, Das invoked Voltaire in a speech on the economy.

“I am not saying we maintain a Panglossian countenance and smile away every difficulty,” he said. The dictionary says a Panglossian way of life is characterized by one of extreme optimism.

The expression refers to Professor Pangloss, a character in “Candide, ou l’Optimisme” or Candide: Optimism -- a satire written by the French philosopher Voltaire in 1759.

Central bank watchers are already battling to predict policy makers’ next move after the MPC cut interest rates by an unconventional 35 basis points.

Ghate, an external member of the committee who is an academic, voted for a more conventional 25 basis-point reduction at the last policy meeting, and sounded a note of caution about the recent economic slowdown.
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