Has Indian PM avoided the Time Magazine curse?

Ruchir Sharma has this interesting article.

He says Indian PM has actually won by not being nominated for Time Magazine Person of the Year:

All the Indians who voted online to name Narendra Modi as Time magazine’s Person of the Year were deeply disappointed, no doubt. They turned out in the millions and won the vote, but Time’s editors had the final say, and decided to give the global cover to Ebola workers instead.

Before they sink too deeply into despondency, however, supporters of the prime minster should consider the upside of losing this particular election, because there is a jinx associated with appearing on global magazine covers, particularly the cover of Time.

My research team trolled through the cover stories of magazines such as Time going back to 1980 and found that the economic story often turned out the opposite of what Time had suggested, for the leader or country in question. If the cover was celebratory, then the stock market and the economy tended to turn for the worse in the ensuing years. If the cover was critical, then the stock market and the economy tended to prosper in the ensuing years.

There is a certain reason why these stories tend to signal the end of a trend, not the beginning. By the time a trend is so big that mainstream publications are willing to give it cover play, odds are the trend has already been running for long, and is about to turn.

The international attention focused on Modi has much to do with hopes of a major economic revival in India at a time when the global economy is short on good growth stories. Indeed the hopes are so high it is hard to find any financial analyst with a negative comment on the Indian economy, but to true contrarian investors this optimistic consensus is itself a warning signal.

As the old market saying goes: bull markets are born on pessimism, grown on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria. If Modi had made the global cover of Time, it would have suggested that the bull market rally which began in the economic despair of late 2013 had probably reached the euphoria stage.


One of the most famous of such stories is Time calling committee that saved the world economy in late 1990s only to see the same committee behind the crisis in 2007.

There is another point likes of Sharma should research on. I have this hypothesis that whenever the person of the year is voted for economics/finance reasons there is trouble ahead. I doubt whether the same fate is meted to people who are voted for things like science, society, welfare etc.

The reason for economics/finance nomination could be that much of economic growth is based on variety of factors and not just one individual. So, if people are pointing to one individual/few individuals changing the game, you know there is trouble as it just cannot be. Another factor is economics is about cycles and those who rise the cycle up have to face the cycle down too. People who rise the up cycle are voted back to power to see the down cycle as well. Classic example is UPA.

Third factor is economic growth/ development has just amounted to hype these days which eventually dies down. Scores of analysts and media want to just keep the sentiment going and like to identify a central figure who they make a celebrity. And as hype declines, they just dump the person and look for someone else. Fourth, based on hindu philosophy is what goes up comes down as well. The sharper the rise, sharper is the decline.

Eventually what matters is the quality of institutions which keep the growth going. The institutions just deliver with people coming and going. This matters more than just a few individuals.

Something worth looking at. Would be a fun research..

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