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…

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 Skewed Structure of India’s Bond Market C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

India’s efforts to activate its corporate debt market, not least by periodically raising the ceiling on investment by foreign portfolio investors in corporate bonds, are yet to succeed. Mobilisation of capital through the issue of corporate bonds has just about crept up to 4.4 per cent of GDP (Chart 1). Though that is much larger than the 0.2 per cent of GDP for mobilisation through new equity issues, it is way short of the figure (varying from 15 to 50 per cent) for most similarly placed emerging markets. Relative to the size of its economy, India’s corporate bond market is…

Are We Heading towards a Synchronised Global Slowdown? T Sabri Öncü

When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its World Economic Outlook Update in January 2018, the future looked bright. Indeed, even the title of the update was very optimistic: Brighter Prospects, Optimistic Markets, Challenges Ahead. And under the cheer-leadership of the IMF, an overwhelming consensus was formed. The cyclical upswing underway since mid-2016 had continued to strengthen, producing in 2017 the broadest synchronised global growth upsurge since 2010, and the growth would last as far as the eye could see. Here, what is meant by global growth is the growth of the world gross domestic product (GDP) or the world income. It turned out…

The Boundaries of Welfare Prabhat Patnaik

The Narendra Modi government has now carried its penchant for undermining institutions to the national budget itself. Not only has it treated what should have been an interim budget, as its tenure lasts barely two months into the new financial year, as a full-fledged budget, but it has also palpably refrained from applying its mind to several key budgetary schemes. The aim has been not to launch some seriously thought out schemes for the poor but to create hype-worthy news. Consider the three main “sops” of the budget. Twelve crore “small landholding families” are to be given Rs 6,000 each…

Budget 2019-20: Will it help India’s farmers? Jayati Ghosh

Everyone expected the Modi government to do something big – or at least promise something big – before the general elections. Everyone also sensed that it would be something to do with farmers, one of the economic and social concerns that has now also become a political talking point. But perhaps no one expected that the government would dare to make massive budgetary commitments for the coming year in a Vote on Account (or Interim Budget), which is constitutionally outside the mandate of an outgoing government. A Vote on Account is only supposed to include spending measures for the immediate…

Here’s what Modi’s 2019 budget can – but won’t – do about India’s jobs crisis Jayati Ghosh

The Brahmastra, or ultimate weapon, of 10% reservation in government employment for economically weaker sections (EWS) has been cynically deployed already, but even that does not seem to be delivering the desired public approval. Perhaps the general public has wised up to the fact that central government jobs have in fact declined over the past four years (by more than 75,000 since 2014) and so a small reserved portion of a shrinking pie does not seem all that attractive. However, even in the limited time available, there is much a committed government can do to tackle unemployment. And these could…

The Strange form of “Disinvestment” C. P. Chandrasekhar

As the term of the current NDA government nears its end, with signs of popular dissatisfaction over its performance on the economic front, the urge to ramp up expenditure to woo the electorate intensifies. But a number of factors have combined to render that task difficult, with the failure of the government’s misplaced disinvestment programme being among the most important. Disinvestment receipts are crucial to the government this year for two reasons. First, while direct tax collections in 2018-9 are according to official figures on track to reaching targets, indirect tax collections have fallen short after implementation and periodic revision…

The mistaken obsession with the fiscal deficit C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

It’s that time of year again – the time when all eyes turn to those magic numbers, the actual and proposed fiscal deficits of the central government as shares of GDP. Breathless news anchors will interrogate financial investors on what the numbers mean, and why 3.5 per cent or 3.7 per cent is fatally worse than, say, 3.4 per cent or 3.2 per cent or less. Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief if the Finance Minister achieves his fiscal targets, while there will be gloom, doom and concern if the government is found to have overstepped. All this scrutiny…

Do ‘Markets’ talk sense? C. P. Chandrasekhar

As the state election results trickled in on December 11, to the surprise of many, the Sensex after a hiccup rose and closed 190 points above its previous end-of-day level. The following day too, the Sensex moved upwards. This was a surprise to many, since the impression had spread that influential players in the market favoured a return of a Modi government in 2019. To the extent that the defeat of the BJP in three important states was a signal of a possible defeat next year, they expected investors to walk out, triggering a market collapse. That did not happen.…