The Aging of a Growth Engine C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

With the dollar value of exports declining, India’s software sector faces a historical crisis which may worsen, given the protectionist trends in the US and other uncertainties. Aging_Growth_Engine  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on February 13, 2018)

Budget 2018-19: No money where the mouth is

Billed as the last full budget of this second NDA government, Budget 2018 was not expected to surprise. Its primary thrust had to be a show of concern for the large mass of the deprived in India, with some focus on the agricultural sector which by all accounts has been neglected and allowed to languish over the last four years. There were therefore three questions that the budget was expected to answer. First, to what extent would pre-election imperatives be addressed with mere rhetoric and window-dressing, rather than actual measures backed with financing aimed at the neglected and marginalised sections…

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…

Public Banks: Dressing up for the market C. P. Chandrasekhar

When the government presented its third supplementary demand for grants to the winter session of parliament, the list of expenditures included Rs. 80,000 crore for a first tranche investment in equity of the public sector banks to recapitalize them. This was a clear declaration that the government intended to go through with its plan to provide as much Rs. 1.35 lakh crore from its budget to recapitalize banks that are recording losses, as they recognize and provide for non-performing assets accumulated substantially from debt provided to a few large corporates. The recapitalisation plan announced in October 2017 promises to infuse…

The other face of Private Banking C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Private banks, especially foreign ones have relied on off-balance sheet liabilities to earn revenues and profits, courting risk and leaving the business of banking proper largely to the public sector banks. Other_Face_Private_Banking  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on January 15, 2018)      

The Airtel-Aadhaar Fix C. P. Chandrasekhar

Despite its clear violation of the law, telecom major Airtel appears to have been let off lightly by the government. And that story, though reported, has neither led to adequate punishment nor has it received the extent of media attention it deserves. The story is that Airtel used its position as a dominant mobile services provider to strengthen its new role as a “payments bank” by exploiting a loophole in a system created through the decisions of multiple agencies. The company not only opened a large number of payments bank accounts in the names of its mobile subscribers without their…

Making Merry on Bitcoin C.P. Chandrasekhar

Bitcoin has left the world of finance gasping. Though the total market value of all of that cryptocurrency in circulation is only a fraction of the value of the world’s financial assets, the rapid rise in the value of the currency has made it the most wanted of those assets. On January 1, 2017, the currency was trading at between $972 to $990 a unit. By December 7 that range had risen to $14,063 to $17,363. According to a calculation by Reuters, an investment of $1000 in bitcoins at the beginning of 2013 would be worth around $1.2 million now.…

The Dollar Drain C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

A recent spike in the volume of foreign exchange outflows under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme suggests that India is vulnerable to large scale capital flight, if economic uncertainty increases. Dollor_Drain (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on December 18, 2017)

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…