Ornithology and RBI MPC members: Moving from hawks/doves/owls to swans/canary/turkey…

Manas Chakravarty keeps coming up with amazing pieces. He wrote an interesting piece on economic consequences of Arvind Subramaniam’s grandchild.

Now he has written this piece on applying ornithology to RBI’s MPC members. These ornithology pieces are mostly centered around Governors and interesting to see them being applied to MPC members. I recently blogged about Rajiv Mailk piece hoping the new Governor is not a lame duck.

Manas moves onto the 6 MPC members and as a result many more birds:

Let’s start with Urjit Patel, the former governor, who left the RBI like a bat out of hell. A bat, though, is not a bird. This meeting was his swan song, which I suppose makes him a swan, though a rather unlikely one. Some have said a goose would be more appropriate because his goose was cooked, but the flaw in that reasoning is he wasn’t cooked but his goose was, although there’s some difference of opinion on that. The government, of course, has no doubt whatsoever that he was an albatross around its neck.

Ravindra Dholakia has been classified as a dove ever since we started giving them bird names and there’s no reason to change it now. I would merely like to emphasise he isn’t a turtle dove, since he doesn’t bill and coo, at least not in monetary policy meetings. The latest meeting however does open up the possibility of him being a wet hen since he ranted that ‘retaining the stance of calibrated tightening seems totally inconsistent and unjustified.’ He seems as mad as a wet hen against the decision to keep interest rates high.

There can be absolutely no doubt that Chetan Ghate is an owl. Only someone as wise as an owl could say ‘two interlaced variables pose the potential of un-anchoring inflationary expectations, and thereby making it difficult to ensure price stability on an enduring basis’ without batting an eyelid at the monetary policy meeting.

Some say Pami Dua is neither fish nor fowl, more of a dark horse really. But she might be a turkey, on the rather slender basis that she talks turkey. Thankfully, she survived the Thanksgiving cull.

What about Michael Patra? He’s traditionally been known as a hawk, although his enemies who want lower interest rates say he’s a loon, no doubt inspired by the ‘crazy as a loon’ idiom. But we don’t have loons in India. His statement at the monetary policy meet that it was ‘apposite to persevere with the stance of calibrated tightening to head off inflation pressures from potentially corroding the foundations of the growth path that is evolving over the medium-term’ may or may not make him as graceful as a swan, but there’s no doubt he’s in fine feather. A swan? Nah, not really, those are borrowed plumes, you can’t hide the hawk in him.

We come then to Viral Acharya. In the last monetary policy meeting, his eagle eye spotted a ‘divergence in the direction of price movements in data in key food items provided by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and realised food inflation for October.’ Such divergence, he said, is rarely observed. That firmly makes him an eagle.

Others say his famous speech on the independence of the RBI that so rattled the government was the canary in the coal mine. That makes him a canary, but it’s not known whether he sings like one at monetary policy meetings. Others believe that, given what the government thinks of him, he is most likely a sitting duck. On the other hand, the whole controversy may well be water off a duck’s back. Either way, he’ll be a duck.

Everyone is agog to know what Shaktikanta Das, the new RBI governor and chairman of the MPC, will be. But there is little doubt he’ll be cock of the walk, besides being happy as a lark.

Lastly, just in case anybody thought otherwise, this is of course a cock-and-bull story.



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