If you haven’t already signed up, do check out a service called The Browser. It’s a daily curated ‘best of the internet’ bulletin, giving you an eclectic bunch of stories every day from sites (mainly blogs) around the world. It also features carefully chosen podcasts from around the web and less frequently it also runs its own podcast interviews. Last night was a particular highlight in that the Browser featured Alex Tabarrok, the co-founder of the excellent Marginal Revolution blog (and professor of economics at George Mason University) chatting with Bill Emmott, the former editor of the Economist.

The main topic was the failure of governments around the developed world to properly manage the Covid pandemic. By contrast, large parts of Asia have been a beacon of sensible governmental competence – even Indonesia and the Philippines seem to have done a better job than the UK and the US.

But Alex made one remark which I thought was absolutely fascinating and rung true for me. About India.

At the beginning of this dreadful pandemic, he was worrying incessantly about India, and like me was sitting at his computer terrified of the damage it might inflict on this vast country. And yet that dreaded catastrophe has not happened – yet. India has had terrible problems but nothing quite on the scale we all expected.

And if you want evidence look at the collection of charts below.

They come from another web event, this time on Thursday. It featured managers from the India Capital Growth Trust chatting about both their portfolio and the wider macro backdrop.

The most compelling charts for me are those that speak to real-time data measures of activity. The message is that India is not far off back to normal on many measures and yet the impact of the virus is drifting lower.

Now, this may all be a snapshot in time, and maybe when new variants emerge, India could be hit again. That’s a distinct possibility but I’m not completely convinced and for now, many of us are wondering what we got wrong about our initial fears. At the start of the pandemic, many wondered aloud whether there was some ‘dark’ matter like force at work that helps explain why some got the virus and others didn’t. By this, we meant whether some people had some kind of resilience to the virus which in turn helped explain why so many were cautious about models that automatically assumed between 90 and 100% of people would get the virus if it wasn’t controlled. These stats on India I think tentatively re-opens this debate.

Source – India Capital Growth Fund

Chart 1 – Under control?

Chart 2 – Getting back to normal?