Archive for November, 2015

Book review: Towards Development Economics: Selected Indian Contributions, c. 1900-1945

November 6, 2015

TCA Ananth mention this book in a previous article. I am quite sure most econ students who graduate from India have not heard about most economists featured in the book. Such is the tragedy of our econ teaching.

The book is a compilation of select writings of select eminent economists, written in the period 1900-45. The title of the book could have been much better. This one hardly does any justice and might be seen as another development book.

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India should change its constitution if it wants to prosper…

November 5, 2015

An interesting combination of entrepreneur Rajesh Jain and economist Atanu Dey suggest India should change its constitution. Then only can it improve its economic freedom and grow:

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How being from an upper caste is a curse in this part of Bihar..

November 5, 2015

An interesting piece by Muzamil Jaleel of Indian Express. She reports from this place in Bihar called Ratansar.

Here we have a few families which are facing the curse of being a brahmin, an upper caste. They are really poor and cannot do certain tasks because of their caste attitude:

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Why e-commerce firms advertise offline?

November 4, 2015

Interesting piece in ToI.

Given the huge online space (and I think cheaper as well), one wonders why e-commerce companies advertise in traditional places like newspapers, TV etc.?

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Resurrecting Glass-Steagall

November 4, 2015

Simon Johnson, the long standing warrior against big banks and fancy finance suggests to reinstate Glass Steagall Act.

The best argument for a modern Glass-Steagall act is the simplest. We should want a lot more loss-absorbing shareholder equity. And, to reinforce this, we should want to make the largest banks simpler and more transparent, with “strong structural firewalls” as Dennis Kelleher, of Better Markets, puts it. Of course, in that context, we should ensure that various activities by “shadow banks” (structures that operate with bank-like features, as Lehman Brothers did) are properly regulated.

Building support for legislation to simplify the biggest banks would greatly strengthen the hand of those regulators who want to require more shareholder equity and better regulation for the shadows. These policies are complements, not substitutes.

Just 20 years back, there was so much noise about removing Glass Steagall Act. And it was of course removed and banks allowed to get into all other activities. Discussions have moved back to square one now..

Linkages between Swiss monetary policy and Swiss financial centre

November 4, 2015

Linkages are obvious. But we usually do not see a speech where one talks about financial centres.

Thomas J. Jordan chief of Swiss National Bank gives a speech on the topic. Most don’t know but Swiss have had three financial centres – Geneva, Basel and Zurich. Eventually, Geneva emerged as the preferred one.

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Is cricket the greatest of all sports?

November 4, 2015

Ian McDonald (a poet, novelist and columnist who lives in Guyana) has a romantic piece in cricinfo.com (what will one do without this site, what terrific pieces one after the other!). He does not ask the question as posed in the post title but says it is the best game:

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Indian economists/thinkers new fascination with Deng Xioping..

November 3, 2015

Earlier, much of our economic thinking and benchmarking was based on Western leaders/policymakers. So, one would quote Reagan, Thatcher and so on and ask Indian leaders to act just like they did. The general advice was that all our economic policy and thinking should be as close to these guys who revamped and reshaped their economies. Now, as the western economies have collapsed and people are questioning the Thatcher/Reagan (and others) ideas, one is looking for some other benchmarks here in India.

The new (relatively new) benchmark is Deng Xioping. This is ironical as it is highly unlikely that Deng would have thought that he would get praise from people on economics matters, that too from India! But I have been reading articles by quite a few where comparisons have shifted from the Western leaders to Deng. The crucial question is Who will be India’s Deng? Is it our current PM? This is even more ironical given the mess China is in now and is paying a price for lopsided development. Yes, it achieved high growth for 30 years but there were costs associated with it. Those costs could be minimised (rather ignored) in China given the autocracy, but can we afford it in India? This is where bulk of the problem is for economists who only use the narrow lens of economics and not of social science as a whole.

Here is one such article:

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How Brijmohan Munjal rebuilt his company – twice?

November 3, 2015

A nice piece from BS edit team on BM Munjal’s legacy (calling him a true hero):

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Why Gandhi would have been appalled by the Gandhi-Mandela Trophy?

November 2, 2015

A nice historical piece by Ram Guha on the topic. He says given Gandhi’s dislike for sports, he would have been amazed by his name being given to a cricket series between India and South Africa.

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The tragedy of being Ben Bernanke..

November 2, 2015

Brad Delong reviews the book by big Ben and is puzzled what went wrong:

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RIP Brijmohan Lal Mujnal, father of Indian motorcycle revolution

November 2, 2015

A sad day indeed. Mr Munjal passed away yesterday leaving behind a history  of Indian auto-mobiles which is likely to be unmatched.

The manner in which his family migrated from Pakistan and created this Indian behemoth called Hero Honda Motors (and now Hero), is stuff of legends. He and his team were hardly ever in the news/media trying to create noise/hype over their achievements. Just let the product talk and talk it did. We hardly have people like these in Indian businesses anymore. It has all become too noisy and hunt for instant fame..

 

Book review: The Financial Expert by RK Narayan

November 2, 2015

A friend Shrikanth pointed to this book by the legend RK Narayan and I was just hooked. A typical plot by RK Narayan based in Malgudi with a financial wizard – Margayya – as the key protagonist. Apart from the usual finance books, one actually learns more abot finance and humility from such books. But hardly anyone recommends this book for a finance course. Though, there are some who recommend works like Reminiscences of stock operator, A fool and his money  for a reading in finance.

The Financial Expert isn’t a finance focused book but still leaves the main message – money and its proclaimed masters better be humble. Your mastership is valid only till money lasts and there is no guarantee over the last outcome. Money is as mercurial as the metal.

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