Some Thoughts about Basic or Citizenship Income Gerry Rodgers

The idea that all citizens should receive an income, adequate to cover their basic living costs, without conditions, is not new. But it has in practice been a marginal, utopian idea without much political impact. In the past few years, however, it has received increasing attention. In a referendum on the subject in Switzerland it gathered a respectable although minority vote. One of the candidates for the French Socialist Party’s 2017 presidential nomination made it a central issue of his campaign. Green parties often favour the idea. There are a few local experiments under way. Advocates of the idea see…

The Demonetization Fiasco Prabhat Patnaik

The demonetization of 86 percent of the currency of the country, a virtually unprecedented  measure anywhere in the world, has brought immense hardship to the working people of the country, and will damage their living standards permanently (since the Modi government plans not to replace the entire value of the demonetized notes by printing new ones). Many however believed that it was a step being taken for the greater social good, for achieving certain important social goals. Three of these goals were mentioned by the government from time to time: to attack black money, to replace counterfeit notes, and to…

Barbara Harriss-White on Demonetisation An interview with Madras Courier

Part 1 Barbara Harriss-White is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Oxford, with decades of experience studying India’s vast informal economy. It was this economy that was most hit by the move to demonetize higher denominations of currency taken on November 8. She answers a series of questions on the noteban with Madras Courier – painting a comprehensive picture of what demonetization has done to democracy, the 'black economy', corruption, agriculture, Introduction by Barbara I have been following notebandi from Europe (where the media are paying little attention) and I’m not watching Indian TV. So my experience isn’t first-hand, and my answers are…

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.…