Life’s paradoxes: On watching the fall of the Berlin Wall in Honolulu, November 1989

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy  recalls how, twenty years ago in Honolulu, he called his three-year old to the television to watch the fall of the Berlin Wall with him as a historic event — even while he had to battle as an individual against the most vicious tyranny unleashed against him by the Government of one of the fifty States (a battle that has continued).


Protected: The Case of the Missing Princeton PhD Thesis

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Thoughts, words, deeds: My work 1973-2010

Thoughts, words, deeds

My work 1973-2010

Subroto Roy

This is an incomplete bibliography of my writings, public lectures etc 1973-2010 including citations, reviews, comments.  I have been mostly an academic economist who by choice or circumstance over 36 years has had to venture also into science, philosophy, public policy, law, jurisprudence, practical politics, history, international relations, military strategy, financial theory, accounting, management, journalism, literary criticism, psychology, psychoanalysis, theology, aesthetics, biography, children’s fables, etc.   If anything unites the seemingly diverse work recorded below it is that I have tried to acquire a grasp of the nature of human reason and then apply this comprehension in practical contexts as simply and clearly as possible. Hence I have ended up following the path of Aristotle, as described in modern times (via Wittgenstein and John Wisdom) by Renford Bambrough.  The 2004 public lecture in England, “Science, Religion, Art & the Necessity of Freedom”, may explain and illustrate all this best.  A friend has been kind enough to call me an Academician, which I probably am, though one who really needs his own Academy because the incompetence, greed and mendacity encountered too often in the modern professoriat is dispiriting.

1-289 refer mostly to writings and publications printed on paper; 290-382 refer to  writings or items not printed on paper — as new media break space, cost and other  constraints of traditional publishing, a little repetition and overlap has occurred too. Also in a few cases, e.g., Aldous Huxley’s essay on DH Lawrence, nothing has been done except discover and republish.  Several databases have been created and released in the public interest, as have been some rare maps.  There is also some biographical and autobiographical material.  Several inconsequential errors remain in the text, which shall take time to be rectified as documents come to be rediscovered and collated.


1. “Behavioural study of mus musculus”, Haileybury College, Supervised by J de C Ford-Robertson MA (Oxon). (Due to be published here 2010).

2. “Chemistry at Advanced & Special Level: Student Notes 1972-73” (Due to be published here 2010).

3. “Biology at Advanced & Special Level: Student Notes 1972-73”, (Due to be published here 2010).

4.  “Physics at Advanced Level: Student Notes 1972-73”, (Due to be published here 2010).

5. “Revolution: theoria and praxis”, London, mimeo (Due to be published here 2010).

6. “Gandhi vs Marx”, London, mimeo (Due to be published here 2010).


7. “Relevance of downward money-wage rigidity to the problem of maintaining full-employment in the classical and Keynesian models of income determination”, London School of Economics, mimeo (Due to be published here 2010).

8. “Testing aircraft fuels at Shell Finland”.


9. “Oxford Street experiences: down and out in London town”.

10. “SE Region Bulk Distribution Survey”, Unilever, Basingstoke.

11. “Four London poems”, in JCM Paton (ed)  New Writing (London, Great Portland Street: International Students House).  (Due to be republished here 2010)

12. “On economic growth models and modellers”, London School of Economics, mimeo. (Due to be published here 2010).


13. “World money: system or anarchy?”, lecture to Professor ACL Day’s seminar, London School of Economics, Economics Department, April. (Due to be published here 2010).

14. “A beginner’s guide to some recent developments in monetary theory”, lecture to Professor FH Hahn’s seminar, Cambridge University Economics Department, November 17 (Due to be published here 2010). See also “Announcement of My “Hahn Seminar”,  published here June 14 2008.


15. “Inflation and unemployment: a survey”, mimeo, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. (Due to be published here 2010).

16. “On short run theories of dual economies”, Cambridge University Economics Department “substantial piece of work” required of first year Research Students.  Examiner: DMG Newbery, FBA. (Due to be published here 2010).


17. “Pure theory of developing economies 1 and 2”, Delhi School of Economics mimeo (Due to be published here 2010).

18. “Introduction to some market outcomes under uncertainty”, Delhi School of Economics mimeo (Due to be published here 2010).

19. “On money and development”, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, mimeo, September.  (Due to be published here 2010)

20. “Notes on the Newbery-Stiglitz model of sharecropping”, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, mimeo November.  (Due to be published here 2010).


21. “A theory of rights and economic justice”, Corpus Christi College Cambridge mimeo. (Due to be published here 2010).

22. “Monetary theory and economic development”, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, mimeo  (Due to be published here 2010).

23. “Foundations of the case against ‘development planning’”, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, mimeo, November.   (Due to be published here 2010).


24. Correspondence with Renford Bambrough (1926-1999), philosopher of St John’s College, Cambridge (Due to be published here 2010).


25. “Models before the monetarist storm”, New Statesman letters

26. “Disciplining rulers and experts”, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, mimeo.  (Due to be published here 2010).


27. “On liberty & economic growth: preface to a philosophy for India”, Cambridge University doctoral thesis, supervisor FH Hahn, FBA; examiners CJ Bliss, FBA; TW Hutchison, FBA  (Due to be published here 2010). 27a Response of FA Hayek on a partial draft February 18 1981.  27b Response of Peter Bauer, 1982.  27c Response of Theodore W Schultz, 1983.  27d. Response of Frank Hahn 1985.


28. “Knowledge and freedom in economic theory Parts 1 and 2”, Centre for Study of Public Choice, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Working Papers.

29. “Economic Theory and Development Economics”. Lecture to American Economic Association, New York, Dec 1982.  Panel: RM Solow, HB Chenery, T Weisskopf, P Streeten, G Rosen, S Roy. Published in 29a.


29a “Economic Theory and Development Economics: A Comment”. World Development, 1983. [Citation: Stavros Thefanides “Metamorphosis of Development Economics”, World Development 1988.]

30. “The Political Economy of Trade Policy (Comment on J. Michael Finger)”, Washington DC: Cato Journal, Winter 1983/84. See also 000 “Risk-aversion explains resistance to freer trade”, 2008.


31. “Considerations on Utility, Benevolence and Taxation”, History of Political Economy, 1984.   31a Response of Professor Sir John Hicks May 1 1984.

[Citations: P. Hennipman, “A Tale of Two Schools”, De Economist 1987, “A New Look at the Ordinalist Revolution”, J. Econ. Lit. Mar 1988; P. Rappoport, “Reply to Professor Hennipman”, J. Econ. Lit. Mar 1988; Eugene Smolensky et al “An Application of A Dynamic Cost-of-Living Index to the Evaluation of Changes in Social Welfare”, J. Post-Keynesian Econ.IX.3. 1987.]

32. Pricing, Planning and Politics: A Study of Economic Distortions in India, London: Institute of Economic Affairs, London 1984.

[Citations: Lead editorial of The Times of London May 29 1984, “India’s economy”, Times letters June 16 1984. John Toye “Political Economy & Analysis of Indian Development”, Modern Asian Studies, 22, 1, 1988; John Toye, Dilemmas of Development; D. Wilson, “Privatization of Asia”, The Banker Sep. 1984 etc].  See also 370 “Silver Jubilee of ‘Pricing, Planning and Politics: A Study of Economic Distortions in India’” 2009.

33. Review of Utilitarianism and Beyond, Amartya Sen & Bernard Williams (eds) Public Choice.

34. Review of Limits of Utilitarianism, HB Miller & WH Williams (eds.), Public Choice.

35. Deendayal lecture (one of four invited lecturers), Washington DC, May.


36. (with one other) “Does the Theory of Logical Types Inform the Theory of Communication?”, Journal of Genetic Psychology., 148 (4), Dec. 1987 [Citation:

37. “Irrelevance of Foreign Aid”, India International Centre Quarterly, Winter 1987.

38. Review of Development Planning by Sukhamoy Chakravarty for Economic Affairs, London 1987.


39. (with two others) “Introduction” to Lessons in Development: A Comparative Study of Asia and Latin America. San Francisco: Inst. of Economic Growth.

40. “A note on the welfare economics of regional cooperation”, lecture to Asia-Latin America conference, East West Center Honolulu, published 2009.


41. Philosophy of Economics: On the Scope of Reason in Economic Inquiry, London & New York: Routledge (International Library of Philosophy) 1989, paperback 1991. Internet edition 2007.   [Reviews & Citations: Research in Economics, 1992; De Economist 1991 & 1992; Manch.Sch. Econ.Studs. 59, 1991; Ethics 101.88 Jul. 1991; Kyklos 43.4 1990; Soc. Science Q. 71.880. Dec.1990; Can. Phil. Rev. 1990; J. Econ. Hist. Sep. 1990; Econ. & Phil. Fall 1990; Econ. Affairs June-July 1990; TLS May 1990; Choice March 1990; J. App.Phil. 1994, M. Blaug: Methodology of Economics, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 1992;  Hist. Methods. 27.3, 1994; J. of Inst. & Theoretical Econ.,1994;  Jahrbucker fur Nationaleconomie 1994, 573:574. Mark A Lutz in Economics for the Common Good, London: Routledge, 1999, et al].  See also 339 “Apropos Philosophy of Economics”, Comments of Sidney Hook, KJ Arrow, Milton Friedman, TW Schultz, SS Alexander, Max Black, Renford Bambrough, John Gray et al.

42. Foreword to Essays on the Political Economy by James M. Buchanan, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 1989.

43. “Modern Political Economy of India”, edited by Subroto Roy & William E James,  Hawaii mimeo May 21 1989.  This published for the first time a November 1955 memorandum to the Government of India by Milton Friedman.  See also 43a, 53.

43a. Preface to “Milton Friedman’s extempore comments at the 1989 Hawaii conference: on India, Israel, Palestine, the USA, Debt and its uses, Erhardt abolishing exchange controls, Etc”,  May 22 1989, published here for the first time October 31 2008.

44. Milton Friedman’s defence of my work  in 1989.

45. Theodore W. Schultz’s defence of Philosophy of Economics


46. “Letter to Judge Evelyn Lance: On A Case Study in Private International Law” (Due to be published here in 2010).

47-49. Selections from advisory work on economic policy etc for Rajiv Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of India,  published in 47a-49a.


41b Philosophy of Economics: On the Scope of Reason in Economic Inquiry, Paperback edition.

50. “Conversations and correspondence with Rajiv Gandhi during the Gulf war, January 1991”   (Due to be published here 2010).

47a. A Memo to Rajiv I:  Stronger Secular Middle”, The Statesman, Jul 31 1991.

48a “A Memo to Rajiv II: Saving India’s Prestige”, The Statesman, Aug 1 1991.

49a “A Memo to Rajiv III: Salvation in Penny Capitalism”, The Statesman, Aug 2 1991  47b-49b “Three Memoranda to Rajiv Gandhi 1990-91”, 2007 republication here.

51. “Constitution for a Second Indian Republic”, The Saturday Statesman, April 20 1991.  Republished here 2009.

52. “On the Art of Government: Experts, Party, Cabinet and Bureaucracy”, New Delhi mimeo March 25 1991, published here July 00 2009.


53. Foundations of India’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s Edited and with an Introduction by Subroto Roy & William E. James New Delhi, London, Newbury Park: Sage: 1992.   Citation: Milton and Rose Friedman Two Lucky People (Chicago 1998), pp. 268-269.

54. Foundations of Pakistan’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s Edited and with an Introduction by William E. James & Subroto Roy, Hawaii MS 1989, Sage: 1992, Karachi: Oxford 1993.

Reviews of 53 & 54 include: Bus. Today, Mar-Apr 1992; Political Studies March 1995; Econ Times 21 March 1993; Pakistan Development Review 1992. Hindustan Times 11 July 1992. Pacific Affairs 1993; Hindu 21 March 1993, 15 June 1993; Pakistan News International 12 June 1993. Book Reviews March 1993; Deccan Herald 2 May 1993; Pol.Econ.J. Ind. 1992. Fin Express 13 September 1992;  Statesman 16 Jan. 1993.  J. Royal Soc Asian Aff. 1994, J. Contemporary Asia, 1994 etc.

55. “Fundamental Problems of the Economies of India and Pakistan”, World Bank, Washington, mimeo  (Due to be published here 2010).

56.“The Road to Stagflation: The Coming Dirigisme in America, or, America, beware thy economists!, or Zen and Clintonomics,” Washington DC, Broad Branch Terrace, mimeo, November 17.


57. “Exchange-rates and manufactured exports of South Asia”, IMF Washington DC mimeo.  Published in part in 2007-2008 as 58-62:

58. “Path of the Indian Rupee 1947-1993”, 2008.

59.  “Path of the Pakistan Rupee 1947-1993”, 2008.

60. “Path of the Sri Lankan Rupee 1948-1993”, 2008.

61. “Path of the Bangladesh Taka 1972-1993”, 2008.

62. “India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh Manufactured Exports, IMF Washington DC mimeo”, published 2007.

63. “Economic Assessment of US-India Merchandise Trade”, Arlington, Virginia, mimeo, published in slight part in Indo-US Trade & Economic Cooperation, ICRIER New Delhi, 1995, and in whole 2007.

64. “Towards an Economic Solution for Kashmir”, mimeo, Arlington, Virginia, circulated in Washington DC 1993-1995, cf 82, 111 infra. Comment of Selig Harrison.


65. “Comment on Indonesia”, in The Political Economy of Policy Reform edited by John Williamson, Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.

66a “Gold reserves & the gold price in anticipation of Central Bank behaviour”, Greenwich, Connecticut, mimeo. 67b. “Portfolio optimization and foreign currency exposure hedging” Greenwich, Connecticut mimeo.


68. “On the logic and commonsense of debt and payments crises: How to avoid another Mexico in India and Pakistan”, Scarsdale, NY, mimeo, May 1.

69. “Policies for Young India”, Scarsdale, NY, pp. 350, manuscript.


70. US Supreme Court documents, published in part in 2008 as  “Become a US Supreme Court Justice!” 70a, 70b (Due to be published in full here in 2010 as Roy vs University of Hawaii, 1989- including the expert testimonies of Milton Friedman and Theodore W Schultz.).

71. “Key problems of macroeconomic management facing the new Indian Government”, May 17.  Scarsdale, New York, mimeo.  (Due to be published here 2010).

72. “Preventing a collapse of the rupee”, IIT Kharagpur lecture July 16 1996.

73. “The Economist’s Representation of Technological Knowledge”, Vishleshlaya lecture to the Institution of Engineers, September 15 1996, IIT Kharagpur.


74. “Union and State Budgets in India”, lecture at the World Bank, Washington DC, May 00.

75. “State Budgets in India”, IIT Kharagpur mimeo, June 6.


76. “Transparency and Economic Policy-Making:  An address to the Asia-Pacific Public Relations Conference” (panel on Transparency chaired by CR Irani) Jan 30 1998, published here 2008.

77. Theodore W. Schultz 1902-1998,  Feb 25.

78. “The Economic View of Human Resources”, address to a regional conference on human resources, IIT Kharagpur.

79.  “Management accounting”, lecture at Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy, Mussourie,

80a “The Original Reformer”, Outlook letters, Jan 23 1998

81. “Recent Developments in Modern Finance”, IIM Bangalore Review, 10, 1 & 2, Jan.-Jun 1998. Reprinted as “From the Management Guru’s Classroom”: 81a “An introduction to derivatives”, Business Standard/Financial Times, Bombay 18 Apr 1999; 81b “Options in the future, Apr 25 1999; 81c “What is hedging?”, May 2 1999; 81d “Teaching computers to think”, May 9 1999.

82. “Towards an Economic Solution for Kashmir”, Jun 22 1998, lecture at Heritage Foundation, Washington DC.  Cf 111 Dec 2005.

83. “Sixteen Currencies for India: A Reverse Euro Model for Monetary & Fiscal Efficacy”, Lecture at the Institute of  Economic Affairs, London, June 29 1998.  Due to be published here 2010.

84. “Fable of the Fox, the Farmer, and the Would-Be Tailors”, October  (Published here July 27 2009).

85. “A Common Man’s Guide to Pricing Financial Derivatives”, Lecture to “National Seminar on Derivatives”, Xavier Labour Research Institute, Jamshedpur, Dec. 16 1998.   See 98.


86. “An Analysis of Pakistan’s War-Winning Strategy: Are We Ready for This?”, IIT Kharagpur mimeo, published in part as 86a.“Was a Pakistani Grand Strategy Discerned in Time by India?” New Delhi:  Security & Political Risk Analysis Bulletin, July 1999, Kargil issue.  See also 000

80b. “The Original Reformer”, Outlook letters, Sep 13 1999.


87. “On Freedom & the Scientific Point of View”, SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Feb 17 2000.  Cf 100 below.

88. “Liberalism and Indian economic policy”, lecture at IIM Calcutta,  Indian Liberal Group Meetings Devlali, Hyderabad; also Keynote address to UGC Seminar Guntur, March 30 2002.  (Due to be published here 2010).

89. “Towards a Highly Transparent Fiscal & Monetary Framework for India’s Union & State Governments”, Invited address to Conference of State Finance Secretaries, Reserve Bank of India, Bombay, April 29, 2000.  Published 2008.

90. “On the Economics of Information Technology”, two lectures at the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, Nov 10-11, 2000.

91. Review of A New World by Amit Chaudhuri in Literary Criterion, Mysore.


92. Review of AD Shroff: Titan of Finance and Free Enterprise by Sucheta Dalal, Freedom First., January.

93. “Encounter with Rajiv Gandhi: On the Origins of the 1991 Economic Reform”, Freedom First, October. See also 93a in 2005 and  93b in 2007.

94. “A General Theory of Globalization & Modern Terrorism with Special Reference to September 11”, a keynote address to the Council for Asian Liberals & Democrats, Manila, Philippines, 16 Nov. 2001.  Published as 91a.

95. “The Case for and against The Satanic Verses: Diatribe and Dialectic as Art”, Dec 22 republished in print 95a The Statesman Festival Volume, 2006.


94a “A General Theory of Globalization & Modern Terrorism with Special Reference to September 11”, in September 11 & Political Freedom in Asia, eds. Johannen, Smith & Gomez, Singapore 2002.


96. “Recording vivid dreams: Freud’s advice in exploring the Unconscious Mind” (Due to be published here in 2010).


97. “Key principles of government accounting and audit”, IIT Kharagpur mimeo.

98. “Derivative pricing & other topics in financial theory: a student’s complete lecture notes” (Due to be published here in 2010).


99. “Collapse of the Global Conversation”, International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, Jul 2004.

100. “Science, Religion, Art & the Necessity of Freedom”, a public lecture, University of Buckingham, UK, August 24 2004.  Published here 2007.


93a Rajiv Gandhi and the Origins of India’s 1991 Economic Reform (this was the full story; it appeared in print for the first time in The Statesman Festival Volume 2007).

101. “Can India become an economic superpower (or will there be a monetary meltdown)?” Cardiff University Institute of Applied Macroeconomics Monetary Economics Seminar, April 13, Institute of Economic Affairs, London, April 27, Reserve Bank of India, Bombay, Chief Economist’s Seminar on Monetary Economics, May 5.

102. Margaret Thatcher’s Revolution: How it Happened and What it Meant, Edited and with an Introduction by Subroto Roy & John Clarke, London & New York: Continuum, 2005; paperback 2006; French translation by Florian Bay, 2007.

103. “Iqbal & Jinnah vs Rahmat Ali in Pakistan’s Creation”, Dawn, Karachi, Sep 3.

104. “The Mitrokhin Archives II from an Indian Perspective: A Review Article”, The Statesman, Perspective Page, Oct 11 .

105. “After the Verdict”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Oct 20.

106.   “US Espionage Failures”, The Statesman, Perspective Page, Oct 26

107.  “Waffle But No Models of Monetary Policy”, The Statesman, Perspective Page, Oct 30.

108. “On Hindus and Muslims”, The Statesman, Perspective Page, Nov 6.

109. “Assessing Vajpayee: Hindutva True and False”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Nov  13-14″.

110. “Fiction from the India Economic Summit”, The Statesman, Front Page, Nov 29.

111. “Solving Kashmir: On an Application of Reason”, The Statesman Editorial Page

I.  “Give the Hurriyat et al Indian Green Cards”, Dec 1

II.  “Choice of Nationality under Full Information”, Dec 2

III.  “Of Flags and Consulates in Gilgit etc”, Dec 3.


112. “The Dream Team: A Critique”, The Statesman Editorial Page

I : New Delhi’s Consensus (Manmohantekidambaromics), Jan 6

II: Money, Convertibility, Inflationary Deficit Financing, Jan 7

III:  Rule of Law, Transparency, Government Accounting, Jan 8.

113. “Unaccountable Delhi: India’s Separation of Powers’ Doctrine”, The Statesman, Jan 13.

114. “Communists and Constitutions”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Jan 22.

115. “Diplomatic Wisdom”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Jan 31.

116.  “Mendacity & the Government Budget Constraint”, The Statesman, Front Page  Feb 3.

117. “Of Graven Images”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb5.

118. “Separation of Powers, Parts 1-2”, The Statesman, Editorial Pages Feb 12-13.

119. “Public Debt, Government Fantasy”, The Statesman, Front Page Editorial Comment, Feb 22.

120. “War or Peace Parts 1-2”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb 23-24.

121. “Can You Handle This Brief, Mr Chidambaram?” The Statesman, Front Page  Feb 26.

122. “A Downpayment On the Taj Mahal Anyone?”, The Statesman, Front Page  Comment on the Budget 2006-2007, Mar 1.

123. “Atoms for Peace (or War)”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page Mar 5.

124. “Imperialism Redux: Business, Energy, Weapons & Foreign Policy”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Mar 14.

125.  “Logic of Democracy”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, Mar 30.

126. “Towards an Energy Policy”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Apr 2.

127. “Iran’s Nationalism”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Apr 6.

128. “A Modern Military”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Apr 16.

129.  “On Money & Banking”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Apr 23.

130.  “Lessons for India from Nepal’s Revolution”, The Statesman, Front Page Apr 26.

131. “Revisionist Flattery (Inder Malhotra’s Indira Gandhi: A Review Article)”, The Sunday Statesman, May 7.

132. “Modern World History”, The Sunday Statesman Editorial Page, May 7.

133. “Argumentative Indians: A Conversation with Professor Amartya Sen on Philosophy, Identity and Islam,” The Sunday Statesman,  May 14 2006.  “A Philosophical Conversation between Professor Sen and Dr Roy”,  2008.  Translated into Bengali by AA and published in 00.

134. “The Politics of Dr Singh”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, May 21.

135. “Corporate Governance & the Principal-Agent Problem”, lecture at a conference on corporate governance, Kolkata May 31.  Published here 2008.

136. “Pakistan’s Allies Parts 1-2”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Jun 4-5.

137. “Law, Justice and J&K Parts 1-2”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Jul 2, The Statesman Editorial Page Jul 3.

138. “The Greatest Pashtun (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan)”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Jul 16.

139. “Understanding Pakistan Parts 1-2”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Jul 30, The Statesman Editorial Page Jul 31.

140.  “Indian Money and Credit”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Aug 6.

141.  “India’s Moon Mission”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page,  Aug 13.

142. “Jaswant’s Journeyings: A Review Article”, The Sunday Statesman Magazine, Aug 27.

143. “Our Energy Interests, Parts 1-2”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Aug 27, The Statesman Editorial Page Aug 28.

144. “Is Balochistan Doomed?”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Sep 3 2006.

145. “Racism New and Old”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Sep 8 2006

146. “Political Economy of India’s Energy Policy”, address to KAF-TERI conference, Goa Oct 7, published in 146a.

147. “New Foreign Policy? Seven phases of Indian foreign policy may be identifiable since Nehru”, Parts 1-2, The Sunday Statesman, Oct 8, The Statesman Oct 9.

148. “Justice & Afzal:  There is a difference between law and equity (or natural justice). The power of pardon is an equitable power. Commuting a death-sentence is a partial pardon”, The Sunday Statesman Editorial Page Oct 14

149. “Non-existent liberals (On a Liberal Party for India)”, The Sunday Statesman Editorial Page Oct 22.

150. “History of Jammu & Kashmir Parts 1-2”,  The Sunday Statesman, Oct 29, The Statesman Oct 30, Editorial Page.

151. “American Democracy: Does America need a Prime Minister and a longer-lived Legislature?”, The Sunday Statesman Nov 5.

152. “Milton Friedman A Man of Reason 1912-2006”, The Statesman Perspective Page,  Nov 22.

153. “Postscript to Milton Friedman Mahalanobis’s Plan  (The Mahalanobis-Nehru “Second Plan”) The Statesman Front Page Nov 22.

154.  “Mob Violence and Psychology”, Dec 10,  The Statesman, Editorial Page.

155. “What To Tell Musharraf: Peace Is Impossible Without Non-Aggressive Pakistani Intentions”, The Statesman Editorial Page Dec 15.

156. “Land, Liberty and Value: Government must act in good faith treating all citizens equally – not favouring organised business lobbies and organised labour over an unorganised peasantry”,  The Sunday Statesman Editorial Page Dec 31.


157. “Hypocrisy of the CPI-M: Political Collapse In Bengal: A Mid-Term Election/Referendum Is Necessary”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Jan 9.

158. “On Land-Grabbing: Dr Singh’s India, Buddhadeb’s Bengal, Modi’s Gujarat have notorious US, Soviet and Chinese examples to follow ~ distracting from the country’s real economic problems,” The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page Jan 14.

159. “India’s Macroeconomics:  Real growth has steadily occurred because India has shared the world’s technological progress. But bad fiscal, monetary policies over decades have led to monetary weakness and capital flight” The Statesman Editorial Page Jan 20.

160. “Fiscal Instability: Interest payments quickly suck dry every year’s Budget. And rolling over old public debt means that Government Borrowing in fact much exceeds the Fiscal Deficit”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb 4.

161. “Our trade and payments Parts 1-2”  (“India in World Trade and Payments”),The Sunday Statesman, Feb 11 2007, The Statesman, Feb 12 2007.

162. “Our Policy Process: Self-Styled “Planners” Have Controlled India’s Paper Money For Decades,” The Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb 20.

163. “Bengal’s Finances”, The Sunday Statesman Editorial Page, Feb 25.

164. “Fallacious Finance: Congress, BJP, CPI-M may be leading India to Hyperinflation” The Statesman Editorial Page Mar 5.

165. “Uttar Pradesh Polity and Finance: A Responsible New Govt May Want To Declare A Financial Emergency” The Statesman Editorial Page, Mar 24

166. “A scam in the making” in The Sunday Statesman Front Page Apr 1 2007, published here in full as “Swindling India”.

167. “Maharashtra’s Money: Those Who Are Part Of The Problem Are Unlikely To Be A Part Of Its Solution”, The Statesman Editorial Page Apr 24.

146a. “Political Economy of Energy Policy” in India and Energy Security edited by Anant Sudarshan and Ligia Noronha, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, New Delhi 2007.

168.  “Presidential Qualities: Simplicity, Genuine Achievement Are Desirable; Political Ambition Is Not”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, May 8.

169. “We & Our Neighbours: Pakistanis And Bangladeshis Would Do Well To Learn From Sheikh Abdullah”, The Statesman, Editorial Page May 15.

170. “On Indian Nationhood: From Tamils To Kashmiris And Assamese And Mizos To Sikhs And Goans”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, May 25.

171. A Current Example of the Working of the Unconscious Mind, May 26.

172. Where I would have gone if I was Osama Bin Laden, May 31.

173. “US election ’08:America’s Presidential Campaign Seems Destined To Be Focussed On Iraq”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, June 1.

174. “Home Team Advantage: On US-Iran talks and Sunni-Shia subtleties: Tehran must transcend its revolution and endorse the principle that the House of Islam has many mansions”,  The Sunday Statesman Editorial Page, June 3

175. “Unhealthy Delhi: When will normal political philosophy replace personality cults?”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, June 11.

176. “American Turmoil: A Vice-Presidential Coup – And Now a Grassroots Counterrevolution?”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, June 18

177.  “Political Paralysis: India has yet to develop normal conservative, liberal and socialist parties. The Nice-Housing-Effect and a little game-theory may explain the current stagnation”,  The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, June 24.

177. “Has America Lost? War Doctrines Of Kutusov vs Clausewitz May Help Explain Iraq War”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, July 3.

178. “Lal Masjid ≠ Golden Temple: Wide differences are revealed between contemporary Pakistan and India by these two superficially similar military assaults on armed religious civilians”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page July 15

179 “Political Stonewalling: Only Transparency Can Improve Institutions”, The Statesman, Editorial Page July 20.

180. “Gold standard etc: Fixed versus flexible exchange rates”, July 21.

181. “US Pakistan-India Policy: Delhi & Islamabad Still Look West In Defining Their Relationship”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, July 27.

182. “Works of DH Lawrence” July 30

183. “An Open Letter to Professor Amartya Sen about Singur etc”, The Statesman, Editorial Page,  July 31.

184.  “Martin Buber on Palestine and Israel (with Postscript)”, Aug 4.

185. “Auguste Rodin on Nature, Art, Beauty, Women and Love”,  Aug 7.

186. “Saving Pakistan: A Physicist/Political Philosopher May Represent Iqbal’s “Spirit of Modern Times”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Aug 13.

187. Letter to  16 Aug.

188. “Need for Clarity: A poorly drafted treaty driven by business motives is a recipe for international misunderstanding”, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Aug 19.

189. “No Marxist MBAs? An amicus curiae brief for the Hon’ble High Court”,  The Statesman, FrontPage, Aug 29.

190. On Lawrence, Sep 4.

191. Dalai Lama’s Return: In the tradition of Gandhi, King, Mandela, Sep 11.

192. Of JC Bose, Patrick Geddes & the Leaf-World, Sep 12.

193. “Against Quackery: Manmohan and Sonia have violated Rajiv Gandhi’s intended reforms; the Communists have been appeased or bought; the BJP is incompetent  Parts 1-2”, in The Sunday Statesman and The Statesman, Editorial Pages of Sep 23-24.

194. Karl Georg Zinn’s 1994 Review of Philosophy of Economics, Sep 26.

195. DH Lawrence’s Phoenix, Oct 3.

93b. “Rajiv Gandhi and the Origins of India’s 1991 Economic Reform”, Statesman Festival Volume.

196. “Iran, America, Iraq: Bush’s post-Saddam Saddamism — one flip-flop too many?”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Oct 16.

197. “Understanding China: The World Needs to Ask China to Find Her True Higher Self”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, Oct 22.

198. “India-USA interests: Elements of a serious Indian foreign policy”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, Oct 30.

199. “China’s India Aggression : German Historians Discover Logic Behind Communist Military Strategy”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page Special Article, Nov 5.

200. Sonia’s Lying Courtier (with Postscript), Nov 25.

201. “Surrender or Fight? War is not a cricket match or Bollywood movie. Can India fight China if it must?” The Statesman, Dec 4, Editorial Page.

202. Hutton and Desai: United in Error Dec 14

203. “China’s Commonwealth: Freedom is the Road to Resolving Taiwan, Tibet, Sinkiang”,  The Statesman, Dec 17.


204. “Nixon & Mao vs India: How American foreign policy did a U-turn about Communist China’s India aggression. The Government of India should publish its official history of the 1962 war.”  The Sunday Statesman, Jan 6, The Statesman Jan 7  Editorial Page.

205. “Lessons from the 1962 War:  Beginnings of a solution to the long-standing border problem: there are distinct Tibetan, Chinese and Indian points of view that need to be mutually comprehended”, The Sunday Statesman, January 13 2008.

206. “Our Dismal Politics: Will Independent India Survive Until 2047?”, The Statesman Editorial Page, Feb 1.

207. Median Voter Model of India’s Electorate Feb 7.

208. “Anarchy in Bengal: Intra-Left bandh marks the final unravelling of “Brand Buddha””, The Sunday Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb 10.

209. Fifty years since my third birthday: on life and death.

210. “Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession: Sheikh Abdullah Relied In Politics On The French Constitution, Not Islam”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb 16.

211.  A Note on the Indian Policy Process  Feb 21.

212. “Growth & Government Delusion: Progress Comes From Learning, Enterprise, Exchange, Not The Parasitic State”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb 22.

213.  “How to Budget: Thrift, Not Theft, Needs to Guide Our Public Finances”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, Feb 26.

214. “India’s Budget Process (in Theory)”, The Statesman, Front Page Feb 29.

215.  “Irresponsible Governance: Congress, BJP, Communists, BSP, Sena Etc Reveal Equally Bad Traits”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, March 4.

216. “American Politics: Contest Between Obama And Clinton Affects The World”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, March 11.

217. “China’s India Example: Tibet, Xinjiang May Not Be Assimilated Like Inner Mongolia And Manchuria”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, March 25.

218. “Taxation of India’s Professional Cricket: A Proposal”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, April 1.

219. “Two cheers for Pakistan!”,  The Statesman, Editorial Page, April 7.

220. “Indian Inflation: Upside Down Economics From The New Delhi Establishment Parts 1-2”, The Statesman, Editorial Page, April 15-16.

221. “Assessing Manmohan: The Doctor of Deficit Finance should realise the currency is at stake”, The Statesman, Editorial Page Apr 25.

222. John Wisdom, Renford Bambrough: Main Philosophical Works, May 8.

223.  “All India wept”: On the death of Rajiv Gandhi,  May 21.

224. “China’s force and diplomacy: The need for realism in India” The Statesman, Editorial Page May 31.

226. Serendipity and the China-Tibet-India border problem  June 6

227. “Leadership vacuum: Time & Tide Wait For No One In Politics: India Trails Pakistan & Nepal!”, The Statesman Editorial Page June 7.

228. My meeting Jawaharlal Nehru Oct13 1962

229.  Manindranath Roy 1891-1958

230. Surendranath Roy 1860-1929

231.  The Roys of Behala 1928.

232. Sarat Chandra visits Surendranath Roy 1927

233. Nuksaan-Faida Analysis = Cost-Benefit Analysis in Hindi/Urdu Jun 30

234.  One of many reasons John R Hicks was a great economist July 3

236.  My father, Indian diplomat, in the Shah’s Tehran 1954-57  July 8

237 Distribution of Govt of India Expenditure (Net of Operational Income) 1995 July 27

238. Growth of Real Income, Money & Prices in India 1869-2008, July 28.

239. Communism from Social Democracy? But not in India or China!  July 29

240. Death of Solzhenitsyn, Aug. 3

240a. Tolstoy on Science and Art, Aug 4.

241. “Reddy`s reckoning: Where should India’s real interest rate be relative to the world?” Business Standard Aug 10

242. “Rangarajan Effect”, Business Standard Aug 24

243. My grandfather’s death in Ottawa 50 years ago today  Sep 3

244. My books in the Library of Congress and British Library Sep 12

245. On Jimmy Carter & the “India-US Nuclear Deal”, Sep 12

246. My father after presenting his credentials to President Kekkonen of Finland Sep 14 1973.

247. “October 1929?  Not!”, Business Standard, Sep 18.

248. “MK Gandhi, SN Roy, MA Jinnah in March 1919: Primary education legislation in a time of protest”

249. 122 sensible American economists Sept 26

250. Govt of India: Please call in the BBC and ask them a question Sep 27

251. “Monetary Integrity and the Rupee:  Three British Raj relics have dominated our macroeconomic policy-making” Business Standard Sep 28.

252a.  Rabindranath’s daughter writes to her friend my grandmother Oct 5

252b.  A Literary Find: Modern Poetry in Bengal, Oct 6.

253. Sarat writes to Manindranath 1931,  Oct 12

254. Origins of India’s Constitutional Politics 1913

255. Indira Gandhi in Paris, 1971

256. How the Liabilities/Assets Ratio of Indian Banks Changed from 84% in 1970 to 108% in 1998, October 20

257a. My Subjective Probabilities on India’s Moon Mission Oct 21

258. Complete History of Mankind’s Moon Missions: An Indian Citizen’s Letter to ISRO’s Chairman, Oct 22.

259. Would not a few million new immigrants solve America’s mortgage crisis? Oct 26

260. “America’s divided economists”, Business Standard Oct 26

261. One tiny prediction about the Obama Administration, Nov 5

262. Rai Bahadur Umbika Churn Rai, 1827-1902,  Nov 7 2008

263. Jawaharlal Nehru invites my father to the Mountbatten Farewell  Nov 7 2008

70a. “Become a US Supreme Court Justice! (Explorations in the Rule of Law in America) Preface” Nov 9

70b. “Become a US Supreme Court Justice! (Explorations in the Rule of Law in America) Password protected.” Nov 9.

257b. Neglecting technological progress was the basis of my pessimism about Chandrayaan,  Nov 9.

264. Of a new New Delhi myth and the success of the University of Hawaii 1986-1992 Pakistan project Nov 15

265. Pre-Partition Indian Secularism Case-Study: Fuzlul Huq and Manindranath Roy Nov 16

266. Do President-elect Obama’s Pakistan specialists suppose Maulana Azad, Dr Zakir Hussain, Sheikh Abdullah were Pakistanis (or that Sheikh Mujib wanted to remain one)?  Nov 18

267. Jews have never been killed in India for being Jews until this sad day, Nov 28.

268. In international law, Pakistan has been the perpetrator, India the victim of aggression in Mumbai,  Nov 30.

269. The Indian Revolution, Dec 1.

270. Habeas Corpus: a captured terrorist mass-murderer tells a magistrate he has not been mistreated by Mumbai’s police Dec 3

271. India’s Muslim Voices (Or, Let us be clear the Pakistan-India or Kashmir conflicts have not been Muslim-Hindu conflicts so much as intra-Muslim conflicts about Muslim identity and self-knowledge on the Indian subcontinent), Dec 4

272. “Anger Management” needed? An Oxford DPhil recommends Pakistan launch a nuclear first strike against India within minutes of war, Dec 5.

273. A Quick Comparison Between the September 11 2001 NYC-Washington attacks and the November 26-28 2008 Mumbai Massacres (An Application of the Case-by-Case Philosophical Technique of Wittgenstein, Wisdom and Bambrough), Dec 6

274. Dr Rice finally gets it right (and maybe Mrs Clinton will too) Dec 7

275. Will the Government of India’s new macroeconomic policy dampen or worsen the business-cycle (if such a cycle exists at all)? No one knows! “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise.”  Dec 7

276. Pump-priming for car-dealers: Keynes groans in his grave (If evidence was needed of the intellectual dishonesty of New Delhi’s new macroeconomic policy, here it is) Dec 9.

277. Congratulations to Mumbai’s Police: capturing a terrorist, affording him his Habeas Corpus rights, getting him to confess within the Rule of Law, sets a new world standard  Dec 10

278. Two cheers — wait, let’s make that one cheer — for America’s Justice Department, Dec 10

279. Will Pakistan accept the bodies of nine dead terrorists who came from Pakistan to Mumbai? If so, let there be a hand-over at the Wagah border, Dec 11.

280. Kasab was a stupid, ignorant, misguided youth, manufactured by Pakistan’s terrorist masterminds into becoming a mass-murdering robot: Mahatma Gandhi’s India should punish him, get him to repent if he wishes, then perhaps rehabilitate him as a potent weapon against Pakistani terrorism Dec 12.

281. Pakistan’s New Delhi Embassy should ask for “Consular Access” to nine dead terrorists in a Mumbai morgue before asking to meet Kasab, Dec 13

282. An Indian Reply to President Zardari: Rewarding Pakistan for bad behaviour leads to schizophrenic relationships Dec 19

283. Is my prediction about Caroline Kennedy becoming US Ambassador to Britain going to be correct?  Dec 27

284. Chandrayaan adds a little good cheer! Well done, ISRO!, Dec 28

285. How sad that “Slumdog millionaire” is SO disappointing! Dec 31

289. (with Claude Arpi) “Transparency & history: India’s archives must be opened to world standards” Business Standard New Delhi Dec 31, 2008, published here Jan 1 .


290. A basis of India-Pakistan cooperation on the Mumbai massacres: the ten Pakistani terrorists started off as pirates and the Al-Huseini is a pirate ship Jan 1.

291. India’s “pork-barrel politics” needs a nice (vegetarian) Hindi name! “Teli/oily politics” perhaps? (And are we next going to see a Bill of Rights for Lobbyists?) Jan 3

292. My (armchair) experience of the 1999 Kargil war (Or, “Actionable Intelligence” in the Internet age: How the Kargil effort got a little help from a desktop)  Jan 5

293. How Jammu & Kashmir’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah can become a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize: An Open Letter,  Jan 7

294. Could the Satyam/PwC fraud be the visible part of an iceberg? Where are India’s “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles”? Isn’t governance rather poor all over corporate India? Bad public finance may be a root cause Jan 8

295. Satyam does not exist: it is bankrupt, broke, kaput. Which part of this does the new “management team” not get? The assets belong to Satyam’s creditors. Jan 8

296. Jews are massacred in Mumbai and now Jews commit a massacre in Gaza!  Jan 9

297. And now for the Great Satyam Whitewash/Cover-Up/Public Subsidy! The wrong Minister appoints the wrong new Board who, probably, will choose the wrong policy Jan 12

298. Letter to Wei Jingsheng  Jan 14

299. Memo to the Hon’ble Attorneys General of Pakistan & India: How to jointly prosecute the Mumbai massacre perpetrators most expeditiously Jan 16

300. Satyam and IT-firms in general may be good candidates to become “Labour-Managed” firms Jan 18

301. “Yes we might be able to do that. Perhaps we ought to. But again, perhaps we ought not to, let me think about it…. Most important is Cromwell’s advice: Think it possible we may be mistaken!” Jan 20.

302. RAND’s study of the Mumbai attacks Jan 25

303. Didn’t Dr Obama (the new American President’s late father) once publish an article in Harvard’s Quarterly Journal of Economics? (Or did he?) Jan 25.

304. “A Dialogue in Macroeconomics” 1989 etc: sundry thoughts on US economic policy discourse Jan 30

305. American Voices: A Brief Popular History of the United States in 20 You-Tube Music Videos Feb 5

306. Jaladhar Sen writes to Manindranath at Surendranath’s death, Feb 23

307. Pakistani expansionism: India and the world need to beware of “Non-Resident Pakistanis” ruled by Rahmat Ali’s ghost, Feb 9

308. My American years Part One 1980-90: battles for academic integrity & freedom Feb 11.

309. Thanks and well done Minister Rehman Malik and the Govt of Pakistan Feb 12

310. Can President Obama resist the financial zombies (let alone slay them)? His economists need to consult Dr Anna J Schwartz Feb 14

311. A Brief History of Gilgit, Feb 18

312. Memo to UCLA Geographers: Commonsense suggests Mr Bin Laden is far away from the subcontinent Feb 20

313. The BBC gets its history and geography deliberately wrong again Feb 21

314. Bengal Legislative Council 1921, Feb 28

315. Carmichael visits Surendranath, 1916, Mar 1

316. Memo to GoI CLB: India discovered the Zero, and 51% of Zero is still Zero Mar 10

317. An Academic Database of Doctoral & Other Postgraduate Research Done at UK Universities on India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Other Asian Countries Over 100 Years, Mar 13

318. Pakistan’s progress, Mar 18

319. Risk-aversion explains resistance to free trade, Mar 19

320. India’s incredibly volatile inflation rate!  Mar 20

321. Is “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona” referring to an emasculation of (elite) American society?,  Mar 21

322. Just how much intellectual fraud can Delhi produce? Mar 26

323. India is not a monarchy! We urgently need to universalize the French concept of “citoyen”!  Mar 28

324. Could this be the real state of some of our higher education institutions? Mar 29

325. Progress! The BBC retracts its prevarication! Mar 30

326. Aldous Huxley’s Essay “DH Lawrence” Mar 31

327. Waffle not institutional reform is what (I predict) the “G-20 summit” will produce, April 1

328. Did a full cricket team of Indian bureaucrats follow our PM into 10 Downing Street? Count for yourself! April 3

329. Will someone please teach the BJP’s gerontocracy some Economics 101 on an emergency basis?  April 5

330. The BBC needs to determine exactly where it thinks Pakistan is!, April 5

331. Alfred Lyall on Christians, Muslims, India, China, Etc, 1908, April 6

332. An eminent economist of India passes away April 9

333. Democracy Database for the Largest Electorate Ever Seen in World History, April 12

334. Memo to the Election Commission of India April 14 2009, 9 AM, April 14

335. Caveat emptor! Satyam is taken over, April 14

336. India’s 2009 General Elections: Candidates, Parties, Symbols for Polls on 16-30 April Phases 1,2,3, April 15

337. On the general theory of expertise in democracy: reflections on what emerges from the American “torture memos” today, April 18

338. India’s 2009 General Elections: 467 constituencies (out of 543) for which candidates have been announced as of 1700hrs April 21, April 21

339. Apropos Philosophy of Economics, Comments of Sidney Hook, KJ Arrow, Milton Friedman, TW Schultz, SS Alexander, Max Black, Renford Bambrough, John Gray et al., April 22.

340. India’s 2009 General Elections: Names of all 543 Constituencies of the 15th Lok Sabha, April 22.

341. India’s 2009 General Elections: How 4125 State Assembly Constituencies comprise the 543 new Lok Sabha Constituencies, April 23.

342. Why has America’s “torture debate” yet to mention the obvious? Viz., sadism and racism, April 24

343. India’s 2009 General Elections: the advice of the late “George Eliot” (Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880) to India’s voting public, April 24.

344. India’s 2009 General Elections: Delimitation and the Different Lists of 543 Lok Sabha Constituencies in 2009 and 2004, April 25

345. Is “Slumdog Millionaire” the single worst Best Picture ever?

346. India’s 2009 General Elections: Result of Delimitation — Old (2004) and New (2009) Lok Sabha and Assembly Constituencies, April 26

347. India’s 2009 General Elections: 7019 Candidates in 485 (out of 543) Constituencies announced as of April 26 noon April 26

348. What is Christine Fair referring to? Would the MEA kindly seek to address what she has claimed asap? April 27

349. Politics can be so entertaining 🙂 Manmohan versus Sonia on the poor old CPI(M)!, April 28

350. A Dozen Grown-Up Questions for Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, LK Advani, Sharad Pawar, Km Mayawati and Anyone Else Dreaming of Becoming/Deciding India’s PM After the 2009 General Elections, April 28

351. India’s 2009 General Elections: How drastically will the vote-share of political parties change from 2004? May 2

352. India’s 2009 General Elections: And now finally, all 8,070 Candidates across all 543 Lok Sabha Constituencies, May 5

353. India’s 2009 General Elections: The Mapping of Votes into Assembly Segments Won into Parliamentary Seats Won in the 2004 Election, May 7

354. Will Messrs Advani, Rajnath Singh & Modi ride into the sunset if the BJP comes to be trounced? (Corrected), May 10

355. India’s 2009 General Elections: 543 Matrices to Help Ordinary Citizens Audit the Election Commission’s Vote-Tallies  May 12

356. Well done Sonia-Rahul! Two hours before polls close today, I am willing to predict a big victory for you (but, please, try to get your economics right, and also, you must get Dr Singh a Lok Sabha seat if he is to be PM) May 13

357. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee must dissolve the West Bengal Assembly if he is an honest democrat: Please try to follow Gerard Schröder’s example even slightly! May 16

358. India’s 2009 General Elections: Provisional Results from the EC as of 1400 hours Indian Standard Time May 16

359. Memo to the Hon’ble President of India: It is Sonia Gandhi, not Manmohan Singh, who should be invited to our equivalent of the “Kissing Hands” Ceremony May 16

360. Time for heads to roll in the BJP/RSS and CPI(M)!, May 17.

361. Inviting a new Prime Minister of India to form a Government: Procedure Right and Wrong  May 18

362. Starting with Procedural Error: Why has the “Cabinet” of the 14th Lok Sabha been meeting today AFTER the results of the Elections to the 15th Lok Sabha have been declared?!  May 18

363. Why has the Sonia Congress done something that the Congress under Nehru-Indira-Rajiv would not have done, namely, exaggerate the power of the Rajya Sabha and diminish the power of the Lok Sabha? May 21

364. Shouldn’t Dr Singh’s Cabinet begin with a small apology to the President of India for discourtesy? May we have reviews and reforms of protocols and practices to be followed at Rashtrapati Bhavan and elsewhere?  May 23

365. Parliament’s sovereignty has been diminished by the Executive: A record for future generations to know May 25

366. How tightly will organised Big Business be able to control economic policies this time? May 26

367. Why does India not have a Parliament ten days after the 15th Lok Sabha was elected? Nehru and Rajiv would both have been appalled May 27

368. Eleven days and counting after the 15th Lok Sabha was elected and still no Parliament of India! (But we do have 79 Ministers — might that be a world record?) May 28

369. Note to Posterity: 79 Ministers in office but no 15th Lok Sabha until June 1 2009! May 29

370. Silver Jubilee of Pricing, Planning & Politics: A Study of Economic Distortions in India May 29

371. How to Design a Better Cabinet for the Government of India May 29

372. Parliament is supposed to control the Government, not be bullied or intimidated by it: Will Rahul Gandhi be able to lead the Backbenches in the 15th Lok Sabha? June 1

373. Mistaken Macroeconomics: An Open Letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, June 12

374. Why did Manmohan Singh and LK Advani apologise to one another? Is Indian politics essentially collusive, not competitive, aiming only to preserve and promote the post-1947 Dilli Raj at the expense of the whole of India? We seem to have no Churchillian repartee (except perhaps from Bihar occasionally) June 18

375. Are Iran’s Revolutionaries now Reactionaries? George Orwell would have understood. A fresh poll may be the only answer Are Iran’s Revolutionaries now Reactionaries? George Orwell would have understood. A fresh poll may be the only answer  June 22

376. My March 25 1991 memo to Rajiv (which never reached him) is something the present Government seems to have followed: all for the best of course! July 12

377. Disquietude about France’s behaviour towards India on July 14 2009 July 14

378. Does the Govt. of India assume “foreign investors and analysts” are a key constituency for Indian economic policy-making? If so, why so? Have Govt. economists “learnt nothing, forgotten everything”? Some Bastille Day thoughts July 14

379. Letter to the GoI’s seniormost technical economist, May 21.July 19

380. Excuse me but young Kasab in fact confessed many months ago, immediately after he was captured – he deserves 20 or 30 years in an Indian prison, and a chance to become a model prisoner who will stand against the very terrorists who sent him on his vile mission  July 20

381. Finally, three months late, the GoI responds to American and Pakistani allegations about Balochistan July 24

382.  Thoughts, words, deeds: My work 1973-2010

M1. Map of Asia c. 1900

M2. Map of Chinese Empire c. 1900

M3. Map of Sinkiang, Tibet and Neighbours 1944

M4. China’s Secretly Built 1957 Road Through India’s Aksai Chin

M5. Map of Kashmir to Sinkiang 1944

M6. Map of India-Tibet-China-Mongolia 1959

M7. Map of India, Afghanistan, Russia, China, 1897

M8. Map of Xinjiang/Sinkiang/E Turkestan

M9. Map of Bombay/Mumbai 1909

M10-M13. Himalayan Expedition, West Sikkim 1970 – 1,2,3,4

Why has America’s “torture debate” yet to mention the obvious? Viz., sadism and racism.

“Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”
— from “Burnt Norton” by TS Eliot

Indeed humankind cannot bear very much reality! Why else, I wonder, has the “torture” debate not yet mentioned the obvious: sadism and racism? Did the perpetrators of torture experience delight or remorse or both from their activities? Delight during, remorse afterwards? Would they have experienced less delight and more remorse if the victims had not also elicited a race-feeling, a race-consciousness?  The victims after all were all “the other”, not one’s own.

One needs to be candid and not pussy-foot around if one wants to comprehend reality.


On the general theory of expertise in democracy: reflections on what emerges from the American “torture memos” today

Twenty years ago, I wrote in Philosophy of Economics (Routledge, London & New York, 1989) quoting from Solzhenitsyn’s experience:

“….the received theory of economic policy… must be silent about the appropriate role of the expert not only under conditions of tyranny (Solzhenitsyn: “The prison doctor was the interrogator’s and executioner’s right-hand man. The beaten prisoner would come to on the floor only to hear the doctor’s voice: ‘You can continue, the pulse is normal’” ); but also where the duly elected government of an open and democratic society proceeded to do things patently wrong or tyrannical (the imprisonment of the Japanese Americans). Hence Popper’s “paradox of democracy” and “tyranny of the majority”..… A theory of economic policy which both assumes a free and open society and bases itself upon a moral scepticism cannot have anything to say ultimately about the objective reasons why a free and open society may be preferred to an unfree or closed society, or about the good or bad outcomes that may be produced by the working of democratic processes…”

Today’s Washington Post reports:

“When the CIA began what it called an “increased pressure phase” with captured terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida in the summer of 2002, its first step was to limit the detainee’s human contact to just two people. One was the CIA interrogator, the other a psychologist. During the extraordinary weeks that followed, it was the psychologist who apparently played the more critical role. According to newly released Justice Department documents, the psychologist provided ideas, practical advice and even legal justification for interrogation methods that would break Abu Zubaida, physically and mentally. Extreme sleep deprivation, waterboarding, the use of insects to provoke fear — all were deemed acceptable, in part because the psychologist said so. “No severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted,” a Justice Department lawyer said in a 2002 memo explaining why waterboarding, or simulated drowning, should not be considered torture. The role of health professionals as described in the documents has prompted a renewed outcry from ethicists who say the conduct of psychologists and supervising physicians violated basic standards of their professions. Their names are among the few details censored in the long-concealed Bush administration memos released Thursday, but the documents show a steady stream of psychologists, physicians and other health officials who both kept detainees alive and actively participated in designing the interrogation program and monitoring its implementation. Their presence also enabled the government to argue that the interrogations did not include torture. Most of the psychologists were contract employees of the CIA, according to intelligence officials familiar with the program. “The health professionals involved in the CIA program broke the law and shame the bedrock ethical traditions of medicine and psychology,” said Frank Donaghue, chief executive of Physicians for Human Rights, an international advocacy group made up of physicians opposed to torture. “All psychologists and physicians found to be involved in the torture of detainees must lose their license and never be allowed to practice again.” The CIA declined to comment yesterday on the role played by health professionals in the agency’s self-described “enhanced interrogation program,” which operated from 2002 to 2006 in various secret prisons overseas. “The fact remains that CIA’s detention and interrogation effort was authorized and approved by our government,” CIA Director Leon Panetta said Thursday in a statement to employees. The Obama administration and its top intelligence leaders have banned harsh interrogations while also strongly opposing investigations or penalties for employees who were following their government’s orders. The CIA dispatched personnel from its office of medical services to each secret prison and evaluated medical professionals involved in interrogations “to make sure they could stand up, psychologically handle it,” according to a former CIA official. The alleged actions of medical professionals in the secret prisons are viewed as particularly troubling by an array of groups, including the American Medical Association and the International Committee of the Red Cross. AMA policies state that physicians “must not be present when torture is used or threatened.” The guidelines allow doctors to treat detainees only “if doing so is in their [detainees’] best interest” and not merely to monitor their health “so that torture can begin or continue.” The American Psychological Association has condemned any participation by its members in interrogations involving torture, but critics of the organization faulted it for failing to censure members involved in harsh interrogations. The ICRC, which conducted the first independent interviews of CIA detainees in 2006, said the prisoners were told they would not be killed during interrogations, though one was warned that he would be brought to “the verge of death and back again,” according to a confidential ICRC report leaked to the New York Review of Books last month. “The interrogation process is contrary to international law and the participation of health personnel in such a process is contrary to international standards of medical ethics,” the ICRC report concluded….” (emphasis added)

Twenty-five years ago, the draft-manuscript that became the book Philosophy of Economics got me into much trouble in American academia. As I have said elsewhere, a gang of “inert game theorists”, similar to many (often unemployable ex-mathematicians) who had come to and still dominate what passes for academic economics in many American and European universities, did not like at all what I was saying. A handful of eminent senior economists – Frank Hahn, T W Schultz, Milton Friedman, James M Buchanan, Sidney Alexander – defended my work and but for their support over the decade 1979-1989, my book would not have seen light of day.  Eventually, I have had to battle over years in the US federal courts over it – only to find myself having to battle bribery of court officers and the suborning of perjury by government legal officers  too! (And speaking of government-paid psychologists, I was even required at one point by my corrupt opponent to undergo tests for having had the temerity of being in court at all! Fortunately for me that particular psychologist declined to participate in the nefariousness of his employer!).

I find all this poignant today as Philosophy of Economics may have, among other things, described the general theoretical problem that has been brought to light today.  I was delighted to hear from a friend in 1993 that my book had been prescribed for a course at Yale Law School and was strewn all over an alley in the bookshop.

Separately, I am also delighted to find that a person pioneering the current work is a daughter of our present PM. I have been sharply critical of Dr Singh’s economics and politics, but I have also said I have had high personal regard for him ever since 1973 when he, as a friend of my father’s, visited our then-home in Paris to advise me before I embarked on my study of economics. My salute to the ACLU’s work in this – may it be an example in defeating cases of State-tyranny in India too.

Subroto Roy,


My American years Part One 1980-90: battles for academic integrity & freedom

On the Blacksburg campus February 1982, my second year in America.

I had come to Blacksburg in August 1980 thanks to a letter Professor Frank Hahn had written on my behalf to Professor James M Buchanan in January 1980.

I was in an “All But Dissertation” stage at Cambridge when I got to Blacksburg; I completed the thesis while teaching in Blacksburg, sent it from there in September 1981, and went back to Cambridge for the viva voce examination in January 1982.

Professor Buchanan and his colleagues were welcoming and I came to learn much from them about the realities of public finance and democratic politics, which I very soon applied to my work on India.

Jim Buchanan had a reputation for running very tough conferences of scholars. He invited me to one such in the Spring of 1981. We were made to work very hard indeed. One of the books prescribed is still with me, In Search of a Monetary Constitution, ed. Leland Yeager, Harvard 1962, and something I still recommend to anyone wishing to understand the classical liberal position on monetary policy. The week-long 1981 conference had one rest-day; it was spent in part at an excellent theatre in a small rural town outside Blacksburg. This photo is of Jim Buchanan on the left and Gordon Tullock on the right; in between them is Ken Minogue of the London School of Economics — who, as it happened, had been Tutor for Admissions when I became a freshman there seven years earlier.

(I must have learnt something from Jim Buchanan about running conferences because nine years later in May-June 1989 at the University of Hawaii, I made the participants of the India-perestroika and Pakistan-perestroika conferences work very hard too.)

My first rooms in America in 1980 were in the attic of 703 Gracelyn Court, where I paid $160 or $170 per month to my marvellous landlady Betty Tillman. There were many family occasions I enjoyed with her family downstairs, and her cakes, bakes and puddings all remain with me today.

A borrowed electric typewriter may be seen in the photo: the age of the personal computer was still a few years away. The Department had a stand-alone “AB-Dic” word-processor which we considered a marvel of technology; the Internet did not exist but there was some kind of Intranet between geeks in computer science and engineering departments at different universities.

It was at Gracelyn Court that this letter reached me addressed by FA Hayek himself.

Professor Buchanan had moved to Blacksburg from Charlottesville some years earlier with the Centre for Study of Public Choice that he had founded. The Centre came to be housed at the President’s House of Virginia Tech (presumably the University President himself had another residence).

I was initially a Visiting Research Associate at the Centre and at the same time a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Economics Department. I was very kindly given a magnificent office at the Centre, on the upper floor, perhaps the one on the upper right hand side in the picture. It was undoubtedly the finest room I have ever had as an office. I may have had it for a whole year, either 1980-81 or 1981-82. When Professor Buchanan and the Centre left for George Mason University in 1983, the mansion returned to being the University President’s House and my old office presumably became a fine bedroom again.

I spent the summer of 1983 at a long libertarian conference in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area in California. This is a photo from a barbecue during the conference with Professor Jean Baechler from France on the left; Leonard Liggio, who (along with Walter Grinder) had organised the conference, is at the right.

The first draft of the book that became Philosophy of Economics was written (in long hand) during that summer of 1983 in Palo Alto/Menlo Park. The initial title was “Principia Economica”, and the initial contracted publisher, the University of Chicago Press, had that title on the contract.

My principal supporter at the University of Chicago was that great American Theodore W. Schultz, then aged 81,

to whom the Press had initially sent the manuscript for review and who had recommended its prompt publication. Professor Schultz later told me to my face better what my book was about than I had realised myself, namely, it was about economics as knowledge, the epistemology of economics.

My parents came from India to visit me in California, and here we are at Yosemite.


Also to visit were Mr and Mrs Willis C Armstrong, our family friends who had known me from infancy. This is a photo of Bill and my mother on the left, and Louise and myself on the right, taken perhaps by my father. In the third week of January 1991, during the first Gulf War, Bill and I (acting on behalf of Rajiv Gandhi) came to form an extremely tenuous bridge between the US Administration and Saddam Hussain for about 24 hours, in an attempt to get a withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait without further loss of life. In December 1991 I gave the widow of Rajiv Gandhi a small tape containing my long-distance phone conversations from America with Rajiv during that episode.

I had driven with my sheltie puppy from Blacksburg to Palo Alto  — through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona; my parents and I now drove with him back to Blacksburg from California, through Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia.  It may be a necessary though not sufficient condition to drive across America (or any other country) in order to understand it.

After a few days, we drove to New York via Pennsylvania where I became Visiting Assistant Professor in the Cornell Economics Department (on leave from being Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech). The few months at Cornell were noteworthy for the many long sessions I spent with Max Black. I shall add more about that here in due course. My parents returned to India (via Greece where my sister was) in the Autumn of 1983.

In May 1984, Indira Gandhi ruled in Delhi, and the ghost of Brezhnev was still fresh in Moscow. The era of Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in America was at its height. Pricing, Planning & Politics: A Study of Economic Distortions in India emerging from my doctoral thesis though written in Blacksburg and Ithaca in 1982-1983, came to be published by London’s Institute of Economic Affairs on May 29 as Occasional Paper No. 69, ISBN: 0-255 36169-6; its text is reproduced elsewhere here.


It was the first critique after BR Shenoy of India’s Sovietesque economics since Jawaharlal Nehru’s time. The Times, London’s most eminent paper at the time, wrote its lead editorial comment about it on the day it was published, May 29 1984.


It used to take several days for the library at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to receive its copy of The Times of London and other British newspapers. I had not been told of the date of publication and did not know of what had happened in London on May 29 until perhaps June 2 — when a friend, Vasant Dave of a children’s charity, who was on campus, phoned me and congratulated me for being featured in The Times which he had just read in the University Library. “You mean they’ve reviewed it?” I asked him, “No, it’s the lead editorial.” “What?” I exclaimed. There was worse. Vasant was very soft-spoken and said “Yes, it’s titled ‘India’s Bad Example’” — which I misheard on the phone as “India’s Mad Example” 😀 Drat! I thought (or words to that effect), they must have lambasted me, as I rushed down to the Library to take a look.

The Times had said

“When Mr. Dennis Healey in the Commons recently stated that Hongkong, with one per cent of the population of India has twice India’s trade, he was making an important point about Hongkong but an equally important point about India. If Hongkong with one per cent of its population and less than 0.03 per cert of India’s land area (without even water as a natural resource) can so outpace India, there must be something terribly wrong with the way Indian governments have managed their affairs, and there is. A paper by an Indian economist published today (Pricing, Planning and Politics: A Study of Economic Distortions in India by Subroto Roy, IEA £1.80) shows how Asia’s largest democracy is gradually being stifled by the imposition of economic policies whose woeful effect and rhetorical unreality find their echo all over the Third World. As with many of Britain’s former imperial possessions, the rot set in long before independence. But as with most of the other former dependencies, the instrument of economic regulation and bureaucratic control set up by the British has been used decisively and expansively to consolidate a statist regime which inhibits free enterprise, minimizes economic success and consolidates the power of government in all spheres of the economy. We hear little of this side of things when India rattles the borrowing bowl or denigrates her creditors for want of further munificence. How could Indian officials explain their poor performance relative to Hongkong? Dr Roy has the answers for them. He lists the causes as a large and heavily subsidized public sector, labyrinthine control over private enterprise, forcibly depressed agricultural prices, massive import substitution, government monopoly of foreign exchange transactions, artificially overvalued currency and the extensive politicization of the labour market, not to mention the corruption which is an inevitable side effect of an economy which depends on the arbitrament of bureaucrats. The first Indian government under Nehru took its cue from Nehru’s admiration of the Soviet economy, which led him to believe that the only policy for India was socialism in which there would be “no private property except in a restricted sense and the replacement of the private profit system by a higher ideal of cooperative service.” Consequently, the Indian government has now either a full monopoly or is one of a few oligipolists in banking, insurance, railways, airlines, cement, steel, chemicals, fertilizers, ship-building, breweries, telephones and wrist-watches. No businessman can expand his operation while there is any surplus capacity anywhere in that sector. He needs government approval to modernize, alter his price-structure, or change his labour shift. It is not surprising that a recent study of those developing countries which account for most manufactured exports from the Third World shows that India’s share fell from 65 percent in 1953 to 10 per cent in 1973; nor, with the numerous restrictions on inter-state movement of grains, that India has over the years suffered more from an inability to cope with famine than during the Raj when famine drill was centrally organized and skillfully executed without restriction. Nehru’s attraction for the Soviet model has been inherited by his daughter, Mrs. Gandhi. Her policies have clearly positioned India more towards the Soviet Union than the West. The consequences of this, as Dr Roy states, is that a bias can be seen in “the antipathy and pessimism towards market institutions found among the urban public, and sympathy and optimism to be found for collectivist or statist ones.” All that India has to show for it is the delivery of thousands of tanks in exchange for bartered goods, and the erection of steel mills and other heavy industry which help to perpetuate the unfortunate obsession with industrial performance at the expense of agricultural growth and the relief of rural poverty.”…..

I felt this may have been intended to be laudatory but it was also inaccurate and had to be corrected. I replied dated June 4 which The Times published in their edition of June 16 1984:


I was 29 when Pricing, Planning and Politics was published, I am 54 now. I do not agree with everything I said in it and find the tone a little puffed up as young men tend to be; it was also five years before my main “theoretical” work Philosophy of Economics would be published. My experience of life in the years since has also made me far less sanguine both about human nature and about America than I was then. But I am glad to find I am not embarrassed by what I said then, indeed I am pleased I said what I did in favour of classical liberalism and against statism and totalitarianism well before it became popular to do so after the Berlin Wall fell. (In India as elsewhere, former communist apparatchiks and fellow-travellers became pseudo-liberals overnight.)

The editorial itself may have been due to a conversation between Peter Bauer and William Rees-Mogg, so I later heard. The work sold 700 copies in its first month, a record for the publisher. The wife of one prominent Indian bureaucrat told me in Delhi in December 1988 it had affected her husband’s thinking drastically. A senior public finance economist told me he had been deputed at the Finance Ministry when the editorial appeared, and the Indian High Commission in London had urgently sent a copy of the editorial to the Ministry where it caused a stir. An IMF official told me years later that he saw the editorial on board a flight to India from the USA on the same day, and stopped in London to make a trip to the LSE’s bookshop to purchase a copy. Professor Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University had been a critic of aspects of Indian policy; he received a copy of the monograph in draft just before it was published and was kind enough to write I had “done an excellent job of setting out the problems afflicting our economic policies, unfortunately government-made problems!”  My great professor at Cambridge, Frank Hahn, would be kind enough to say that he thought my “critique of Development Economics was powerful not only on methodological but also on economic theory grounds” — something that has been a source of delight to me.

Siddhartha Shankar Ray told me when we first met that he had been in London when the editorial appeared and had seen it there; it affected his decision to introduce me to Rajiv Gandhi as warmly as he came to do a half dozen years later.

In the Autumn of 1984, I went, thanks to Edwin Feulner Jr of the Heritage Foundation,  to attend the Mont Pelerin Society Meetings being held at Cambridge (on “parole” from the US immigration authorities as my “green card” was being processed at the time). There I met for the first time Professor and Mrs Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman’s November 1955 memorandum to the Government of India is referred to in my monograph as “unpublished” in note 1; when I met Milton and Rose, I gave them a copy of my monograph; and requested Milton for his unpublished document; when he returned to Stanford he sent to me in Blacksburg his original 1955-56 documents on Indian planning. I published the 1955 document for the first time in May 1989 during the University of Hawaii perestroika-for-India project I was then leading, it appeared later in the 1992 volume Foundations of India’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s, edited by myself and WE James. (The results of the Hawaii project reached Rajiv Gandhi through my hand in September 1990, as told elsewhere here in “Rajiv Gandhi and the Origins of India’s 1991 Economic Reform”.) The 1956 document was published in November 2006 on the front page of The Statesman, the same day my obituary of Milton appeared in the inside pages.

Meanwhile, my main work within economic theory, the “Principia Economica” manuscript, was being read by the University of Chicago Press’s five or six anonymous referees. One of them pointed out my argument had been anticipated years earlier in the work of MIT’s Sidney Stuart Alexander. I had no idea of this and was surprised; of course I knew Professor Alexander’s work in balance of payments theory but not in this field. I went to visit Professor Alexander in Boston, where this photo came to be taken perhaps in late 1984:

Professor Alexander was extremely gracious, and immediately declared with great generosity that it was clear to him my arguments in “Principia Economica” had been developed entirely independently of his work. He had come at the problem from an American philosophical tradition of Dewey, I had done so from a British tradition of Wittgenstein. (CS Peirce was probably the bridge between the two.) He and I had arrived at some similar conclusions but we had done so completely independently.

Also, I was much honoured by this letter of May 1 1984 sent to Blacksburg by Professor Sir John Hicks (1904-1989), among the greatest of 20th Century economists at the time, where he acknowledged his departure in later life from the position he had taken in 1934 and 1939 on the foundations of demand theory.

He later sent me a copy of his Wealth and Welfare: Collected Essays on Economic Theory, Vol. I, MIT Press 1981, as a gift. The context of our correspondence had to do with my criticism of the young Hicks and support for the ghost of Alfred Marshall in an article “Considerations on Utility, Benevolence and Taxation” I was publishing in the journal History of Political Economy published then at Duke University. In Philosophy of Economics, I would come to say about Hicks’s letter to me “It may be a sign of the times that economists, great and small, rarely if ever disclaim their past opinions; it is therefore an especially splendid example to have a great economist like Hicks doing so in this matter.” It was reminiscent of Gottlob Frege’s response to Russell’s paradox; Philosophy of Economics described Frege’s “Letter to Russell”, 1902 (Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel, pp. 126-128) as “a document which must remain one of the most noble in all of modern scholarship; a fact recorded in Russell’s letter to Heijenoort.”

In Blacksburg, by the Summer and Fall of 1984 I was under attack following the arrival of what I considered “a gang of inert game theorists” — my theoretical manuscript had blown a permanent hole through what passes by the name of “social choice theory”, and they did not like it. Nor did they like the fact that I seemed to them to be a “conservative”/classical liberal Indian and my applied work on India’s economy seemed to their academic agenda an irrelevance. This is myself at the height of that attack in January 1985:

Professor Schultz at the University of Chicago came to my rescue and at his recommendation I was appointed Visiting Associate Professor in the Economics Department at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

I declined, without thanks, the offer of another year at Virginia Tech.

On my last day in Blacksburg, a graduate student whom I had helped when she had been assaulted by a senior professor, cooked a meal before I started the drive West across the country. This is a photo from that meal:

In Provo, I gratefully found refuge at the excellent Economics Department led at the time by Professor Larry Wimmer.

It was at Provo that I first had a personal computer on my desk (an IBM as may be seen) and what a delight that was (no matter the noises that it made).  I recall being struck by the fact a colleague possessed the incredible luxury of a portable personal computer (no one else did) which he could take home with him.   It looked like an enormous briefcase but was apparently the technology-leader at the time.  (Laptops seem not to have been invented as of 1985).

In October 1985, Professor Frank Hahn very kindly wrote to Larry Wimmer revising his 1980 opinion of my work now that the PhD was done, the India-work had led to The Times editorial and the theoretical work was proceeding well.

I had applied for a permanent position at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and had been interviewed positively at the American Economic Association meetings (in New York) in December 1985 by the department chairman Professor Fred C. Hung. At Provo, Dr James Moncur of the Manoa Department was visiting. Jim became a friend and recommended me to his colleagues in Manoa.

Professor Hung appointed me to that department as a “senior” Assistant Professor on tenure-track beginning September 1986. I had bargained for a rank of “Associate Professor” but was told the advertisement did not allow it; instead I was assured of being an early candidate for promotion and tenure subject to my book “Principia Economica” being accepted for publication. (The contract with the University of Chicago Press had become frayed.)

Hawaii was simply a superb place (though expensive).

Professor James Buchanan won the Economics “Nobel” in 1986 and I was asked by the Manoa Department to help raise its profile by inviting him to deliver a set of lectures, which he did excellently well in March 1988 to the University as well as the Honolulu community at large. Here he is at my 850 sq ft small condominium at Punahou Towers, 1621 Dole Street:

In August 1988, my manuscript “Principia Economica” was finally accepted for publication by Routledge of London and New York under the title Philosophy of Economics: On the Scope of Reason In Economic Inquiry. The contract with University of Chicago Press had fallen through and the manuscript was being read by Yale University Press and a few others but Routledge came through with the first concrete offer. I was delighted and these photos were taken in the Economics Department at Manoa by a colleague in September 1988 as the publisher needed them.

Milton and Rose Friedman came to Honolulu on a private holiday perhaps in January 1989; they had years earlier spent a sabbatical year at the Department.

Here is a luncheon that was arranged in their honour. They had in the Fall of 1988 been on their famous visit to China, and as I recall that was the main subject of discussion on the occasion.

Milton phoned me in my Manoa office and invited me to meet him and Rose at their hotel for a chat; we had met first at the 1984 Mont Pelerin meetings and he wished to know me better. I was honoured and turned up dutifully and we talked for perhaps an hour. I recall making a strong recommendation that he write his memoirs, especially so that the rumours and innuendo surrounding eg the Chile episode could be cleared up; I also said a “Collected Works” would be a great idea; when Milton and Rose published their memoirs Two Lucky People (Chicago 1998) I wondered if my first suggestion had come to be taken; as to the second, he wrote to me years later saying he felt no Collected Works were necessary.

From 1986 onwards, I had been requested by the University of Hawaii to lead a project with William E James on the political economy of “South Asia” .I had said there was no such place, that “South Asia” was a US State Department abstraction but there were India and Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and Afghanistan etc. Sister projects on India and Pakistan had been sponsored by the University, and in 1989 important conferences had been planned by myself and James in May for India and in June for Pakistan.

I was determined to publish for the first time Milton’s 1955 memorandum on India which the Government of India had suppressed or ignored at the time. At the hotel-meeting, I told Milton that and requested him to come to the India-conference in May; Milton and Rose said they would think about it, and later confirmed he would come for the first two days.

This is a photo of the initial luncheon at the home of the University President on May 21 1989. Milton and India’s Ambassador to the USA at the time were both garlanded with Hawaiian leis. The first photo was one of a joke from Milton as I recall which had everyone laughing.

There was no equivalent photo of the distinguished scholars who gathered for the Pakistan conference a month later.

The reason was that from February 1989 onwards I had become the victim of a most vicious racist defamation, engineered within the Economics Department at Manoa by a senior professor as a way to derail me before my expected Promotion and Tenure application in the Fall. All my extra time went to battling that though somehow I managed to teach some monetary economics well enough in 1989-1990 for a Japanese student to insist on being photographed with me and the book we had studied.

I was being seen by two or three temporarily powerful characters on the Manoa campus as an Uppity Indian who must be brought down. This time I decided to fight back — and what a saga came to unfold! It took me into the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii and then the Ninth Circuit and upto the United States Supreme Court, not once but twice.

Milton Friedman and Theodore Schultz stood valiantly among my witnesses — first writing to the University’s authorities and later deposing in federal court.

Unfortunately, government lawyers, far from wanting to uphold and respect the laws of the United States, chose to deliberately violate them — compromising a judge, suborning demonstrable perjury and then brazenly purchasing my hired attorney (and getting caught doing it). Since September 2007, the State of Hawaii’s attorneys have been invited by me to return to the federal court and apologise for their unlawful behaviour as they are required by law to do.

They had not expected me to survive their illegalities but I did: I kept going.

Philosophy of Economics was published in London and New York in September 1989




The hardback quickly sold out on its own steam and the book went into paperback in 1991, and I was delighted to learn from a friend that it had been prescribed for a course at Yale Law School and was strewn along an alley in the bookshop:


The sister-volumes on India and Pakistan emerging from the University of Hawaii project led by myself and James were published in 1992 and 1993 in India, Pakistan, Britain and the United States.


As described elsewhere, the manuscript of the India-volume contributed to the origins of India’s 1991 economic reform during my encounter with Rajiv Gandhi in his last months; the Pakistan-volume came to contribute to the origins of the Pakistan-India peace process. The Indian publisher who had promised paperback volumes of both books reneged under leftwing pressure in Delhi; he has since passed away and James and I still await the University of Hawaii’s permission to publish both volumes freely on the Internet as copyright rests with the University President.

In 2004 from Britain, I wrote to the 9/11 Commission stating that it was possible that had the vicious illegalities against me not occurred at Manoa starting in 1989, we may have gone on after India and Pakistan to study Afghanistan, and come up with a pre-emptive academic analysis a decade before September 11 2001.

To be continued in Part Two.

“A Dialogue in Macroeconomics” 1989 etc: sundry thoughts on US economic policy discourse

I have said here recently that some of the wisest advice President Obama or any leader anywhere can receive is that contained in Oliver Cromwell’s famous words “Think it possible you may be mistaken”.

This seems especially significant in context of new American macroeconomic and financial policies.  Mr Steve Clemons reports today there may be less intellectual diversity in the new President’s economic team than is possible or desirable; if so, conversation may become stifled and a greater propensity towards groupthink may arise, hence a greater likelihood of mistakes.

It is possible the directions that different people might like to see the conversation extended are different, and that would be a good sign of course!  For example, someone might think a Barro or a Mishkin could be the right addition of intellectual diversity, whereas others might suppose that to be the wrong direction towards more “market fundamentalism”.    But it would be a pity if the economic conversation within the new Administration came to be artificially or ideologically circumscribed in any direction.

Certainly I believe macroeconomic policy-discourse in the United States or elsewhere needs to proceed to a recognition of the existence of JM Keynes’s original concept of “involuntary unemployment” as well as to ask whether the actual unemployment happens to be or  not be of this sort.   (It may be “frictional” or “structural” or “voluntary” or “seasonal” etc, not the involuntary unemployment Keynes had meant.)  Furthermore, even if significant involuntary unemployment is identified, it needs to be asked whether government policy can be expected to improve or worsen outcomes.   The argument must be made either way, and, in John Wisdom’s phrase,  “Argument must be heard”.

“A Dialogue in Macroeconomics” which was Chapter 8 of my 1989 book Philosophy of Economics (Routledge,  Library of Congress HB 72.R69)  may provide some useful ballast.  The saga  that followed the  book’s publication left me unable to write about the US economy anymore, except briefly in 1992 and 1994-95 in Washington and New York, read only by a few friends.   Now in late 2008, I have published “October 1929? Not!” and “America’s divided economists” which may be of interest too, and which are republished below as well.

I have also added a couple of sundry points from an international perspective that I pointed to last September-October, namely

(i)  foreign central banks might have been left holding more bad US debt than might be remembered, and dollar depreciation and an American inflation seem to be inevitable over the next several years;

(ii) all those bad mortgages and foreclosures could vanish within a year or two by playing the demographic card and inviting in a few million new immigrants into the United States; restoring a worldwide idea of an American dream fueled by mass immigration may be the surest way for the American economy to restore itself.

Subroto Roy


from Philosophy of Economics Routledge 1989

“Chapter 8.
A Dialogue in Macroeconomics

OUR next example is of quite a different sort, namely, the academic debate which has occurred in macroeconomics and monetary theory since Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. This has of course received a great amount of attention, with innumerable commentaries having been written by many scores of protagonists and moderators around the world. Only a brief and highly simplified summary of these many conversations can be attempted here, within our limited objective of illustrating once more how it may be possible for critical discussion to be seen to proceed freely and yet objectively in economics. In the previous chapter we were fortunate to have had an actual conversation to consider; here our method shall have to be one of constructing a model of a conversation. In honour of Plato, we might name our conversants Athenian and Stranger.

ATHENIAN Tell me, have you perhaps been following the discussions among macroeconomists? I shall be interested to know what you take their present state to be.

STRANGER Indeed I have, though of course it is not possible or worthwhile to follow all of what has been said. But yes I have followed some of it, and certainly we can make it a topic of conversation.

ATHENIAN Please begin.

STRANGER Very well. Shall we do so in ‘36 with the publication of Keynes’s book? Rightly or wrongly, this must be considered a watershed in the history of modern economics, if only because most economists since have had either to admit its arguments in some measure or define and explain their disagreement. You’ll remember at one time it was said by many that Keynes had fathered a revolution in economic science.

ATHENIAN Except Chicago and the Austrians.

STRANGER Quite so. Now more recently a renewal of neoclassical thought has been under way, and many doubts have been raised about the keynesian consensus, so much so that some of the main questions of the thirties seem in modern form to continue to be at issue today.

ATHENIAN The more things change, the more they stay the same! But when you say Keynes has been a central figure, I take it you mean only that he has been among the most influential and most discussed and nothing more. It is not to preclude judgement on the merits of his book, which is itself of very uneven clarity. Besides there has been too much idolatry and hagiography.

STRANGER Yes, there is so often a rush to belief and worship. There may have been less if Keynes had survived longer. Yet I should say the broad aim of the work is not hard to see. Keynes himself clearly believes that he is starting a revolution — going so far as to suggest a comparison with contemporary physics. The first chapter says the book aims to provide a “general” theory, which will explain the traditional model as a “limiting” case. The second chapter says the theory of value has been hitherto concerned with the allocation of given resources between competing ends; Keynes is going to explain how the actual level of employment comes to be what it is.

ATHENIAN And so begs the question?

STRANGER Or does traditional theory? That seems to be at the heart of it.


STRANGER The theory will be of the short run in Marshall’s sense of taking capital as a fixed factor. Traditional theory is said to postulate about the labour market (i) that the real wage equals the marginal product of labour, so there is an assumption of profit maximization by competitive producers giving rise to a short run demand curve for labour; and (ii) that the utility of the wage at a given level of employment equals the marginal disutility of that amount of employment; i.e., the real wage is just sufficient to induce the volume of labour which is actually forthcoming. So it can account for unemployment due to temporary miscalculations, or intermittent demand, or the refusal or inability of labour to accept a job at a given wage due to legislation or social practices or collective bargaining or obstinacy, or merely a rational choice of leisure — i.e., it can account for frictional and voluntary unemployment but not for what Keynes wants to call involuntary unemployment. What it can suggest is either such things as improvements in foresight, information, organization and productivity, or a lowering of the real wage. But Keynes’s critique will not have to do with such causes of the contemporary unemployment; instead the population is said to be seldom “doing as much work as it would like to do on the basis of the current wage…. More labour would, as a rule, be forthcoming at the existing money wage if it were demanded.” But it is not being demanded, and it is not being demanded because there has been a shortfall of “effective demand”. That is why there is as much unemployment as there is.

ATHENIAN Or so Keynes claims. And he would take it the neoclassical view would be that it must be the real wage is too high; it is only because the real wage has not fallen by enough that unemployment continues.

STRANGER Right. To which there are two observations. The first has to do with the actual attitude of workers towards the money wage and the real wage respectively. The traditional supply function of labour is a function of the latter; Keynes claims that at least within a certain range it must be workers are concerned more with the former.


STRANGER By the interesting and perhaps plausible claim that workers are found to withdraw labour if the money wage falls but do not seem to do the same if the price level rises. A real wage reduction caused by a fall in the money wage and the same real wage reduction caused by an increase in prices seem to have different effects on labour supply. “Whether logical or illogical, experience shows that this is how labour in fact behaves.” And he cites U. S. data for ‘32 to say labour did not refuse reductions in the money wage nor did the physical productivity of labour fall yet the real wage fell and unemployment continued. “Labour is not more truculent in the depression than in the boom — far from it.”

ATHENIAN And the second observation?

STRANGER This may be of more interest. “Classical theory assumes that it is always open to labour to reduce its real wage by accepting a reduction in its money wage… [it] presumes that labour itself is in a position to decide the real wage for which it works…” Keynes does not find a traditional explanation why prices tend to follow wages, and suggests it could be because the price level is being supposed to be determined by the money supply according to the quantity theory. Keynes wants to dispute the proposition “that the general level of real wages is directly determined by the character of the wage bargain…. For there may be no method available to labour as a whole whereby…. [it] can reduce its real wage to a given figure by making revised money bargains with the entrepreneurs.” Hence he arrives at his central definition of involuntary unemployment: if the real wage falls marginally as a consequence of the price level rising with the money wage constant, and there is greater employment demanded and supplied in consequence, the initial state was one of involuntary unemployment.

ATHENIAN You are saying then that Keynes’s intent is to establish the existence of involuntary unemployment?

STRANGER At least a major part of the intent yes. To make the concept meaningful, to argue that it refers to a logical possibility, and also that much of the actual unemployment of the time may be falling under it, and is a result of lack of “effective demand”.

ATHENIAN The neoclassicals have been said to be cavalier about fluctuations in economic activity, when in fact Wicksell and Marshall and Thornton, let alone Hawtrey or Hayek as Keynes’s own critics, certainly had profound enough theories of the cycle. Before we go further, I think we should remind ourselves of what they actually said.

STRANGER Very well.

ATHENIAN Would you agree that can be summarized, then as now, as the quantity theory of money married to the theory of general equilibrium?

STRANGER Though it may be better to speak of divorce perhaps rather than marriage, in view of the dichotomy.

ATHENIAN From Smith to Mill, political economists broadly agree the role of government should extend and be restricted to such activities as defence, civil protection, the rule of law, the provision of public goods, education, the encouragement of competition, and so on. The traditional agenda does not as a rule include direct activity to restrain or otherwise change the natural course of trade, production, or consumption, and certainly no theory of what today is called macroeconomic policy. Underlying it is a broad belief that the competitive pursuit of private welfare within the necessary and minimal framework of the institutions of government, will result in tolerable social outcomes, and any further activity may be counterproductive. The State is after all endogenous to the economy, without any resources to its own name.

STRANGER The minimal state, though not so minimal perhaps as we sometimes think.

ATHENIAN The main function of money is seen to be that of facilitating real transactions. Hence the main component of the demand for money is the transactions demand, and the broad objective of monetary policy is the maintenance of the stability of the price of money. But this is recognized to be something elusive in practice, and fluctuations in economic activity are expected to occur in spite of the best intentions of the monetary authorities.


ATHENIAN Well we might imagine two or three distinct but related markets: one for real investment and savings determined by intertemporal preferences, resources, and technologies; one a market for investment and savings defined in terms of money; one a short term credit market. The market for real investment and savings is, as it were, unobservable to the naked eye. Yet it drives the second and third markets for nominal savings and investment in which we actually participate. Monetary equilibrium requires the observable money rates of interest to equal the unobservable real rate of return on the market for physical capital. In particular, the real or natural rate of interest determined in the equilibrium of the first market is not, and perhaps ultimately cannot be, affected by nominal or monetary disturbances in the second or third markets.

STRANGER Why call it “natural”?

ATHENIAN In the sense it is a function of the real data of intertemporal preferences, resources, and technologies being what they are. If these data changed it should be expected to change too. But given these data, it would be the rate at which intertemporal constrained maximizations by individual agents resulted in planned present consumption equaling planned present production at the same time as planned future consumption equaled planned future production.

STRANGER In other words, real planned savings equal real planned investment.

ATHENIAN Exactly. It is the real interest rate, or rather the whole structure of own-rates and cross-rates at various terms, which is the key price signal for macroeconomic equilibrium.

STRANGER “Natural” seems to me to carry a physiocratic connotation. A better nomenclature would replace it with something else — perhaps “equilibrium real rate” or just “walrasian” rate.

ATHENIAN Very well, though I for one do not bias myself against the physiocrats! Now consider how a simple business cycle might occur on wicksellian lines. From a position of full real and monetary equilibrium, an expansion of credit has its first effect on the banks, increasing reserves and inducing more lending for reserve/deposit ratios to be restored, and so lowering the loan rate. But customers are only able to perceive a lowering of this nominal rate of interest and cannot know the equilibrium real rate has not changed. As far as households know, the relative price of present consumption has fallen and there is an incentive for greater consumption and lesser savings. As far as businesses know, the relative price of the future good has risen, and there is an incentive for greater investment. Inventories are run down, and markets for both consumer goods and capital goods are stimulated and show signs of excess demand. But if there was a walrasian equilibrium initially, then the economy will now show signs of inflation; with a gold standard, there would be increased demand for imports and an external drain of reserves, and even perhaps an internal drain if there was a panic and a run on the banks. The loan rate will have to rise once more to reign in reserves, but if the rate is now raised too high relative to the still unchanged real rate, there would be the makings of a recession.

STRANGER Your point being that economists before Keynes had recognized the decentralized economy may be fluctuating continually.

ATHENIAN Surely they had done so quite fully. A first set of causes such as wars, disasters, discoveries and migrations would change the real data of the economy, while a second set would be monetary disturbances like the failure of the authorities to adequately follow the dictates of the real data of the economy, i.e., failure to observe the equilibrium real rate of interest. It may even be intrinsic to the problem that they must fail in the attempt to observe, let aside compute, the equilibrium real rate warranted at a given time by the structure of the real data.

STRANGER Hence the conclusion that they cannot hope to do better than establish a climate of monetary and fiscal stability, such as by declaring a long term policy and staying with it.

ATHENIAN Exactly. Private economic agents already face endemic uncertainty with respect to changes in the real data, and must be assumed to not want more added by government policy. You appear to have seen my point nicely.

STRANGER Very well. But you have jumped ahead as this kind of a conclusion sounds very modern to me. You made me stop all the way back at Keynes’s notion of effective demand!

ATHENIAN As I said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

STRANGER Let us go back a little. I think we may be able to rejoin our initial route at a point which may bring us close to where we seem to have come by the route you have taken. Specifically suppose we go back to the question of the money wage and the real wage, and of the real wage being “too high”.

ATHENIAN That has been interpreted a number of ways, has it not?

STRANGER Yes it has. One would be to say Keynes was merely simple minded and assumed money illusion on the part of workers. Another would be to say Keynes assumed a short run context of fixed prices, so it would not make a difference whether labour happened to be concerned with changes in the real or the money wage. Yet a third would be to say Keynes, whether he realized it or not, had come upon a recondite truth about the sort of complex monetary economy in which we live — namely, that when transactions are quoted and made in a monetary economy, it may become difficult ipso facto for the walrasian equilibrium to be achieved. Even workers might fully recognize the real wage to be too high and be prepared to work more at a lower wage, but be unable to signal this willingness to potential employers.

ATHENIAN So involuntary unemployment becomes another sort of equilibrium outcome.

STRANGER Exactly. Not only of labour but of machines too, along with the unintended holding of inventories. It is as if firms would have sold what they had planned to if only workers had the income to buy it, which they would have done if only they had been able to sell as much labour they had planned to, which they would have done if only there had been an effective demand for it, which there would have been if firms had not cut back on production because they found themselves unable to sell what they had planned to sell. A kind of vicious circle, due to pessimistic and self-fulfilling expectations all around.

ATHENIAN An unhappy solution to a non-cooperative game you might say.

STRANGER Quite so. Keynes does not deny there may be a monetary route out of the impasse. A wage deflation would eventually lead to price deflation, raising the real value of money holdings, so via liquidity preference lead to an increased demand for bonds, raising their price and lowering money interest rates, which through the investment function would lead eventually to increased effective demand. But the fiscal route may be more direct and quicker in its effect on expectations. Trying to deflate across the board in the face of what seem to be excess supplies of goods and labour might be counterproductive, causing unexpected transfers from debtors to creditors and precipitating bankruptcies. Instead: “Government investment will break the vicious circle. If you can do that for a couple of years, it will have the effect, if my diagnosis is right, of restoring business profits more nearly to normal, and if that can be achieved then private enterprise will be revived. I believe you have first of all to do something to restore profits and then rely on private enterprise to carry the thing along….”

ATHENIAN A shot in the arm for enterprise in the hope of breaking the pessimism. But Keynes was hardly alone in such thinking.

STRANGER Quite true.

ATHENIAN And he certainly seemed to treat the opinions of others without due respect, which is to say he may have exaggerated the significance of his own. Hinting that he was the Einstein of economics set an especially bad example. Only the other day one eminence was comparing himself to Newton, and another was calling his friend Shakespeare. It will be Joyce and Pasternak next!

STRANGER Flattery and nepotism are common weaknesses, my friend. Like the rush to belief and worship.

ATHENIAN Besides you would have to assume the government to be outside the game, and only so being able to see the problem which private agents could not from inside the game. That may be too large an assumption, don’t you think?

STRANGER Yes it may. Yet it seems to me pump-priming was a possible solution being offered to a temporary problem. Many of the controversies may have come about because it became institutionalized, because discretionary fiscal policy became a permanent part of the government agenda.

ATHENIAN And a more direct route out was available too, was it not? With wealth placed in the consumption function directly, a deflation would increase the real value and affect effective demand directly. We would not have to wait for the roundabout effects through so-called liquidity preference.

STRANGER Which in a way brings us back to a central pillar of traditional theory: with given real data and given velocity of circulation, desired holding of real money balances will roughly be constant. In particular the demand for real money balances should not be seen as a function of the interest rate.

ATHENIAN The real rate or the monetary rate?

STRANGER For neoclassicals certainly the real; Keynes does not seem clear.

ATHENIAN There may lie a problem.

STRANGER The title of the book says “Employment, Interest, and Money”. No question employment is real and money is money — interest is the bridge. If you ask me to bet I would say Keynes’s agents make real responses to signals expressed as they must be in a large economy in monetary terms.

ATHENIAN Perhaps we ought to move on. Tell me, if you think Keynes’s book rightly or wrongly ranks as the most influential document of the last fifty years, would you agree it is Friedman’s address on the role of monetary policy which must rank second to it if not on a par with it?

STRANGER Certainly there can be few competitors.

ATHENIAN Well then, it appears to me the net effect of Friedman’s critique has been a restoration of the wicksellian theory and a banishment of the keynesian theory.

STRANGER Friedman of course makes his approach via a critique of the Phillips’ Curve.

ATHENIAN Yes, but it is Wicksell whom he acknowledges in advancing the notion of a natural rate of unemployment, one which has been “ground out by the walrasian system of general equilibrium equations” — in other words, one which happens to be consistent with the structure of the real data of the economy at a particular time.

STRANGER Though again we may as well speak of walrasian instead of natural.

ATHENIAN A monetary policy which tried to peg unemployment at lower than such a rate (if such a rate could be determined, which it cannot) is likely to be counterproductive. The initial effect of an expansionary policy on a walrasian equilibrium may be to increase real output. Workers assume the increase to reflect an increase in the unobservable real demand for their services, and hence they expect a higher real wage. Businesses see the same and assume it to reflect an increase in the unobservable real demand for their goods. But given there was no real excess demand in the first place for either labour or goods, the effect outside anything but the short run will be a return to the initial structure of real wages, and the temporary decline in unemployment is reversed to the walrasian rate at higher prices. If the government tries to maintain unemployment at less than the walrasian rate, it will have to concede — indeed it will have caused — accelerating inflation without any real fall in unemployment.

STRANGER And vice versa perhaps, so there would be a kind of knife-edge.

ATHENIAN Now your remark about Friedman making his approach via the Phillips Curve seems to me interesting. We may have been too hasty to make a comparison with the debate in the thirties. For the world suffers a very real and severe shock between Keynes’s book and the keynesian consensus, which is the Second World War itself.

STRANGER I am not sure I follow.

ATHENIAN Well think of the consensus afterwards on the need for macroeconomic policy — it is actually Tinbergen’s notion of a “policy-maker” which is married to what seems to be Phillips’s finding of a trade-off between inflation and unemployment. It becomes the role of the macroeconomist to advise the politician on how to minimize social disutility from inflation and unemployment subject to the Phillips Curve. Macroeconomics becomes a so-called “policy science”. Give your expert economist your social utility function, and he will tell you where to slide to on your Phillips Curve.

STRANGER The available instruments being money supply and tax rates. That is what I meant in saying Keynes’s idea became institutionalized.

ATHENIAN It seems to me this consensus is born out of the War.


ATHENIAN Well just think of the structural problems of the time: demobilization of large armies, reconstruction, all the displaced peoples, and so on. What are democratic governments to do? Say to their voters, right, thank you very much, now could you please go home quietly? What could have been expected except an Employment Act? Governments were going to help their returning citizens find work, or at least it would have seemed irresponsible if they had not said they were going to.

STRANGER You are saying then that Friedman may have been arguing against a new orthodoxy, grown out of what might have been a sensible idea.

ATHENIAN Exactly. The world is a very different place now than in 1945, in ‘45 than in ‘33, in ‘33 than in 1914. Real shocks every time. It may be a grave mistake for us to look for a unique and universal theory which is supposed to explain all particular circumstances, all of history.

STRANGER Reminds me of the historical school.

ATHENIAN Why not? Again I hold no prejudice against them! Anyhow, consider that Lucas and others have followed Friedman to argue it is a mistake to formulate the problem as Tinbergen had done, with unemployment as a target in a social utility function along with inflation. If it ought to be assumed that people will not continually make the same mistakes in predicting policy, then a systematic employment policy is going to be discovered quickly enough and rendered either ineffective or counterproductive. This idea too has its origins in Wicksell. Examining an opinion that inflation might stimulate enterprise and free debtors, Wicksell says: “It need only be said that if this fall in the value of money is the result of our own deliberate policy, or indeed can be anticipated and foreseen, then these supposed beneficial effects will never occur, since the approaching rise in prices will be taken into account in all transactions by reasonably intelligent people.”

STRANGER Wicksell said that?

ATHENIAN Precisely that.

STRANGER It does sound very modern.

ATHENIAN Now Lucas speaks of how the advice that economists give should be limited only to “the well understood and empirically substantiated propositions of monetary economics, discouragingly modest as these may be.” What can we take him to mean? It seems to me he is sharing Friedman’s scepticism of the possibilities which had been claimed for macroeconomics by the keynesian consensus. And that surely has been a healthy scepticism, befitting good economists.

STRANGER As I said, there is so often a rush to belief.

ATHENIAN Which is really disastrous when combined with the craving for power.

STRANGER But the question remains, does it not, as to which propositions of monetary economics are to be considered “well understood and empirically substantiated”. I cannot help think the propositions taken to be well understood and empirically substantiated in Chicago may be very different from those taken to be well understood and empirically substantiated in Cambridge, or for that matter, those in the U. S. from those in Europe.

ATHENIAN I don’t see any difficulty in this. For first, it would have been granted there are propositions in economics which can be well understood and empirically substantiated. And that must be counted as progress! For something cannot be well understood if it cannot be understood at all, and where there is the possibility of understanding there must be the possibility of objective knowledge as well. And second, why should we not say the most appropriate task of economic theory or analytical economics is simply one of clarification and elucidation of the conceptual basis of economic thinking and expression? All theory ultimately is, or ought to be, “Critique of Language”. When we are faced with a particular and concrete problematic situation, the theorist is to whom we turn for conceptual guidance and criticism. If instead you take the role of the theorist to be one of searching the universe for grand and general and absolute and abstract truths, which need to be discovered before we can say anything about some concrete set of particulars, then it seems to me you will be either struck dumb by a total and debilitating scepticism or become very shrill in your dogmatism or alternate wildly between the two. To me it seems unimportant ultimately to whose flag one shows allegiance, or indeed that allegiance to any flag must be shown.

STRANGER It seems again I will not disagree. But you have sketched the critique of Friedman and Lucas and indeed the ghost of Wicksell addressed to the dogmas of the keynesian orthodoxy. And I have agreed with you this has been a healthy criticism of the sort we should expect economists to provide. But there has been serious question too of the framework used by Friedman and Lucas, hasn’t there? I am thinking especially of Tobin and Hahn.

ATHENIAN Tobin has done much to add clear and reasonable thinking about Keynes — his suggestion that a certain amount of inflation may be the only way to bring down real wages towards their walrasian rates in complex monetary economics is especially interesting; it shows how wide the common ground can be upon which the debate may occur. But you will have to tell me what Hahn’s criticisms have been. I have always found them too abstract and too caustic.

STRANGER That they tend to be, but don’t let that deter you. As I see it, Hahn argues somewhat as follows. We should grant Friedman and Lucas two important points: first, the government is itself a large economic agent whose actions and announced plans enter the calculations of private agents; secondly, erratic changes in monetary policy away from a steady k% rule may have perverse effects “by confusing signals of relative scarcity with those that arose from the monetary policy”. Also, we may accept that the assumptions sufficient for a full walrasian equilibrium with rational expectations suffice for the absence of any persistent involuntary unemployment by Keynes’s definition. But Hahn would say this may not be the relevant empirical description.

ATHENIAN In what way?

STRANGER Well for one thing the pricing axiom or the recontracting assumption of stability theory remains unexplained. It is possible traders will face quantity constraints, and this often seems so in markets for labour and credit. We may simply find prices not moving in the direction of excess demand even when a quantity constraint happens to be binding. The structure of wages may be “neither fixed, nor arbritrary, nor inflexible; it is what it is because given conjectures, no agent finds it advantageous to change it.” Moreover, it may not be plausible to suppose there will be convergence after arbitrary displacements back towards a stable equilibrium, because the conditions for stability are very stringent and uniqueness of equilibrium may also need to be postulated. Furthermore, it may be quite unsatisfactory to treat money in models which are isomorphic to the Arrow-Debreu model, because in such a world there is no logical use for money, so there must be some essential features of reality which have failed to be features of the model.

ATHENIAN You don’t think Patinkin’s integration was adequate?

STRANGER For many practical purposes perhaps, but certainly not to full logical satisfaction. If you put real money balances into the utility function and treat money just about like any other good, you have to be prepared to accept a possible equilibrium in which the price of money is zero. Lastly, if there are internal debts denominated in money as there are in fact, you may not assume equiproportional changes in all prices will not have real effects, unless you are prepared to assume away redistributions between creditors and debtors, which you can do only under another assumption that all households have parallel and linear Engel curves through the origin. Hahn’s line of argument is admittedly abstract, but you will have to admit it raises some fundamental questions.

ATHENIAN Another example we might say of the healthy scepticism of the theorist. It seems my turn to agree with you. But we can imagine replies too can we not?

STRANGER What do you have in mind?

ATHENIAN Well to argue there can be unemployment which is involuntary is not to have argued that an employment policy can be expected to remove it. This seems a premise and conclusion too frequently confounded by both keynesians and their critics, with disastrous consequences. Then, Buchanan would argue that a more thorough characterization needs to be given of the making of government policy, especially when it is proposed to supplant the market outcome. Policies are after all proposed, enacted, and put into effect by actual people — all of whom may need to be assumed to be pursuing private rewards as well in the course of their public duties. The relevant description for the economist needs to be one including this further fact that actual proposals of public policy can embody the private interests of the proposers too.

STRANGER Making it that much more difficult to determine what is in the public interest in a given case.

ATHENIAN Exactly. And so reinforcing the case for predictability and an orderliness in the framework of government.

STRANGER But we have been talking now for quite long enough my friend. I seem to feel a fear too that we have not gained anything at all in our discussions.

ATHENIAN Don’t be so pessimistic! Surely the point of reconstructing such conversations as we have done is not to hold absolutely to the matters raised in them. You and I after all have been making summary and highly simplified and unauthorized interpretations. I take the point of it to have been clarifying our thoughts, and perhaps to show ourselves how discussion can proceed between economists of different schools of thought. Arguments might come to a halt for any of a number of reasons, but they needn’t be supposed to have any logical or necessary end. Too often we let people retreat into different dogmatic positions, fostering the belief that each is starting from some set of absolute axioms ultimately irreconcilable with those of the other. We may need to keep insisting instead that the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is an open-ended activity with potentially indefinite limits. It yields conclusive results but has no absolute end. You or I might call a halt and retire from it, but that will not mean it cannot or will not continue without us.

STRANGER Perhaps so. But you are younger than I, and I have become tired by all these thrusts and parries. Besides, there has been the enjoyment of conversation itself.”


October 1929? Not!  by Subroto Roy / First published in Business Standard September 18, 2008

“Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy protection, Merrill Lynch taken over by Bank of America, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and now AIG being nationalised by the US Government, Bear Stearns getting a government bailout, many thousands of low-quality loans going bad … Does it all add up to an American financial crisis in the autumn of 2008 comparable to that in the autumn of 1929? Even Alan Greenspan himself has gone on record on TV saying it might.

But there are overriding differences. Most important, the American economy and the world economy are both incomparably larger today in the value of their capital stock, and there has also been enormous technological progress over eight decades. Accordingly, it would take a much vaster event than the present turbulence — say, something like an exchange of multiple nuclear warheads with Russia causing Manhattan and the City of London to be destroyed — before there was a return to something comparable to the 1929 Crash and the Great Depression that followed.

Besides, the roots of the crises are different. What happened back then? In 1922, the Genoa Currency Conference wanted to correct the main defect of the pre-1914 gold standard, which was freezing the price of gold while failing to stabilise the purchasing power of money. From 1922 until about 1927, Benjamin Strong of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York adopted price-stabilisation as the new American policy-objective. Britain was off the gold standard and the USA remained on it. The USA, as a major creditor nation, saw massive gold inflows which, by traditional gold standard principles, would have caused a massive inflation. Governor Strong invented the process of “sterilisation” of those gold inflows instead and thwarted the rise in domestic dollar prices of goods and services.

Strong’s death in 1928 threw the Federal Reserve System into conflict and intellectual confusion. Dollar stabilisation ended as a policy. Surplus bank money was created on the release of gold that had been previously sterilised.

The traditional balance between bulls and bears in the stock-market was upset. Normally, every seller of stock is a bear and every buyer a bull. Now, amateur investors appeared as bulls attracted by the sudden stock price rises, while bears, who sold securities, failed to place their money into deposit and were instead lured into lending it as call money to brokerages who then fuelled these speculative bulls. As of October 22, 1929 about $4 billion was the extent of such speculative lending when Chase National Bank’s customers called in their money.

Chase National had to follow their instructions, as did other New York banks. New York’s Stock Exchange could hardly respond to a demand for $4 billion at a short notice and collapsed. Within a year, production had fallen by 26 per cent, prices by 14 per cent, personal income by 14 per cent, and the Greatest Depression of recorded history was in progress — involuntary unemployment levels in America reaching 25 per cent.

That is not, by any reading, what we have today. Yes, there has been plenty of bad lending, plenty of duping shareholders and workers and plenty of excessive managerial payoffs. It will all take a large toll, and affect markets across the world.

But it will be a toll relative to our plush comfortable modern standards, not those of 1929-1933. In fact, modern decisionmakers have the obvious advantage that they can look back at history and know what is not to be done. The US and the world economy are resilient enough to ride over even the extra uncertainty arising from the ongoing presidential campaign, and then some.”


America’s divided economists by Subroto Roy First published in Business Standard October 26, 2008

“Future doctoral theses about the Great Tremor of 2008 will ask how it was that the Fed chief, who was an academic economist, came to back so wholeheartedly the proposals of the investment banker heading the US Treasury. If Herbert Hoover and FDR in the 1930s started something called fiscal policy for the first time, George W Bush’s lameduck year has marked the total subjugation of monetary policy.

In his 1945 classic, History of Banking Theory, the University of Chicago’s Lloyd Mints said: “No reorganisation of the Federal Reserve System, while preserving its independence from the Treasury, can offer a satisfactory agency for the implementation of monetary policy. The Reserve banks and their branches should be made agencies of the Treasury and all monetary powers delegated by Congress should be given to the Secretary of the Treasury…. It is not at all certain that Treasury control of the stock of money would always be reasonable… but Treasury influence cannot be excluded by the creation of a speciously independent monetary agency that cannot have adequate powers for the performance of its task…” Years later, Milton Friedman himself took a similar position suggesting legislation “to end the independence of the Fed by converting it into a bureau of the Treasury Department…”(see, for example, Essence of Friedman, p 416).

Ben Bernanke’s Fed has now ended any pretence of the monetary policy’s independence from the whims and exigencies of executive power. Yet Dr Bernanke’s fellow academic economists have been unanimous in advising caution, patience and more information and reflection upon the facts. The famous letter of 122 economists to the US Congress was a rare statement of sense and practical wisdom. It agreed the situation was difficult and needed bold action. But it said the Paulson-Bernanke plan was an unfair “subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.”

Besides, the plan was unclear and too far-reaching. “Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards…. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America’s dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.”

The House’s initial bipartisan “backbench revolt” against “The Emergency Economic Stabilisation Act of 2008” (ESSA) followed this academic argument and rejected the Bernanke Fed’s advice. Is there an “emergency”, and if so what is its precise nature? Is this “economic stabilisation”, and if so, how is it going to work? The onus has been on Dr Bernanke and his staff to argue both, not merely to assert them. Even if the House “held its nose” and passed the measure for now, the American electorate is angry and it is anybody’s guess how a new President and Congress will alter all this in a few months.

Several academic economists have argued for specific price-stabilisation of the housing market being the keystone of any large, expensive and risky government intervention. (John McCain has also placed this in the political discussion now.) Roughly speaking, the housing supply-curve has shifted so far to the right that collapsed housing prices need to be dragged back upward by force. Columbia Business School economists Glenn Hubbard and Chris Mayer, both former Bush Administration officials, have proposed allowing “all residential mortgages on primary residences to be refinanced into 30-year fixed-rate mortgages at 5.25 per cent…. close to where mortgage rates would be today with normally functioning mortgage markets….Lower interest rates will mean higher overall house prices…” Yale’s Jonathan Koppell and William Goetzmann have argued very similarly the Treasury “could offer to refinance all mortgages issued in the past five years with a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage at 6 per cent. No credit scores, no questions asked; just pay off the principal of the existing mortgage with a government check. If monthly payments are still too high, homeowners could reduce their indebtedness in exchange for a share of the future price appreciation of the house. That is, the government would take an ownership interest in the house just as it would take an ownership interest in the financial institutions that would be bailed out under the Treasury’s plan.”

Beyond the short run, the US may play the demographic card by inviting in a few million new immigrants (if nativist feelings hostile to the outsider or newcomer can be controlled, especially in employment). Bad mortgages and foreclosures would vanish as people from around the world who long to live in America buy up all those empty houses and apartments, even in the most desolate or dismal locations. If the US’s housing supply curve has moved so far to the right that the equilibrium price has gone to near zero, the surest way to raise the equilibrium price would be by causing a new wave of immigration leading to a new demand curve arising at a higher level.

Such proposals seek to address the problem at its source. They might have been expected from the Fed’s economists. Instead, ESSA speaks of massive government purchase and control of bad assets “downriver”, without any attempt to face the problem at its source. This makes it merely wishful to think such assets can be sold for a profit at a later date so taxpayers will eventually gain. It is as likely as not the bad assets remain bad assets.

Indeed the University of Chicago’s Casey Mulligan has argued there is a financial crisis involving the banking sector but not an economic one: “We’re not entering a second Great Depression.” The marginal product of capital remains high and increasing “far above the historical average. The third-quarter earnings reports from some companies already suggest that America’s non-financial companies are still making plenty of money…. So, if you are not employed by the financial industry (94 per cent of you are not), don’t worry. The current unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent is not alarming, and we should reconsider whether it is worth it to spend $700 billion to bring it down to 5.9 per cent.”

Dr Bernanke has been a close student of A Monetary History of the United States in which Milton Friedman and Anna J Schwartz argued that the Fed inadvertently worsened the Great Contraction of 1929-1933 by not responding to Congress. Let not future historians find that the Fed, at the behest of the Treasury Secretary, worsened the Great Tremor of 2008 by bamboozling Congress into hasty action.”


Would not a few million new immigrants solve America’s mortgage crisis?
October 10, 2008 — drsubrotoroy | Edit

America was at its best when it was open to mass immigration, and America is at its worst when it treats immigrants with racism and worse (for seeming “uppity”).

All those bad mortgages and foreclosures could vanish within a year or two by playing the demographic card and inviting in a few million new immigrants into the United States.  They would pour in from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, South America,  South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Israel, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,  India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and yes, Pakistan too, and more.  They would happily buy up all those empty houses and apartments, even in all those desolate  dismal locations.  If the USA’s housing supply curve has moved so far to the right that the equilibrium price has gone to near zero, the surest way to raise the equilibrium price would be by causing a  new wave of  immigration leading to a new demand curve arising at a higher level.   But yes, nativist feelings of racism towards the outsider or the newcomer would have to be controlled  especially in employment — racists after all are often rather “sub-prime” themselves and hence unable to accept characters who may be “prime” or at least less “sub-prime” from foreign immigrant communities.   Restoring a worldwide idea of an American dream fuelled by mass immigration may be the surest way for the American economy to restore itself.


122 Sensible American economists

September 26, 2008 — drsubrotoroy | Edit

“$700 billion comes to more than, uhhhm, $6,000 per income taxpayer in the USA.

I was glad to see the sensible letter of 122 American economists to US legislators regarding the Paulson-Bernanke plan to address America’s financial crisis.

Somehow, I have an inkling that foreign central banks have been left holding more bad US debt than might be remembered — which would explain the embarrassment of Messrs Paulson and Bernanke vis-a-vis their foreign counterparts… Dollar depreciation and an American inflation seem to be inevitable over the next several years.”