Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

The potato changed the World’s history

April 8, 2021

Shivani Krishnakumar in Madras Courier:

Potato, Batata, Aloo, Bangala Dumpa–whatever you call it–today, the potato is a staple food in cuisines across the world. But four centuries ago, potatoes were not used for cooking. Instead, people used potato flowers to decorate themselves.

Initially, potatoes were loathed; they were considered to be the source of leprosy. But once people started using potatoes in their cuisines, the potato, in its own way, started changing the course of human history. Today the potato takes a large share of responsibility for the phenomenal rise in human population.

The way Nigeria selects vice-chancellors is deeply flawed. But it can be fixed

April 6, 2021


A global minimum corporate tax rate..

April 6, 2021

Janet Yellen’s remarks yday (5-Apr-2021) attracted a lot of attention. She mentioned the need to have a global minimum tax.

She started with saying “America is strongest when we engage with the world” and points the role US has played in world polity and economy:

When I was born, the United States was still recovering from the Great Depression and World War II. These tragedies cost countless lives; too many families lost nearly everything. But from the devastation we learned an invaluable lesson: the United States must not go it alone.

In the aftermath of the destruction, the United States built strong political and security alliances that have helped keep our country safe and helped our economies flourish. We created global institutions, such as the United Nations, and financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, to reduce economic conflict and address global poverty. With strong U.S. leadership—and working together with our allies—we contained communism and created a dynamic world economy and growing markets for U.S. exports. America’s middle class prospered. Millions across the world were lifted out of poverty.

But over the years, new problems developed that were not properly addressed. In the push to grow our economies, we neglected our environment. As we embraced new technologies, we didn’t do enough to prepare our workers and our education systems for the changes underway. While we embraced trade as an engine for growth, we neglected those who did not benefit. And in the most recent period, when we might have adopted policies at home to face these issues and joined with our allies to address issues abroad, we isolated ourselves and retreated from the international order that we created.

Over the last four years, we have seen firsthand what happens when America steps back from the global stage. America first must never mean America alone. For in today’s world, no country alone can suitably provide a strong and sustainable economy for its people. Over time, a lack of global leadership and engagement makes our institutions and economy vulnerable.

She points to three things US needs to do:

The first objective is a stable and growing world economy that benefits the U.S. economy.

The second objective is to fight poverty and promote a more inclusive global economy that aligns with our values.

Finally, there are certain matters where we are in it together—where the challenges are global and no one country will be successful if it goes at it in isolation.

In the third she raised this point of a global minimum tax:

Another consequence of an interconnected world has been a thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates. Competitiveness is about more than how U.S.-headquartered companies fare against other companies in global merger and acquisition bids. It is about making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government.

President Biden’s proposals announced last week call for bold domestic action, including to raise the U.S. minimum tax rate, and renewed international engagement, recognizing that it is important to work with other countries to end the pressures of tax competition and corporate tax base erosion.

We are working with G20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax rate that can stop the race to the bottom. Together we can use a global minimum tax to make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations, and spurs innovation, growth, and prosperity.


Rest in Peace: Prof Robert Mundell

April 5, 2021

Prof Robert  Mundell passed away in Italy at 88. He along with Marcus Fleming of IMF gave us a framework to think about monetary policy and exchange rate systems.  He is also seen as father of Euro currency. Mundell was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1999 ironically in the same year Euro was established as a currency.

Brian Domitrovic pays a tribute.

All Apologies for Democracy

April 5, 2021

Prof Harold James in this Proj Syndicate piece:

Recent mistakes by elected governments underscore the unique difficulties that democracies face when dealing with a problem as large and complex as a pandemic. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 crisis has offered clear lessons, validating two classic answers to the question of what role the state should fill.


There are no easy answers. But the COVID-19 crisis may offer two generalizable lessons. First, the more rules-based the system, the more robustly it can manage criticism. Lockdowns driven by clear, predetermined criteria are one straightforward way to contain not just the virus but also the ensuing blame and cynicism.

Second, the problem of vaccine scarcity and unfair allocation can most obviously be addressed by producing as many doses as possible. With abundance comes patience – and less resentment of those who gain earlier access.


These two approaches – a rules-based framework and incentives for competition – look like classic answers to the old question of how states should involve themselves in complex economic and social processes. Both emphasize the need for universality, rather than discretionary decisions that inevitably produce arbitrary results. The closer the adherence to principle, the less need there is for frenzied late-night policy debates – or apologies.


Lessons from 50 years of Bangladesh Independence: Development could succeed anywhere?

March 26, 2021

2021 is quite an anniversary year.

26 March 2021 marks 50 years of independence of Bangladesh. (in pictures)

Bangladesh economy has been quite a story. See this Bank of Bangladesh publication celebrating 40 years (issued in 2011).

Kissinger had dubbed Bdesh as bottomless basket case dependednt on foreign aid.

In 1976, Just Faaland and Jack R. Parkinson had written a book titled: Bangladesh. The Test Case for Development. They famously said: “If development could be made successful in Bangladesh, there can be little doubt that it could be made to succeed anywhere else. It is in this sense that Bangladesh is the test case for development.”

Akbar Ali Khan reviewed the Faland and Robinson hypothesis in 2013:


Upcoming birth centenary of Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao: 28 June 1921-28 June 2021

March 26, 2021

The year 2021 marks 100th birthday of Mr. PV Narasimha Rao (PVN), India’s ninth Prime Minister.  PVN was born on 28 June 1921 in a village in then Nizam run State of Hyderabad. The man knew ten languages including three foreign ones and could even run computer programmes in Basic, Cobol and Unix. Apart from being the PM, he held most of the important political portfolios in his career: Foreign Minister, Home Minister, Defense Minister, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and so on.


Central bank of the year: The Federal Reserve System

March 24, 2021 awards Central Bank of the year award to Federal Reserve System.

Overwhelming Fed interventions in March 2020 forestalled a damaging global financial crisis, as policy overhaul prompts introspection in Europe and Japan

Seperately CLaudia Sahm. former Federal Reserve employee who has Sahm rule to her credit praises Jerome Powell:

The Fed chair, Jerome Powell, has become a popular Main Street champion. Here’s a history of the advocacy that made this possible.

Starbucks @ 50th anniversary

March 22, 2021

Starbucks opened its first store in March-1971 in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The year 2021 marks 50 years of the coffee company.

Here is a timeline of the company.

Happy 50th Starbucks..

BIS History: Timeline and Pictures

March 18, 2021

BIS completed 90 years in 2020.

BIS website has put up a timeline of its 9 decades

For more than nine decades, the Bank for International Settlements has been the main meeting place and cooperative body for central banks from across the world. Throughout its history, the BIS has played a role in many of the key events and developments that have marked and shaped the global monetary and financial system. This timeline highlights the most important of these historic events and developments, organised in five thematic categories.

Do look up. Lots of history and pictures packed in the timelines..

Israel’s new digital bank making waves

March 17, 2021

Israel’s First Digital Bank also named as First Digital Bank has started operations as pilot run.

Israel’s first new bank in more than 40 years has started trial operations, opening accounts and providing services for a small, closed number of clients, The First Digital Bank said in a statement.

The fully digital bank, approved by the Bank of Israel in 2019, hopes to open up services to the wider public toward the end of the year, the statement said. Currently the bank has started offering services to employees and their families – several hundred people — to make sure everything runs smoothly, a spokeswoman for the bank said.

“The artificial intelligence revolution is here and has now reached banks as well,” said the founder of the bank, tech entrepreneur Amnon Shashua. “The banking industry is thirsty for innovation and competition. 

The First Digital Bank is an independent bank that hopes to compete with the nation’s five largest banking groups, which today hold some 98% of the market.

The branchless bank will operate by integrating human bankers — who provide around-the-clock customer service through online chat and a call center — with advanced artificial intelligence-based technology that aims to “create a customized service experience for each and every customer,” the statement said.

Website of the bank is here. The bank is found and promoted by Amnon Shashua, Professor of Computer Science at Hebrew University.

The Enduring City: Four centuries of crises in New York

March 16, 2021

Jason M. Barr writes on Four centuries of crises in New York in this City Journal article:

New York survives and grows despite its crises because its density sustains it. Businesses come to the city because they find that clustering makes them more successful. This generates jobs and income, which, in turn, creates more amenities and benefits, attracting more residents and visitors, and so on. Indeed, writing about the period of the city’s most virulent and destructive crises, one New York historian concluded: “From the opening of the Erie Canal to the outbreak of the Civil War, despite financial crises (1837, 1857, 1873), visitation of the Asiatic cholera (1832) and the yellow fever (1853), disastrous fires (1835, 1845), and formidable riots (1834, 1835, 1837, 1849), New York enjoyed a period of unexampled prosperity and growth.”

Finally, the city succeeds because it draws forth collective action. As urbanists from Jane Jacobs to Edward Glaeser have stressed, while density can cause crises, it also leads the way to faster and more efficient solutions. Density naturally generates diversity and competition—the two things needed for an evolutionary process to produce solutions.

The history of cities is the history of the constant struggle between the present and the future. When shocks hit, we turn to address the immediate problems and wonder how things can return to normal. But the shape of our society is more like that of a long river. Our individual boats may get stuck in currents or eddies, but the overall flow inexorably pushes us toward more promising waters.

Profile of Albert Einstein

March 15, 2021

Rajgopal Nidamboor profiles Albert Einstein in this Madras Courier piece.

The Elusive Idea: Impressions of Social Justice in Hindi Cinema, 1940s-70s

March 15, 2021

Nilosree Biswas in this CASI article reflects on the role of Hindi Cinema on portraying social justice:

In the decades since the release of these films, the popularity of hard-hitting, violent Hindi cinema, devoid of much realism, grew manifold. Concurrently, labor movements have been crushed, small farmers have lost their land holdings, and gender violence and discriminations have been on the rise. Stifling social repression offscreen has only heightened bullish violence onscreen. By the 1990s, mainstream Hindi cinema only churned out films where heroes single-handedly delivered justice by way of bloodbath, reaffirming the breakdown of India’s social fabric.

With 2012’s releases of Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur), Vasan Bala (Peddlers), and Asim Ahluwalia (Miss Lovely), Hindi cinema’s storytelling took some gritty turns. The following years saw Rajit Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi (Through My Own Eyes) in 2014 and Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan (The Crematorium) in 2015—movies that raised incisive questions about India’s complex caste system and rampant corruption. Netflix soon brought forth content infused with spurts of social justice, such as the 2018 premiere of Sacred Games, India’s first Netflix original series. Web series like 2019’s Delhi Crime, based on rising violence against women, emerged from this notion, breaking away from the nomenclature of New Wave Cinema’s 80s and 90s films. As entertainment trends continue to move toward streaming services, it would seem that present day India is no longer interested in big screen films rooted in social justice, but are content watching the justice-seekers from the convenience of their smartphones.

50 years of Nasdaq

February 10, 2021

On 8 Feb 1971, National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations or NASDAQ was formed. The years 2021 marks 50th birthday of the iconic stock exchange which also played a huge role in powering US tech firms to global supremacy.

Nasdaq has put up a digital exhibit documeting the journey.

Mckinsey quarterly has an interview of Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman (apt surname?):

Nasdaq turns 50 this year: How have the market and the company changed?

Adena Friedman: When Nasdaq started back in 1971, we were the disrupter of our time. We were using the most modern technology to democratize the capital markets, which, back then, were “physical”—based on having a lot of people in a specific room. By contrast, we launched a networked exchange that was available to anyone anywhere in the US. In 1971, our first listings were Applied Materials, Comcast, Intel—companies that are now, of course, staples in the US economy, but back then, they were still just ushering the country into the technology age. In the 1980s, Microsoft and Apple listed on Nasdaq. And in the 1990s, we coined the phrase, “Nasdaq, the stock market for the next 100 years.” That’s when I joined the company, in 1993, and we started to think about how we could help drive the future of the economy. The market model was still shifting, and it wasn’t until online retail brokers were born, in the later 1990s, that capital markets really became democratized. Millions of investors were starting to be able to access the markets directly. Today, it’s tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of retail investors coming in and trading every day. We were struggling to get to 500 million shares a day back then; now we’re at ten billion to 15 billion shares a day [exhibit].

About 15 years ago, we started advancing ourselves beyond the equities markets. We are now among the largest options markets in the US, and we own many of the Nordic markets in Europe. We also sell our technology to other exchanges, market operators, and broker–dealers around the world. We have a data and analytics business that’s been scaled for the investment community. It’s been an interesting journey. Obviously, there’s been a big shift in the breadth and depth, electronification, and globalization of the markets.



Gentle Reminder: Webinar on What Does An Economist Do At An Automobile Firm?

February 9, 2021

The webinar is tomorrow (10 Feb 2021) at 4 PM.

To register click here

Webinar: What does an economist do at an automobile firm?

February 4, 2021

It is always interesting to figure what economists do in different organizations and firms.

Ms. Simran Uppal, a young economist who works at Ford Motors India will be sharing her work at Ford Motors. She will also discuss career opportunities for economics students and other students considering to opt for economics .

For registration, please click here.

The Republicans’ Fake Budget Hawks

January 27, 2021

Prof Jeffrey Frankel in this Proj Synd piece:

With Donald Trump having departed the White House, many Republicans are suddenly rediscovering the dangers of budget deficits, after four years of conspicuous indifference. This was entirely predictable: for the last 45 years, the GOP has done the same thing every time a Democrat has won the presidency.

He points to three political cycles where Republicans cried fiscal fears while in opposition only to do the opposite while in power. The 4th cycle is underway now…

Hercule Poirot at 100: the refugee detective who stole Britain’s heart

January 25, 2021

Ten Hours that Shook America

January 7, 2021

What a morning. Things have been so downhill in USA, that nothing really surprises you.

Prof Nina L. Khrushcheva of The New School in the Proj Synd piece looks at 10 hrs that shook the country and the world:

The storming of the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters in a last-ditch effort to overturn the result of the 2020 election was as predictable as it was shocking. Four years of Republican complicity in the face of Trump’s erosion of US democracy have brought the country to its most fraught moment since the Civil War.

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