Banks and Non-performing Assets Prabhat Patnaik

What exactly constitutes a non-performing asset (NPA) of a bank is not easy to determine. Since banks tend to roll over credit to borrowers, whether the request for such a roll over arises in the normal course of business or owing to a fundamental inability to pay back the loan, is difficult to decide. The tendency of late therefore has been to see NPAs as an extreme case of a wider category called “stressed assets” which are defined according to certain criteria. The problem of NPAs has arisen in a serious form in recent times because of the change in…

Moody’s Upgrade Prabhat Patnaik

Credit-rating agencies, discredited by the collapse of the housing bubble in the United States when they had blithely endorsed all so-called “sub-prime lending”, are now crawling out of the woodwork, and the Indian establishment is predictably impressed by the sight. Moody’s have just upgraded India’s credit rating marginally and the BJP is beside itself with joy. Surprisingly, much of the media too have flashed the story of the upgrade as if India’s status being raised from Baa3 to Baa2 is a matter that calls for great jubilation. Now, the criteria used by finance capital for judging the performance of a…

Neo-Liberal Capitalism and its Crisis Prabhat Patnaik

“Neo-liberal capitalism” is the term used to describe the phase of capitalism where restrictions on the global flows of commodities and capital, including capital in the form of finance, have been substantially removed. Since such removal happens under pressure from globally-mobile (or international) finance capital, neo-liberal capitalism is characterized by the hegemony of international finance capital, with which the big capitals in particular countries get integrated, and which ensures that a common set of “neo-liberal” policies are pursued by all countries across the globe. The emergence of such international finance capital is itself the outcome of the process of centralization…

The Current Upsurge of Fascism Prabhat Patnaik

There is at present an upsurge of fascism all over the world, though it is often described as “nationalism” or “Right-wing populism”. Such terms however are misleading, and reflect a neo-liberal mindset. The pejorative use of the term “nationalism” serves implicitly to laud neo-liberal globalization as its contrast; it is also misleading because it does not distinguish between the “nationalism” of a Gandhi and the “nationalism” of a Hitler. Likewise, the term “populism” is used these days to characterize all redistributive or Welfare State measures, contrasting them unfavourably with neo-liberal measures of “development”; to apply it to the current fascist…

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 Class Content of the Goods and Services Tax Prabhat Patnaik

The discussion on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) until now has focused almost exclusively on the distribution of its burden across commodities, on the difficulties of meeting its stringent bureaucratic demands, and on the delays in obtaining claims for refunds. Even the view that it is pushing the economy into a recession has attributed this looming recession merely to its stringent procedural demands which supposedly have tied most sellers in knots. In all this however the class content of this new tax regime has been missed. Indeed many would even ask: if one kind of indirect tax regime which…

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…

A Bull In A China Shop Prabhat Patnaik

The BJP government, like a bull in a China shop, is wrecking the economy. A neo-liberal regime, even at the best of times, i.e. even when the economy is booming, brings misery to the vast mass of the working people by imposing upon the petty production sector a process of primitive accumulation of capital, through a withdrawal of State support from it and through leaving it to the mercy of the “spontaneous” working of untrammelled capitalism. When the economy slows down,with the inevitable collapse of booms which are typically sustained in such a regime by asset-price bubbles, the misery of…

The Epidemic of Vigilantism Prabhat Patnaik

My wife and I retired seven years ago after teaching in Jawaharlal Nehru University for nearly four decades, and neither of us gets a pension.The interest on our joint lifetime savings largely sustains us. This entire amount had to be invested in my name because she was not allowed to do so, as her name on her PAN card was grossly mis-spelt owing to a clerical error by the concerned authority issuing the card, an error which has not been rectified by it despite decades of effort on our part (though interestingly her tax payments have never been refused for…

America’s Turn Towards Fascism and Its Contradictions Prabhat Patnaik

The fact that fascist elements in the U.S. have started raising their sinister head and that Donald Trump has started showing his open sympathy for such elements is borne out by several recent incidents. On Saturday August 12, at a white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, peaceful anti-fascist protesters were attacked by the fascists; a man drove a truck into them killing civil rights activist Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others; and an African-American teacher DeAndre Harris was beaten mercilessly with a metal rod just a few yards from the Charlottesville police headquarters. Trump’s initial response…