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Andy Mukherjee’s year-end gift: The prophet of disaster yet again predicts doom for the Indian economy as China relaxes COVID restrictions

Curiously, the object of Andy Mukherjee's doomsday predictions has always been the state of the Indian economy. Be it the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations, Rupay cards, or China's reopening, Mukherjee has found a way to link every phenomenon to an "impending" disaster awaiting India's economy.

Bloomberg columnist Andy Mukherjee has a long and rather chronic habit of predicting gloom and doom for the Indian economy. After failing spectacularly on his doomsaying every single time, Mukherjee still appears fascinated with the art of foretelling the future, perhaps with the desperate hope of getting it right at least once in his life.

Recently, Andy Mukherjee, for whom making apocalyptic predictions for the Indian economy seems to be a catnip, penned an opinion column praising China’s recent pivot to end its ‘zero covid’ policy and a game-changer to put its economy back on track and restore investor confidence. Titled “Will the current reopening of China’s economy end India’s outperformance?”, Andy Mukherjee reasoned that the opening of China’s economy may have a deleterious impact on India’s performance and may well pull the brakes on it. 

Source: Business Standard

Andy Mukherjee leans on China’s reopening to predict the failure of the Indian economy

While Mukherjee seemed a long-time admirer of China and its policies—as evident in his earlier opinion column arguing passionately in favour of Chinese-made vaccines that have now proven inefficacious—his optimism over China’s economy appeared exaggerated, given the unprecedented surge of the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the country.

Mukherjee contends that a decisive transition in China’s covid policies may help pull consumer and business sentiment away from near-record lows, shake the property market out of its slumber and accelerate auto sales. The fact that Mukherjee believes China’s ‘zero covid’ policy was responsible for eroding consumer confidence, a tepid property market, and slumping auto sales speaks volumes to his understanding of China’s economy.

Even before the pandemic hit China, the country had been facing problems in its auto sector, property market, and dwindling consumer sentiments, underscoring the structural flaws in a country controlled by the ruling communist regime. But for Andy, these details are insignificant and unnecessary and have no bearing on his assumptions that India is set to lose its economic growth as the Chinese economy reopens.

For Andy, the reopening of China’s economy provided yet another opportunity to overstate Beijing’s economic prowess and run down India’s impressive growth in the last few years, especially its post-pandemic recovery, making it one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, as per IMF.

“However, a decisive transition may help pull consumer and business sentiment away from near-record lows, shake the property market out of its slumber and accelerate auto sales. That may also prompt analysts to bump up their forecast of 4% earnings growth over the next 12 months. Before the pandemic, those expectations were at 17%,” Mukherjee writes in his column for Bloomberg. 

Mukherjee throws up numbers, which are susceptible to co-option based on one’s agenda, to belittle India’s remarkable recovery after the pandemic and ascribe it squarely to the lockdown imposed in China. He summarily disregards the inconvenience caused to global organisations over the supply chain constraints caused by the unilateral closure of China’s economy, pushing them out of Beijing’s economic orbit and prodding them towards exploring other options to minimise their reliance on China. 

China reeling under a raging coronavirus outbreak, but Andy is upbeat about it chipping away at India’s economic output

With epidemiologists and experts still maintaining that China is still not out of the woods with respect to COVID-19, Mukherjee seemed bent on giving the benefit of doubt to Beijing and projecting its economy to be on a stronger foot than it probably is. China is in the midst of a raging coronavirus outbreak. A report published in The New York Times today said that the crisis is only beginning as hospitals across the country, especially in urban centres, have witnessed a precipitous uptick in hospitalisations and the medical healthcare infrastructure is on the brink of an imminent collapse. 

Yet for Mukherjee, China’s precarious reopening is a sign of India losing economic momentum. The implicit assumption here is that India was outperforming in the last few months, which runs counter to the apocalyptic forecasts he has been making in his column for Bloomberg.

Andy Mukherjee: The prophet of disaster who should be judged for the entertainment quotient of his articles, and not for any intellectual foresight

Mukherjee is a gift that keeps giving. Amid the height of the pandemic, Mukherjee was among those select altruist individuals who kept the country amused, often at his own expense. He took it upon himself to dispel the clouds of despair and entertain and amuse people with his hot takes on matters concerning the economy, providing a source of amusement and distraction for the pandemic and war-weary population.

Curiously, the object of Andy Mukherjee’s doomsday predictions has always been the state of the Indian economy. Be it the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations, Rupay cards, or China’s reopening, Mukherjee has found a way to link every phenomenon to an “impending” disaster awaiting India’s economy.

As the coronavirus threatens to upend China this winter, Mukherjee is back to what he does best: forecast disaster for the Indian economy. But like always, it is likely to end up being the damp squib like all of his previous predictions have been. Every global phenomenon, to Andy Mukherjee, is a divine epiphany prodding him to announce an imminent failure of the Indian economy.

Considering the gravity of issues that Andy weighs in on, one is naturally inclined to take his takes seriously. But given his abject track record, there is little sense in analysing his columns with an objective lens. They should be judged purely for their entertainment quotient and not for any underlying intellectual foresight. Though there is a dire warning laced in his latest column, given his history, it won’t be an exaggeration to call him a prophet of disaster with an unenviable record of going wrong every single time he has predicted something. 

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Jinit Jain
Jinit Jain
Writer. Learner. Cricket Enthusiast.

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