Do Purchasing Power Parity exchange rates mislead on incomes? The case of China C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Ever since Larry Summers and Alan Heston produced what become known as the “Penn World Tables” comparing prices and thereby the purchasing power of currencies across countries, the urge to use some deflator of market exchange rates to compare incomes across countries has been strong. The economic theory behind this is that exchange rate comparisons of less-developed economies consistently undervalue the non-traded goods sector, especially labour-intensive and relatively cheap services, and therefore underestimate real incomes in these developing economies. In some cases, this can be quite significant. In larger emerging markets like China and India, the conversion factors have been…

How China is Managing Capital Flows – and why Jayati Ghosh

The global financial media are always on the lookout for signs of an impending financial crisis in China – and the dark prognostications about the future made by several external observers relate to both internal and external financial flows. But there are reasons to believe that both concerns may be overplayed, and that what is occurring especially with respect to cross-border flows is a much more complex process reflecting a medium-term plan of the Chinese state, in accordance with its much more assertive role in the global scene. There has been much discussion on rising internal debt levels, with analysts…

Not with a Bang but with a (prolonged) whimper Jayati Ghosh

It is probably obvious to everyone that global capitalism is in dire straits, notwithstanding the brave talking up of output recovery that now characterises almost every meeting of the international governing elite. Even so, discussions of the end of capitalism still typically seem overstated and futile, not least because those hoping and mobilising for bringing in an alternative system are everywhere so scattered, weak and demoralised. In effect, capitalism is the only game in town, which is why even in its current debilitated and even decrepit state, it fears no rivals. But maybe that is really not the point. Maybe…

Unbalanced Global Growth C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The distribution of the weak global economic recovery since the Great Recession provides little reason for optimism about the future. Unbalanced_Global_Growth (Download the full text in PDF format) ( This article was originally published in the Business Line on November 6, 2017.)

The Golden “Diwali Gift” Jayati Ghosh

The Modi government made its supposed determination to end corruption in India its signature theme. The massive damage done by demonetisation as well as the continuing chaos produced by the flawed introduction of the Goods and Services Tax have all been justified on the grounds of reducing possibilities of corruption and tax avoidance. Similarly, the imposition of Aadhaar requirements on the population for access to all manner of publicly provided goods and services is regularly justified on the grounds of reducing “leakages” and misappropriation of benefits. The Prime Minister has sought to burnish his image of anti-corruption crusader through emotional…

The de-digitisation of India Jayati Ghosh

So it’s official: cash use is back in almost full force in the Indian economy. Cash withdrawals from ATM machines – a reasonable if incomplete proxy for the use of cash in the economy – are nearly back to the level of just before the demonetisation shock of 8 November 2016. RBI data on use of debit and credit cards to withdraw money from ATMs show that such withdrawals, which had collapsed to only Rs 850 billion in December 2016 largely because of the sheer unavailability of cash with such machines, amounted to Rs 2.27 trillion in July 2017, only…

Widowhood in India C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Public policy has largely ignored specific problems of widows in India. And given their numbers, this exclusion can prove costly for society in general. Widowhood_India (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on October 9, 2017.)

Winner-take-all Political Funding Jayati Ghosh

It’s true: there’s a lot to be outraged about in India these days. The proliferation of heinous occurrences and very problematic policy choices is alarming, and the misinformation spread through official and unofficial media often makes things worse. All this can induce protest-fatigue and exhaustion from having to comprehend and then confront so many causes for concern and anguish on multiple fronts. This may be why there has (thus far at least) not been enough public outcry about something that will touch at the very core of our electoral democracy and erode it to the point where it could be…

Deras and Evangelicals Jayati Ghosh

At first sight, it seems completely inexplicable: a man convicted of rape of his own young followers in at least two cases and believed to have committed many more; also accused of murder in a case yet to be decided and forced castration of 400 men; who openly flaunts incredible wealth and shamelessly promotes his own family; a tech-savvy “rock star baba” with a penchant for wearing outlandish costumes and heavy jewellery, who is the multi-role hero of several films he has produced—this man presents himself as the religious and spiritual leader of tens of millions. And the bulk of…

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)