The Only Economist Who Saw India's Big Rate Move Trusted His Gutby and
Only economist out of 52 surveyed to forecast a 50 bps cut
Predicts more cuts in the months ahead on inflation outlook
When in doubt, go with your gut.
That’s the message from Ashutosh Datar, an economist at a securities company in India’s financial capital, who was the only one among 52 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg to correctly predict central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan’s move to slash interest rates by 50 basis points on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old economist at Mumbai-based brokerage IIFL Institutional Equities Ltd. has been accurate in 14 of the 18 surveys he’s participated in since 2010, including two contrarian calls.
"There isn’t a math behind it," said Datar, who formerly worked as a JPMorgan Chase & Co. equity strategist. "It was a judgment call, an assessment of where inflation was and where growth was."
Now he’s predicting even more cuts in the months ahead, differing from peers who see Rajan on hold after bringing the benchmark rate down to 6.75 percent. He predicted that consumer-price growth will be lower than the central bank’s 5.8 percent projection for January.
“Whenever they want to take stock of the situation, they will probably realize inflation is going to undershoot their number," Datar said. "This will create space for further easing."
A chartered accountant by training, Datar’s LinkedIn page lists psychology and photography among his interests. It says he was at the top of his class at the Management Development Institute near New Delhi, one of India’s premier business schools, and that he hopes to try his hand at bottom-up stock picking.
Rajan has surprised economists in six of 13 rate moves since he took office in September 2013. Forty-two analysts -- including Gaurav Kapur at Royal Bank of Scotland, historically Bloomberg’s most accurate forecaster for India -- had predicted Rajan to cut rates only a quarter-point on Tuesday, while nine saw no change.
Rajan, who’s called himself a "boring central banker," said he wants to ensure predictability of his goals and not necessarily of his actions.
"I can’t tell you exactly what policy will be every time, but I hope to give you a sense of what it might be as well as, once we do it, give you an understanding of why we did it, which is reasonable,” Rajan told reporters on Tuesday.
Datar said he wasn’t really nervous about being the odd one out.
"I did what I had to do and Rajan did what he had to do," Datar said. "Glad both of us agreed."