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Fifteenth Finance Commission Award for 2020–21

The first report of the Fifteenth Finance Commission has allayed many fears that arose after the notification of the terms of reference of the commission. The main report for the period 2021–22 to 2025–26 will have to factor in the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy and provide adequate fiscal space to the states for socio-economic response and recovery.

A Post-Keynesian Approach to Understanding the Black Economy

Macroeconomics of the Black Economy by Saumen Chattopadhyay, Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2018; pp xx + 276, ₹ 795.

Teaching Macroeconomics

The Economy presents a new approach to teaching macroeconomics. It starts from real-life institutions of macroeconomic policy management, teaching models that engage directly with these institutions. Money and monetary policy are explained in the context of modern banking systems, while the Phillips curve is derived from the labour market model. By emphasising empirical applicability, and the linkages with microeconomics, it provides students with a more intuitive and realistic understanding than standard approaches.

Macroeconomics in The Economy

The Economy is a worthwhile initiative that seeks to teach students about the economy, as opposed to teaching economics. The macroeconomic aspects of the textbook are critically scrutinised to understand what is being taught, and how different the treatment is from extant approaches.

Can Central Banks Reduce Inflation?

To explore the empirical validity of the proposition that a rise in the interest rate would necessarily lead to a lower rate of inflation, empirical evidence from 158 countries, during 1981 to 2013, is used to critically evaluate this widely accepted idea. Based on the findings, it is argued that from a policy perspective, the so-called “inflation targeting” should be revisited.

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.

Plurality in Teaching Macroeconomics

For economists, the Great Recession—the worst crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s—has highlighted the need for plurality in macroeconomics education. Ironically, however, there is a move towards greater insularity from alternative or contrasting points of view. Whereas, what is required for vibrant policymaking is an open-minded academic engagement between contesting viewpoints. In fact, there does not even exist a textbook that contrasts these contesting ideas in a tractable manner. This pedagogical paper is an attempt to plug that gap by presenting a comparative study across different traditions in macroeconomics in a unified framework, which can be developed into a semester-long intermediate-level course.

RBI’s Interest Rate Policy and Durable Liquidity Question

The Reserve Bank of India should take into consideration longer term liquidity management for smooth monetary transmission. It must clearly define “durable liquidity” in the form of some quantitative variable and set its desired path for one year or so. This will anchor expectations on future interest rate and liquidity premium, and certainly improve the link between the interest rates in various terms to maturity. Moreover, the desired target for durable liquidity can also serve to improve overall monetary policy effectiveness.

Reflections on Analytical Issues in Monetary Policy

Analytical issues have arisen in the conduct of flexible inflation targeting as the framework of monetary policy, adopted formally by India in 2016, despite the noticeable downward drift in the inflation rate and concerns of many economists about its relevance in the light of the global financial crisis. Issues such as the framework’s rationale, the medium-term inflation target, the meaning of real interest rate in the Indian context, the realism in respect of inflation expectations and of the inferred logic of the yield curve, and the implications for economic inequalities have been pointed out.

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