Archive for April 17th, 2020

Post-Pandemic Cities

April 17, 2020

Patricia Viel (who is an architect at Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel) in this Proj Synd piece:

COVID-19 is forcing cities around the world to face the reality that they’re ill-prepared for emergencies. It’s time to reinvent the modern urban center with an eye toward fully equipped health systems and state-of-the-art digital infrastructure that incorporates unanticipated risks.

Planning correctly means designing an evolving system with limits and a clear view of risks. The lack of hospitals has led to a frenetic and costly race to build them in places not designed with health in mind. In Italy, the government already has considered building hubs in the center and south of the country where health infrastructure is weak. And yet more than 75% of Italy’s COVID-19 cases have occurred north of Tuscany, where, even with the country’s most sophisticated health infrastructure, the region was overwhelmed by the need for urgent care.

In Milan, the exhibition center Fiera Milano City has been transformed into a 25,000-square-meter (269,000 square feet) emergency intensive-care facility. But what if it was initially designed not only for its primary purpose, but also with response to a possible crisis in mind?

It is clear that we cannot build urban spaces with a single function if we want them to be useful in emergencies. The “unthinkable” must be part of good urban design practice from now on. After all, more than half of the world’s population inhabits cities, which are no less fertile ground for viruses than they are for terrorists.

That is why urban areas must consider prevention, in addition to being more “crisis-ready.” As Robert Muggah and Rebecca Katz recently argued, cities need a pandemic preparedness map. After all, as we are now seeing, the design of cities and how they are inhabited often exacerbate the problem of infectious disease.


Mumbai and Epidemics: The Bombay Plague of 1896

April 17, 2020

My new article in Bloomberg Quint.

The article is an attempt to chronicle history of Plague in Bombay in 1896. One learnt a lot writing this piece. Thanks a lot to Kaushik Vaidya of BQ for editing and putting up some amazing pictures..

The economics and politics of ventilators

April 17, 2020

Two interesting articles on ventilators:

  • Ramping up ventilator production: Lessons from WWII by Ethan Ilzetzki, Hugo Reichardt
  • The Perverse Economics of Ventilators by Shamel Azmeh 

    By relying excessively on market forces, we have all but ensured that technologies such as ventilators become more complex and expensive over time, putting access to them out of reach for most of the world’s people. It didn’t have to be this way.




RBI takes decisions on Reverse Repo outside of MPC!

April 17, 2020

RBI Governor addressed the media today and took several steps.  One surprising decision was:

Liquidity Adjustment Facility: Fixed Rate Reverse Repo Rate

13. As I have mentioned earlier, the surplus liquidity in the banking system has risen significantly in the wake of government spending and the various liquidity enhancing measures undertaken by the RBI. On April 15, the amount absorbed under reverse repo operations was ₹6.9 lakh crore. In order to encourage banks to deploy these surplus funds in investments and loans in productive sectors of the economy, it has been decided to reduce the fixed rate reverse repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 4.0 per cent to 3.75 per cent with immediate effect. The policy repo rate remains unchanged at 4.40 per cent, and the marginal standing facility rate and the Bank Rate remain unchanged at 4.65 per cent.

In an earlier article, I had written how quite a few interest rate policies are being taken outside of MPC. So far these policies were like Operation Twist, Long Term Repo Operations and so on.

However, the latest decision is Reverse Repo which is seen as a policy rate which should be a call of MPC.

Not really, RBI’s Act 1934 Section 2 (cccci) specifies: “Policy Rate” means the rate for repo-transactions.  Further, Section 45(ZB) 3 of RBI Act says The Monetary Policy Committee shall determine the Policy Rate required to achieve the inflation target.

So there you go. The MPC looked like a major reform at one time but does not look anymore with most decisions being taken outside of MPC.

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