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

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How Did Central Bank Independence Become the Norm?

Priests of Prosperity: How Central Bankers Transformed the Postcommunist World by Juliet Johnson, New Delhi: Speaking Tiger, 2016; pp xv+292, ₹995.

Vulnerability of Emerging Market Economies to Exogenous Shocks

The transmission of global demand, oil supply and monetary policy shocks on the Indian economy are empirically examined using a parsimonious structural vector autoregression model for the period 1996 to 2016. Global demand shocks exert the most dominant effect causing fluctuations in various macroeconomic variables, whereas global monetary policy spillovers play an important role in affecting domestic short-term interest rates and financial asset prices. Global oil supply shocks, given its relative weightage as an intermediate input, have a greater impact on wholesale price index inflation than on consumer price index inflation. Given the rising trade and financial integration of the Indian economy, a quantitative impact analysis of these global shocks assumes importance for macroeconomic and monetary policy frameworks.

Theoretical Analysis of ‘Demonetisation’

With the aid of simple theoretical tools used in classroom lectures, the implications of the recent “demonetisation” exercise in India are analysed. It lends support to conclusions reached by other authors on the impact of demonetisation with the aid of available data. Following Robert Lucas’s Nobel lecture, the merits of economic policies that assume the form of random shocks to an economic system are questioned.

Oil Price, Exchange Rate and the Indian Macroeconomy

General discussions on the Indian macroeconomy have centred on two things in the recent past: the impact of depreciation of rupee and the effects of falling world oil prices. Using the structural vector autoregressive approach, the dynamic relationship between movements in oil prices and exchange rates with macroeconomic variables like price, output, interest rate and money are investigated. Additionally, a comparative analysis is conducted to show how each of these structural shocks has historically affected price, output and exchange rate. The results show strong link among these variables. Three results have important policy implications: (i) the world price of oil has a great potential to affect India's output, (ii) targeting depreciation of rupee to expand output may not be an effective policy tool for the RBI, and (iii) variation in rupee's value can have medium- to long-term impact on world price of oil.

India's 'Poverty of Numbers'

The number of "poor" derived by applying price adjustment to an old consumption basket, which is largely what official poverty measures have done, are very different from estimates based on actual consumption baskets that have changed over time. For instance, the share of cereals in household expenditure halved between 1993-94 and 2011-12 in rural areas. In the light of this, we ask if all expenditure would be on food, what percentage of the population would be unable to meet the prescribed calorie requirement? Adding a "minimum" level of expenditure on clothing-bedding-footwear, fuel and light, and conveyance to the "derived" sum of food expenditure provides a second counterfactual. Similarly, the cumulative addition of expenditure on other consumer goods and services provides further counterfactual scenarios.

Not in People's Interest

The politics and economics of interest rate formation in this country must be studied carefully. Lowering the interest rate raises stock prices in an environment where they themselves cannot move up thanks to the fundamentals of the economy that are not conducive.

Indexation Policy of the 7th Central Pay Commission Report

There is a need to revise the manner in which the pay commissions have indexed inflation and the concomitant pay rise. This critique looks at the weaknesses of the existing methodology and proposes some revisions to make it more representative and robust.

Inflation with Disinflation?

Price inflation in India as measured by the Wholesale Price Index and the Consumer Price Index has shown diverging trends. While WPI indicates a disinfl ationary situation for 16 months, CPI indicates inflation. Explaining the construction of the two indices, the trends of subgroups of both indices are presented. It is found that the different sample sizes and weightages of commodity groups of both indices and price interventions in the market explains, at least in part, this odd situation of infl ation along with disinfl ation.

Formula Does Matter

Amid the chaos around the new gross domestic product figures put out by the Central Statistics Office, profound improvements made in another prominent statistical marker--the Consumer Price Index--also compiled by the CSO, went unnoticed. The CPI series was revised to a more recent base year, 2012. This alone probably deserves commendation as base years of other national price indices have grown significantly remote. It is indeed a tectonic shift in estimation procedure and conforms to international best practice concerning CPI. Here we discuss the decision of CSO to replace the arithmetic mean with the geometric mean in the updated CPI indices by going through each of the established approaches to index number theory used to identify the appropriate formulation to calculate basic indices.

Capital Account Management in India

India has been subject to capricious capital flows since its integration with the global capital markets in the early 1990s. In a bid to balance diverse objectives, India, like many other emerging markets, has resorted to active management of various types of capital flows. This paper finds that while the calibrated liberalisation approach resulted in altering the composition of capital flows towards more stable flows, and has helped India to negotiate the "Trilemma," the use of sporadic capital account management measures in the face of surge or stop of capital flows has not been very effective in achieving their objectives of reducing external vulnerability or mitigating macro-prudential risks.

Monetary Policy Dilemmas at the Current Juncture

Monetary policies in advanced economies and emerging markets face quite different challenges at the current juncture. In the advanced countries, current dilemmas derive from the normalisation of unconventional monetary policies. The short-term dilemma is to determine when to start exiting extraordinary policies and selecting appropriate tools, as conventional tools may not be very relevant during this phase. The medium- to long-term challenges relate to the sequencing, pace and mechanics of normalisation. Monetary policy in emerging markets needs to cope with the familiar dilemmas of fiscal dominance, the growth-inflation trade-off and the "impossible trinity." With fiscal parameters in control, and food and commodity prices subdued, the chief dilemma currently confronting emerging markets involves a trade-off between targeting divergent domestic and external cycles. Although they are now better placed to absorb a sudden stop, the impact is likely to be differential, with those with weaker macroeconomic parameters suffering greater pain.

Calm before the Storm?

It is generally believed that India is doing far better than most emerging market economies in these times of global economic turmoil. Emerging markets are facing capital flight, with large-scale outflows, especially since the second half of 2015, with the trend expected to continue in 2016. India has been less affected than others, but is clearly vulnerable due to the large number of Indian firms that are exposed to external borrowings, a weak rupee, a year or more of declining merchandise exports, falling corporate profitability, and stressed corporate balance sheets.

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