India’s wealthy barely pay taxes C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

India is often mistakenly seen as a country with relatively low economic inequality. In fact, there were always very significant economic inequalities in India, which intersected with social and locational inequalities in complex ways. More significantly, the country’s inequalities widened after the internal and external economic liberalization measures from the early 1990s, which attracted global financial investors and boosted economic growth considerably. The estimates of low inequality are usually based on the fact that the Gini coefficients of consumption expenditure have not been so high in India (although they have increased over time). The National Sample Survey data on which…

Bracing for the Bust C.P. Chandrasekhar

The message from the October meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which normally exude optimism, is glum. In January this year, the IMF noted that “the cyclical upswing under way since mid-2016” was growing stronger, contributing to “the broadest synchronised global growth upsurge since 2010”. It now feels that while “the global economic expansion remains strong”, it has “become less balanced and with more downside risks”. This does not just mean that one more sighting of the “green shoots of recovery” is proving to be premature. Given the IMF’s predilection for underplaying bad news, it…

Subverting The Central Bank Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government’s penchant for subverting institutions has now extended to the Central Bank of the country. Not content with eliminating the Planning Commission; decimating the finest universities in India; crippling the premier public sector unit of the country, the ONGC, by interfering in its decision making; bringing the nationalized banks to grief by nudging them into sanctioning dubious loans; making a mockery of the Central Bureau of Investigation through crony appointments; and destroying the statistical system built up diligently by P.C.Mahalanobis which was the envy of  countries across the world; it has now turned its attention to the Reserve…

Did post-Soviet Russians drink themselves to death? Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Vladimir Popov

Although initially obscured by The Economist, among others, the sudden and unprecedented increase in Russian adult male mortality during 1992-1994 is no longer denied. Instead, the debate is now over why? Having advocated 'shock therapy', a 'big bang', 'sudden' or rapid post-Soviet transition, Jeffrey Sachs and others have claimed that the sudden collapse in Russian adult male life expectancy was due to a sudden increase in alcohol consumption, playing into popular foreign images of vodka-binging Russian men. In fact, the transition to the market economy and democracy in Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics dramatically reduced life expectancy owing to…

Is “Formalisation” possible? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

In recent times, the clamour for formalising economic activity, or shrinking its unorganised component and expanding the organised, has been heard from diverse sources. There are those who want formalisation to occur because the unorganised sector is seen as being largely outside the direct and indirect tax net, depriving the government of much needed resources. Hence, for example, one feature seen as favouring the Goods and Services Tax regime is that it is likely to force formalisation by requiring transactions to be recorded whenever those transactions are between the organised and unorganised units. Others see formalisation as the process through…

A Private Debt Story: Republic of Turkey Hires McKinsey & Company T Sabri Öncü

About four years ago, I penned an article in this column titled, “A Sovereign Debt Story: Republic of Argentina vs NML Capital” (EPW, 17 May 2014). Many things have happened since then and it is time to write a private debt story now, Turkey’s story. Turkey and Argentina are twins in the sense that these countries suffered from almost simultaneous financial crises both in 2001 and 2018. Both are currently suffering from currency crises with potential spillover to the rest of the emerging markets, and there are those who argue that these twins may have triggered a crisis in the emerging markets…

External Commercial Borrowings: Difficult times ahead Parthapratim Pal and Ahana Bose

The Federal Reserve of United States has raised short term benchmark interest rates for the third time this year. With this increase, the benchmark rates have crossed the 2 percent mark for the first time since 2008. The FED has also given enough indications to suggest that there might be one more rate hike in December followed by a few more next year. As job growth figures in USA are pointing towards historically low unemployment levels, and the GDP growth rate is expected to be more than 3 percent this year, the FED is gradually moving away from the accommodative…

The Left and Opposition Unity Prabhat Patnaik

The real obstacle to understanding, or even recognizing, contemporary fascism alas is the memory of the 1930s. The fact that we have fascists in power in India, at the helm of a liberal bourgeois State, is indubitable: the RSS, which they belong to and swear by, has made no secret of its admiration for classical fascism. But we do not have a classical fascist State, and are not moving towards it at break-neck speed, as the Nazis in power had effected. This is what makes many people question whether we are at all confronting fascism. From the prism of the…

Can the RBI’s open market operations help the rupee? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The recent depreciation of the rupee has created consternation among those who need to buy foreign exchange. It has also caused panic in the stock markets, whose decline partly reflects the exit of foreign investors, which contributes to the rupee’s fall. It spells further trouble for companies that borrowed heavily in foreign currency, encouraged by lower interest rates abroad. It adds to domestic inflationary pressures that were already rising with higher global oil prices, which have been mostly passed on to domestic consumers. While the recent slide in the rupee’s value is particularly steep, it is part of a longer…

Hype and Facts on Free Trade C. P. Chandrasekhar

Voices questioning the claim that nations and the majority of their people stand to gain from global trade are growing louder. The one difference now is that the leading protagonist of protectionism is not a developing country, but global hegemon United States under Donald Trump. Free trade benefits big corporations with production facilities abroad, Trump argues, while harming those looking for a decent livelihood working in America. With time Trump has made clear that his words are not mere rhetoric, matching them with tariffs that have frightened European and North American allies and US corporations, besides troubling the likes of…