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…

Is “Formalisation” possible? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

In recent times, the clamour for formalising economic activity, or shrinking its unorganised component and expanding the organised, has been heard from diverse sources. There are those who want formalisation to occur because the unorganised sector is seen as being largely outside the direct and indirect tax net, depriving the government of much needed resources. Hence, for example, one feature seen as favouring the Goods and Services Tax regime is that it is likely to force formalisation by requiring transactions to be recorded whenever those transactions are between the organised and unorganised units. Others see formalisation as the process through…

Hype and Facts on Free Trade C. P. Chandrasekhar

Voices questioning the claim that nations and the majority of their people stand to gain from global trade are growing louder. The one difference now is that the leading protagonist of protectionism is not a developing country, but global hegemon United States under Donald Trump. Free trade benefits big corporations with production facilities abroad, Trump argues, while harming those looking for a decent livelihood working in America. With time Trump has made clear that his words are not mere rhetoric, matching them with tariffs that have frightened European and North American allies and US corporations, besides troubling the likes of…

Ostrich-like in Peacock Nation C. P. Chandrasekhar

In the midst of a crisis reflected in a collapsing rupee, India’s BJP government is acting ostrich-like, burying its head in the ground. Nothing illustrates this better than its much-delayed response to the collapse of the rupee with a set of measures that are the opposite of what is needed. Having fallen from just below Rs.64 to the dollar to close to Rs.73 to the dollar between the beginning of 2018 and mid-September, the rupee has depreciated by about 14.3 per cent with respect to that currency. But it is not relative to the dollar alone that the rupee has…

GST: One more NDA failure C. P. Chandrasekhar

July 2018 marks the first month of the second year in which the much-heralded Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime has been in place. When launched 13 moths earlier, in a propaganda blitz that (wrongly) claimed that this “one nation, one tax” system was a game-changer, the government had promised that the new regime would help the Centre and the states to efficiently mobilise the resources needed to put India on a high growth trajectory. In fact, demonetisation and the GST regime were presented as the two initiatives of the Modi government that would transform India. Demonetisation, as the government’s…

Professor C. P. Chandrasekhar on amalgamation of three banks C. P. Chandrasekhar

In an attempt to resolve the Non Performing Assets crisis in the country, the government's projected solution in the form of bank mergers, like the recent Vijaya Bank, Dena Bank and Bank of Baroda merger, points out that the end game of this process is privatization. (This video was originally published in the News Click on September 19, 2018)

The larger crisis that NPAs signal C. P. Chandrasekhar

Having overcome a legacy of extreme shortage of supply, India’s power sector is in the midst of a crisis with ramifications of a wholly different kind. The crisis arises because firms accounting for significant proportion of power sector assets have defaulted on their debt servicing commitments, and banks are not able to find ways of restructuring that debt or recouping their money. So the RBI’s guidelines requires that the assets should be liquidated to recover whatever is possible and compensate banks from which these firms had taken loans and then defaulted. But the assessment is that liquidation would yield the…

Who’s manipulating China’s exchange rate? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

A favourite trope of Northern economic policy makers – especially those in the United States – is that China systematically manipulates the exchange rate of the RenMinBi to ensure greater external competitiveness, and that this amounts to an unfair trade practice. While this has been a complaint of the US government for some years now, President Trump of the US has become a particularly strong advocate of this theory. Most recently, the recent (slight) depreciation of the Chinese RenMinBi (RMB or Yuan) relative to the US dollar has been met with howls of protest from Mr Trump and his trade…