Promoting Privatization Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Privatization has been central to the ‘neo-liberal’ counter-revolution from the 1970s against government economic interventions associated with Roosevelt and Keynes as well as post-colonial state-led economic development. Many developing countries were forced to accept privatization policies as a condition for credit or loan support from the World Bank and other international financial institutions, especially after the fiscal and debt crises of the early 1980s. Other countries voluntarily embraced privatization, often on the pretext of fiscal and debt constraints, in their efforts to mimic new Anglo-American criteria of economic progress. Demonizing SOEs Globally, inflation was attributed to excessive government intervention, public…

Housing Market Mayhem C. P. Chandrasekhar

Late in February 2019, the GST Council, prodded by the Centre, decided to modify Goods and Services Tax rates applicable to the housing sector. The declared intention was to reduce prices that home buyers would have to pay for their property. The modification, which takes effect as of 1 April 2019, involves doing away with input tax credit for residential property construction for sale and significantly reducing the GST rate applicable at the final stage of sale of housing. At present the GST rates stand at 12 per cent for normal residential housing and at 8 per cent for “affordable…

A Brave New World, or the Same Old Story with New Characters? Jayati Ghosh

Capitalism has always been a global system, but not in fixed ways. Different national powers have emerged and become dominant over the centuries, but the fundamental processes underlying the uneven development of global capitalism have not altered; they continue to be driven by imperialism the struggle of large capital over economic territory of various kinds. Since the late 1960s, only the East Asian region has shown notable increases in its share of global GDP, and for the last two decades this has been dominated by the rise of China. This is directly related to the ability of the Chinese state…

Migration and Remittances: The gender angle C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The gender distribution of migrant workers has a macroeconomic impact – it affects both the level and the volatility of remittance inflows, as the Asian experience shows. The gender distribution of cross-border migration obviously matters because women migrating for work face very different conditions from those of men migrants, whether in the source country, or in the process of travel or in the destination country. These are crucially affected by the gender construction as well as the nature of labour markets in both societies of origin and destination. This is well accepted and now quite widely studied. However, the macroeconomic…

The use and misuse of Economics C. P. Chandrasekhar

When the final session, prior to the impending election, of the current Parliament ended in February, high on the list of the unfinished business of the Modi-led NDA government was its aggressive effort to rewrite the laws regulating wages and employment conditions of workers in India. While opposition by workers’ movements, trade unions (including those aligned to the ruling BJP), the parliamentary opposition and democratic opinion has managed to stall the effort, it is more than likely to be revived by future governments. The conservative legislative push of the NDA was presented not just as an effort at rationalisation that…

Why Multilateral Development Banks should provide Finance in Domestic Currencies: A Growth and Financial Stability Proposal Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira

National banks are supposed to offer finance or capital to private and stateowned enterprises, which allows them to invest and to innovate. From this we would conclude that multilateral banks should play the same role, with the difference that its loans are usually disbursed in a reserve currency. This paper rejects that developing countries need foreign capital but acknowledges that major projects often require finance. Thus, it distinguishes, on the macroeconomic level, finance from capital. The assumption is that, to execute large investment projects, developing countries need finance, not capital; countries should not be interested in incurring in current account…

The Subversion of MGNREGS Prabhat Patnaik

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act that brought the MGNREGS into being was a unique piece of legislation in the history of independent India. It stipulated that employment was to be made available on demand, within a fortnight of being asked for, failing which an unemployment allowance had to be paid. True, its scope was confined only to rural areas, and it promised employment only up to 100 days per household per year; but it made employment a right. The fact that it was passed unanimously by parliament, after much deliberation, meant that parliament was in effect creating an economic…

The Anatomy of Imperialist Intervention Prabhat Patnaik

What is happening in Venezuela today provides an object lesson on the nature of imperialist intervention in third world countries in the era of neo-liberalism. Imperialism has of late intervened along similar lines in other Latin American countries, notably Brazil; but Venezuela, precisely because of the strong resistance it has put up, shows the techniques of imperialism in sharper relief. Not long ago, the Leftward turn in Latin America, not just Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, but Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and several other countries where Left-of-Centre regimes had come to power and pursed redistributive policies in favour of the working poor,…

Agribusiness is the Problem, Not the Solution Jomo Kwame Sundaram

For two centuries, all too many discussions about hunger and resource scarcity has been haunted by the ghost of Parson Thomas Malthus. Malthus warned that rising populations would exhaust resources, especially those needed for food production. Exponential population growth would outstrip food output. Humanity now faces a major challenge as global warming is expected to frustrate the production of enough food as the world population rises to 9.7 billion by 2050. Timothy Wise's new book [Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food. New Press, New York, 2019] argues that most solutions currently put forward…

Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture and Food Security: An exploration of interrelationships Vikas Rawal, Vaishali Bansal and Doordarshni Thokchom

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as the condition that exists “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food security is at the core of Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Commission), at its Sixteenth Regular Session, acknowledged the key role biodiversity for food and agriculture plays for achieving the 2030 Agenda for…