Bubbles, Stocks and Crashes Prabhat Patnaik

What is happening in the U.S. economy provides an object lesson on the functioning of neo-liberal capitalism. Pre-first world war capitalism which had witnessed the long Victorian and Edwardian boom had relied on the colonial arrangement for the system’s dynamics. The goods produced by Britain had been sold in colonial and semi-colonial economies (causing “deindustrialization” there), and goods of even greater value had been taken away from these economies (the difference constituting the “drain of surplus”) to be exported, partly against British imports and partly on credit, to the “New World”, i.e. to the temperate regions of white settlement, for…

Budget 2018-19: No money where the mouth is C.P. Chandrasekhar

Billed as the last full budget of this second NDA government, Budget 2018 was not expected to surprise. The leadership of that government may be pleased with having played, during its nearly 4-year tenure, with programmes varying from “Make in India” to Swach Bharat Abhiyan, experimented with demonetisation, and launched the Goods and Services tax regime. But while none of these immediately benefited the “common man”, some of them like demonetisation hit the vulnerable, and the GST disrupted production and damaged the operations of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). There was also evidence that agriculture had been neglected…

The Budget and Education Jayati Ghosh

Forget the massive and overblown promises to farmers and on health insurance, which were not covered by any budgetary provisions.  Ignore the supposed increases in rural development spending, which are all to be met through “extra-budgetary and non-budgetary sources”. Disregard the declared concern for rural areas, the poor and women, which has translated into next to nothing in terms of actual allocations. The real story of this Union Budget is not to be found in the verbose rhetoric of the Finance Minister’s speech or in the supposedly “big ticket” items, which amount more to a manifesto of the ruling party…

The Top 1 Percent of Thailand: Their income sources and tax due Pasuk Phongpaichit and Francis Cripps

The rising share of total income held by the top 1 percent has had a substantial impact on income inequality in developed countries. In the United States, the share of the top 1 percent more than doubled from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011. In other rich countries, the trend was similar but the scale differed among countries. Some have argued that this concentration is a result of technological changes increasing the rewards to skill, but the differences in scale across countries with similar technological context suggests that institutional and policy factors are more  important. Top_1_Percent_Thailand (Download…

The Economic Survey 2017-18 Prabhat Patnaik

Like the person on the proverbial tiger, the Indian economy is currently riding a precarious course. The Government of India’s Economic Survey for 2017-18 recognizes this frankly, but its panacea is to keep one’s fingers crossed and hope that the ride continues. The macroeconomic data it presents are closer to those of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update prepared for the Davos meet than to the figures of the Indian government’s own Central Statistical Office. Its GDP growth estimate for the current fiscal year is 6.75 percent (compared to the IMF’s 6.7 percent and the CSO’s 6.5); and in the absence of anything untoward,…

The 2018-19 Union Budget Prabhat Patnaik

The Union Budget for 2018-19 sets a new record for cynical dissimulation. To be sure there is a certain amount of “window dressing” in all budgets, but the announcement of fantabulous schemes with scarcely a paisa earmarked for them, as has happened this year, is quite unprecedented in the annals of budget-making in India. Consider for instance the much-hyped “World’s Largest Healthcare Programme” announced in this budget, which is supposed to provide insurance cover for up to Rs.5 lakhs per family to 10 crore families constituting 40 percent of India’s population. The total sum allocated for this programme is a…

Where’s the Money, Mr Jaitley? Jayati Ghosh

This government is especially good at optics, at managing public perceptions to persuade people that it is working for them, rather than doing so. So it is no surprise that Arun Jaitley’s pre-election Budget Speech went on about how much his government cares for the people, the poor, for farmers, for women, for people running small and micro enterprises, and so on. Many major claims were made: not just about the recent past, but about the coming fiscal year, with supposedly massive increases in public spending that would be directed towards these hitherto-ignored categories of people. But the actual increases…

Did the FM deliver for Farmers? Jayati Ghosh

For those with short memories, let’s remind ourselves that Arun Jaitley has been promising “top priority to farmers” for a while now. Indeed, this government came to power in 2014 promising to double farmers’ incomes in five years. Four years later, that goal post has been shifted, with all official documents now declaring that farmers’ incomes will be doubled by 2022, as per a “clarion call” given by Prime Minister Modi supposedly in 2017.  In fact, in Budget 2016-17, the Finance Minister had already announced a slew of measures that were supposed to double farmers’ incomes in five years, to…

The Financialization of Finance? Demonetization and the Dubious Push to Cashlessness in India C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

This Debate contribution describes the promotion of digital rather than cash payments as a form of the financialization of finance, in its role as a payments system, with reference to recent Indian experience. The obsession with digital transactions as a marker of social and material progress is misplaced; it may become yet another means by which finance extracts rentier incomes out of relatively poor populations. Financialisation_Finance (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally posted in the Wiley Online Library)

Window Dressing Budgetary Figures C.P. Chandrasekhar

The tendency of the current government to misinform and conceal is well known. Yet its periodic resort to such practices does not fail to surprise. The most recent example is the decision to sell its shareholding in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), which it owns, ostensibly to strengthen the latter. The decision comes at a time when low oil prices have hurt the ONGC. Yet, the ONGC board has cleared the proposal to buy 778,845,375 equity shares in HPCL for cash at a price of Rs. 473.97 per share. This acquisition of…