Free Trade Agreements Promote Corporate Interests Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

So-called free-trade agreements (FTAs) are generally presumed to promote trade liberalization, but in fact, they do much more to strengthen the power of the most influential transnational corporations of the dominant partner involved. While FTAs typically reduce some barriers to the international trade in goods and services, some provisions strengthen private monopolies and corporate power.Not surprisingly, FTA processes are increasingly widely seen as essentially corrupt. They are typically opaque, especially to the producer and consumer interests affected. The eventual outcomes are often poorly understood by the public and often misrepresented by those pretending to be experts. For example, many economists…

The Pursuit of Unreason Prabhat Patnaik

A distinguished Ugandan social scientist of Indian origin, whom I happened to meet earlier this month at an academic conference, told me that Modi’s demonetization reminded him of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s fiat in 1972 that all Asians should quit Uganda within a period of three months. His analogy of course would be considered inapposite for an obvious reason: expelling people from their places of domicile, as Amin did, is certainly a more inhumane act than snatching away people’s purchasing power as has happened in India; and this remains true, even when the victims in the former case are…

Lessons from the Demise of the TPP Jomo Kwame Sundaram & Anis Chowdhury

President-elect Donald Trump has promised that he will take the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on the first day of his presidency. The TPP may now be dead, thanks to Trump and opposition by all major US presidential candidates. With its imminent demise almost certain, it is important to draw on some lessons before it is buried. Fraudulent free trade agreement The TPP is fraudulent as a free trade agreement, offering very little in terms of additional growth due to trade liberalization, contrary to media hype. To be sure, the TPP had little to do with trade.…

How the US Government Subsidizes Obesity Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Until the turn of the century, the United States of America (US) was the country with the highest share of overweight and obese people. Soon after the former president of Coca-Cola Mexico became the new president of his country, Mexico overtook the US. In late 2014, the McKinsey Global Institute announced that 2.1 billion of the 7.3 billion people in the world were overweight or obese. This represented a fifty per cent increase over the previous WHO estimate of 1.4 billion less than a decade earlier. The Institute also estimated that about 2.8 percent of world income is spent dealing…

The Utter Failure of Demonetization: The RBI says so even as it says not Surajit Mazumdar

From the figure of the value of fresh banknotes issued by banks by 19 December, it can be concluded that we are still very far away from the full replacement of the cash withdrawn from circulation and the severe cash shortage is going to continue well beyond 30 December. Utter_Failure (Download the full text in PDF format)

The Dialectics of Authoritarianism Prabhat Patnaik

We are seeing in India at present a remarkable inversion of reason. The more the common people suffer from the impact of Modi’s demonetization, the more he is lauded for the “courage” shown by him in undertaking it. An economic measure should be, and normally is, judged on the basis of how it benefits the people, and any measure that brings distress to the people is derided for that reason. What we find in the present case however is just the opposite: the more demonetization brings distress to the people, the more it is applauded for its wisdom and courage.…

New In-house Estimates of the Impact of the Basel Capital Framework Andrew Cornford

The state of play in the effort to achieve a final revised version of the Basel III capital framework for banks (now widely and understandably renamed Basel IV) is currently far from clear. The word from the Basel institutions themselves is that the goal is close to attainment. In mid-September the Group of Central Bank Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS), the oversight body of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), issued a statement endorsing the direction of Basel III. This was accompanied by a statement of the chairman of the BCBS that the long process of post-GFC reforms…

Stop worrying about ‘Doing Business’ ranking Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Without any hint of irony, the World Bank's most recent Doing Business Report 2017 promises ‘Equal Opportunity for All'. Bangladesh ranked 176th among 190 economies, below civil war-ravaged Iraq and Syria! Bangladesh even slipped two places from 174 in the 2016 ranking and is three places below its 2015 ranking. Malaysia, too, slipped five places. The Doing Business Report (DBR) 2017 ranked Malaysia at 23, down from 18 in the previous two reports for 2015 and 2016. Incredibly, this had nothing to do with news of the biggest scandal ever in the country's history. Malaysia seems to have slipped because,…