ECONOMIC NOTES

The Indian Economy on the Verge of Collapse

THE GDP growth in the first quarter (April-June) of 2020 over the first quarter of the previous year has been minus 24 per cent according to preliminary official estimates. But most knowledgeable people believe that even this is an underestimate of the actual contraction brought about by the lockdown. In fact, a former chief statistician of India, Pronab Sen, believes that the actual contraction would have been about 32 per cent. Others put the figure even higher.

GST Compensation: Centre’s Bizarre Stand

WHEN the Goods and Services Tax was introduced, and the states virtually gave up the power to levy indirect taxes which they had enjoyed under the constitution, the centre had solemnly promised that it would compensate them for a period of five years for any revenue shortfall arising from the shift to GST. The shortfall was to be assessed relative to what revenue should have been, assuming a 14 per cent rate of growth. It is this promise which had persuaded many states to fall in line behind the GST.

An Elementary Misconception about the Hindu Rashtra

THE BJP as we know is a Hindu-supremacist party. It is the political front of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a fascistic organisation which believes in establishing a Hindu rashtra. Though the BJP itself cannot openly espouse this vision because of its need to remain within the four corners of the constitution, it is trying its best to realise this vision de facto. But what does a Hindu rashtra really mean? The fact that it entails the subversion of secularism and the reduction of the Muslim minority, in particular, to the status of second class citizens, is clear.

Lebanese Portents

THE tragic events unfolding in Lebanon are a portent of things to come for the entire third world. Lebanon, a small, highly import-dependent country, has been in the grip of an economic crisis for quite some time as the world recession has become more acute; and with the coronavirus crisis, Lebanon’s economy has been reduced to utterly dire straits.

What Could Be Wrong With a Fiscal Deficit?

I HAVE written about this in the past, but since bad economics comes thick and fast from the representatives of finance capital, especially the Bretton Woods institutions located in Washington DC, there is no harm in my repeating myself.

The issue relates to a fiscal deficit and has acquired urgency at present because revenues of governments everywhere in the world, including India, have declined owing to the pandemic-induced lockdown, while the need for government spending on relief and healthcare has escalated steeply, necessitating larger fiscal deficits.

Deception on Poverty

THERE is much self-congratulatory back-slapping among governments, the World Bank officials and many economists about the “decline in poverty” that is supposed to have occurred between 1990 and the onset of the recent pandemic. This decline is claimed on the basis of an International Poverty Line (IPL) of $ 1.90 a day (at 2011 Purchasing Power Parity) worked out by the Bank, which basically defines poverty across the world as lack of access over one day to the bundle of goods that $1.90 would have bought in the US in 2011.

The Hindrance to a New Deal Today

WHAT had been only a suggestion by several prescient members of the capitalist establishment till now, has become official policy, at least in Britain where Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that his government will undertake public investment to stimulate the economy, as FD Roosevelt had done under the New Deal in the 1930s in the US. In fact, Johnson specifically referred to Roosevelt’s New Deal, and expressed his intention of increasing taxes on the rich if necessary.

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