Archive for the ‘Economist’ Category

Economics of socialism and transition: The life and work of János Kornai, 1928-2021

October 26, 2021

Prof Janos Kornai passed away recently.

Prof Gerald Ronald of University of California, Berkeley pays tribute to Kornai in this voxeu piece.

The famous Hungarian economist János Kornai has left us. He was one of the most important intellectuals of the twentieth century. He suffered personally from both Nazism and communism, the two totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. As a young Jew growing up in Budapest, he lost his father and a brother to the Nazis. Like many young Jews in Central Europe who survived the holocaust, he was for a couple of years an enthusiastic supporter of communism, the arch-enemy of Nazism. He became disillusioned after a few years, especially when learning about the Stalinist purges in Hungary in the early 1950s. He had been a journalist at that time.

His doctoral dissertation in economics, Overcentralization in Economic Administration, was full of facts about the flaws of central planning and represented a great breath of fresh air in the intellectual atmosphere of the times. He defended that dissertation just before the Soviet repression of the Hungarian revolution of 1956. His defence was attended by a big crowd and was one of the important intellectual events of that year. Given the visibility of his doctoral thesis, when the repression came, he lost his job at the Institute of Economics (later a hotbed of thinking about reforms), was interrogated, and eventually got marginal jobs, first at the Light Industry Planning Bureau and later at the Textile Industry Research Institute. 

Instead of becoming discouraged or cynical, he used the free time he had in these obscure jobs to study economics seriously and to get better acquainted with economic research that was being practiced in the West, on the other side of the Iron Curtain. His work on two-level planning with Tamás Lipták was published in Econometrica and became an important paper in the literature on the economics of planning. This earned him the recognition of top economists of the time: Kenneth Arrow, Leonid Hurwicz, Tjalling Koopmans, Edmond Malinvaud and others. The Hungarian authorities, who were more liberal than other communist regimes, even allowed him to travel to conferences in the West, albeit under heavy supervision of the secret police. 

Should Keynes’s General Theory book have been titled instead as ‘Special Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’?

October 13, 2021

I had pointed that Monetary Authority of Singapore has completed its 50 years in 1971 and the central bank has released a commemorative volume on its 50 years.

In the volume there is a speech (page 8-13) by Dr Goh Keng Swee who was chair of MAS from 1980 to 1985.

He reflects on his college days when he studied economics and Keynes released the General Theory:

When I was studying economics at Raffles College in pre-War days, the Keynesian revolution broke out with the publication of John Keynes’
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Today, critics, including Sir John Hicks, are agreed that it was a badly written work and made for difficult reading. I can attest to the latter. As an undergraduate, I read the book from cover to cover no fewer than three times, some chapters even more. What puzzled me most was that Keynes measured variables and aggregates, such as National Income and Money Supply, in terms of what he called “Wage Units”. I asked my professor what this meant and why Keynes did this, but could not get a satisfactory reply. Nor did the literature of the day prove more helpful.

Years later, the truth dawned on me. The Keynesian remedy for curing unemployment — the burning issue of the day left behind by the Great
Depression years — involved a serious risk of inflation. Of course, Keynes knew this. The remedy he recommended took the form of expansion of bank credit through central bank policies to finance government expenditure. This extra spending will create additional demand for goods
and services, thereby reducing unemployment. But if economic variables are measured in wage units, inflation would be factored out as wages will rise in keeping with price increases. If variables such as the consumer price index or interest rates and aggregates like money supply, were measured in wage units, their increases would be reduced to the extent to which wages rise.

There is a further difficulty to contend with. The Keynesian system is a closed one, that is, it takes no account of foreign trade. This is admissible in theory, but in practice, since all modern states engage in foreign trade, a Keynesian stimulus will lead eventually to balance of payments deficits if governments do not exercise restraint in time. A part of the increased incomes people receive will be spent on imports and when exports do not increase in proportion, a trade deficit will occur. In the immediate postWar years, Keynesian economics won widespread acceptance in both academic and government circles in Britain and the United States. Confidence increased in the ability of governments to maintain full employment and stable economic growth through Central Bank credit policies and government fiscal (budgetary) policies.

However Keynesian policies backfired in 1960s:

However, by the mid1960s, certain stubborn difficulties appeared and refused to go away. In Britain, this took the form of balance of payments troubles which led to the devaluation of the pound in November 1967.

America experienced troubles in a different form. Because all major world currencies fixed their par values in terms of the US dollar and the 
US dollar was pegged to gold at US$35 per ounce, America could not devalue the dollar except by raising the price of gold. This the government was unwilling to do for political reasons. Eventually, what happened was an increase in inflationary pressure in the US and a decline in confidence over the convertibility of the US dollar into gold at US$35 per ounce because of increasing US dollar balances accumulated overseas as a result of trade deficits. In the end, gold convertibility of the US dollar was suspended in August 1971 and, shortly thereafter, the regime of floating currencies came into being. World currencies continue to float till this day.

He points how Singapore was watching these developments and learnt from them.

Finally he says he is not against Keynes but the General Theory should have been named as

In conclusion, I want to correct any impression this article may have given that I think poorly of Keynes as an economist. I do not. He is the greatest economist the world has produced this century. He introduced a new way of looking at an economic system, in a different way from the classical greats such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Alfred Marshall. The classicals saw the system as one consisting of producers and
consumers, each making his own decision as a producer or a consumer. They studied how a free market harmonises their interests. Keynes looked at how the system functions as a whole. Keynes gave birth to a discipline we now call macroeconomics.   

….

If one has to fault Keynes on any point, it would be the title of his book. This should have been The Special Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. His prescriptions were intended to address the special circumstances created by the Great Depression. By calling it a General Theory, he led lesser minds than his into believing that his prescriptions could be applied under all circumstances, with unhappy consequences, as we have noted.

Schumpeter had made similar comments on General Theory as well..

Explainer: Nobel Economics Prize of 2021

October 12, 2021

The Nobel Prize in Economics for 2021 has been awarded to three economists: David Card, Guido Imbens and Joshua Angrist.

My article in Moneycontrol attempts to explain their work which led the Nobel Committee to award them the coveted economics prize.

 

Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class—Evolution from leisure class to luxury belief class

October 11, 2021

Rob Henderson (PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge) in this article updates Veblen’s leisure class:

Thorstein Veblen’s famous “leisure class” has evolved into the “luxury belief class.” Veblen, an economist and sociologist, made his observations about social class in the late nineteenth century. He compiled his observations in his classic work, The Theory of the Leisure Class. A key idea is that because we can’t be certain of the financial standing of other people, a good way to size up their means is to see whether they can afford to waste money on goods and leisure. This explains why status symbols are so often difficult to obtain and costly to purchase. These include goods such as delicate and restrictive clothing like tuxedos and evening gowns, or expensive and time-consuming hobbies like golf or beagling. Such goods and leisurely activities could only be purchased or performed by those who did not live the life of a manual laborer and could spend time learning something with no practical utility. Veblen even goes so far as to say, “The chief use of servants is the evidence they afford of the master’s ability to pay.” For Veblen, Butlers are status symbols, too.

….

A couple of winters ago it was common to see students at Yale and Harvard wearing Canada Goose jackets. Is it necessary to spend $900 to stay warm in New England? No. But kids weren’t spending their parents’ money just for the warmth. They were spending the equivalent of the typical American’s weekly income ($865) for the logo. Likewise, are students spending $250,000 at prestigious universities for the education? Maybe. But they are also spending it for the logo.

This is not to say that elite colleges don’t educate their students, or that Canada Goose jackets don’t keep their wearers warm. But top universities are also crucial for induction into the luxury belief class. Take vocabulary. Your typical middle-class American could not tell you what “heteronormative” or “cisgender” means. But if you visit Harvard, you’ll find plenty of rich 19-year-olds who will eagerly explain them to you. When someone uses the phrase “cultural appropriation,” what they are really saying is “I was educated at a top college.” Consider the Veblen quote, “Refined tastes, manners, habits of life are a useful evidence of gentility, because good breeding requires time, application and expense, and can therefore not be compassed by those whose time and energy are taken up with work.” Only the affluent can afford to learn strange vocabulary because ordinary people have real problems to worry about.

Do inflation expectations matter for inflation?

September 27, 2021

Jeremy Rudd in this Federal Reserve working paper questions the foundations of monetary policy (HR Prof Sashi Sivramkrishna). Rudd says concept of inflation expectations is based on shaky foundations:

Economists and economic policymakers believe that households’ and firms’ expectations of future inflation are a key determinant of actual inflation. A review of the relevant theoretical and empirical literature suggests that this belief rests on extremely shaky foundations, and a case is made that adhering to it uncritically could easily lead to serious policy errors.

He looks at papers of Friedman, Phelps, Lucas and so on which show inflation expectations are central to inflation and thus to monetary policy. But finds them inadequate and wanting…

Need to read this carefully.

 

Remembering Emmanuel Farhi: Economist Par Excellence

September 22, 2021

Prof Jean Tirole pays tribute to Emmanuel Farhi who passed away last year.

Undoubtedly one of the best economists of his generation, Emmanuel Farhi transformed the theories of taxation, macroeconomics, and international finance. This essay describes his itinerary and his research style and attempts to pay tribute to his immense contribution to economics.

Looks Can Be Deceiving: Ronald Coase and his uneasy relations with Chicago School

September 21, 2021

Steven Medema on Promarket blog writes on how Ronald Coase despite spending many decades at Chicago school of economics had an uneasy relationship   with the school:

Ronald Coase is typically thought of as one of the Chicago School’s brightest lights. But Coase’s relationship with Chicago was always an uneasy one, even during his decades-long tenure at the University of Chicago Law School. The root of the disagreement between Coase and other prominent members of the Chicago School was methodological in nature and revolved around how economists go about doing economics.

……

For Coase, the ultimate purpose of theory is not prediction, but instead “to give you an insight into what is going on—to give you understanding—to give you a base for thought.” A theory that is applicable to the real world, then, must have reasonably realistic underlying assumptions to facilitate analysis, to elaborate the causal chains that explain economic activity, and allow one to properly evaluate the potential effects of policy proposals. Absent this, Coase argued, we are left with “blackboard economics,” Coase’s disparaging term for analysis that exists only on the economist’s blackboard and has little actual bearing on the world in which we live. To assume that the competitive markets model provided a reasonable approximation of actual markets was, for Coase, simply the Chicago variant of what he regarded as the profession’s misguided approach to economic reasoning.

But Coase also had relatively little faith in the type of empirical work fancied by his Chicago colleagues and, thus, in claims regarding predictive power. Though certainly not opposed to empirical analysis, broadly defined, Coase’s preferred brand of such work was of the qualitative kind—pouring through government documents, legal cases, and the like. He was clearly averse to modern statistical techniques and the conclusions that economists drew from them, noting in a 2010 interview that “A regression with aggregated statistical data will not tell you much about the way the economy works.” Equally troublesome, for Coase, was the propensity of economists to end up with empirical results that fit their priors, an attitude reflected in his now well-known quip, in How Should Economists Choose? that “If you torture the data enough, nature will always confess.”1 To say that Friedman was displeased with Coase’s position would be an understatement, and that displeasure spilled out across a four-page, single-spaced letter addressed to “Ronald” rather than Friedman’s usual “Ronnie” once Friedman had the chance to read the text of Coase’s AEI lecture.

Pofile of Solomon Hsiang, who uses big data to inform climate change policies..

September 15, 2021

Interesting profile of Prof Solomon Hsiang of University of California Berkeley (pronounced Shung):

Solomon Hsiang is a smart man. He listens to his wife.

Over breakfast a day or two after the California pandemic lockdown in March 2020, Google researcher Brenda Chen asked a question. Couldn’t her husband’s Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, shed some light on the world’s fight against COVID-19?

“A lab called ‘the Global Policy Lab’ should be able to tackle this question,” she recalls saying.

He raised it with his team on a conference call that morning. The lab uses sophisticated statistical analysis of economic data—econometrics—and advanced computing power to address questions related to climate change, development, violence, migration, and disasters. When the group reconvened after a day of research, “we realized that nobody knew if all these lockdown policies would really work,” says Hsiang, a 37-year-old economist and climate physicist.

Over the next 10 days, Hsiang and 14 researchers worked around the clock gathering vast amounts of data on dozens of pandemic policies such as business and school closings, travel bans, social distancing mandates, and quarantines from China, France, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and the United States. Applying econometric tools, they found that the anti-contagion policies significantly slowed the spread of disease, averting 495 million infections. The paper they cranked out appeared June 8, 2020, in the journal Nature. It has been accessed 309,000 times and cited by 361 news outlets, according to Nature.

The episode shows how Hsiang (pronounced “Shung”) is helping to transform the way economists conduct research. He’s leading a new generation in leveraging newly available giant databases, massive modern computing power, and large, interdisciplinary teams to address thorny global issues such as climate change and the pandemic. Previous work on the economics of climate change relied largely on sweeping assumptions rather than hard data and was carried out mostly by solo researchers or a few collaborators.

Within just a decade of earning his doctorate from Columbia, Hsiang has published a raft of startling and sometimes controversial findings. He and various research partners showed that rising temperatures increase civil conflict and slow economic growth; that as tropical storms grow more intense, the economic effects are more severe and last longer; and that trying to fight climate change by mimicking volcanic eruptions to dim the sun would reduce global crop yields. Now he’s leading researchers in a years-long effort to calculate the true cost worldwide of greenhouse gas carbon emissions.

What would Hayek make of behavioral economics?

September 8, 2021

Interesting debate between Cass Sunstein and Mario Rizzo on whether Hayekian ideas and behavioral economics go hand in hand:

F.A. Hayek was one of the 20th century’s most influential economic, political, and social philosophers—and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Cass Sunstein, currently at Harvard Law School and formerly the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President Obama, invokes Hayekian concepts for a theory of “libertarian paternalism,” which uses behavioral economics to justify a range of public policy interventions to frame individual choices in ways intended to nudge them toward better outcomes. Mario Rizzo, an economist at New York University, disputes the Hayekian justification for this vision. In May, they participated in a Cato policy forum to discuss these differences as well as which is the better interpretation of Hayek’s insights.

Bigger isn’t better – the renegade ‘Buddhist economics’ of E F Schumacher

September 1, 2021

Aeon has a 19\\ documentary on EF Schumacher’s work/life:

‘Like all good revolutionaries, he travels light…’

A protégé of John Maynard Keynes, the German-British economist Ernst Friedrich ‘Fritz’ Schumacher (1911-77) came of age in step with his contemporaries who emphasised growth as they endeavoured to rebuild the modern world following the Second World War.

Midway though his career, however, Schumacher began to believe that the increasingly complex global economy and the increasingly intricate machinery it was built on were proving ruinous for humanity. Influenced by Buddhist teachings, he developed a set of principles he called ‘Buddhist economics’, based on the beliefs that meaningful work is an essential part of being human, simple technology is valuable only to the extent that it meets needs, and the interconnected modern economy is disastrous to humankind and the environment.

He trimmed his thesis to an eloquent three words for his landmark book Small Is Beautiful (1973), which brims with ideas that are today familiar to most and embraced by many, and is often cited as one of the most influential postwar works of economics.

This documentary profile of Schumacher from 1977 captures him at the height of his influence and, incidentally, in the months leading up to his death, exploring his thoughtful philosophies of work, technology and human dignity.

 

Economics geographic diversity problem: It is just a US and Western Europe discipline

August 10, 2021

Dani Rodrik in Proj Syndicate points to another diversity problem facing economics:

Although economists are finally addressing their profession’s gender and racial imbalances, another key source of knowledge and insight remains absent from the discussion. Until there is a greater representation of voices from outside North America and Western Europe, economics will not be a truly global discipline.

In an earlier piece, I pointed how the editorial boards of leading journals are mainly from US.

Further, Rodrik’s own experience:

When I recently took over as president of the International Economic Association, I looked for data on the geographical diversity of contributors to economics publications, but I found comprehensive and systematic evidence to be surprisingly scarce. Fortunately, data collected recently by Magda Fontana and Paolo Racca of the University of Turin and Fabio Montobbio of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan provide some striking initial findings.

As I suspected, their data show an extreme geographic concentration of authorship in leading economic journals. Nearly 90% of authors in the top eight journals are based in the United States and Western Europe. Moreover, the situation seems similar with these publications’ editorial board membership.

Given that these rich countries account for only around one-third of global GDP, the extreme concentration cannot be explained wholly by inadequate resources or less investment in education and training in the rest of the world – though those factors surely must play some role. 

Indeed, some countries that have made huge economic strides in recent years nonetheless continue to be severely under-represented in top journals. East Asia produces nearly one-third of global economic output, yet economists based in the region contribute less than 5% of the articles in major journals. Similarly, the shares of publications from South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are minute, and significantly lower than these regions’ already small weight in the world economy.

Stigler’s paper on Theory of Economic Regulation @ 50 years

August 3, 2021

George Stigler wrote this famous paper on economic regulation in 1971. Before 1971 paper, regulation was aseen as a way to address market failures. Stigler in Chicago style showed that industry actually captures regulation to retain its market power.

Univ of Chicago is reviewing the 50 year history of the paper. They held a symposium and running series of articles by economists.

 

Prof Pranb Bardhan’s academic journey – I

July 22, 2021

Prof Bardhan has started writing on his academic journey from Calcutta to Cambridge to Berkeley and beyond. I came across his first post on Business Standard which has been reblogged from 3quarksdaily.com.

This anecdote from Amartya Sen’s childhood reminds one of several stories around children:

In periods when our house was particularly over-crowded with relatives, my father often sent me and my sister and mother off to our maternal uncle’s home in Santiniketan, a small town about a hundred miles north of Kolkata. This town was famous in India for having the residential educational institution established by Rabindranath Tagore.

..

Even though I was not a student at Santiniketan, I used to accompany my friends in the neighborhood who were students to attend the numerous cultural events that took place in the campus every week. Every Wednesday morning there used to be a solemn gathering where the master of ceremony was Kshitimohan Sen (Amartya Sen’s grandfather), a professor of Sanskrit, who used to recite verses from ancient texts and interpreted them, which were almost completely unintelligible to us children; we all used to wait for the beautiful Tagore songs that the sermons were frequently interspersed with.

Amartya-da’s (I have always addressed Amartya in that typical Bengali younger-brotherly way) mother told me that when he was a small child she once took him to that Wednesday gathering where Tagore was the master of ceremony. The child was obviously bored by Tagore’s sermons and the hushed silence around him, so he started blabbering away, and his mother shushed him. At this the child pointed his finger at Tagore, and loudly said, “why is that fellow talking then?” Clearly a pointed argument from an ‘argumentative Indian’! 

🙂

History of Bank economists in India

July 7, 2021

I came across an interesting paper by Murari N Ballal and B.S. Damodar  written in 1980. The paper is titled Economic Research in Banks and is available in a book edited by Dr NK Thingalaya: On bankers and economists.

The paper surveyed economics departments of banks in 1980 and figured their history. RBI was the first banking entity to start a research department in 1943-46 (exact year not clear). In 1955, Imperial Bank was nationalised and renamed State Bank of India. SBI became instrument of State policy with special responsibility of branch expansion and lending in rural areas. As bankers lacked this knowhow of developmental banking, economists were sought in banks. Accordingly in 1956, SBI became the first bank (who else) to have an economic research department headed by Mr DS Shanker.

Post-SBI, Dena Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and Syndicate Bank established their own ERDs.

In 1969, 14 banks were nationalised leading to all kinds of development targets pushed to nat banks. This led to some more banks establising ERDs and asking economists to assist bankers by giving them research inputs to meet targets.  The ERDs mainly dealt with planning & development work. Therefore, some banks even named their ERDs as Planning and Development Department. Even economists were given titles as Deputy General Manager – Planning.

As per the authors’ research, by 1980 14 nationalised banks had ERDs. Their is an interesting mention of first chief economists (banks had different job title for chief economist at that time) in the paper as well:

Bank Name Year of Establishment Chairperson First Chief Economist
State Bank of India 1956 Dr John Mathai Mr. D.S. Sanker
Dena Bank 1957 NA Mr Pravinchandra Gandhi
Bank of Baroda 1962 Mr. N.M. Choksi Dr A.C.Shah
Bank of India 1962 Mr A.D. Shroff Mr. VT Mathews
Syndicate Bank 1966 Mr. TA Pai Dr NK Thingalaya
Canara Bank 1969 Mr. KPJ Prabhu Dr GV Sathyamurthy
Union Bank of India 1970 Mr. PF Gutta Mr MA Deshpande
Bank of Maharashtra 1971 MR CV Joag Mr AT Akolkar
Central Bank of India 1971 Mr CH Bhabha Mr KR Doodha
Vijaya Bank 1974 Mr Sundar Ram Shetty NA
Corporation Bank 1976 NA NA
Oriental Bank of Commerce 1977 NA NA
Andhra Bank 1979 NA Dr S Vasudeva Shetty
Source: Ballal Murari N and Damodar B.S. (1980), Economic Research in Banks

The key responsibilities of ERD were as follows:

  • Collection and assembling of data on current economic developemnts in India and internationally
  • Corporate planning particularly credit planning.
  • Work related to Lead Bank Scheme. ERD did economic surveys of the districts helping in better allocation of credit and branch expansion.
  • Field Surveys on various facets of banks’ operations
  • Finalise annual reports, notes for regional bankers etc
  • Preparation of speeches and articles for senior execs
  • Pure research work related to banking developments in the country.

Another paper in the book by Mr L D’Mello of SBI mentions that SBI’s Economic & Statistical Research Department was reorganised in three departments:

  •  Chief Economic Adviser’s Secretariat: CEA is expected to be a common man assisting the corporate management of the bank in economic policy formulation.
  • Economic Research Department: Scanning of economic environment with a view to help the bank in decision making. Also helps in annual reports, monthly review and so on
  • Area Planning and Special Studies Department: Preparation of district credit plans under Lead Bank scheme and regional plans

I don’t know whether there has been any follow-up research on how roles of bank economists have changed since 1980. This is especially interesting when we compare 1980s ERDs with ERDs today. Most of ERDs are involved in treasury work : forecasting macro variables, interest rates, RBI policy, Union Budget and so on. There is hardly anyone doing credit/branch planning. Much of this obviously changed post 1991 reforms when interest rates/exchange rates were deregulated. Bank economists were once again drawn to the new challenges of post deregulation world.

Will be interesting to track this history..

 

How Italy produced a large number of influential economists in last 40 years?

June 29, 2021

Enrico Nano, Ugo Panizza, Martina Viarengo in this voxeu research:

Profile of Rohini Pande

June 7, 2021

Profile of economist Rohini Pande:

Pande, 49 years old, is “one of the most influential development economists of her generation,” according to the American Economic Association, and has made groundbreaking contributions to political economy, international development, gender economics, anti-corruption, and efforts to combat climate change.

“Running through her work is an insistence not simply to ask what will work to improve the lives of the poor, but why it works, and what this teaches us about how institutions should be structured and how we should view the world,” says Charity Troyer Moore, Yale’s director for South Asia economics research.

In 2019, Pande was named the Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics at Yale University and director of the Economic Growth Center. She spent the previous 13 years as a senior professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. There she co-founded Evidence for Policy Design, which works with developing economy governments to address policy problems. Pande won the 2018 Carolyn Shaw Bell Award for furthering the status of women in economics.

The profile points Rohini is daugher of journalist Mrinal Pande. Google pointed she is also granddaughter of Hindi novelist Shivani. Phew that is some legacy.

Grave sites of famous economists

May 28, 2021

Prof Malcom Rutherford of Univ of Victoria has compiled pictures of grave sites of famous economists:

This web page contains details of the grave sites of famous economists. Where possible original photographs are included, otherwise a link is provided to pictures available on findagrave.com or on another site. I have also provided links to Wikipedia pages concerning the economists listed and to the graveyards or churches where they can be found. Wikipedia entries are not entirely reliable, but I was struck by how may of the economists listed here have Wikipedia pages. Perhaps by including these links some of my colleagues in the history of economics might be motivated to improve the entries on Wikipedia. I am also always interested in new pictures and information on the whereabouts of other famous economists.

Location of top doctorate programmes: Evidence from young economist awards

May 4, 2021

Economist as a Tailor: Creativity in the art of sewing, crafting and recycling

April 26, 2021

Jeemol Unni, Professor of Economics at Ahmedabad University dons the hat of a tailor with aplomb.

Sewing is a hobby I cultivated when I was a child, later as an adolescent and continued as an adult till the present! If sewing is being creative and creativity is in the genes, then I am sure it came to me from the maternal side of my family. My grandmother and my mother enjoyed sewing and taught me various tricks of the trade even as a child. Both of them had sewing machines. My grandmothers’ was what one sees in tailor shops in India, set on a table, with a pedal at floor level. The manual sewing machine was operated by running the pedal with the feet. Grandma would encourage me to run it and stitch in straight lines on old cloth even when I was a child. She taught me the etiquette of sewing, even how to hold a needle. You point the needle towards yourself when stitching by hand! She, my mother and the teacher in school taught me various kinds of embroidery stitches. However, my interest was more in sewing with a machine.

My mother had a manual sewing machine run by hand which she converted into a motor run machine. She made all my frocks and skirts and more for my cousins as well. She taught me to cut and sew dresses, how to cut the neck, the sleeves, and how to stitch it. Some of the gems she taught me was how to cut the cloth used to hem or stich the neckline. Strips of cloth are cut diagonally to allow for greater stretch while stitching the neckline. I have had a hand-run sewing machine for ages, with a handle that you spin to run the machine. Never converted it to a motor run one as I use it not-so-frequently given my full time profession as an Economist. 

 

What Three Economists Taught Us About Currency Regimes

April 22, 2021

Prof Jeffrey Frankel in this Project Syndicate Article pays tribute to the three economists who passed away recently:

Today, freely floating exchange rates suit most large countries better than the late economists Richard Cooper, Robert Mundell, and John Williamson thought. But some countries do well with firmly fixed exchange rates, while at least half of the world’s countries fall in between.


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