Archive for July 16th, 2018

Success of French football team masks underlying tensions over race and class

July 16, 2018

Joseph Downing of Aix-Marseille Université provides a reality check on French football team which boasts that its success is based on inclusiveness:

In the 20 years since Zidane lifted the World Cup, little has changed in the estate outside of Marseille where he grew up. Like other estates in France that house significant numbers of those of foreign ethnic origin, La Castellane continues to be gripped by violence and the all-too lucrative drugs trade, which periodic raids do little to disrupt.

The achievements of 1998 and 2018 demonstrate that players such as Zidane and Mbappé from ethnic minority backgrounds can rise to the top of French society. Some players transcend football, taking up bigger political causes, such as the French 1998-world cup winning defender Lillian Thuram who has worked against discrimination in France. He even turned down a position in the government of Nicolas Sarkozy because of differences with the president over his stance on social issues and because Sarkozy called the rioters of 2005 “scum” when he was interior minister.

Yet while the current team is riding high on a wave of the resurrection of “black-blanc-beur” success, French football, like French society, remains marred by complex forms of racial discrimination.

There was a similar article on English football as well..



The UK’s productivity problem: hub no spokes

July 16, 2018

Andy Haldane yet again. How he has made a habit of giving such amazing speeches which are so detailed and yet so simple. One could add  the phrase Haldanesque for any such future central banker speeches.

In his recent speech (40 pages), Andy talks about how UK has a productivity problem (there were talks of giving Bank of England a productivity target). Its productivity has stagnated over the years, The break-up statistics show that the largest firms continue to do well but it is mainly the smaller ones which have not withstood the test of times. Thus we see a kind of inequality in productivity distribution as well, where haves thrive and have nots barely survive. He further argues that real problem is that ideas seem to spread slowly across the economy. Thus there is hub but no spoke:

The UK faces perhaps no greater challenge, economically and socially, than its productivity challenge. Meeting that challenge would deliver benefits to workers in improved wages and skills and to companies in greater efficiency and profitability. It would also contribute to closing inequalities of income, wealth and
opportunity which have rightly and increasingly pre-occupied policymakers over recent years.

The UK has a rich, in some respects world-leading, endowment of innovation and talent. This is, however, unevenly spread. Developing an institutional infrastructure, which draws on the UK’s comparative advantage in innovation but which spreads its benefits more widely, would support the long tail of UK companies and the people who work for them. It would help close the pay and productivity gaps between the best and the  rest, the present and the past, the in-crowd and the out. It would put the rhyme back into R&D. The returns to doing so are difficult to quantify precisely. As a thought-experiment, imagine the bottom three quartiles of the UK productivity distribution saw their productivity gap with the quartile above closed. That would boost UK levels of productivity by around 13%.

This would close a large part of the productivity shortfall relative to its pre-crisis trend. And it would make inroads into closing the productivity gap with the
US and Germany. In today’s prices, it would boost the level of UK GDP by around £270 billion. In closing those gaps, a useful intermediate objective would be to create in the UK a leading-edge diffusion infrastructure, to rival and complement its leading-edge innovation infrastructure. This boost our world (and, with luck, our World Cup) rankings. Inclusive innovation could serve as a conduit to inclusive growth. The UK’s innovation hub would get the spokes it needs to reach every sector, every region, every worker. It would be an industrial strategy for everyone.

The speech was given in end of June, so obviously no World Cup is coming home..:-)

Overall, another Haldanesque speech…

A slow-cooked battle over ‘Malabar’ biryani

July 16, 2018

Another fascinating story of how two companies are battling to use the word Malabar to differentiate their Biryanis:

Now, if there’s one perennial, unresolvable, fun and quintessentially Indian debate that comes close to which variety of mango is best, it is about which kind of biryani is tastiest. The people of Malabar have no doubt that their version is the most delectable. So much so that a couple of competing brands have battled in the courts over owner- ship of the word.

The flames were first lit in the Calcutta HC in 2012, when Parakh Vanijya Private Limited alleged that Baroma Agro Products’ use of the mark Malabar Gold for its ‘special biryani rice’ amounted to an infringement. Parakh claimed it was using the word Malabar since 2001, and Baroma’s biryani rice label was identical and deceptively similar to its own mark.

The Calcutta HC found some similarity between the two labels, and restrained Baroma from using the mark for the time being. A Division Bench also agreed.

Baroma kept the fire burning, moving the Calcutta High Court to vacate the 2012 order, alleging that Parakh was relying on ‘fabricated documents’ and that the company could not claim exclusive right over the word Malabar. In 2016, the HC sought to douse the coals and balance the interests of both parties, considering their substantial turnovers; it allowed Baroma to use the label Malabar with an increase in type size of not more than 25% of the rest of the words or letters on the pack.

Now, it was Parakh’s turn to strike back: the company moved the Supreme Court. On July 12, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R. Banumathi noted that Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company manufactured Malabar Monsoon, and Tropical Retreats used Malabar Coast for its range of coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar and other products, and that the rules of registration itself were against any company claiming exclusivity over the term Malabar.

Justice Banumathi, who wrote the judgment for the Bench, concluded, “Since there is a disclaimer to the exclusive use of the word ‘Malabar’, the appellant has no right over the exclusive use of the word.’

Judgement copy is here.

Amazing how these battles keep brewing (or boiling in this case of rice) from time to time…

Review of Indian statistical system

July 16, 2018

This is an important paper by R.B. Barman Chairman of National Statistical Commission.

In economics, we pay far more attention on which statistics to use compared to how the data/statistics are collected over the years. This should be part of the course as then it gives students a perspective on both strengths and limitations of whichever economics data they are using. It is appalling to note most students are completely clueless on how and where to get data on key economic variables.

Mr Barman advocates usage of digital technology to strengthen the stats system:


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