Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some economic discussions - 1

I've had little time lately to strike the right mood and have the right time to write at the same time. However, had quite a few good and / or interesting discussions on mails, chats, and Facebook. So I thought, it would be a good idea to preserve and share those (perhaps not so well) articulated ideas for future reference. So, would share these as and when possible.


Some months ago (between Sep 2013 to Dec 2013), had a small conversation in bits and pieces with a post-graduate participant (PGP, hereafter). Since I found that full of interesting snippets of observations related to economic thought and philosophy, sharing an edited version here. It is edited for neither grammatical nor spelling mistakes but only to create a consistent flow of communication.

PGP: Hello sir. In CD classes there was a discussion that a govt stimulus on infrastructure etc. is better than QE. But I was reading this article:
{Link leads to an article titled “Keynesians: Sleepy? Down a Red Bull: The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education”}
So does it mean that govt intervention in any form (QE or stimulus) is unwarranted and that markets should be left to their own devices in case of a recession? Would the economy emerge stronger in such a case?

Sid: Ok... first of all, never believe any thing or any policy prescription in macroeco.
The thing is that in Micro, all the major issues are settled with a single conclusion. However, in macro, it is hugely political and ideological.
so none of the arguments can be taken at the face value or without contextual considerations
This article is written from a typical Friedman_ian angle.
meaning pushing the envelope of monetary policy as being the only effective tool.
Although I agree that fiscal stimulus in the manner it has been adopted by the US is not going to solve anything but further balloon-up the economy...
there would have been two alternative ways....
one is given by this article itself - monetary measures of cheap money, inducing business to invest, and break the vicious circle of low-production
whereas the other fiscal side argument is conveniently ignored (perhaps due to apparent ideological bias)
that is - to simplify the medicare system, simplify and reduce the government expenditure
and spend that money + some small fresh borrowing on
infrastructure rejuvenation, defense spending, and on the industries where USA has a greater competitive advantage
In my understanding, both the measures would be effective
but given the situation in USA, the fiscal austerity + infra measure would be more suitable.
PGP: but sir again, the problem is about certain industries/companies being favored for receiving the stimulus money. For example, the too big to fail concept.
Why should banks that made bad investments be bailed out? Why not let them die and allow the financial system to detoxify?
Would that have been better in the long run?

Sid: Indeed. In fact, saving the inefficient companies was the second mistake. The first one was to let them balloon up so much by actively ignoring their fudged-up performance parameters...
and the US has been doing that due to their misplaced belief of the principle of laissez-faire, which means the least interference
The US has been a corporate-lobby driven system for long now.... they have maligned and abused the system of free markets by succumbing to the corporate tyranny. for example, watch Thank you for smoking and Bowling for columbine

PGP: but corporatism isn't free market right ? I guess that is one thing that brings bad name to capitalism these days. People think what happens in US is a true free market economy.

Sid: exactly! The problem is that misunderstanding on one hand...
and on the other, the active leftist propaganda that makes the two look the same...

PGP: yeah .. I remember Arundhati Roy's essays that very nicely mix up these two concepts

Sid: If you really want to see such propaganda, you should see authors like her... or even Ashutosh varshney. anyways.... I've stopped wasting time on these guys...
the problem is that they have decided (even without understanding first) that capital, capitalism, free-markets are all evil

PGP: Thought you might like to see this: A rap battle between Keynes and Hayak mirroring their divergent opinions on economics. It’s nicely done. Do see the second part of the rap given in the sidebar suggestions.
To me, Hayek's arguments appeared to make more sense. Of course, this is very perfunctory ... and the video is probably made by an Austrian, but still

Sid: Among the influential economic philosophies of 20th centuries, typically Keynes gets the most attention - that is primarily because he is wrongly appropriated by Leftists to proclaim that government control is good.
Keynes' essentially was a crisis-time measure and even when he suggests government intervention, it is not to scuttle the private activity. I personally like Milton Friedman the most - for his clarity of thought and vocal opposition of leftist propaganda. However, I would agree the most to Hayek's philosophy.
A recent claim to everything is laid by Paul Krugman but I think he lacks originality and is mostly a phony political ideologue.
BTW, Thanks for this rap video

PGP: I recently read an article by Krugman where he said that the American government was not spending enough to get the economy out of recession and that there was no need to worry about deficits at this time. "More spending is what the doctor ordered" ... his words. Probably soft-pedaling Democrat's socialist agenda

Sid: exactly... and that is why Krugman seems like a quack (or a commie agent) to me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The cities and the Loves

The cities I have been to... so many of them... perhaps more than 30 in India and few outside as well. And everywhere I went, I found a similar feeling - that this city is very different. Each city had its own character, its own smell, and its own story. Whenever I think of the cities I have been to, I get a whiz of fresh air, a breeze, a goose-flesh, a pain, a joy, a sadness, a memory... and a smile!

Sharing some of those smiles (or the lack of it) of Indian cities. Ought to omit Lucknow and foreign cities for the time being... Writing about foreign cities will be some other day, when I am in a more formal mood unlike emotional mood today. And writing about Lucknow is not possible for me. That is my city. That is where I belong. So that will take longer than a life to write. Well, so, here it goes:

Jaipur - You must be luckiest city of life so far! I mean, every time we met, you welcomed me with poetry, literature, pleasant experiences, amazing food, nice friends, hugs from Gulzar, blessings from Nizam Sahab, love from Aadil Bhai, and what not! I never had a reason or plan to meet you and yet, you have been a great buddy. You are like that first crush of school days, where all days are happy days and nothing can go wrong.

Calcutta - I visited you for the first time in 2004. I almost hated you, except some small patches of joy. You were sweaty, grumpy, tiring, dirty, and scary. Then, I got to meet you again in 2008 and then, almost every year since 2011. I am sorry that I hated you for so long. The Ganges is majestic, the monuments are magnificent, and there is a whiff of erudition in the air. Although that whiff is mostly hollow blabber, the air is thick with pollution, and smoking is as common as worst kind of poverty-ridden human existence; I don't know why everybody is so happy. Perhaps, when they labelled you as the City of Joy, they were right! You are like that love of graduation days, where there is no money and no hand-holding but something made us fly above clouds.

Varanasi - I have met you twice. You amused, mesmerized, and confused me each time. There was an aura of sanctity mixed with insanity, roots mixed with rots, and glamour mixed with garbage. Your mannerism was questionable yet quintessential. Your hospitality was puzzling yet pure. Your people were abhorrent yet admirable. You are like that class-topper, simple, beautiful, suave girl, whom we all observed and obsessed, liked and leered, tried talking and talking but everything was always from a sacrosanct distance.

Delhi - We have met so many times. Initially, you were a stranger, and a rude one at that. But we kept meeting anyways, more out of compulsion than choice. Sometimes I passed through your airports, sometimes I stayed for a day or two to hop-off to somewhere else. Sometimes, I tried exploring you as well - your museums and monuments, your people and parks, your surroundings and systems. You became more and more welcoming. You opened up to me. You served me with utmost hospitality. But there is something missing. I do not feel anything for you. You are like that girl of the college days, who had a crush on me but her affection remained unrequited.

Kanpur - I have met you a few times. Every time, you were filthy, unfruitful, and unfriendly. And despite this, you were always cocky about something useless. I don't know why we ever had to meet. You are like that neighborhood girl, who can scare the witches but behaves as the ultimate demoiselle.

Mumbai - You were my first city outside Lucknow. And you always scared me. Rather, even today, you scare me. Why are you so big and so busy and so bustling with something or the other all the time?! Well, I have met you so many times that despite this scare, there is a comfort and a coziness in your lap. Once I got the hang of the people, the places, the sea, and the trains, you have showered me with a very safe and nice feeling. I still can't live with you but I love meeting you every time. You are like that mature love that grew out of friendship and even if it didn't culminate into anything material, it is always a treasure.

Bangalore - I am familiar with you. I have met you so many times, in so many ways, with so many relations, explored almost every corner of you, with almost every mode of transport, seen your trees, your birds, your people, your CCDs, your jams, your markets, your societies, your hotels, your malls... and despite seeing so much, I feel a distance from you. The warmth is missing between us. No excitement in coming, no butterflies in stomach in staying, no sinking feeling in going back. You are like that marriage sans love, which we both live through.


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