ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Demand-led Growth Slowdown and Inflation Targeting in India

A variety of indicators are presented to show that demand restricted output during the growth slowdown of 2011–17. The macroeconomic structure of the economy is such that a policy-induced demand contraction affects output more than it affects inflation. In this context it is important to evaluate the application of inflation targeting. Flexible inflation targeting was too narrowly and strictly implemented initially, although there are signs of moderation in 2018. Since inflation forecasts were biased upwards, the more effective expectations anchoring channel of inflation targeting was underutilised. The output sacrifice imposed was higher than necessary. Finally, possible mechanisms to ensure inflation targeting is implemented flexibly as required in the Indian context are discussed.

Foreign Finance, Real Exchange Rate, and Macroeconomic Performance in India

The paper examines whether financial inflows cause economic contraction in India through appreciation of the rupee. To this end, it formulates a structuralist macroeconomic model and calibrates it to India’s national income accounts. It then simulates and analyses an alternative scenario involving greater inflow of foreign finance. It is seen that real exchange rate appreciation, despite its negative effect on trade surplus, stimulates real wages and consumption demand. The paper does not endorse complete capital account convertibility but warns against a blanket approach towards different forms of foreign finance.

Monetary Economics of Fascism and a Working-class Alternative

Fascism is the usurpation of the economic process by the elite and the related decimation of the working class and the poor. This process is represented by the shrinkage of fiat money backing the production of goods and services and its substitution by financial instruments. This domestic coup is accomplished by the spread of what is generally referred to as “false consciousness.” The tools of basic economics can be fashioned to introduce students to these concepts. Mainstream economists continue to demonstrate the different ways utility functions can be manipulated.

Delinking Housing Cycles, Banking Crises, and Recession

The nexus of housing boom-busts, banking crises, and economic cycles is not unique to the last crisis and has been increasingly present in each of the major banking crises since the break-up of Bretton Woods in the early 1970s. Housing is a politically charged issue. A safer housing market, via planned fiscal intervention to steady supply, would do more to make the financial system safer than all of the other recent initiatives put together. Cheaper finance without cheaper homes only deepens housing inequality.

Should Financial Stability Be Assigned to Public Policy?

In the light of the experience with the severe financial crises of the 1990s, the responsibility for financial stability has implicitly been assigned to public policy, overturning, in a sense, the dominant paradigm until then of regarding financial development, including stability, as a function best performed by the financial markets. This paper undertakes a critical examination of this assignment, its magnitude and quality, by questioning its analytical underpinnings. The paper examines the search for the appropriate international financial architecture as the virtuous approach to the assignment and concludes that the identification of international standards and codes for adoption by countries may be a suboptimal approach. On the other hand, establishment of an international bankruptcy mechanism holds promise of filling a major gap in the efforts to strengthen the international financial architecture.

Fiscal Responsibility : Not a Straitjacket

Even as evidence mounts of the government’s fiscal position in the current year slipping out of control, the fiscal responsibility bill has been in the news, thanks to the recommendations on the bill of parliament’s standing committee on finance. The government’s initial reaction to the committee’s recommendations was that they virtually dispensed with the notion of fiscal responsibility. This would appear to be a rather extreme view. The notable feature of the debate on fiscal responsibility has been the widespread appreciation that it has revealed of the importance of fiscal prudence. The government should build on this broad consensus rather than press for passage of the original bill without any modifications.

Panchayati Raj : Unnecessary Confusion

Out of plan funds devolved to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in Kerala some amounts have been found to have been deposited with certain government institutions for works which the PRIs want them to take up in their areas. These institutions are government bodies such as the electricity board or the water authority. The PRIs in Kerala were doing this under direction from the state government. Now the making of these deposits has been objected to as a financial irregularity by the audit department.

Interest Rates on Small Savings and PF Schemes

The arguments for linking interest rates on small saving (SS) schemes to market rates and rationalising the tax benefits available to them rest on removing the government's arbitrary powers in a liberalised interest rate environment. If as a result of the suggested measures SS schemes become relatively unattractive, the government would need to borrow more from alternative sources. If total government borrowing is not kept in check, yields on government securities would go up and with it the interest rates on SS schemes would also warrant upward revision.

Universal Banking:Some Issues

The proposed conversion of development finance institutions into universal banks will be a major event in Indian banking and raises several important issues. It will be wise to ponder some of these issues right at this stage.

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