What is floccinaucinihilipilification? Ask India's central bank

Central bank watchers are already battling to predict policymakers' next move after the Monetary Policy Committee cut interest rates by an unconventional 35 basis points.
Central bank watchers are already battling to predict policymakers' next move after the Monetary Policy Committee cut interest rates by an unconventional 35 basis points.PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (BLOOMBERG) - As India's economic climate becomes more complicated, so have the messages from monetary policymakers.

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 a recent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting.

In the minutes, published on Wednesday (Aug 21), 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, Mr 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 characterised 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 policymakers' next move after the MPC cut interest rates by an unconventional 35 basis points.

 

Mr 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.