August 18, 2013 — drsubrotoroy
7 January 2016
3 June 2014
from World Economy & Central Banking Seminar at Facebook
Professor Rajan’s statement “I determine the monetary policy. I say what it is….ultimately the interest rate that is set is set by me” equates Indian monetary policy with the money interest rate; but monetary policy in India has always involved far more than that, namely, the bulk of Indian banking and insurance has been in government hands for decades, all these institutions have been willy-nilly compelled to hold vast stocks of government debt, both Union and State, on their asset-sides…and unlimited unending deficit finance has led to vast expansion of money supply, making it all rather fragile. My “India’s Money” in 2012 might be found useful. http://tinyurl.com/o9dhe8d
11 April 2014
from World Economy & Central Banking Seminar at Facebook
I have to wonder, What is Professor Rajan on about? Growth in an individual country is affected by the world monetary system? Everyone for almost a century has seen it being a real phenomenon affected by other real factors like savings propensities, capital accumulation, learning and productivity changes, innovation, and, broadly, technological progress… A “source country” needs to consult “recipient” countries before it starts or stops Quantitative Easing? Since when? The latter can always match policy such as to be more or less unaffected… unless of course it wants to ride along for free when the going is good and complain loudly when it is not…. Monetary policy may affect the real economy but as a general rule we may expect growth (a real phenomenon) to be affected by other real factors like savings propensities, capital accumulation, learning and productivity changes, innovation, and, broadly, technological progress..
22 September 2013
“Let us remember that the postponement of tapering is only that, a postponement. We must use this time to create a bullet proof national balance sheet and growth agenda, which creates confidence in citizens and investors alike…”
I will say the statement above is the first sensible thing I have heard Dr Rajan utter anywhere, cutting through all the hype…I should also think he may be underestimating the task at hand, so here’s some help as to what needs to be done from my 19 Aug 2013 Mint article “A wand for Raghuram Rajan” and my 3 Dec 2012 Delhi lecture:
“Rajan has apparently said, “We do not have a magic wand to make the problems disappear instantaneously, but I have absolutely no doubt we will deal with them.” Of course there are no magic wands but there is a scientific path forward. It involves system-wide improvements in public finance and accounting using modern information technology to comprehend government liabilities and expenditures and raise their productivity. It also involves institutional changes in public decision-making like separating banking and central banking from the treasury while making the planning function serve the treasury function rather than pretend to be above it. It is a road long and arduous but at its end both corruption and inflation will have been reduced to minimal levels. The rupee will have acquired sufficient integrity to become a hard currency of the world in the sense the average resident of, say, rural Madhya Pradesh or Mizoram may freely convert rupees and hold or trade foreign currencies or precious metals as he/she pleases. India signed the treaty of Versailles as a victor and was an original member of the League of Nations, the United Nations and the IMF. Yet sovereign India has failed to develop a currency universally acceptable as freely convertible world money. It is necessary and possible for India to aim to do so because without such a national aim, the integrity of the currency continues to be damaged regularly by governmental abuse. An RBI governor’s single overriding goal should be to try to bring a semblance of integrity to India’s money both domestically and worldwide.”
19 August 2013
9 August 2013
No magic wand, Professor Rajan? Oh but there is… read up all this over some hours and you will find it… (Of course it’s not from magic really, just hard economic science & politics)
Professor Raghuram Govind Rajan of the University of Chicago Business School deserves everyone’s congratulations on his elevation to the Reserve Bank of India’s Governorship. But I am afraid I cannot share the wild optimism in India’s business media over this. Of course there are several positives to the appointment. First, having a genuine PhD and that too from a top school is a rarity among India’s policy-makers; Rajan earned a 1991 PhD in finance at MIT’s management school for a thesis titled “Essays on banking” (having to do we are told “with the downside to cozy bank-firm relationships”). Secondly, and related, he has not been a career bureaucrat as almost all RBI Governors have been in recent decades. Thirdly, he has been President of the American Finance Association, he won the first Fischer Black prize in finance of that Association, and during Anne Krueger’s 2001-2006 reign as First Deputy MD at the IMF, he was given the research role made well-known by the late Michael Mussa, that of “Economic Counselor” of the IMF.
Hence, altogether, Professor Rajan has come to be well-known over the last decade in the West’s financial media. Given the dismal state of India’s credit in world capital markets, that is an asset for a new RBI Governor to have.
On the negatives, first and foremost, if Professor Rajan has renounced at any time his Indian nationality, surrendered his Indian passport and sworn the naturalization oath of the USA, then he is a US citizen with a US passport and loyalty owed to that country, and by US law he will have to enter the USA using that and no other nationality. If that happens to be the factual case, it will be something that comes out in India’s political cauldron for sure, and there will arise legal issues and court orders barring him from heading the RBI or representing India officially, e.g. when standing in for India’s Finance Minister at the IMF in Washington or the BIS in Basle etc. Was he an Indian national as Economic Counselor at the IMF? The IMF has a tradition of only European MDs and at least one American First Deputy MD. The Economic Counselor was always American too; did Rajan break that by having remained Indian, or conform to it by having become American? It is a simple question of fact which needs to come out clearly. Even if Rajan is an American, he and the Government of India could perhaps try to cite to the Indian courts the new precedent set by the venerable Bank of England which recently appointed a Canadian as Governor.
Let me take two examples. Does Rajan realise how the important Bottomley-Chandavarkar debates of the 1960s about India’s rural credit markets influenced George Akerlof’s “Market for Lemons” theory and prompted much work on “asymmetric information”, signalling etc in credit-markets, insurance-markets, labour-markets and markets in general, as acknowledged in the awards of several Bank of Sweden prizes? Or will he need a tutorial on the facts of rural India’s financial and credit markets, and their relationship with the formal sector? What the Bottomley-Chandavarkar debate referred to half a century ago still continues in rural India insofar as large arbitrage profits are still made by trading across the artificially low rates of money interest caused by financial repression of India’s “formal” monetised sector with its soft inconvertible currency against the very high real rates of return on capital in the “informal” sector. It is obvious to the naked eye that India is a relatively labour-abundant country. It follows the relative price of labour will be low and relative price of capital high compared to, e.g. the Western or Middle Eastern economies, with mobile factors of production like labour and capital expected to flow accordingly across national boundaries. Indian nominal interest-rates in organized credit markets have been for decades tightly controlled, making it necessary to go back to Irving Fisher’s data to obtain benchmark interest-rates, which, as expected, are at least 2%-3% higher in India than in Western capital markets. Joan Robinson once explained “the difference between 30% in an Indian village and 3% in London” saying “side by side with the industrial revolution went great technical progress in the provision of credit and the reduction of lender’s risk.”
What is logically certain is no country can have both relatively low world prices for labour and relatively low world prices for capital! Yet that impossibility seems to have been what India’s purported economic “planners” have planned to engineer! The effect of financial repression over decades may have been to artificially “reverse” or “switch” the risk-premium — making it lucrative for there to be capital flight out of India, with real rates of return on capital within India being made artificially lower than those in world markets! Just as enough export subsidies and tariffs can make a country artificially “reverse” its comparative advantage with its structure of exports and imports becoming inverted, so a labour-rich capital-scarce country may, with enough financial repression, end up causing a capital flight. The Indian elite’s capital flight out of India exporting their adult children and savings overseas may be explained as having been induced by government policy itself.
Secondly, Professor Rajan as a finance and banking specialist, will see at once the import of this graph above that has never been produced let aside comprehended by the RBI, yet which uses the purest RBI data. It shows India’s mostly nationalised banks have decade after decade gotten weaker and weaker financially, being kept afloat by continually pumping in of new “capital” via “recapitalisation” from the government that owns them, using more and more of the soft inconvertible currency that has been debauched merrily by government planners. The nationalised banks with their powerful pampered employee unions, like other powerful pampered employee unions in the government sector, have been the bane of India, where a mere 30 million privileged people in a vast population work with either the government or the organised private sector. The RBI’s own workforce at last count was perhaps 75,000… the largest central bank staff in the world by far!
Will Rajan know how to bring some system out of the institutional chaos that prevails in Indian banking and central banking? If not, he should start with the work of James Hanson “Indian Banking: Market Liberalization and the Pressures for Institutional and Market Framework Reform”, contained in the book created by Anne Krueger who brought him into the IMF, and mentioned in my 2012 article “India’s Money” linked below.
The central question for any 21st century RBI Governor worth the name really becomes whether he or she can stand up to the Finance Ministry and insist that the RBI stop being a mere department of it — even perhaps insisting on constitutional status for its head to fulfill the one over-riding aim of trying to bring a semblance of integrity to India’s currency both domestically and worldwide. Instead it is the so-called “Planning Commission” which has been dominating the Treasury that needs to be made a mere department of the Finance Ministry, while the RBI comes to be hived off to independence!
The path forward involves system-wide improvements in public finance and accounting using modern information technology to comprehend government liabilities and expenditures and raise their productivity, plus institutional changes in public decision-making like separating banking and central banking from the Treasury while making the planning function serve the Treasury function rather than pretend to be above it. The road described is long and arduous but at its end both corruption and inflation will have been reduced to minimal levels, and the rupee would have acquired integrity enough to become a hard currency of the world in the sense the average resident of, say, rural Madhya Pradesh or Mizoram may freely convert rupees and hold or trade foreign currencies or precious metals as he/she pleases.
India signed the Treaty of Versailles as a victor and was an original member of the League of Nations, UN and IMF. Yet sovereign India has failed to develop a currency universally acceptable as a freely convertible world money. It is necessary and possible for India to do so. Without such a national aim, the integrity of the currency continues to be damaged regularly by governmental abuse.
Professor Rajan will not want to be merely an adornment for the GoI in world capital markets for a few years, waiting to get back to his American career and life and perhaps to the IMF again. As RBI Governor, he can find his magic wand if he reads and reflects hard enough using his undoubted academic acumen, and then acts to lead India accordingly. Here is the basic reading list:
April 28, 2009 — drsubrotoroy
My January 14 2007 article “On Land-Grabbing” started by saying:
“AT a business meet on 12 January 2005, Dr Manmohan Singh showered fulsome praise on Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as “dynamic”, “the Nation’s Best Chief Minister”, whose “wit and wisdom”, “qualities of head and heart”, “courage of conviction and passionate commitment to the cause of the working people of India” he admired, saying “with Buddhadeb Babu at the helm of affairs it appears Bengal is once again forging ahead… If today there is a meeting of minds between Delhi and Kolkata, it is because the ideas that I and Buddhadebji represent have captured the minds of the people of India. This is the idea of growth with equity and social justice, the idea that economic liberalization and modernization have to be mindful of the needs of the poor and the marginalized.” With such support of a Congress Prime Minister (as well as proximity to Pranab Mukherjee), Mr Bhattacharjee could hardly have feared the local Congress and Trinamul would pose any threat in the 2006 Assembly Elections despite having more potential voters between them than the CPI-M. Dr Singh returned to the “needs of the poor and the marginalized” at another business meet on 8 January 2007 promising to “unveil a new Rehabilitation Policy in three months to increase the pace of industrialisation” which would be “more progressive, humane and conducive to the long-term welfare of all stakeholders”, while his businessman host pointedly stated about Singur “land for industry must be made available to move the Indian manufacturing sector ahead”. The “meeting of minds between Delhi and Kolkata” seems to be that agriculture allegedly has become a relatively backward slow-growing sector deserving to yield in the purported larger national interest to industry and services: what the PM means by “long-term welfare of all stakeholders” is the same as the new CPI-M party-line that the sons of farmers should not remain farmers (but become automobile technicians or IT workers or restaurant waiters instead). It is a political viewpoint coinciding with interests of organised capital and industrial labour in India today, as represented by business lobbies like CII, FICCI and Assocham on one hand, and unions like CITU and INTUC on the other. Business Standard succinctly (and ominously) advocated this point of view in its lead editorial of 9 January as follows: “it has to be recognised that the world over capitalism has progressed only with the landed becoming landless and getting absorbed in the industrial/service sector labour force ~ indeed it is obvious that if people don’t get off the land, their incomes will rise only slowly”. “
I went on to say
“Land is the first and ultimate means of production, and the attack of the powerful on land-holdings or land-rights of the unorganised or powerless has been a worldwide phenomenon ~ across both capitalism and communism.”
It is interesting and amusing to see today’s newspapers report that the person who appointed Dr Manmohan Singh to be India’s PM, namely Sonia Gandhi, has taken a 180-degree turn on this subject while sitting beside Mamata Banerjee yesterday.
She apparently said: “I am happy so be sharing the dais with Mamata Banerjee once again….in Nandigram and Singur the State Government had unleashed dictatorship in the garb of democracy… . In the name of development (the CPI(M)) created terror in Nandigram and Singur. In the name of development, they snatched the land from the poor people there.”
Now what is the poor old CPI(M) to think after all this! Politics can be so entertaining. 😀
February 16, 2008 — drsubrotoroy
(Author’s Note: This article was preceded by several others e.g. “Saving Pakistan”, “Understanding Pakistan”, “Pakistan’s Allies”, “Law, Justice & J&K”, “Solving Kashmir” , and has been followed by “Two Cheers for Pakistan”.)
Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession
Sheikh Abdullah Relied In Politics On The French Constitution, Not Islam
First published in The Statesman, Feb 16 2008, Editorial Page Special Article
Indians would be naïve to suppose Pervez Musharraf has at any point shown friendliness towards India or willingness to come to a genuine permanent agreement over J&K fully consistent with law and justice. Musharraf tells everyone and himself every day that he is a soldier, and it is well to remember he is from the last generation of Pakistan military men motivated by visceral hatred of the Indian Union and a wish to inflict any kind of defeat upon us. Pakistan’s new Army Chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, being a decade younger than Musharraf, may have a less irrational, less belligerent outlook towards India, and it would be a wise Indian move to invite him officially to visit and receive the normal courtesies and honours due to a foreign military chief.
Musharraf, like Ariel Sharon, was visibly uncomfortable with the Hindu rituals we compel foreign leaders to carry out at Mahatma Gandhi’s Memorial; but General Kayani would visit purely as a military chief and not have to make any political gestures.
Lion of Kashmir
As long as Musharraf remains in power, we may expect him to continue to be motivated by his overtly anti-Indian 12 January 2002 speech. Yes, he said, Pakistan would cooperate against terrorism but it expected the USA to reciprocate by pressuring India on Jammu & Kashmir. “Kashmir runs in our blood. No Pakistani can afford to sever links with Kashmir… We will continue to extend our moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. We will never budge from our principle (sic) stand on Kashmir. Kashmir has to be resolved through dialogue in accordance with the wishes of the people of Pakistan (sic) and in accordance with the UN resolutions.” (BBC 12 January, 2002, Musharraf speech highlights). Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, during his 1950 visit to the USA had claimed “culturally… Kashmir ~ 80 per cent of whose people like the majority of the people in Pakistan are Muslims ~ is in fact an integral part of Pakistan”.
Now, as a matter of fact, Kashmir does not “run in the blood” of Pakistanis nor do the many diverse and ancient cultures of Jammu & Kashmir have much to do with that of a relatively newly created country like Pakistan. It was because Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah knew this and bluntly said so often enough, including at the UN, that Liaquat called him a “Quisling” and the Pakistan Government routinely defamed him as an “Indian stooge”. Yet the Sheikh was known by all in Srinagar Valley as the “Lion of Kashmir”, and had been the acknowledged voice of Muslim political awakening in the Valley ever since 1931.
J&K’s democracy today is the principal political legacy of Sheikh Abdullah. The Pakistan Government to this day denies legitimacy to the elected Government and Opposition of Indian J&K despite there never having been in the history of Pakistan a change of government more democratic in nature than that which occurred in J&K in 2002, bringing in the PDP-Congress Government in place of the National Conference.
Before Pakistan had started its series of military coups, Abdullah had led J&K to adopt an exemplary Constitution and ratify the State’s joining of the new Indian Union. The unbridgeable gulf between Abdullah and the Pakistan Government arose because Abdullah, a Koran scholar and devout Muslim known to intersperse his political speeches with Koranic wisdom, relied for J&K’s constitutional principles not on Islam but rather on the French Constitution. Pakistan’s constitutions by contrast say Pakistan’s sovereignty belongs to Almighty God, leading to perennial confusion over the mundane business of governance here on Planet Earth.
It was the tragic depraved Rahmat Ali, driven by his deep personal anti-Hindu bigotry, who put the “K” into “P, A, K, I, S, T, A, N” purportedly representing “Kashmir”. In his crank view of history, all of Punjab, Afghanistan, Iran, “Tukharistan” (sic) and more would be part of Pakistan too.
The new country might have been better named after a person (as are Colombia, America, Israel), viz., “Iqbalistan” after Mohammad Iqbal who conceived it. It was Iqbal’s seminal 1930 speech to the Muslim League at Allahabad that described the areas (aside from Indian Punjab) that actually constitute post-1971 Pakistan: “I would like to see the Punjab, Northwest Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-government within the British Empire or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North West Indian Muslim state appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims at least of Northwest India”. “Dar-e-Islami-Hind”, “Indus Islamic Republic”, “Indic Islamabad” or “Republic of North-Western India” also may have been alternatives to the random acronym Rahmat Ali coined in 1933 on a London bus.
Though Kashmiri himself, Iqbal made no reference to J&K or any of the so-called “princely states” (nor to what became East Pakistan). The legal theory later sold by Britain to both India and Pakistan was that a “Lapse of Paramountcy” over “princely states” would occur on 15 August 1947 before or after which their rulers must “accede” to one or other new Dominion of Britain’s Commonwealth. BR Ambedkar in a brilliant analysis showed this to be erroneous in law: “paramountcy” over any “princely states” which had not acceded passed automatically to the legal successor state of British India, and that was the Dominion of India.
The Dominion of Pakistan was a new state in international law, created out of certain designated territories of British India the day before British India extinguished itself. If, for example, Chitral or Junagadh acceded to Pakistan after that date, it would have to be with the acquiescence of British India’s legal successor, namely, the Dominion of India ~ an acquiescence granted in case of Chitral and denied in case of Junagadh. In case of J&K, all such matters became moot once hostilities broke out between India and Pakistan following the tribal invasion of J&K from Pakistan that commenced October 22 1947; Pakistan’s plan to take over Gilgit by force had been made months before that. The erstwhile State of J&K descended into civil war and chaos, becoming an ownerless entity whose territories came to be carved up by force of arms by both new countries (and in case of uninhabited Aksai Chin, by Communist China also some years later).
Pakistan’s failure to properly develop as a state today ~ in particular allowing its military to bloat in size relative to other social and political institutions and even to possess nuclear weapons intended against the Indian Union ~ has resulted out of the neurotic obsession with Kashmir. India owes a democratic responsibility to residents of the Indian State of J&K to choose their nationality freely under conditions of full information and individual privacy; if some, like Syed Geelani, choose to renounce Indian nationality and either remain stateless or seek the nationality of Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan, they may still receive permanent residence in India and be legally akin to the many foreign nationals who live and work in India permanently and peacefully. That may be as much as India can realistically contribute to helping the Pakistan Government resolve its neurosis over Kashmir.
Pakistan’s military naturally possesses a fierce loyalty to Pakistan ~ the best way for that loyalty to be implemented in practice may be for General Kayani to allow the country’s public institutions to gradually normalize in size and function. Once Musharraf’s rule comes to an end or a legislature under new clear-headed leaders comes to exist some day, the military may be able to recognise that.