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…

Trade War Due To Deeper Malaise Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram

The world economy remains tepid and unstable a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, while growing trade conflicts are symptoms of deeper economic malaise, according to a new United Nations publication. While the global economy has picked up since early 2017, growth remains hesitant, with many countries operating below potential. The year ahead is unlikely to see much improvement as the world economy is under stress again, with rising tariffs and volatile financial flows. Underlying such threats to global economic stability is the failure to address fundamental weaknesses in global economic governance which have been fostering global economic inequities and…

Understanding Farmers’ Rage Jayati Ghosh

The eruption of farmers’ agitations across India is beyond anything that has been seen in India since the late 1980s. At that time, such outrage presaged a change of government, with the rise to power of a coalition of parties with some more identified with farmers’ interests. Then, for around two decades, cultivators somehow lost their voice in national politics, even as neoliberal policy reforms made their situation more vulnerable. The agrarian crisis that festered from the late 1990s and then exploded in the mid 2000s had its origins in the combination of trade liberalisation (which exposed Indian cultivators to…

The Time is ripe for Unity Prabhat Patnaik

On September 5 an event of great significance occurred in the capital: more than 1.5 lakh workers, peasants and agricultural labourers staged a rally on Parliament Street. The capital has certainly seen much bigger rallies in the past, but not in the recent past. In fact, one had almost forgotten the Boat Club rallies of yore, and come to believe that a new era had come when, notwithstanding great hardships, people were reluctant to hold mass demonstrations, at least along class lines. The September 5 rally was significant not just for removing this impression; it brought together for the first…

Ostrich-like in Peacock Nation C. P. Chandrasekhar

In the midst of a crisis reflected in a collapsing rupee, India’s BJP government is acting ostrich-like, burying its head in the ground. Nothing illustrates this better than its much-delayed response to the collapse of the rupee with a set of measures that are the opposite of what is needed. Having fallen from just below Rs.64 to the dollar to close to Rs.73 to the dollar between the beginning of 2018 and mid-September, the rupee has depreciated by about 14.3 per cent with respect to that currency. But it is not relative to the dollar alone that the rupee has…

Ayushman Bharat Prabhat Patnaik

The fraudulence of the claim made by the Modi government with regard to the “Ayushman Bharat” scheme launched recently surpasses all its previous efforts. This is hardly surprising for a government for which what matters is not what it actually does but how it creates perceptions about what it is doing. The Ayushman Bharat scheme consists of two separate parts. One is the creation of 150000 “Health and Wellness Centres” which are simply the old primary health centres given a new fancy name, and for each of which the 2018-19 Union budget allocates a mere Rs.80000. This obviously cannot even…

The Fall Of The Rupee Prabhat Patnaik

The rupee’s current tendency to fall is hardly surprising. India’s growth experience, unlike China’s, was built on the quicksand of a more or less persistent trade and current account deficit on the balance of payments. But there was always enough financial inflow not just to cover the current account deficit but even to add to our foreign exchange reserves. Initially this inflow was stimulated by the sheer fact of the economy’s being opened up to such flows: wealth-holders abroad got a chance to diversify their portfolios by buying into hitherto- unavailable Indian assets. Later, the higher interest rates in India…

GST: One more NDA failure C. P. Chandrasekhar

July 2018 marks the first month of the second year in which the much-heralded Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime has been in place. When launched 13 moths earlier, in a propaganda blitz that (wrongly) claimed that this “one nation, one tax” system was a game-changer, the government had promised that the new regime would help the Centre and the states to efficiently mobilise the resources needed to put India on a high growth trajectory. In fact, demonetisation and the GST regime were presented as the two initiatives of the Modi government that would transform India. Demonetisation, as the government’s…