The failed promise of employment C. P. Chandrasekhar

As election 2019 approaches, the Modi government, damaged by agrarian distress, is also being challenged by evidence that its record on employment generation has been extremely poor. To recall, in its campaign during the 2014 election which brought it back to power, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) promised to create 10 million jobs every year. The best source of information on employment we currently have is the privately conducted (and heavily priced) Consumer Pyramids Household Survey undertaken by the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE). These figures are available from 2016 from a sample of more than 170,000…

A Misleading Debate Prabhat Patnaik

For some time now there has been a debate in the country that is as esoteric as it is misleading, namely whether the Reserve Bank of India’s reserves should be drawn down by the government to finance its expenditure. On the one side, the argument is that if the government has to undertake extra expenditure, then, other things remaining unchanged, it would increase the fiscal deficit, while financing expenditure by running down the RBI’s reserves entails no such increase in fiscal deficit; since an increase in fiscal deficit is supposed to be bad for the economy, it follows that financing…

Rethinking Free Trade Agreements in Uncertain Times Jomo Kwame Sundaram

After US President Donald Trump withdrew from Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving twelve countries on the Pacific rim, on his first day in office, Japan, Australia and their closest allies proposed and promoted the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to draw the US back into the region to counter China's fast-growing power and influence. Geostrategic deal to re-engage US in East Asia The modest projected gains claimed by the most popularly used trade models are based on dubious methodologies. President Obama had explicitly promoted the TPP for geostrategic reasons even though both US government cost-benefit analyses found very modest…

To be Bravely Critical of Reality: An interview with Tamás Szentes

Tamás Szentes, Professor Emeritus of the Corvinus University of Budapest (the former Karl Marx University), elected full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is ‘one of the grand old men of development economics.’[1] His first celebrated book in English, The Political Economy of Underdevelopment (published first in 1971, republished in nine languages and ten different countries, totalling altogether 16 editions in the first fifteen years of publication) was praised in ROAPE in 1974 as ‘a serious and comprehensive attempt at providing a true political economy of underdevelopment.’ For a while he was one of the contributing editors of ROAPE, and between 1967 and 1971…

The furore over farm debt C. P. Chandrasaekhar

The decision of the newly elected Congress-led governments in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to implement the manifesto promise to waive farm debt has set off a controversy. Opposition to the move comes not just from opposing parties. In fact, the political leadership has been sensible enough not to oppose the policy per se. For example, the BJP that had gone the same route in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, has only said that these governments are not doing things the right way, and are deceiving farmers with mere platitudes. The opposition comes from the neoliberal advocates, who paint this decision…

Criticism and Criticism Prabhat Patnaik

Former Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan has come out openly against the Indian government’s measure of demonetizaton of currency notes in November 2016, in a speech delivered recently at the University of California at Berkeley. Since Rajan is an economist of repute, and has been an important economic decision-maker in the country, his criticism of demonetization is to be welcomed: it adds considerable weight to the voices that have been raised against this wanton and despotic measure of the Modi government. At the same time however it provides an occasion to draw an important distinction. Since there can be no…

Taking Away the Ladder Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

The notion of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later, South Africa) was concocted by Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill. His 2001 acronym was initially seen as a timely, if not belated acknowledgement of the rise of the South. But if one takes China out of the BRICS, one is left with little more than RIBS. While the RIBS have undoubtedly grown in recent decades, their expansion has been quite uneven and much more modest than China's, while the post-Soviet Russian economy contracted by half during Boris Yeltsin's first three years of ‘shock therapy' during 1992-1994. Unsurprisingly, Goldman Sachs quietly…

Tackling the Crisis of Conformity in Economic Thinking Henry Leveson-Gower

The conformity in economics teaching in many ways is the most damaging aspect of our current economics discipline. Thousands of graduates all round the world enter work each year with the impression that there is only one way of thinking about organising our economies. These are of course the people who dominate the likes of the World Bank, IMF and the Treasuries in countries around the world.  Innovative and critical thinking is crushed just when we need it most given our current social, environmental and economic crises. We believe we can’t wait for the mainstream to change. We want to…

“Wageless growth” not “Jobless growth” the new conundrum C. P. Chandrasekhar

The so-called ‘synchronised recovery’ that global policy makers periodically refer to, seems to have bypassed much of the world’s working people. According to the just released Global Wage Report 2018/19 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the rate of growth of average monthly earnings adjusted for inflation of workers across 136 countries registered in 2017 its lowest growth since crisis year 2008, and was well below figures recorded in the pre-crisis years 2006 and 2007. What is more, if China, where wage growth has been rapid and whose workforce size substantially influences the weighted average global figure, is excluded, the…

Big Business Capturing UN SDG Agenda? Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Over the last two decades since the Global Compact, the United Nations has increasingly embraced the corporate sector, most recently to raise finance needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e., for Agenda 2030. But growing big business influence has also compromised analyses, recommendations, policies and programme implementation, undermining the SDGs. Changing financing arrangements Inadequate funding of the UN and its mandates by member States has required this search for additional finance, initially with philanthropy and ‘corporate social responsibility' efforts by private business, but increasingly, by viewing profit-seeking investments as somehow contributing to achieve the SDGs. While the global…