Archive for July 8th, 2019

Did Shanmukham Chetty, India’s first FM, meddle with tax investigations?

July 8, 2019

Interesting bit of history (lost though) on Madras Courier. How and why Shanmukham Chetty was appointed as the first FM despite not the first choice. There were pending tax investigations against top corporates and it was felt the first choice John Mathai might not be willing to drop names against some Gujarat based firms. What followed was the usual political economy of all such appointments.

We barely move beyond naming India’s First Finance Minister (James Wilson) and First Finance Minister of Independent India (Shanmukham Chettty). We need much more than hust a little bit of trivia here and there and encourage biographies of these guys…

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6 tips on how to read old economics books

July 8, 2019

Nice tips from Luka Nikolic (incredible for someone who is a Master’s student at the University of Ljubljana):

It is one thing to pick up a book and read it and a different thing to actually understand it. Attempting to read Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776) or other old texts will give many lay readers a headache. The main reason for this confusion is the incomprehensible “King James” English in which those works were written. As a result, students rely on professors’ interpretations of some key concepts during lectures and focus on reading more contemporary literature, which is easier to read.

However, there is a way to read these pioneering books yourself and actually have fun in the process. Studying the forefathers of economics is key to understanding how the science evolved. You can find that some of the main problems of today—from protectionism to crony capitalism—were some of the key issues debated over 200 years ago, as well. The following instructions are meant for students or simply the layman economist. However, certain bits (especially the first point) may come in handy for the well-established individual in the profession, as well. 

1. Read Abridged/Modernized Versions 

2. Chapter Summaries

3. Focusing on Key Concepts: Most early books on economics run well into 800-1,000 pages. If you’ve ever read older fictional literature, especially Victorian-era, you might have noticed that the writers of that period really enjoyed writing long sentences. One of the reasons for this is that they were usually paid by publishers by the word/letter. Unfortunately, the same also holds for non-fiction literature.  

4. Read About the History of Economic Thought 

5. Do Not Focus Solely on Economics 

6. Be Familiar with the Times

Useful bit…

Sea change in global economic outlook

July 8, 2019

Mark Carney in this speech points how global economic outlook has gone through a sea change from optimistic to pessimistic.  He quotes from who other but Shakespeare:

A sea change is a profound transformation. The term was originally coined by Shakespeare in The Tempest,
of which there are five productions across Dorset this summer.These productions will mix tragedy and comedy in a play whose themes range from magic and creation to betrayal and revenge.

My focus is more limited and prosaic – but also more immediately relevant to your work. In recent months, there has been a sea change in financial markets driven by growing concerns over the global economic outlook. I will assess these global developments before turning to what they may mean for the UK’s economic prospects.

A good account of economic conditions…

Decline of economist as a central banker

July 8, 2019

My new piece in Business Standard.

I reflect on the recent nomination of Christine Lagarde as head of European Central Bank. It is interesting how French dominate Germans, on the Bundesbank styled European Central Bank.

In recent months we have seen how governments worldwide are preferring non-economists to head the central banks. Lagarde is an addition to the list.

Though, it is a choice which would be seen as not really a good one. Lagarde is former French Minister of Finance and you do not want to see former Ministers heading central banks, atleast not in European Central Bank, which prides on independence and autonomy.

Much more in the piece.

 


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