ECONOMIC NOTES

Scandinavia and Imperialism

THERE are many misconceptions about Scandinavian capitalism. A very common one is the belief that since the Scandinavian countries developed vigorous capitalist economies, without ever having acquired any colonies of their own, they constitute a clear refutation of the claim that capitalist development necessarily requires imperialism. This is an argument that I have heard for decades, but it is based on a misconception, not just about Scandinavia but above all about imperialism itself.

“Heads I Win, Tails You Lose”

THE craftiness of imperialism is boundless. In several countries of the world at present there are neo-fascist governments, propped up by their respective big bourgeoisie (all aligned to globalized capital), and implementing neo-liberal policies with their characteristic ruthlessness; in many other countries, there are neo-fascist outfits attempting to get into power by promising to their big bourgeois patrons that they would do the same if in power. A neo-liberal-neo-fascist alliance in short has become quite pervasive.

The Indian Economy is Heading for a Stationary State

ADAM Smith and David Ricardo had been haunted by the idea of capitalism ending up in a “stationary state”, by which they meant a stable state of zero growth. Marx used the term “simple reproduction” to describe such a state, where there is no net addition to production capacity and the economy just reproduces itself at the same level period after period. The Indian economy appears headed for such a state.

Tendency towards the Emergence of an “International” Middle Class

THE chancellor of the exchequer of Britain, whose official residence is only next door to the British prime minister’s, is Rishi Sunak, a person of Indian origin. Britain’s home secretary is Priti Patel, also of Indian origin. The US vice-president Kamala Harris, is of mixed Indian and Jamaican parentage. One can go on; and there are many striking instances of “success stories” in the international business world. These are not persons who are necessarily cut off from their countries of origin.

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.

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