The failed promise of employment C. P. Chandrasekhar

As election 2019 approaches, the Modi government, damaged by agrarian distress, is also being challenged by evidence that its record on employment generation has been extremely poor. To recall, in its campaign during the 2014 election which brought it back to power, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) promised to create 10 million jobs every year. The best source of information on employment we currently have is the privately conducted (and heavily priced) Consumer Pyramids Household Survey undertaken by the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE). These figures are available from 2016 from a sample of more than 170,000…

Are Global Oil prices the culprit for India’s burgeoning Trade Deficit? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

India’s external account has once again emerged as a source of concern, as the current account deficit widened to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP over April-June 2018. This increase was driven entirely by the trade deficit, which grew rapidly in 2017-18. Since 2014, as Figure 1 shows, exports have been mostly stagnant (after a period of healthy increases before then) but total imports came down and then increased sharply in 2017-18. This was reflected in the total merchandise trade deficit, which declined for several years from the large deficit observed in 2013-14, and only rose sharply once again in…

Do ‘Markets’ talk sense? C. P. Chandrasekhar

As the state election results trickled in on December 11, to the surprise of many, the Sensex after a hiccup rose and closed 190 points above its previous end-of-day level. The following day too, the Sensex moved upwards. This was a surprise to many, since the impression had spread that influential players in the market favoured a return of a Modi government in 2019. To the extent that the defeat of the BJP in three important states was a signal of a possible defeat next year, they expected investors to walk out, triggering a market collapse. That did not happen.…

Remittances as Saviour C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Once again, the World Bank has released a Brief declaring India to be the largest recipient of remittances from abroad. According to the Bank, remittances to India that totaled $65 billion in 2017, are likely to touch $80 billion this year, way ahead of China, the second largest recipient with $67 billion. The rise is in keeping with longer term trends, despite short periods when it appeared that remittance volumes were on the decline. Official Indian balance of payments data provide information on private transfers (which include (i) remittances for family maintenance, (ii) local withdrawals from Non-Resident Rupee Accounts (NRE…

“Wageless growth” not “Jobless growth” the new conundrum C. P. Chandrasekhar

The so-called ‘synchronised recovery’ that global policy makers periodically refer to, seems to have bypassed much of the world’s working people. According to the just released Global Wage Report 2018/19 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the rate of growth of average monthly earnings adjusted for inflation of workers across 136 countries registered in 2017 its lowest growth since crisis year 2008, and was well below figures recorded in the pre-crisis years 2006 and 2007. What is more, if China, where wage growth has been rapid and whose workforce size substantially influences the weighted average global figure, is excluded, the…

Is shadow banking a serious threat in emerging markets? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Everyone seems to have woken up to the fact that global debt levels are too high and portent difficulties ahead. As Figure 1 indicates, the levels of credit to GDP, which were so high as to be unsustainable and resulted in the big crisis of 2008, have increased even more since then. There was a phase of deleveraging in the advanced economies until around 2014, and in developing countries and emerging markets until 2011, but since then, credit/debt has been expanding again. So much so that the credit GDP levels in 2017 were 15 per cent higher than in 2008…

On taking sides in the RBI-Government stand-off C. P. Chandrasekhar

Unlike in the worlds of business and politics, there is little scope for gossip in the world of economics. So, when multiple signals suggested that that there was a stand-off between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the media made the most of it, with a multitude of stories reporting and explaining the nature of the spat and its implications. Given the formal economic arguments that must enter those discussions, there is much that the lay reader cannot process to assess which of the two institutions is right in this controversy. However, the thrust of the reportage…

A Curious Divergence C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

As is widely recognised, India’s economic growth since the 1990s has largely been on account of an expansion of the services sector, in which exports are seen as having played an important role. The rise in the share of services in GDP was particularly sharp after 1996-97 amounting to 6.8 percentage points over the subsequent ten years as compared with just 1.9 percentage points during the previous ten years. In the event, services as a group came to dominate the Indian economy, accounting for more than half its GDP. The official Economic Survey 2013-14 noted that: "India has the second…

India’s wealthy barely pay taxes C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

India is often mistakenly seen as a country with relatively low economic inequality. In fact, there were always very significant economic inequalities in India, which intersected with social and locational inequalities in complex ways. More significantly, the country’s inequalities widened after the internal and external economic liberalization measures from the early 1990s, which attracted global financial investors and boosted economic growth considerably. The estimates of low inequality are usually based on the fact that the Gini coefficients of consumption expenditure have not been so high in India (although they have increased over time). The National Sample Survey data on which…

Bracing for the Bust C.P. Chandrasekhar

The message from the October meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which normally exude optimism, is glum. In January this year, the IMF noted that “the cyclical upswing under way since mid-2016” was growing stronger, contributing to “the broadest synchronised global growth upsurge since 2010”. It now feels that while “the global economic expansion remains strong”, it has “become less balanced and with more downside risks”. This does not just mean that one more sighting of the “green shoots of recovery” is proving to be premature. Given the IMF’s predilection for underplaying bad news, it…