Inequality undermines democracy Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Economic inequality – involving both income and wealth concentration – has risen in nearly all world regions since the 1980s. Gross economic inequalities moderated for much of the 20th century, especially after World War Two until the 1970s, but has now reached levels never before seen in human history. No more inclusive prosperity The World Inequality Report 2018 found that the richest 1% of humanity captured 27% of world income between 1980 and 2016. By contrast, the bottom half got only 12%. In Europe, the top one percent got 18%, while the bottom half got 14%. OXFAM's Reward Work, Not…

A Curious Divergence C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

As is widely recognised, India’s economic growth since the 1990s has largely been on account of an expansion of the services sector, in which exports are seen as having played an important role. The rise in the share of services in GDP was particularly sharp after 1996-97 amounting to 6.8 percentage points over the subsequent ten years as compared with just 1.9 percentage points during the previous ten years. In the event, services as a group came to dominate the Indian economy, accounting for more than half its GDP. The official Economic Survey 2013-14 noted that: "India has the second…

Neo-liberalism and the Diffusion of Development

The level of economic activity under capitalism is subject to prolonged ebbs and flows. When the economy is on an upswing, this very fact acts as an elixir that emboldens capitalists, who begin to expect that the “good times” are going to continue; this makes them less worried about taking risks, more “adventurous”, and hence more prone to taking “bolder” decisions in their asset preference. And because of this they also undertake investment in physical assets like construction, equipment and machinery which makes the boom continue, and thereby justifies their euphoria. The opposite happens when there is a downturn. It…

Who Should Control India’s Central Bank? Jayati Ghosh

The standoff between India's government and the Reserve Bank of India isn't problematic because of the risk of infringing on central-bank independence. It is problematic because, rather than fighting to protect the public interest, the government's goal is to revive irresponsible bank lending, protect its cronies, and win votes. For full article click here (This article was originally published in the Project Syndicate on November 12, 2018)

A Heart-Rending Episode Prabhat Patnaik

This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Bengal famine of 1943, a heart-rending episode in which 3 million persons died, and which epitomized the callousness of imperialism. The scale of devastation can be understood if we remember that in the United Kingdom, taking civilian and military casualties together, the total loss of life during the entire Second World War was just 0.45 million and in the U.S. 0.42 million. In Germany itself the loss has been estimated as anywhere between 6.6 and 8.8 million and in the Soviet Union which suffered the most at around 24 million. To say…

The Modi Government’s spat with The RBI Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government’s spat with the Reserve Bank of India, like its sudden resurrection of the Ram temple project, indicates the desperation it feels at its dwindling electoral appeal. Having dealt a huge blow to the small-scale sector through its measures like demonetization and the GST, having aggravated through its inaction the impact on the Indian economy of the world capitalist crisis, and of Trump’s protectionism that has followed, it is now quite desperate to salvage some support for itself as the Lok Sabha elections approach. Since mere grandiose announcements such as Ayushman Bharat or doubling agricultural incomes can no…

The Government-RBI Stand-Off Prabhat Patnaik

The stand-off between the Modi government and the Reserve Bank of India has generated a false discourse on the one hand and an illusion on the other. In this discourse the RBI’s position, articulated  by its Deputy Governor, is that central bank policy has to be guided by financial markets rather than by a government headed by politicians with electoral compulsions and “populist” agendas. This is obviously an  undemocratic position, for it amounts to saying that crucial decisions affecting people’s lives should be outside their sphere of intervention through the electoral process. It is also a dangerous position, since financial…

India’s wealthy barely pay taxes C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

India is often mistakenly seen as a country with relatively low economic inequality. In fact, there were always very significant economic inequalities in India, which intersected with social and locational inequalities in complex ways. More significantly, the country’s inequalities widened after the internal and external economic liberalization measures from the early 1990s, which attracted global financial investors and boosted economic growth considerably. The estimates of low inequality are usually based on the fact that the Gini coefficients of consumption expenditure have not been so high in India (although they have increased over time). The National Sample Survey data on which…

Subverting The Central Bank Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government’s penchant for subverting institutions has now extended to the Central Bank of the country. Not content with eliminating the Planning Commission; decimating the finest universities in India; crippling the premier public sector unit of the country, the ONGC, by interfering in its decision making; bringing the nationalized banks to grief by nudging them into sanctioning dubious loans; making a mockery of the Central Bureau of Investigation through crony appointments; and destroying the statistical system built up diligently by P.C.Mahalanobis which was the envy of  countries across the world; it has now turned its attention to the Reserve…

Is “Formalisation” possible? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

In recent times, the clamour for formalising economic activity, or shrinking its unorganised component and expanding the organised, has been heard from diverse sources. There are those who want formalisation to occur because the unorganised sector is seen as being largely outside the direct and indirect tax net, depriving the government of much needed resources. Hence, for example, one feature seen as favouring the Goods and Services Tax regime is that it is likely to force formalisation by requiring transactions to be recorded whenever those transactions are between the organised and unorganised units. Others see formalisation as the process through…