Budget 2017-18: Social spending Jayati Ghosh

The Modi government over the past three years has not been noted for its generosity towards the social sector and spending to meet goals of improving human development. Indeed, if the past were any guide, there would be little reason to expect much increase in social sector budgetary outlays on the part of the central government. However, this year, for various reasons, analysts were led to expect that there would be at least some change from the fiscal disdain the government has shown in the past to this area. After all, the failed demonetisation has severely dented living standards of…

“Government by Discussion” Prabhat Patnaik

Professor Amartya Sen in his new book Collective Choice and Social Welfare which is a considerably expanded and updated version of his 1970 book with the same title, emphasizes that democracy must be understood as “government by discussion”. The idea of democracy being “government by discussion” really belongs to John Stuart Mill, though this particular phrase was coined by Walter Bagehot. The appeal of the idea lies in the fact that if government decisions are taken after public deliberations, then their opaqueness disappears; associated with it is a narrowing of the gap between those who “govern” and those who are…

Budget 2017-18: Blinded by neoliberalism C. P. Chandrasekhar

In an insipid speech that was repeatedly misread, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented on 1 February the contours of a budget that was shockingly short of substance. It left disappointed those who expected that policies to compensate sections hurt by the demonetisation experiment would be included and those who were looking for some measures to counter the demand slump afflicting the economy that had been aggravated by the demonetisation. It also surprised those who thought that the budget would be forced to expand aggregate expenditure and social spending to win voter support in the elections to the five assembly elections…

Free trade agreements, Trade Policy and Multilateralism

  The rapid, if sometimes unsteady expansion of international trade from the late 1980s came to an abrupt end from 2009[1] as many large developed economies adopted more ‘protectionist’ policies to address balance of payments problems exacerbated by the 2008-2009financial crisis. This U-turn brought a halt to an extraordinary period of rapid trade expansion due to much greater international specialization, especially with the spread of ‘international value chains’ in production.   Free trade agreements Freetrade agreements (FTAs) are generally presumed to promote trade liberalization. While FTAs typically reduce some barriers to the international trade in goods and services, various provisions…

Tax Evasion Lessons From Panama Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Unlike Wikileaks and other exposes, the Panama revelations were carefully managed, if not edited, quite selective, and hence targeted, at least initially. Most observers attribute this to the political agendas of its main sponsors. Nevertheless, the revelations have highlighted some problems associated with illicit financial flows, as well as tax evasion and avoidance, including the role of enabling governments, legislation, legal and accounting firms as well as shell companies. The political tremors generated by the edited release of 1.1 million documents were swift. No one expected Iceland's prime minister to resign in less than 48 hours, or that the then…

Interpreting the World to Change it Essays for Prabhat Patnaik; edited by C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

February 2017 • 6.25 x 9.5 inches • (xvi+284) 300 pages • Hardback •  ISBN: 978-93-82381-93-8 •  Rs 850 Prabhat Patnaik’s academic insights and strong political commitment have stimulated intellectual activity and inspired personal regard across a multitude of people from all walks of life. This volume brings together contributions from some who have benefited from interaction with him over decades, in a tribute and continuing conversation. Prabhat Patnaik, born 19 September 1945 in Odisha, India, is one of the outstanding economists of his generation and a leading Marxist theoretician in the world today. Versatile in his knowledge and mastery…

Interpreting The World To Change It Essays For Prabhat Patnaik; Edited By  C.P. Chandrasekhar And Jayati Ghosh

Washington Rules Change, Again Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Over the last four decades, the Washington Consensus, promoting economic liberalization, globalization and privatization, reversed four decades of an earlier period of active state intervention to accelerate and stabilize more inclusive economic growth, associated with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Maynard Keynes. The Golden Age The US Wall Street Crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression, which in turn engendered two important policy responses in 1933 with lasting consequences for generations to come: US President Roosevelt’s New Deal and the 1933 Glass-Steagal Act. While massive spending following American entry into the Second World War was clearly decisive in ending…

Differing Concepts of Populism Prabhat Patnaik

The same term is often employed by different people with different meanings, and this can be a source of immense confusion. The World Bank has done this to good effect in the past, taking over terms that are being used in a particular sense, especially by the Left, and using them in a very different sense, in order to create deliberate confusion and exploit in some way the sympathetic feeling that the term had attracted from people in its initial usage. “Structural adjustment” is a prime example of such appropriation by the World Bank. In its initial usage it had…

Major Crisis, Minor Reforms Jomo Kwame Sundaram

The 2008-2009 financial breakdown, precipitated by the US housing mortgage crisis, has triggered an extended stagnation in the developed economies, initially postponed in much of the developing world by high primary commodity prices until 2014. Yet, the financial crisis and protracted economic slowdown since has not led to profound changes in the conventional wisdom or policy prescriptions, especially at the international level, despite global economic integration since the 1980s. To be sure, the spread of the crisis caused the G20 group of US-selected important economies to convene for the first time at a heads of government level in a mid-November…

In the 2017 Budget, the Government has Compounded its Folly Prabhat Patnaik

The Budget estimates, which have generally become somewhat suspect of late, are particularly meaningless in the case of the 2017-18 Budget for two obvious reasons: first, the early presentation of the Budget means the availability of that much less information for the current year, upon which the Budget is based; and second, the draconian demonetisation that has occurred, while certain to pull down the GDP growth rate (even the Economic Survey concedes that), makes any precise prediction impossible. Let us therefore look at the broad strategy of the Budget rather going into its numbers in any detail. One obvious thing that…