Leapfrogging into services C. P. Chandrasekhar

By passing full-fledged industrialisation and depending on services for growth is not a bad idea says the International Monetary Fund. In the April 2018 edition of its World Economic Outlook, the IMF has endorsed a trajectory that India is known to have pursued in recent years. Characterised by an unusual process of structural transformation, that trajectory involves an early turn to services when the share of agriculture in aggregate output and employment declines with development. This contrasts with the traditional turn to manufacturing at relatively low levels of per capita income. In an India-type process, services rather than manufacturing would…

A Tale of Two Discourses Prabhat Patnaik

The Hindutva bubble has clearly burst. Not that efforts will not be made to form another bubble before the 2019 elections, but the one that had formed in the run-up to the 2014 elections and had carried the BJP to power is over. In the last few days, there have been mass demonstrations by peasants, traders, doctors, teachers, students and even school children. What is striking about these demonstrations is not just that the fear that had gripped people in the recent years is over and that they are willing to take to the streets to express their anger, but…

The Prospect of Food Shortage Prabhat Patnaik

Orthodox economics has for long been haunted by the prospect that the growth in foodgrains output in the world economy would not be sufficiently high to sustain the growing population of the world. Malthus was an early exponent of this fear. Keynes too subscribed to the view that unless the poor countries somehow ensured that their population growth was controlled, there would be a food shortage in the world economy, of which growing poverty would be a symptom. This view of course was the product of an intellectual ethos which saw poverty as a consequence of excessive breeding, rather than…

What’s different about Trump’s tariffs? Jomo Kwame Sundaram

At Davos in January, US President Donald Trump warned that the US "will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices" of others, interpreted by many as declaring world trade war. Before the US mid-term elections in November, Washington is expected to focus on others' alleged "massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led economic planning" pointing to China without always naming names. With the Republican Party already united behind his tax bill, Trump senses an opportunity to finally unite the party behind him and to continue his campaign for re-election in 2020. Since January, Trump has…

The real confusion over MSP C.P. Chandrasekhar

Speaking at the Krishi Unnati Mela 2018, Prime Minister Modi reportedly complained that confusion is being spread about the announcement on minimum support prices (MSPs) made in the Finance Minister’s 2018 budget speech. The speech had assured farmers that they would in future be able to sell the output of notified crops to the official procurement agencies at prices to be set at a minimum of 1.5 times the cost of production. The confusion being created according to the Prime Minister relates to how costs of production would be calculated. In an attempt to clarify, he stated that beside costs…

Doyen of ‘Dependency Theory’ Sunanda Sen

Theotonio dos Santos (1936–2018), who passed away on 27 February in Rio de Janeiro, has been one of the major proponents of dependecia or dependency theory, along with Andre Gunder Frank, Giovanni Arrighi, Samir Amin and, to some extent, Immanuel M Wallerstein. Continuing to provide inspiration to large sections of people, including social scientists and activists in different parts of the world, dependency theory has been important for those interpreting the growing disparities between the advanced and the developing world. Santos had a particularly marked presence in Latin America, both through his writings and in his active involvement in political struggles against…

Commoditization and The Public Sphere Prabhat Patnaik

Central to liberalism is a distinction between two spheres, the sphere of the market (or more generally of the economy) where individuals and firms interact to exchange their wares; and the sphere of public discourse where individuals interact as citizens of a polity to debate and determine the actions of the State. The importance that liberals attach to this second sphere was underscored by Walter Bagehot, the nineteenth century British essayist of liberal persuasion, who had lauded democracy as “government by discussion”. He had thereby emphasized two basic liberal political tenets, namely the role of public discourse and need for…

Multilateralism redux and the Havana Charter Richard Kozul-Wright

President Donald Trump’s tariff tantrum has provoked a mixture of disbelief and loathing, none more than from economic pundits who have deemed it irrelevant (for reducing the trade deficit), irresponsible (in damaging job prospects) and irrational (by weakening the global value chains on which American business depends). Much of this criticism hits the mark. But it is worked in to a meta-narrative about the end of the post-war liberal order that not only presents a flawed interpretation of history but one that is unlikely to help advance a policy agenda that speaks to the anxiety and anger that President Trump…

Trump’s Protectionism Prabhat Patnaik

On March 8 Donald Trump made an announcement which according to many has the potential of starting a global trade war. He announced that the U.S. would be raising tariffs on imported steel by 25 percent and tariffs on imported aluminium by 10 percent. Now, the WTO allows tariffs under certain circumstances, against for instance some country that is “unfairly” subsidizing its exports, or is dumping its goods, which means charging higher prices on the domestic market for the same goods that are sold cheap in the export market. It also allows tariffs under a “safeguard” clause whereby a country…

Technological Change and Impoverishment Prabhat Patnaik

The fact that the socio-economic effects of technological change depend upon the property relations within which such change occurs is obvious but often not appreciated. Consider a simple example. Suppose on a certain area 100 labourers were engaged for harvesting the crop at a total cost of Rs.5000; but the capitalist-landlord decides to use a harvester combine instead. Then the labourers’ income goes down by Rs.5000. The capitalist-landlord’s wage-cost goes down by Rs.5000, which accrues therefore as an addition to his profits. But suppose the harvester combine were to be owned by a collective of the workers. Then they can…