7 January 2016
3 June 2014
3 June 2014
February 24 2011
Subroto Roy does not know if he just heard Manmohan Singh say “inflation will soon come down” — excuse me Dr Singh, but how was it you and all your acolytes uniformly said back in July 2010 that inflation would be down to 6% by Dec 2010? 6%?! 16% more likely! I said. Until he explains his previous error, we may suppose he will repeat it.
January 11 2011:
Subroto Roy can stop the Indian inflation and bring integrity to the currency over time, and Manmohan Singh and his advisers cannot (because they have the wrong economic models/theories/data etc and refuse to change), but then they would have to make me a Minister and I keep getting reminded of what Groucho Marx said about clubs that would have him.
Subroto Roy does not think Dr Manmohan Singh or his acolytes and advisers, or his Finance Minister and his acolytes and advisers, understand Indian inflation. If you do not understand something, you are not likely to change it.
March 6 2010:
Subroto Roy says the central difference between the Subroto Roy Model for India as described in 1990-1991 to Rajiv Gandhi in his last months, and the Manmohan Singh Model for India that has developed since Rajiv’s assassination, is that by my model, India’s money and public finances would have acquired integrity enough for the Indian Rupee to have become a hard currency of the world economy by now, allowing all one billion Indians access to foreign exchange and precious metals freely, whereas by the model of Dr Singh and his countless supporters, India’s money and public finance remain subject to government misuse and abuse, and access to foreign exchange remains available principally to politicians, bureaucrats, big business and its influential lobbyists, the military, as well as perhaps ten or twenty million nomenclatura in the metropolitan cities.
April 8 2010:
Subroto Roy notes a different way of stating his cardinal difference with the economics of Dr Manmohan Singh’s Govt: in their economics, foreign exchange is “made available” by the GoI for “business and personal uses”. That is different from my economics of aiming for all one billion Indians to have a money that has some integrity, i.e., a rupee that becomes a hard currency of the world economy. (Ditto incidentally with the PRC.)
Subroto Roy reads in *Newsweek* today (Aug 19) Manmohan Singh “engineered the transition from stagnant socialism to a spectacular takeoff”. This contradicts my experience with Rajiv Gandhi at 10 Janpath in 1990-91. Dr Singh had not returned to India from his years with Julius Nyerere in his final assignment before retiring from the bureaucracy when Rajiv and I first met on 18 September 1990.
“After (Rajiv Gandhi’s) assassination, the comprador business press credited Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh with having originated the 1991 economic reform. In May 2002, however, the Congress Party itself passed a resolution proposed by Digvijay Singh explicitly stating Rajiv and not either of them was to be so credited… There is no evidence Dr Singh or his acolytes were committed to any economic liberalism prior to 1991 and scant evidence they have originated liberal economic ideas for India afterwards. Precisely because they represented the decrepit old intellectual order of statist ”Ma-Bap Sarkari” policy-making, they were not asked in the mid-1980s to be part of a “perestroika-for-India” project done at a foreign university ~ the results of which were received…by Rajiv Gandhi in hand at 10 Janpath on 18 September 1990 and specifically sparked the change in the direction of his economic thinking…”
Subroto Roy notes that current Indian public policy discussion has thus far failed to realise that the rise in money prices of real goods and services is the same as the fall in the real value of money.
Subroto Roy is interested to hear Mr Jaitley say in Parliament today the credibility of Government economists is at stake. Of course it is. There has been far too much greed and mendacity all around, besides sheer ignorance. (When I taught for a year or so at the Delhi School of Economics as a 22 year old Visiting Assistant Professor in 1977-78, I was told Mr Jaitley was in the law school and a student leader of note. I though was more interested in teaching the usefulness of Roy Radner’s “information structures” in a course on “advanced economic theory”.)
July 31 2010
Subroto Roy reads in today’s pink business newspaper the GoI’s debt level at Rs 38 trillion & three large states (WB, MH, UP) is at Rs 6 trillion, add another 18 for all other large states together, another 5 for all small states & 3 for errors and omissions, making my One Minute Estimate of India’s Public Debt Stock Rs 70 trillion (70 lakh crores). Interest payments at, say, 9%, keep the banking system afloat, extracting oxygen from the public finances like a cyanide capsule.
July 28 2010
Subroto Roy observes Parliament to be discussing Indian inflation but expects a solution will not be found until the problem has been comprehended.
July 27 2010:
July 25 2010:
Subroto Roy has no idea why Dr Manmohan Singh has himself (along with all his acolytes and flatterers in the Government and media and big business), gone about predicting Indian inflation will fall to 6% by December. 16% may be a more likely figure given a public debt at Rs 40 trillion perhaps plus money supply growth above 20%! (Of course, the higher the figure the Government admits, the more it has to pay in dearness allowance to those poor unionized unfortunates known as Government employees, so perhaps the official misunderestimation (sic) of Indian inflation is a strategy of public finance!)
July 12 2010:
Subroto Roy is amused to read Dr Manmohan Singh’s Chief Acolyte say in today’s pink business newspaper how important accounting is in project-appraisal — does the sinner repent after almost single-handedly helping to ruin project-appraisal & government accounting & macroeconomic planning over decades? I rather doubt it. For myself, I am amused to see chastity now being suddenly preached from within you-know-where.
July 4 2010:
Subroto Roy does not think the Rs 90 billion (mostly in foreign exchange) spent by the Manmohan Singh Government on New Delhi’s “Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3” is conducive to the welfare of the common man (“aam admi”) who travels, if at all, mostly within India and by rail.
Subroto Roy hears Dr Manmohan Singh say yesterday “Global economic recession did not have much impact on us as it had on other countries”. Of course it didn’t. I had said India was hardly affected but for a collapse of exports & some fall in foreign investment. Why did he & his acolytes then waste vast public resources claiming they were rescuing India using a purported Keynesian fiscal “stimulus” (aka corporate/lobbyist pork)?
May 26 2010:
Subroto Roy would like to know how & when Dr Manmohan Singh will assess he has finished the task/assignment he thinks has been assigned to him & finally retire from his post-retirement career: when his Chief Acolyte declares on TV that 10% real GDP growth has been reached? (Excuse me, but is that per capita? And about those inequalities….?)
Subroto Roy can only sigh at the fact that while he has had to struggle for 35 years trying to grasp and then apply serious monetary economics to India’s circumstances, the RBI Governor & his four Deputy Governors appear blissfully innocent of all Hicks, Tobin, Friedman, Cagan et al yet exude confidence enough to “Waffle Away!”
A Small Challenge to the RBI’s Governor Subbarao
April 21, 2010
The Hon’ble Gov of the Reserve Bank of India Shri D Subbarao
Dear Governor Subbarao,
You said yesterday, April 20 2010, that the Reserve Bank of India has a macroeconomic model which it uses but which you had personally not seen.
I have given two lectures at your august offices, one by invitation of Governor Jalan and Deputy Governor Reddy on April 29 2000 to address the Conference of State Finance Secretaries, the other on May 5 2005 to address the Chief Economist’s Monetary Economics Seminar. On both occasions, I had inquired of the RBI’s own models by which I could contrast my own but came to understand there were none.
If since then the RBI has now constructed a macroeconomic model of India’s economy, it is splendid news.
May I request the model be released publicly on the Internet at once, so its specifications of endogenous and exogenous variables, assumed coefficients, and sources of time-series data all may be seen by everyone in the country and abroad? Scientific scrutiny and replication of results would thus come to be permitted.
I would be especially interested to know the demand for money function that you have used. I well remember my meeting with the late great Sukhamoy Chakravarty on July 14 1987 at his Planning Commission offices, when he signed and gifted me his last personal copy of the famous Reserve Bank report by the committee he had chaired and of which he told me personally Dr Rangarajan had been the key author – that report may have contained the first official discussion of the demand for money function in India.
With cordial regards
The wonders of the Internet continue to surprise (and yes Virginia, there was a world before SMS and before the Internet too). In early January, in context of India’s Satyam fraud (of a size of perhaps 1 or perhaps 2 billion dollars), I referred here to what seemed to me the likelihood of Satyam becoming a zombie company and I said “we in India have many such zombies walking around in the organised business sector”. I drew attention to Andrew Beattie’s astute definition of zombies and other such ghoulish phenomena in the financial world, and also referred to John Stepek’s excellent if brief November 2008 analysis “How zombie companies suck the life from an economy”. Today I find Ms Arianna Huffington has made reference to Mr Martin Wolf’s reference a couple of days ago to zombie companies and to his statement that President Obama needs to “Admit reality, restructure banks and, above all, slay zombie institutions at once.” Ms Huffington has agreed, though of course all this slaying may be easier said than done. (It is better that zombies not be created in the first place.)
Mr Wolf has pointedly asked a question that many around the world may have half-thought about but not articulated: “Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?” It would be a grave and appalling state of affairs if it has, within less than a month of entering office. I am grateful to find in Ms Huffington’s article a reference to an October 2008 Wall Stret Journal interview of Dr Anna Jacobson Schwartz, perhaps the most respected voice in monetary economics today. There have been numerous people claiming to have predicted America’s financial crisis but none may have as much credibility as Dr Schwartz. Six years ago, in a National Bureau of Economic Research study dated November 2002, “Asset Price Inflation and Monetary Policy”,Working Paper 9321 she had said with utmost clarity: “It is crucial that central banks and regulatory authorities be aware of effects of asset price inflation on the stability of the financial system. Lending activity based on asset collateral during the boom is hazardous to the health of lenders when the boom collapses. One way that authorities can curb the distortion of lenders’ portfolios during asset price booms is to have in place capital requirements that increase with the growth of credit extensions collateralized by assets whose prices have escalated. If financial institutions avoid this pitfall, their soundness will not be impaired when assets backing loans fall in value. Rather than trying to gauge the effects of asset prices on core inflation, central banks may be better advised to be alert to the weakening of financial balance sheets in the aftermath of a fall in value of asset collateral backing loans….”
Most poignantly too, Dr Schwartz was present when Ben Bernanke said in a 2002 speech honouring the late Milton Friedman “I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.” Dr Schwartz told the Wall Street Journal ‘”This was [his] claim to be worthy of running the Fed”. “He was ‘familiar with history. He knew what had been done.’ But perhaps this is actually Mr. Bernanke’s biggest problem. Today’s crisis isn’t a replay of the problem in the 1930s, but our central bankers have responded by using the tools they should have used then. They are fighting the last war. The result, she argues, has been failure. ‘I don’t see that they’ve achieved what they should have been trying to achieve. So my verdict on this present Fed leadership is that they have not really done their job.'”
President Obama’s economists need to urgently consult Anna J Schwartz.
Subroto Roy, Kolkata
Postscript: My own brief views on the subject are at “October 1929? Not!” dated September 18 2008, and “America’s divided economists” dated October 26 2008. The latter article suggested that playing the demographic card and inducing a wave of immigration into the United States may be the surest way to move the housing demand-curve firmly upwards.
The old Satyam, call it Satyam-I, is dead. It was a “Limited Liability” company which means its ordinary shareholders can walk away with zero value and not be personally liable to pay the creditors and preferred shareholders (who are and ought to be considered its new owners). “Satyam” as a brand name, a logo and a trademark might be salvageable after a reconstitution in due course.
Besides physical plant, fixed assets and other similar tangible things, the main assets of Satyam-I consist of “works-in-progress”, namely all the existing ongoing contracts around the world. What should happen is that all these contracts — while maintaining client confidentiality (e.g. by using generic terminology) — should be auctioned off to other similar IT companies, big or small.
Satyam-I’s existing technical staff associated with these ongoing contracts can go with them to the new buyers (with the new buyers negotiating individual wage contracts).
Alternatively, existing staff can offer to participate too in such auctions themselves as buyers and use their personal savings to buy off old Satyam contracts.
All the proceeds from such auctions should go to a trust fund that Satyam-I’s liquidator should use to pay off the creditors, or at least come to an agreement with creditors about a future structure of payments. If assets have been siphoned off or misused or embezzled by the previous owners and management, then these need to be pursued and located and retrieved to the extent possible. (Some reports say there has been some transmutation into real estate and some transfers abroad).
If all this happened, there might be a Satyam-II or New Satyam some years down the road which can use the same brand-name and logo and trademark comfortably again.
But not much of this seems likely to happen. The best thing this Minister could have done was to have turned in his papers saying that the problem was beyond his intellectual capacity as he had never done a course in Corporate Finance. Instead he has appointed three persons whom he considers “eminent”. One has been involved with the software lobby and another with the real estate business (and associated with the idea of using India’s forex reserves for “infrastructure”, not realizing forex reserves are hardly like tax revenues). As things stand presently, this Board, themselves unfamiliar with standard modern textbook Corporate Finance, and far too close to the previous Board, is unlikely to take the right decisions because such decisions will require more intellectual and moral effort than may be forthcoming.
Instead they will probably lobby hard for a vast public subsidy to be injected into the financial corpse that is Satyam-I, so that a zombie company can attempt to be resurrected (we in India have many such zombies walking around in the organised business sector).
The PM who is also now his own Finance Minister has, in his long career as a top economic bureaucrat and a politician, never met a public subsidy he did not like or approve of. So watch out for a billion or two dollars of public money in India injected into the corpse, adding to India’s vast and growing public debt. Parliament will hardly disapprove when the PM and his acolytes soon announce it in unison.
Ask yourself then how such a vast public subsidy can possibly benefit ordinary Indian people who live in, say, Imphal, Agartala, Ajmer, Lalitpur or Balasore, or even Guntur and Telengana. The answer is that it won’t — it will hurt them and their succeeding generations for decades. Such has been the pattern of economic-policy making in India whether under this political party or that; it is organised lobbies, especially organized business as represented on this new Board, that call the shots. The relatively few people who can convert Indian rupees into forex do so with impunity while the vast unknowing masses continue to use a currency damaged by waste, fraud and abuse.
Jail terms for the Rajus and their friends? Hmmmm. Perhaps the few weeks or months that are due to wealthy criminals.
Somebody in Delhi yesterday apparently told the visiting Cambridge Vice Chancellor that Kolkata “does not count”; to the contrary, it is New Delhi that remains entirely bankrupt intellectually and morally, and that bankruptcy will continue to be revealed in coping with Satyam’s bankruptcy.
Subroto Roy, Kolkata
Postcript: The above was written and published here before the new Board’s press-meet. Nothing the Board said has given reason to alter the opinion above. Rather, the Board seemed exceptionally dull in failing to see that once the new accountants have done their work, it seems likely if not inevitable that Satyam’s balance-sheet calls for “winding up” in the Indian term, i.e. declaring bankruptcy. The news that the Government of Inda would also likely subsidise Satyam with public resources also confirms the dismal state of economic policy-making described above. SR., 1830 hrs, Jan 12.