The End of Globalization? Prabhat Patnaik

Donald Trump’s recipe for reviving employment in the U.S. economy is to impose restrictions on imports from other countries. If at the same time he had taken steps to increase the level of aggregate demand in the U.S. in other ways, such as through increasing State expenditure financed by a fiscal deficit, then restricting imports from other countries would not lead to a reduction in the magnitude of such imports in absolute terms. It would not, in such a case, cause any unemployment in other countries for the sake of boosting employment in the U.S. Put differently, it would not…

Interpreting Trump’s Trade Diplomacy C.P. Chandrasekhar

As Donald Trump settles into his Presidency and his surprise economic appointees begin to travel the world, signals as to what the external economic agenda of the United States would be during Trump’s term are emerging. One such signal was the unwillingness of the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, while attending the G20 summit of finance ministers and central bankers at Baden Baden over 17-18 March, to accept the old normal that any departure from global free trade was taboo. Conventionally, every communique from G 20 summits since the first in 2008 had committed to “resist all forms of protectionism”.…

The Rise and Fall of South Korea’s Chaebols C. P. Chandrasekhar

No discussion of South Korea’s dramatic transition from a poor underdeveloped country to a developed country member of the OECD club of rich nations can ignore the role of the chaebols—its ‘clans of wealth’. Consisting of a large number of legally independent firms controlled by a single family dominated-decision making centre (very much like India business groups), these Korean conglomerates grew rapidly during the regime of General Park Chung-hee (1961-1979), and today the top 10 of them earn revenues that are equivalent in value to around 80 per cent of the country’s GDP. For long credited as having implemented the…

The Post-Neoliberal Conjuncture Prabhat Patnaik

The question of an alternative to neo-liberalism has now come on to the agenda not just as a matter of speculation or as a mere abstract means of mobilizing people against neo-liberalism, but as an urgent practical issue. This is because, for reasons I shall discuss shortly, neo-liberalism as we have known it till now has reached a dead-end. Sections I and II below discuss these reasons. Section III examines the fall-out of the crisis of neo-liberalism. Section IV discusses critically the alternative to neo-liberalism being attempted by Donald Trump in the U.S., and Section V suggests the outline of…

“Government by Discussion” Prabhat Patnaik

Professor Amartya Sen in his new book Collective Choice and Social Welfare which is a considerably expanded and updated version of his 1970 book with the same title, emphasizes that democracy must be understood as “government by discussion”. The idea of democracy being “government by discussion” really belongs to John Stuart Mill, though this particular phrase was coined by Walter Bagehot. The appeal of the idea lies in the fact that if government decisions are taken after public deliberations, then their opaqueness disappears; associated with it is a narrowing of the gap between those who “govern” and those who are…

Differing Concepts of Populism Prabhat Patnaik

The same term is often employed by different people with different meanings, and this can be a source of immense confusion. The World Bank has done this to good effect in the past, taking over terms that are being used in a particular sense, especially by the Left, and using them in a very different sense, in order to create deliberate confusion and exploit in some way the sympathetic feeling that the term had attracted from people in its initial usage. “Structural adjustment” is a prime example of such appropriation by the World Bank. In its initial usage it had…

Brexit, the City, and the Crisis of Conservatism Alan Freeman & Radhika Desai

In this report, the authors argue that, underneath the surface of liberal dismay and right wing triumphalism which characterizes much commentary on Brexit, two sets of developments- the electoral crisis of the Conservative Party and the British financial sector are critical to understanding the British vote on leaving the European Union. Brexit_the_City (Download the full text in PDF format) (The article was originally published in the Valdai Discussion Club)

Trump’s Protectionist Charade C. P. Chandrasekhar

As January 20th, the day Donald Trump assumes his Presidency nears, the fear that he would turn US trade policy in a protectionist direction appears to increase. Protection against import competition and an attack on global relocation and outsourcing by American firms that are seen as destroying jobs in the US and immigration that is viewed as depriving the American working class of available livelihoods were central elements of the populist rhetoric that swung the white working class in Trump’s favour. Key items in Trump’s election campaign promise list were policies to recapture American jobs by clamping down on the…

The Pursuit of Unreason Prabhat Patnaik

A distinguished Ugandan social scientist of Indian origin, whom I happened to meet earlier this month at an academic conference, told me that Modi’s demonetization reminded him of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s fiat in 1972 that all Asians should quit Uganda within a period of three months. His analogy of course would be considered inapposite for an obvious reason: expelling people from their places of domicile, as Amin did, is certainly a more inhumane act than snatching away people’s purchasing power as has happened in India; and this remains true, even when the victims in the former case are…

Globalization and the Impasse of Capitalism Prabhat Patnaik

I feel greatly honoured that I have been asked to deliver the Harold Wolpe memorial lecture for the year 2016. Harold Wolpe was an outstanding thinker who combined political activism for the liberation of the South African people with deep insights into the economic basis of apartheid. I am indeed grateful for this opportunity to pay my tribute to this remarkable person who in my view constitutes a role model for anyone aspiring to be a social scientist. Since a good deal of Harold Wolpe’s theoretical work was concerned with the value of labour power, and hence by implication with…