IMF projection: A tale of fickle GDP forecasts, in charts

The IMF has raised its FY25 economic growth projection for India, as have several other global institutions.
The IMF has raised its FY25 economic growth projection for India, as have several other global institutions.


  • A Mint analysis of IMF's India GDP projections since 2019-20 found that the global body's predictions typically struggle to match the actual growth figures.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday raised India's economic growth projection for 2024-25 to 6.8% from 6.5% projected in January. Other major agencies have also made upward revisions, confirming India's status as the fastest-growing major economy. But how often do these forecasts hold true?

The IMF makes nine projections for GDP growth for a year, over a span of 24 months, in its World Economic Outlook reports. The first projection comes in January two fiscal years prior (e.g. January 2019 for 2020-21), and the last in January of the same year (e.g. January 2021 for 2020-21). 

A Mint analysis for data since 2019-20 found that these projections have almost never matched the actual growth. It’s true that the pandemic upended all projections, but the mismatches are common even for the last (ninth) projection in most years. Remember that the ninth projection is made with just two months to go in a fiscal year.

The World Bank and several private forecasters, too, seldom get it right.

The biggest mismatch between the IMF's ninth projection and the actual growth was in 2020-21, for obvious reasons: it was the first pandemic year. However, the projection in 2019-20 was also off by a significant margin.

For the just-ended fiscal year 2023-24, IMF projected 6.7% in January 2024, and has now revised the estimate to 7.8%, which is 20 basis points above than the Indian government’s estimate.

Since 2019-20, IMF’s reports have made numerous revisions to India's growth projections, both upwards and downwards—almost in equal measure (barring the pandemic year, when the number of downgrades were high). The World Bank, which makes seven projections for each year, also has a mixed record.

Earlier this month, K. Subramanian, former chief economic adviser and presently India's executive director at the IMF, had claimed that the global body's projections for India's GDP had been "consistently inaccurate".

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