ECONOMIC NOTES

Developing “Infrastructure”

THE term “infrastructure” covers all sorts of things, from ports to roads to canals to bridges to building railway lines. Because it covers such a range of things, many of which appear to be useful, most people look upon “infrastructure” development as an indubitably desirable thing under all circumstances. Questions are scarcely asked about its worthwhileness when the government allocates larger resources for the “infrastructure” sector, or when it instructs public sector banks to give larger loans for “infrastructure” development.

 

Focus on Inequality

THE World Bank and the IMF have started a new trend of late, of taking “progressive” positions in their publications even while insisting on the same old “conditionalities” in policy negotiations with particular countries. In accordance with this new trend these institutions have now got concerned with issues of poverty and inequality; and the World Bank has just brought out what is supposed to be the first of a series of annual publications tracking progress towards poverty removal and curtailment of inequality. This publication is called Poverty and Shared Prosperity.

Migration as Revolt against Capital

THE fact that a large number of refugees, especially from countries which have been subjected of late to the ravages of imperialist aggression and wars, are desperately trying to enter Europe, is seen almost exclusively in humanitarian terms. While this perception no doubt has validity, there is another aspect of the issue which has escaped attention altogether, namely that it is the first time in modern history that the issue of migration is being sought to be taken out of the exclusive control of metropolitan capital.

The TPP and US Politics

A PECULIAR charade is being played out during the current US election campaign. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is an economic agreement between the US and several Asian countries has been under negotiation for almost eight years now. For four of these eight years, Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state and hence directly supervising these negotiations; and even after she quit that job she has remained a prominent figure around the Obama administration, even if not part of it.

Minimum Wage and the Poverty Line

The criteria for determining the minimum wage have evolved in India over a long period of time. The basic guidelines set at the Indian Labour Conference have been subsequently improved upon by the Supreme Court in the early 1990s. As of now, the principles for setting the minimum wage after all these modifications stand as follows.

The Surge in Inflation

Inflation in India, as measured by the Consumer Price Index has been accelerating in the current financial year. While the inflation rate in March 2016 compared to March 2015 was 4.83 percent (which itself was a significant rate), it increased to 5.47 percent, 5.76 percent, and 5.77 percent respectively in the subsequent three months, and to 6.07 percent in July, the highest rate for any month (over the corresponding month in the previous year) since August 2014.

The Subversion of Concepts

Consider two statements: “Petty production is being squeezed out by the encroachment of capital”, and “Petty production is being squeezed out by the encroachment of multinational corporations”. Many would consider the two statements to be more or less identical, the second being only a more specific form of expressing the first. But they are wrong: there is a world of difference between these two statements.

The Logic of Neo-Liberal Capitalism

CAPITALISM is a “spontaneous” system in the sense that its dynamic is characterised by the unfolding of certain immanent tendencies, such as the commoditisation of every object, the destruction of pre-capitalist production, and the process of centralisation of capital. The question arises: what is the role of the State in this spontaneous dynamic of capitalism? In general the State in a capitalist society aids this dynamic, removing hurdles to, and accelerating the operation of, its immanent tendencies.

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