ECONOMIC NOTES

The Inhumanity of Capitalism

FOR over two years now, the world has been facing a pandemic the like of which has not been seen for a century, and which has already taken 15 million lives according to the WHO, without being anywhere near an end. This is an unprecedented crisis for humanity as a whole, which requires a massive effort on the part of every government, especially governments in third world countries where the people are particularly vulnerable not just to the disease but also to the destitution it brings in its train.

Food and Decolonisation

RUSSIA and Ukraine together account for 30 per cent of the world’s wheat exports. Many African countries, in particular, are heavily dependent on them for their food supplies, which are now getting disrupted because of the war; and this disruption would continue since the war is also affecting the acreage being sown under foodgrains there. Ukraine alone accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s maize exports which again are under threat, endangering food availability in several vulnerable countries.

Reflections on the Sri Lankan Economic Crisis

SO much has been written on the Sri Lankan economic crisis that the facts are by now quite well-known (see for instance C P Chandrasekhar, Frontline April 22): the massive build-up of external debt; the huge Value Added Tax concessions that pushed up the fiscal deficit and made the government borrow abroad even to spend domestically; the decline in foreign exchange earnings because of the pandemic that particularly hit tourist inflows; the downward pressure on the exchange rate

The Hike in Petrol Prices

IN the five days ending March 26, petrol and diesel prices in the country had been hiked four times, with more such daily hikes in the offing. On each occasion the hike had been by 80 paise per litre, so that the total increase during the week had been Rs 3.20 per litre, bringing the price per litre of petrol to Rs 98.61 and of diesel to Rs 89.87 in the capital city, Delhi.

Globalisation and the Relocation of Capital and Labour

THE relocation of capital from the advanced capitalist countries of the north to low- wage countries of the south in the current era of globalisation has received much attention; but there is another kind of relocation that has not received as much attention, and that is of labour from comparatively lower-wage countries of Eastern Europe to the advanced capitalist countries. In fact since within the European Union there is generally free mobility of labour, this has become a powerful inducement for these Eastern European countries to join the European Union.

Sanctions within a Regime of Neo-Liberalism

BEFORE joining the neo-liberal order, India used to have “rupee payment arrangements” with the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialist countries under which the main international reserve currency, the US dollar, was used neither for settling transactions nor even as the unit of account in terms of which the trade-related transactions were denominated. The dollar in short was used neither as the means of circulation, nor even as the unit of account under these “rupee payment arrangements”.

Imperialism as an Abiding Phenomenon

THERE is a common misconception that while the immediate aftermath of political decolonisation was marked by attempts by metropolitan powers to retain control over the resources of the erstwhile colonies, for which they used all kinds of instruments from coups to armed interventions against the newly independent governments, that period got over after a time.

An Unimaginable Contrast

MUCH has been written about the immense increase in economic inequality that has occurred of late and various startling figures have been provided by bodies like Oxfam, which has just come out with a report titled Inequality Kills. This shows that the wealth of the 10 richest men has doubled since the pandemic began while the incomes of 99 per cent of the population of the world are lower today than before the pandemic.

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