The Invisible Class Prabhat Patnaik

G.K.Chesterton has a well-known detective story involving Father Brown called “The Invisible Man”, where “invisibility” is supposed to characterize the postman: one is so used to seeing the postman come and go that one scarcely ever notices him. “Invisibility” in Chesterton’s sense however can get attached not just to an individual but to a whole class; and in our country, the peasantry undoubtedly is the “invisible class”. The peasantry has been called many things by many people, from “a sack of potatoes” to “an awkward class”. But it is above all an “invisible class” whose presence, and providing of essentials…

Has Donald Trump Already Changed US Trade? C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

There is no doubt that President Trump is upending global trade. He has unleashed a trade war with China as well as with some of the US’ s purported allies, using grounds of “threats to national security” to impose tariffs on many US imports. The likely retaliation will obviously affect some US exports in turn. The trajectory of world trade suddenly looks quite uncertain – and this will also depress investment across the trading world. So the Trump effect on world trade is clearly just beginning. But the naked self-interest of Trump’s moves, the “America first” orientation declared by the…

Trump Versus the Rest Prabhat Patnaik

Donald Trump’s leaving the G-7 summit without budging an iota on protectionism is indicative of the disunity among the leading capitalist countries on the strategy to overcome the capitalist crisis. Trump has decided that the U.S. would go its own way, by enlarging the fiscal deficit, not just for giving tax concessions to the corporates, which would have little demand-stimulating effect anyway, but also for increasing government expenditure which would have this effect, and at the same time by protecting the domestic market. These two strands of Trump’s strategy have to go together. In fact in the absence of protectionism,…

Who Says Labor Laws Are “Luxuries”? Servaas Storm and Jeronim Capaldo

A Standard recommendation given to late-industrializing economies by the economic advisors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has been to refrain from imposing regulations on the labor market, or if such regulations are already in place, to abolish them. If you are a policymaker in a late-industrializing country, chances are you’ve been told that your problem, what is really holding your economy back, is excessive labor regulation – it is making your exports uncompetitive and chasing away capital. Laws “created to help workers often hurt them,” stated the 2008 World Bank’s Doing Business Report. To avoid any…

The Push for Privatizing Banks Prabhat Patnaik

From the very beginning there has always been a demand for undoing bank nationalization in India. This demand naturally gathered momentum with the adoption of neo-liberal policies. It was completely unacceptable to international finance capital that the bulk of the banking sector in a country like India should remain under public ownership. Accordingly, “friends” of the Wall Street working in the U.S. administration like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers would visit India and demand of our government that, even if it could not privatize the entire banking sector, at least it should send a “signal” by privatizing the State Bank…

The Misplaced Growth Discourse C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

With the GDP estimates for the fourth quarter of 2017-18 placing growth relative to the corresponding quarter of the previous year at 7.7 per cent, talk of India being the world’s fastest growing economy has revived. Moreover, since the year-on-year quarterly growth rates have risen from 5.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18 to 6.3, 7.0 and 7.7 per cent in the subsequent three-quarters, there is talk that India is once more on a trajectory of accelerating growth (Chart 1). However, the story emerging from the provisional annual figures (which are also now available) is at variance with…

The Modi Government’s “Achievement” Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government is celebrating four years in office with great fanfare. The fact that these four years have unleashed an unparallelled process of social and political retrogression in the country is well-known and need not detain us here. Our purpose here is to examine what these years have meant for the living standards of the bulk of the Indian people. Here however one immediately comes across a hurdle. For a very long time India had one of the finest statistical systems in the world, with a National Sample Survey collecting data from a large sample of households, larger than…

A Bibliography of Books on Finance: An idiosyncratic account of an autodidact’s financial education Andrew Cornford

This is a list of the books on financial risk management and regulation as well as related aspects of finance used by me for learning – since I first began to write commentary on the subjects for UNCTAD and then for organisations such as the Group of 24 and NGOs including the Observatoire. This list was requested by someone who felt that economists nowadays make relatively little use of books, preferring journal articles and materials extracted from the internet. My own preference for books stems principally from two sources: my temperament which prefers fleshed out exposition; and the requirement of…

Walmart’s gamble and what it means for India C. P. Chandrasekhar

Much of the writing on Walmart’s purchase of a dominant 77 per cent stake in Flipkart, touted for long as India’s answer to Amazon, is focused on its size. At $16 billion, of which $14 billion goes to buy up the stakes of investors such as SoftBank from Japan and Naspers from South Africa, it is reportedly the biggest acquisition in the global e-commerce area, and way larger than $3.3 billion that Walmart paid for US web retailer Jet.com in a deal considered the largest purchase of a US e-commerce startup. With some existing shareholders exiting, Walmart now shares ownership…