Who Is Moody's Analyst Faraz Syed ?

05/11/2015 11:49 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Faraz Syed, the economist whom the Modi government is now trying to paint as a tyro, is an Associate Economist at Moody's Analytics Division. Not Junior, Not Senior and nor the son-in-law of Marxist historian Irfan Habib

Here's his descriptor from the Moody's Analytics website:

Faraz Syed is an associate economist in the Sydney office of Moody’s Analytics. He covers national and metropolitan economic issues across the Asia-Pacific region. He previously worked as an analyst at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resources, Economics and Sciences, where he was responsible for exchange rate forecasting and economic analysis on Australia’s key trading partners. Faraz received his bachelor’s degree in economics (honours) from Macquarie University, and is working on his master’s degree with a major in econometrics.

Perhaps his unpardonable sin, from the perspective of the government, is that he graduated in 2012. So that does make him young, but it has been a problem only when his opinion was inconvenient.

The following comments he made in April received a totally different treatment in the hands of at least one government website.

"India's economy is on a cyclical upswing. Forward looking indicators suggest domestic demand is gathering momentum,"

"Lower rates as well as the government's infrastructure and disinvestment programs should provide a boost to domestic-oriented industries."

These are statements by Syed were part of a story that was highlighted by the ministry of external affairs' trade promotion website. The headline: Now Moody's, Economist project higher growth for India.

This was immediately after Moody's revised its outlook on India to positive from stable and pegged the country's growth at 7.5 percent for 2015.

However, Faraz, who'd joined Moody's in August 2014, has spoken about his fading enthusiasm for the Modi magic on other occasions.

"I think the euphoria around Modi is starting to fade in recent times. The cause of that is the failure to push some key reforms too (the land acquisition bill, Minimum Alternate Tax)". The rest of the discussion focuses on the Reserve Bank of India and whether it's likely to cut rates (which it did) in the future. On the whole Faraz is measured, austerely academic and visibly bereft of the temerity that the government now finds in everyone from Dibakar Banerjee to Kundan Shah.

Days after the report, Moody's investor services, which the government is trying to show as the real deal, made a positive assessment of the Indian economy by rating India's banking system to "stable" from "negative" earlier this week. This also tied in well with the World Bank's report that saw India climb 4 places in a global Ease of Doing Business ranking.

The government--now facing a serious image-management crisis with all awards being returned en mass and damning international coverage--thought it prudent to dismiss Syed's report as the "personal opinion of a junior analyst", only to be corrected by his employer the very next day.

For the young analyst, all of this must be way more attention than he had bargained for.

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