ECONOMIC NOTES

The Absurdity of Hiking Oil Prices

BETWEEN, say December 25, 2019, and June 23, 2020, world crude (brent) oil prices have fallen by nearly 37 per cent. They had fallen by over 60 per cent between end-December and mid-April, but there has been some price-recovery since then; even so, the decline in world prices till June 23 has been quite dramatic. In India however, over this very period, petrol and diesel prices have been going up sharply and are now higher than ever before; in fact diesel prices have increased even more sharply than petrol prices and the difference between the two has largely disappeared.

A Stock Market Boom amidst a Real Economy Crisis

SOMETHING very odd is happening in the United States. The coronavirus toll keeps rising with no end in sight. The economy has virtually collapsed with more than 40 million people filing for unemployment. Thousands are out on the streets protesting against the rampant racism that marks that society. Relations with China have reached a nadir. Altogether, as philosopher Cornel West put it, the US is showing every sign of being a “failed social experiment”. And yet there is a veritable boom in the US stock market.

The World at Crossroads

THE Financial Times of London is one of the most “respectable” bourgeois newspapers in the world. Even this newspaper has now come to recognise something which the Left has been saying for quite some time. In an editorial on April 3, 2020, it wrote: “Radical reforms in reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy.

The Mendacity of the “Rescue Package”

THE inhumanity of the Modi government towards the people is matched only by its mendacity. And in both respects the Modi government is far ahead of most other governments in the world. Which other government would have passed off a slew of concessions to foreign and domestic monopolists as a “rescue package” for the people of the country? Which other government would have totted up loan plans for banks, and non-bank financial companies, as succour to the crisis-hit poor?

The War on Labour

EVEN as millions of migrant workers are wearily trudging back to their villages with no money, no food and no shelter, or are locked up en route in shoddy quarantine camps, a war has been unleashed on the rights of workers under the cover of the lockdown. The BJP, true to form, is the political formation leading this class war through its state governments. The Uttar Pradesh government has through an ordinance suspended all labour laws (except just four) for a period of three years.

A Dangerous Course

DESPITE repeated demands by the states, the centre still has not released what is their legitimate due, namely the compensation for their revenue loss owing to the introduction of GST; this has not been paid since August. Meanwhile the Covid-19 pandemic, while adding to the responsibilities of the state governments, has dried up their revenues owing to the lockdown. The main sources of revenue now left to them, leaving aside GST, are taxes on petro-products and alcohol, and stamp duty.

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