Agrarian Distress in India Jayati Ghosh

Across the country, farmers are furious – and rightfully so. Four years ago, they helped bring the BJP to power, believing Narendra Modi’s claims that they would no longer suffer official neglect. Cultivators were promised a doubling of their incomes in five years and many policies to increase their productivity and reduce their costs and risks. But since then, conditions in agriculture have got worse rather than better. Earlier problems have worsened as farm incomes have been squeezed by slower output growth, higher costs and increased vulnerability to changing climate. And there is a slew of new problems resulting directly…

National Income in India: What’s really growing? Jayati Ghosh

Recent income growth in India has been dominated by sectors that do not reflect real physical output increases – such as finance, insurance and real estate and public administration and defence.   National_Income  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on February 27, 2018.)

A Note on Estimating Income Inequality across countries using PPP Exchange Rates Jayati Ghosh

The use of exchange rates based on Purchasing Power Parities to compare income across countries and over time has become standard practise. But there are reasons to believe this could lead to excessively inflated incomes for poor countries and in some cases also inflate the extent of real changes over time. Estimates of gross domestic product growth in Chinese and Indian economies in recent years provide examples of this. ELRR_PPP_Exchange_Rates (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally posted in the Economic and Labour Relations Review on January 30, 2018.)

Rising Incomes, Falling Wages Jayati Ghosh

It seems that everyone loves to talk about inequality, and how much they dislike it. From Christine Lagarde in the International Monetary Fund to the Indian Prime Minister speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, everyone is united in condemning inequality globally and in their own countries. But ironically, the ones – especially those in the public gaze – who are most vociferous about this also seem to be those who ultimately refuse to take any measures to deal with it, even when such measures are obvious and available. It is almost as if allowing people to vent…

The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality Prabhat Patnaik

Oxfam has just produced a report in which it highlights the dramatic increase in wealth inequality that is occurring in India. The basic data it uses are from Credit Suisse which regularly brings out a Global Wealth Databook; and according to Credit Suisse the top 1 percent of the population in India cornered 73 percent of the additional wealth generated in the year 2017. This is an incredible figure in itself. What is more, this percentage, which refers to the latest year, is higher than the overall figure that had prevailed prior to this year, which was 58 percent. The…

Shopping Frenzy in the New China C. P. Chandrasekhar

In an otherwise gloomy world economic environment, a new kind of record given the media bizarre cause to cheer: the value of online sales notched up by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on a single discount sales day. Global business headlines screamed that in its annual sale on Singles’ Day, 11 November 2017, Alibaba had registered a record sales value of 168.2 billion yuan or $25.3 billion.  Singles’ Day, or 11 November, was, because of its 11/11 aspect, reportedly chosen around 25 years ago by students of Nanjing University to celebrate the fact of being single. Using what has evolved to…

The Crisis in Agriculture C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The dilution of government intervention in the form of minimum support prices, procurement and public distribution is undermining the medium-term viability of agricultural production in India. crisis_in_agriculture (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on October 23, 2017.)

Strangulating the Informal Economy Prabhat Patnaik

The fact that there has been a slowdown of late in the rate of growth of the Indian economy is accepted by all, including even Narendra Modi in his all-over-the-place diatribe against critics on October 4. The government however sees it as remediable since the economy, it believes, “is on the right track”. The first question to ask however is: why should it matter if the year-on-year quarterly GDP growth-rate has been slowing down for the last six consecutive quarters and is now down to 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017-18 (which is the lowest for any quarter…

The Growing Income Inequality Prabhat Patnaik

Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel have just written a paper as part of their work for the World Inequality Report discussing the movement of income inequality in India. And their conclusion is that the extent of income inequality in India at present is greater than it has ever been at any time in the last one hundred years. Their estimates go back to 1922 when the Income Tax Act became operational in India. The share of the top 1 percent of the population in total income at that date was around 13 percent. It increased to 21 percent by the…

Brexit and the Economics of Political Change in Developed Countries Jayati Ghosh

The economic forces underlying Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump in the US, are similar, but they are also well advanced in many European countries, where much of the population faces similar material insecurity and stagnation. These frustrations can easily be channelled by right-wing xenophobic forces. To combat this, the EU needs to undo some of its design flaws and particularly its adherence to fiscal austerity rules. Only a more progressive and more flexible union based on solidarity of peoples is likely to survive. Brexit_Economics (Download the full text in PDF format)