• 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 […]

  • “Bringing Back” Black Money

    There have been periodic demands, the latest being from Baba Ramdev, that “black money” from India which is stashed in Swiss banks should be “brought back” and used for development purposes.  This money of course does not have to be physically brought back; all that is required is a nationalisation of those deposits, ie, a […]

  • The Myths of Capitalism

    There is a pervasive view that growth under capitalism, though it may worsen poverty, even absolute poverty, to start with, eventually leads to a lowering of poverty.  The experience of the English Industrial Revolution is invoked in this context.  There has been a huge debate among economic historians about the impact of the Industrial Revolution […]

  • Capitalism and Imperialism

    The anti-colonial struggle in the third world countries had brought together workers, peasants, agricultural labourers, artisans, middle class intellectuals, and even the national bourgeoisie into one camp, demanding decolonisation.  This was a reflection of the fact that colonialism, or imperialism (if one uses the term in an inclusive sense to refer to all stages of […]

  • Capitalism, Corruption, and the Subversion of Democracy and Secularism

    Capitalism is supposed to bring in modernity, which includes a secular polity where “babas” and “swamys”, qua “babas” and “swamys”, have no role.  Many have even defended neo-liberal reforms on the grounds that they hasten capitalist development and hence our march to modernity.  The Left has always rejected this position.  It has argued that in […]

  • The Meaning of Financial Liberalisation

    The term financial liberalisation is used to cover a whole set of measures, such as the autonomy of the Central Bank from the government; the complete freedom of finance to move into and out of the economy, which implies the full convertibility of the currency; the abandonment of all “priority sector” lending targets; an end […]

  • Should the Left Become Social Democratic?

    On a television channel on counting day, the panellists discussing the assembly election results were asked to offer advice to the Left, which had lost both the large states it ruled, one of them quite massively, on how it should reform itself for a future resurrection.  The overwhelming opinion among them was that it should […]

  • Labour Market Flexibility

    One of the most persistent demands of the advocates of neo-liberalism in India has been for the introduction of “labour market flexibility”, by which they mean the absolute right of employers to hire and fire workers as and when they please, without any let or hindrance.  The absence of such flexibility, they claim, has been […]

  • Lenin and Keynes

    At first sight no two persons could have been more dissimilar.  One was a Cambridge don, with more than one foot in the British government; a supporter of the Liberal Party, staunchly opposed to the Bolshevik Revolution; an aesthete and a member of the Bloomsbury Group; a life peer in imperial Britain, and a solid, […]

  • The World Food Crisis

    While the advanced capitalist countries are hit by an acute crisis of recession and unemployment, the developing world is facing, apart from the fallout of this crisis, an acute food crisis.  Hunger afflicts the developing world today with a virulence not seen in decades.  World food prices, not just in nominal but in real terms […]

  • The Criminalization of Dissent

    While there will be general agreement that the judgement in Binayak Sen‘s case represents a gross miscarriage of justice, most people will attribute it to the overzealousness of a lower judicial functionary, or, at the most, to the prevailing atmosphere in the state of Chhattisgarh.  If the trial had been held elsewhere, they would argue, […]

  • Notes on Contemporary Imperialism

    Phases of Imperialism Lenin dated the imperialist phase of capitalism, which he associated with monopoly capitalism, from the beginning of the twentieth century, when the process of centralization of capital had led to the emergence of monopoly in industry and among banks.  The coming together (coalescence) of the capitals in these two spheres led to […]

  • The Currency War

    Everyone is talking now of the “currency war” that seems to be breaking out among the world’s leading economies, each working for a depreciation of its currency vis-à-vis the others.  The effect of a currency depreciation is to enlarge the exports of the country undertaking such a depreciation and to reduce its imports, since its […]

  • Economics, Ideology, and Imperialism

      Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, eminent Marxist economist, taught in CESP-JNU (Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University) over the last four decades.  He has been one of the most outstanding economists in India and a great teacher.  He has retired from JNU recently.  On the occasion of his farewell, the students of CESP […]

  • The Paradox of Capitalism

    John Maynard Keynes, though bourgeois in his outlook, was a remarkably insightful economist, whose book Economic Consequences of the Peace was copiously quoted by Lenin at the Second Congress of the Communist International to argue that conditions had ripened for the world revolution.  But even Keynes’ insights could not fully comprehend the paradox that is […]

  • On the Allahabad High Court Verdict

    There are three obvious problems with the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Babri Masjid issue.  Each of them in isolation is potentially damaging for the Constitutional fabric of the country; together they can cause irreparable harm. The first is the obliteration of the distinction between “fact” and “faith”, which represents a serious retrogression to […]

  • FDI as a Means of Financing Development

    Discussions on foreign direct investment (FDI) as a means of financing development often suffer from two different shortcomings.  The first, a very basic one, confuses real with financial resources.  The second does not distinguish between different forms of foreign direct investment.  The question of financing development is concerned with finding the real resources for increasing […]

  • The Sacred Cow

    The early years of the Left Front government in West Bengal in the late seventies had been marked by severe power cuts in Calcutta (as it then was) and elsewhere in the state.  One evening as “load-shedding” began, a little urchin in a slum neighbouring a high-rise jumped up and down clapping his hands, shouting: […]

  • The Myth of the “Sub-prime Crisis”

    Capitalism, like the proverbial horse, kicks even when in decline.  Even as the current crisis hit it, it gave an ideological kick by attributing the crisis to “sub-prime” lending; and so well-directed was its kick that the whole world ended up calling it the “sub-prime crisis”. The idea, bought even in progressive circles, was that […]