Keynesian Reflections: Effective Demand, Money, Finance and Policies in the Crisis edited by Toshiaki Hirai, Maria Cristina Marcuzzo and Perry Mehrling, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2013; pp xxiv + 317, Rs 850.
Our policymakers face a dilemma: should we have adequate food and nutrition for all or should we have world-class airport terminals? In an ideal world, one could possibly have them both. But if there are limited resources and there is a question of setting priorities, then surely it should be possible to hold the view that the former should get precedence. Well-trained neoclassical economists can often employ much abstract modelling to prove the opposite.
It is instructive to see how the issue of business cycles was looked upon by John Maynard Keynes and Joseph Schumpeter, each of whom wrote masterly tracts on the subject in the 1930s. Though Keynes was concerned with a short-run problem, Schumpeter was concerned with the long-run dynamics of the capitalist system. Given the present financial crisis, it is possible to argue that the true rationale of a stimulus package in countries such as India that are still low in terms of their average level of living ought to be to address fundamental, long-term, rather than short-term, issues.
In Praise of Economic Reforms Pulin B Nayak This book is about the reform process in the Indian economy initiated in 1991. This is a competent account and the reader stands to learn much from a close reading of the book. The sequence of events leading up to the start, and even the inevitability, of the reform process is well adumbrated. This is however not to say that one need straightaway agree with every nuance of the analysis that the authors have to offer. Though there are many who may claim to be the intellectual progenitors of the reform process it would perhaps not be incorrect to say that the two principals amongst them are the then finance minister Manmohan Singh and his political mentor and the then prime minister Narasimha Rao. There is no denying that the Indian economy at the beginning of 1991 was in the midst of a deep fiscal crisis as well as a payments crisis in the external sector. The fiscal crisis was the result of decade-long spell of extravagance in government expenditure, both at the central and state levels, running substantially ahead of available resources. The foreign trade sector was beset with poor showing on the export front coupled with rising foreign exchange outgo owing principally to sharp increases in oil prices.
By not paying attention to the wish lists of business and industry groups, P Chidambaram has done the right thing. The measures related to tax reform in Budget 2007 are the correct ones, but fiscal consolidation is being achieved by compression of capital expenditure. The recent tragedies of Nandigram and Dantewada are symptoms of a developmental process that has gone horribly wrong and there is a need for a new vision of development. Time, however, is running out.
Review of Rural Affairs: June 29, 2013
With Indian agriculture growing slowly, employment in agriculture too has been increasing at a low rate. Urban employment has not expanded rapidly enough to provide work for the growing rural population. So, is the rise in non-agricultural employment in recent years driven more by distress than demand? Three articles in this edition of the Review of Rural Affairs look at aspects of this issue.
A couple of related issues that are examined are the growth of “non-cultivating households” and the movement of wages of agricultural labour.
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