• Developing “Infrastructure”

    The term “infrastructure” covers all sorts of things, from ports to roads to canals to bridges to building railway lines. Because it covers such a range of things, many of which appear to be useful, most people look upon “infrastructure” development as an indubitably desirable thing under all circumstances. Questions are scarcely asked about its worthwhileness when the government allocates larger resources for the “infrastructure” sector, or when it instructs public sector banks to give larger loans for “infrastructure” development.

  • Migration as Revolt against Capital

    The fact that a large number of refugees, especially from countries which have been subjected of late to the ravages of imperialist aggression and wars, are desperately trying to enter Europe is seen almost exclusively in humanitarian terms.  While this perception no doubt has validity, there is another aspect of the issue which has escaped […]

  • Why Do We Have Unemployment?

    Unemployment has become so persistent a phenomenon in contemporary times that there is a common feeling that it is a “natural” state of affairs, that nothing can ever be done about it, and that the only way to have greater employment opportunities coming your way is either to oppose the system of job “reservations” for […]

  • The Challenge Before the Latin American Left

      The Left upsurge in Latin America appears to be abating.  In October 2015 Jimmy Morales, the conservative candidate in Guatemala, defeated the Left-leaning Sandra Torres in the presidential elections.  On November 22, Mauricio Macri, the conservative presidential candidate in Argentina, defeated Daniel Scioli, his Peronist rival, by a narrow margin, to bring to an […]

  • The Devaluation of the Yuan

    The Chinese central bank’s decision last week to let the yuan depreciate, in three stages by almost 4 percent against the US dollar, was officially explained as a move towards greater market determination of its exchange rate.  Though this explanation pacified stock markets around the world, China’s devaluation of the currency portends a serious accentuation […]

  • Europe’s Moment of Truth

    Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras’ acceptance of an “austerity package” on July 13, which contained measures rejected by the Greek people in a referendum barely a week before, represents not just an abject surrender by the Syriza government, or a sign of contempt on the part of German finance capital for the Greek electorate; it marks […]

  • The Spectre of the Thirties

    The Reserve Bank of India, as is to be expected, has been denying that its governor Raghuram Rajan had ever suggested that the world was facing the possibility of a 1930s-type Great Depression.  Members of the “global financial community” are not supposed to say such things; so even if Dr Rajan did, a denial was […]

  • The Declining World Foreign Exchange Reserves

    If one adds up the foreign exchange reserves of all the countries in the world, including under the term “reserves” what these countries hold in the form of gold, US dollars, other reserve currencies, Special Drawing Rights of the IMF, and also liquid assets such as short-term Treasury Bills of the US government, then the […]

  • Misconceptions about Neo-Liberalism

    Neo-Liberalism is often seen only as an economic policy.  This per se might not matter, since a specific set of economic measures do, no doubt, fall under the rubric of neo-liberalism.  But by reducing neo-liberalism only to a set of economic measures, a misleading impression is often conveyed that this set of measures are a […]

  • Syriza’s Slip

    The victory of a Left Alliance, Syriza, in the Greek elections on January 25, was a matter of great significance, especially because that victory was based on a promise that Syriza would get rid of the memoranda imposing austerity on Greece by the “Troika” (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF).  Syriza’s […]

  • The Importance of the “Economic”

    The world today is witnessing a rather novel phenomenon, namely a pervasive tendency towards political uprisings by the urban middle class.  Not just the leaders, but even the bulk of the participants in such uprisings are educated, are reasonably well-off, and make extensive use of social media channels for keeping in touch with one another. […]

  • The Spectre of Social Counter-Revolution

    5th Dr. BR Ambedkar Memorial Lecture, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, September 27, 2014 I I would like to use this occasion to dwell upon a point to which Dr Ambedkar had drawn attention in his closing speech to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949.  In that speech he had underscored a […]

  • Capitalism, Inequality and Globalization: Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century

    I. The Piketty Argument Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-first Century embodies an immense amount of empirical research into the distribution of wealth and income across the population for a number of advanced capitalist countries going back for over two centuries.  In particular Piketty has made extensive use of tax data for the first […]

  • Imperialism — for the Value of Money

    Prabhat Patnaik: To me, imperialism is immanent in the money form, and I want to argue that in the era of finance capital, far from its becoming less relevant, it becomes more relevant. . . .  I would even define imperialism as an arrangement in which not only you get use values but you get […]

  • Austerity versus Stimulus

    It is obviously silly to push for austerity in the midst of a recession, not just silly but cruel, since it prolongs the pain of unemployment.  The recession is caused by a deficiency of aggregate demand.  To overcome it what is necessary is an increase in demand which requires larger expenditure.  Since private expenditure on […]

  • Afterword on a Movement

    “Combating corruption”, like “promoting peace”, can mean anything to anyone; and precisely because of this “fuzziness” it appeals to everyone.  Some join the anti-corruption movement because they are against “corporate loot”; others join because they are against the Nehru-Gandhi “dynasty”; and still others join because they oppose the “corrupt practice of job reservation”.  The movement […]

  • Lessons from the Indian Experience

    India’s economic experience since the beginning of economic liberalisation constitutes a resounding refutation of “mainstream” (bourgeois) development theory.  On the basis of official data during this period there has been a remarkable acceleration of the growth rate of GDP, together with a striking increase in the incidence of absolutepoverty, a combination which no strand of […]

  • Messianism versus Democracy

    The Central government’s flip-flops on Anna Hazare are obvious: it went from abusing him (through the Congress spokesperson) for sheltering corruption, to extolling him for his idealism; from arresting him, without any justification, and getting him remanded to judicial custody for a week, to releasing him within a few hours.  But the Anna group’s flip-flops […]

  • What America’s Debt-Ceiling Crisis Reveals

    The United States has an archaic piece of legislation, passed in 1917, which puts a ceiling on the magnitude of the debt of its federal government in absolute dollar terms.  (Since the various state governments in the US are not allowed to run fiscal deficits and hence incur debt, the federal debt is synonymous with […]

  • Raising Prices to Curb Inflation

    The deputy chairman of the Planning Commission made an extraordinary statement the other day, namely that the oil-price increase, which everybody opposes for adding to inflation, was really an anti-inflationary measure; it would reduce inflation.  The deputy chairman’s is an exalted position; and the current incumbent is an economist of repute.  There is a danger […]