Monthly Archives: August 2013

Balance Of Payments Crises

Phil Pilkington takes an issue with Sergio Cesaratto on the usage of the phrase “balance-of-payments crisis” on problems of the Euro Area.

Phil’s argument is that typically nations facing balance of payments problems need foreign currency and it manifests itself as a depreciation of the domestic currency but in the Euro Area this isn’t the case (because the exchange rates are fixed irrevocably between the Euro Area nations by the national central banks and the ECB). So the usage of the phrase “balance-of-payments crisis” is an abuse of language.

Now, to be short my argument that there is nothing wrong with the usage is because of the definition of what “balance-of-payments” actually is. Here is why:

A balance of payments transaction is a transaction between residents and non-residents. It is not relevant in which currency the transaction really is. So if you were a U.S. resident and if I as an Indian pay you $1 in New York in person, it is still a balance of payments transaction from the viewpoint of the United States. (of course if I own a firm in the United States which pays you then it is not a balance of payments transaction because the firm would be a resident).

In this way it becomes clear that some Euro Area nations have a balance of payments financing problem and since it reached a crisis level, the problem can be classified as a balance of payments crisis even though there is no exchange rate which has collapsed.

The nations which were/are in troubled had difficulties because they had huge current account deficits and as a result became indebted to the rest of the Euro Area. This became unsustainable and turned into a crisis. And both borrowers and lenders are to be blamed.

Since these nations had huge indebtedness to the rest of the Euro Area, they had troubles borrowing and refinancing their debts with foreigners and still have.

So I do not know why someone can take an issue with the phrase “balance-of-payments crisis”.

Except for the huge depreciation of the domestic currency, the Euro Area economic dynamics resembles a typical balance-of-payments crisis in all other ways. There is deflation of domestic demand, financial instability, high unemployment, increase in poverty and decrease in happiness and standard of living etc. There is international help in both cases.

Once again. A BoP transaction is between residents and non-residents. (See 2008 SNA, and BPM6 on this). A BoP crisis hence is a crisis in which borrowing and refinancing existing debt from non-residents has become difficult and is at crisis levels.  Whatever a country such as Portugal does at the moment, some units will be left indebted to the rest of the world/Euro Area. This is because liabilities are greater than financial assets and the difference is the net indebtedness to foreigners. Whatever new debts are created are equal in value to newly created financial assets. So the arithmetic dictates foreigners should be relied upon. The one qualification is that Portugal significantly improves its net exports but that is the same as saying its balance of payments is improving.

So anyone saying it is not a “balance-of-payments crisis” is fooling himself/herself.

Here’s Blaming The Rest Of The World For India’s Problems

Recently India is going through a mini-crisis where its currency has plummeted and with hosts of other reasons such as high inflation and a dysfunctional government not just because of the ruling party but also because of the opposition. In all this corruption has risen a lot. During the last few weeks, the Reserve Bank of India – the central bank – has tried to fight the depreciation of the rupee by taking various steps but in spite of this, the currency kept depreciating.

Unsurprisingly, a blame game has begun. To some extent it is good. It shows that the subject Economics isn’t what it has pretended to be – else we would never have had these debates. Simon Johnson recently wrote an article India’s Economic Crisis for NYT’s Economix which once again reminded economists of how dangerous the ideology that financial crisis are a thing of the past can be.

Initially some section of the media made it appear as if the Reserve Bank of India governor is blaming it on the “tapering” of the large scale asset purchases of the U.S. Federal Reserve. In fact an RBI release appeared to say it explicitly. But the RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao has of course clarified saying that it was just a trigger but put the blame on India’s Finance Minister.

Economists seem to blame the Reserve Bank of India (and the supposed “fiscal indiscipline” of the government). According to them the RBI created a panic of sorts by reacting and this exacerbated the pressure on the Indian Rupee. So according to Swaminthan Aiyar, an economist who wrote an article titled India’s Problem Is Exports, Not the Rupee,

A falling rupee is a political, not an economic disaster

How silly can that get. While the title is okay (India needs more exports), but the above slogan just echoes the thought held among economists that the central bank shouldn’t interfere in the currency markets and that somehow the currency may have stabilized. Criticising the Reserve Bank is like criticising someone under attack for trying to defend (but failing to defend properly). It is important to realize that this “there is always a price” notion is an ideology of economists – a depreciation of a currency says something about it acceptability in international markets. So the fear is that the Rupee may become unacceptable in international markets and go to the IMF for help to refinance its international debts and the pound of flesh demanded in return. If the Rupee continues to depreciate, there will be further outflow of foreign funds and domestic banks will come under tremendous pressure in the foreign exchange markets in which they act as dealers. Perhaps Aiyar needs some lessons from Simon Johnson.

Paul Krugman suggests that India’s net international investment position hasn’t deteriorated and wonders what the issue really is. While it is true that India’s NIIP is not as worse as countries such as Hungary, there is no hard and fast rule that minus 20% is good and minus 100% is bad. India’s currency doesn’t have a brand and acceptability in international markets and 20% can be bad considering the direction in which it is headed given the current account deficits.

The silliest thing I heard (saw actually in a Tweet) is: Japan’s currency is depreciating and that is not a crisis but India’s currency is depreciating and that is a crisis – isn’t that self-contradictory? No it isn’t. Japan is a net creditor to the rest of the world and can talk up its currency as fast as it talked down its Yen. Japan is in a position where it instead can boost domestic demand instead of beggaring its neighbours.

There are other blame games as well. There has been a sharp rise in corruption – or perhaps it is more right to say that such cases have come to the limelight while it has always existing at a large scale. So this has caused India’s troubles. Although there is truth to it, this by itself doesn’t cure India’s external problems. Imagine if these problems hadn’t existed and that there was a rapid rise in output (which anyway is not bad compared to the rest of the world). The rise in output would come about with a rise in domestic demand and this would have also led to a rise in imports deteriorating the balance of payments.

One frequent slogan when such troubles arise in the external sector – and which has been repeated recently – is “increase productivity”. While increase in productivity is welcome (so long as it accompanies a rise in production), this is separate from relative competitiveness with the rest of the world. It is true that a rise in productivity can have some effects on competitiveness but the causality is quite different from what economists generally assume. The major cause of rise in productivity is the rise in production itself and if a nation faces a balance of payments constraint, its production is affected because of deflationary means need to be adopted to keep imports in check.

During the financial and economic crisis which began around 2007, India was the among the first nations to boost domestic demand by fiscal policy. India was already a Keynesian when the phrase “we are all Keynesians” became popular. India has done the opposite of the beggar-my-neighbour policies but has run out of steam and it is time the world boosts domestic demand and ease the constraint on the few “emerging markets” in the news.

It is a deep bias in the economics profession that balance of payments imbalances have a self-adjusting market mechanism. In the years of the Bretton-Wood it was thought that the Mundell-Fleming fixed exchange rate models explained how imbalances would self-correct. But this proved to be wrong. After the fall of the Bretton-Woods, when exchange rates floated, it was thought that there is a market mechanism via prices changes (exchange rate) to keep imbalances in check but – with exceptions of a few – economists again failed to notice their bias with their focus being shifted by Milton Friedman’s Monetarism who also hand-waved the “market mechanism” in order to promote free trade. India’s troubles is another reminder of how their intuitions are wrong. Instead of changing it, they simply blame the government.

It is time for the rest of the world to first boost domestic demand so that India’s exports rise to pay for its imports. This is beneficial to the world itself because it will enjoy more imports. Some criticisms of the Indian government are true but this alone is far from sufficient in solving India’s problems. More importantly, there is no market mechanism to resolve imbalances – a drastic change in coordination of fiscal and monetary policies combined with trade policies which are mutually consistent and beneficial are required.

James Tobin, Banking And The Widow’s Cruse

There is good discussion in the blogosphere on James Tobin’s 1963 paper Commerical Banks As Creators Of “Money” – also mentioned in my previous post Holier Than Tobin?

This blog post is an attempt to present Tobin’s ideas from the paper in a more simplistic way.

One of  Tobin’s points is a critique of the notion that since loans create deposits, it makes banks special as compared to non-bank financial institutions and the over-emphasis on this point by many.

Tobin goes on to show how this is misleading. The fact that a non-banking financial institutions don’t simply credit shares like banks is not too important.

From the viewpoint of a single bank, while loans make deposits, the deposits can “fly out” to another bank and hence the bank is limited by its deposit raising ability. In general, a bank can fund itself by using other things – not just  deposits – so a bank will need to fund itself. It is sometimes said that “banks lend first and look for deposits later” but this is a bit misleading because while it is true in general, it is in the confident knowledge that the funding will be available at a not so costly rate. If the bank fears or the whole banking system fears a funding crisis, then lending will be curtailed.

It is true that the bank can fund itself from the central bank but even this is not available for unlimited amount. It has to provide collateral to the central bank which is limited. Usually these are marketable securities and not loans provided to the private sector and the amount of marketable securities is a small fraction of banks’ balance sheet.

At a macro level however, deposits leaving a bank may move to another bank so one may conclude that the banking sector as a whole collectively possesses a Widow’s Cruse.

Tobin however goes on to show how the presence of non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) presents problems for such a view – by hook or crook, the banking system has to induce the non-banking private sector to hold deposits with them than depositing it with NBFIs. In general flight of deposits abroad is also important. This comes at a cost – the easiest to think of is the interest rate paid on deposits but one can also think of other things such as advertising costs etc.

In the following I show how this happens and how the banking system’s balance sheet can shrink because of flight of deposits to NBFIs who can take away banks’ market share. The fact that loans create deposits is not so important as is emphasized many times. Even though non-banks cannot simply credit the “share” account  doesn’t mean much. They can keep attracting deposits from banks and lend.

So let us take a simple example: start with a bank with initial balance sheet of 100 units. I will neglect capital and other liabilities to keep things clean so if you are not comfortable you can always change the liabilities side by reducing deposits by say 10 and replacing it with other liabilities. Also I call NBFIs’ liabilities “shares” and this is more like money-market mutual fund shares and shouldn’t be confused with stock-market shares.

t = 0


Assets: Loans = 100
Liabilities: Deposits = 100

Non-Financial Private Sector

Assets: Deposits = 100
Liabilities: Loans = 100

Non-bank Financial Institutions

Assets: Deposits = 0
Liabilities: Shares = 0

t = 1

At t = 1, let us say NBFIs attract 10 units of deposits from bank depositors. So the balance sheets will look like:


Assets: Loans = 100
Liabilities: Deposits = 100

Non-Financial Private Sector

Assets: Deposits = 90, Shares = 10
Liabilities: Loans = 100

Non-bank Financial Institutions

Assets: Deposits = 10
Liabilities: Shares = 10

t = 2

At t = 2, someone extinguishes his/her/its loan to the banking system by 10 unit. So,


Assets: Loans = 90
Liabilities: Deposits = 90

Non-Financial Private Sector

Assets: Deposits = 80, Shares = 10
Liabilities: Loans = 90

Non-bank Financial Institutions

Assets: Deposits = 10
Liabilities: Shares = 10

t = 3

At t = 3, someone borrows 10 units from NBFIs. So,


Assets: Loans = 90
Liabilities: Deposits = 90

Non-Financial Private Sector

Assets: Deposits = 90, Shares = 10
Liabilities: Loans = 100

Non-bank Financial Institutions

Assets: Loans = 10
Liabilities: Shares = 10

NBFIs who had 10 units of deposits no longer have it because they have lent 10 units which involves transfer of deposits. The net result at the end is that banks have lost a share of 10 units out of the initial 100 to non-banks and also deposits worth 10 units.

This of course can go on and it is in the interest of banks to prevent this from happening and induce the public to bank with them. In Tobin’s asset allocation theory, asset demands are dependent on the portfolio preference parameter and also the interest rate paid on the asset (or expected returns in general). So putting up interest rates on deposits would prevent this shift to non-bank financial intermediaries.

Tobin would say that “at this point the widow’s cruse has run dry”. Perhaps there is an over-emphasis on this but I leave it to the reader to decide.

One thing Tobin didn’t emphasise is the role of effective demand. I would imagine he would explain why lending doesn’t explode by using some neoclassical marginal curves instead of the Post-Keynesian answer.

Holier Than Tobin?

It sometimes happens that important insights of great contributors to an academic field are missed. One of the most important things in Monetary Economics is Tobin’s asset allocation theory which although is well known is sometimes poorly understood.

James TobinJames Tobin (Source: Econometric Theory)

But sometimes a holier-than-thou attitude can lead one to miss an important and insightful aspect of a work.

The blogger Winterspeak – well aware of some of Tobin’s work such as his paper Commercial Banks As Creators Of “Money” from  1963 has written as post A Bank is not a Financial Intermediary and concludes that

… This then is the conceptual fallacy at the heart of academic macro and what it thinks about banks, and it goes at least all the way back to 1963.

Winterspeak is stuck on a quote from Tobin-Brainard paper (1963) which says:

…the essential function of financial intermediaries, including commercial banks, is to satisfy simultaneously the portfolio preferences of two types of individuals or firms. On one side are borrowers, who wish to expand their holdings of real assets… On the other side are lenders who wish to hold part or all of their net worth in assets of stable money value with negligible risk of default.

This is also repeated in Tobin’s Commercial Banks As Creators Of “Money” which obviously states explicitly that loans create deposits and that the money mutliplier view is highly inaccurate:

According to the ‘new view’, the essential function of financial intermediaries, including commercial banks, is to satisfy simultaneously the portfolio preferences of two types of individuals or firms. On one side are borrowers, who wish to expand their holdings of real assets – inventories, residential real estate, productive plant and equipment, etc. – beyond the limits of their own net worth. On the other side are lenders, who wish to hold part or all of their net worth in assets of stable money value with negligible risk of default. The assets of financial intermediaries are obligations of the borrowers – promissory notes, bonds, mortgages. The liability of financial intermediaries are the assets of the lenders – bank deposits, insurance policies, pension rights.

Winterspeak is adamant about the usage of the phrase “intermediary” and that since banks create deposits out of thin air, they shouldn’t really be called intermediary and that Tobin’s views are equivalent to the loanable funds view. For the first part – maybe but Winterspeak seems to crucially miss out the mediating role played by banks in the portfolio allocation decisions of wealth owners such as households. See my comments in that blog.

First it is crystal clear that Tobin knows loans create deposits. Second, he presents a “new view” in which the distinction between “money” and “bonds” is blurred and this led him subsequently to his asset allocation theory. It is true that Tobin’s model was far from complete and this was improved substantially by Wynne Godley, but nevertheless Tobin’s insights were wonderful and the work of a genius.

Perhaps I would have worded what Tobin wrote differently if I were to teach this but this is just a matter of emphasis.

Perhaps “the essential function” is better worded with “an essential function” so that the reader doesn’t take it to mean that the concept I will come to,  isn’t taken to mean “the only function” or “the most essential function”.

The mediation role played by banks is related to the super-version of “loans create deposits” – asset purchases by banks also create deposits.

So when a bank purchases say a government bond from a household (or a mutual fund selling in response to redemptions by a household), banks create more deposits in the process. In the opposite case, there is a destruction of deposits.

Now suppose for some reason – such as improved animal spirits of entrepreneurs, firms borrow more from banks and the expenditures transfers funds to households. Coincidentally – for different reasons – households wish to hold less of their wealth in deposits and more in bonds or other securities. There is now a discrepancy and it is reconciliated by banks standing ready to sell bonds to households. This decreases the stock of money (monetary aggregate) in existence so that there is no discrepancy at all. There is of course another way in which this may happen – i.e., by price changes (of financial secruities and not that of goods and services) bringing supplies equal to demand but this needs a full course on asset allocation theory discovered by nobody else than James Tobin himself!!

Of course there are other ways. There is the reflux mechanism and more complicated mechanisms involving asset allocation theory such as higher issuance of equities by production firms. In the reverse case when households desire to hold more of their wealth in deposits, firms may need to borrow more from banks so that the “supply” of money is equal to the “demand”.

In contrast there is the Monetarist hot potato process which mainly relies on prices changes of goods and services. In ideas such as the asset allocation theory including the mechanism of the mediating role of banks is a blow to the Monetarist hot potato.

Of course there is the notion of convenience lending – one favoured by Basil Moore – in which household volitionally hold bank deposits non-volitionally but it is too artificial.

This mediating role of banks (and not the most important if you like) is also endorsed by some Post-Keynesian authors such as Wynne Godley and Nicholas Kaldor.

In an article In his essay Keynes And The Management Of Real Income And Expenditure, (in Keynes And The Modern World, ed. George David Norman Worswick and James Anthony Trevithick, Cambridge University Press, 1983), Wynne Godley says (p 151):

Even though I am not going in detail into monetary mechanisms it is worth drawing attention to the fact that the commercial banks’ role, apart from creating credit to finance certain kinds of expenditure, is to mediate the non-bank private sector’s portfolio choice, given the income flows and the central authorities’ funding policy.

Nicky Kaldor’s The Scourge Of Monetarism (Oxford University Press, 1982) is more clearer than simply stating:

As it is, a highly developed banking system already provides such facilities on an ample scale, since it is prepared to accommodate the public’s changing demand between different types or financial assets by altering the composition of the banks’ assets or liabilities in a reverse direction. If the non-banking public wishes to switch its holding of gilts for interest-bearing bank deposits, the banks are ready to supply such deposits at the minimum of inconvenience, and at the same time to place their surplus funds into the gilts which were previously held by the public. Similarly the banks provide easy facilities to their customers for switching balances on current accounts into interest-bearing deposit accounts, or vice versa. Hence, while the annual increment in the total holding of financial assets of the private sector (considered as a whole) is nothing more than the mirror-image of the borrowing requirement of the public sector (in a closed economy at any rate), neither the Government nor the banks can determine how much of this increment will be held in the form of cash (meaning notes and current deposits) and how much in the near-equivalents to cash (such as interest-bearing demand deposits) or in various forms of public sector debt. Thus neither the Government nor the central bank can control how much or the total financial assets the public prefers to hold in the form of ‘money’ on one particular definition or another.

Again in 1997 in Money Finance And National Income Determination Wynne Godley repeats himself although criticising Tobin but nevertheless realising the importance of his work – this time writing an explicit model for the whole thing which incorporates Tobin’s ideas:

… I am saying that (within strict limits e.g. concerning credit-worthiness) banks respond passively to the needs of business for loans and to the asset allocation activities of households (as well as providing the means of payment).


It is true that PKE authors and bloggers do have a much better understanding of monetary matters than mainstream economists but in trying to emphasise this point, sometimes they miss out on important matters. There is no need to say (as Winterspeak says “Tobin … sees … [banks as] something which brings efficiency and eases friction between the actual lender and borrower.”) especially when Winterspeak doesn’t seem to understand the mediating role of banks in the portfolio allocation decisions of financial asset owners which really has less to do with any “friction”. Perhaps the word intermediary is not the best but it is a minor point. In fact the ideas of the 1960s and later are missed by younger ones.

Jackson Hole Symposium Starts With The Money Multiplier

The Jackson Hole Symposium organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has been getting a lot of attention these days. The main reason is that Ben Bernanke announced his intention of doing LSAP (QE) in this symposium a few years back.

One would have expected some improvement by economists on monetary matters but here is Robert Hall from Stanford University in the first talk titled The Natural Rate of Interest, Financial Crises and the Zero Lower Bound: 

… Every economic principles book describes how, when banks collectively hold excess reserves, the banks expand the economy by lending them out. The process stops only when the demand for deposits rises to the point that the excess reserves become required reserves and banks are in equilibrium. That process remains at the heart of our explanation of the primary channel of expansionary monetary policy …

When will economists learn? The above shows Hall has no clue whatsoever.

Also, a few economists concede that they have been incorrect about simple basics and causalities but dodge it by saying “you haven’t read the textbook” and so on – so quote the above line!

An Anti-Keynesian Central Bank Governor

So the news is that Raghuram Rajan has been appointed as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and his three year term will start in September.

This is a bit surprising given that Indian government officials are not too free market fundamentalists as Raghuram Rajan. What is more disappointing is that Rajan completely denies that Keynesianism works.

For example Rajan wrote the last year in an FT piece (and which was also picked by Paul Krugman)

A general increase in government spending may be too blunt – greater demand in New York is not going to help families eat out in Las Vegas (and hence create more restaurant jobs there).

This is a total denial of Keynesianism. This is exactly what Keynes set out to disprove in the 1930s and unfortunately we have people denying this. A rise in domestic demand in New York will obviously lead to a rise in output in New York and New York employment as well as employment in Las Vegas because New Yorkers will purchase output of people in Las Vegas when their (New Yorkers’) incomes rise.

Also notice he singles out government spending and keeps private spending separate.

Instead Rajan offers supply side reasons for the economic mess. In an article for Foreign Affairs titled The True Lessons of the Recession he offers the following reasons:

In fact, today’s economic troubles are not simply the result of inadequate demand but the result, equally, of a distorted supply side. For decades before the financial crisis in 2008, advanced economies were losing their ability to grow by making useful things.


Computers, mobile phones don’t count?

Rajan’s appointment is a bit surprising given that Indian officials are far from free market fundamentalists as Rajan. Perhaps Indian officials were too worried about the depreciation of the Rupee and appointed him? Seems to have helped for today at least – the Rupee hit all time lows during the day and has recovered sufficiently after the announcement.

USDINR - 6 Aug 2013

Chart via NetDania

Blog Security Tips

There are two ways of writing a blog. The first is to use the free service of or and the second is to have a host host your blog on which you run WordPress (which is different from “”). The advantage of the first is that you can start writing directly and not worry about techie things. The advantage of the latter is that it offers you a lot of flexibility but it comes with the headache of maintaining a few things.

Paul Krugman has a post on how Michael Pettis’ blog was hacked recently. In fact in the last 1-2 days, there was a huge rise in hacking activity according to Akamai. Even for my site which has far less traffic than Pettis, the number of attacks was huge and my host hosting millions of sites went down for 8+ hours (and is still recovering – although they won’t admit, I think it was a DoS attack because I remember seeing  “too many requests” on some screen). Krugman feels the hacking was for Pettis writing openly about China but methinks it was simply because of a huge rise in attacks in the past 48 hours.

For some – especially businesses such as travel companies – something such as what happened recently can mean a lot of lost revenue and clients complaining. But even for others, it can be difficult to recover old stuff. So here are some tips.

  1. Use Amazon Route 53 as your name server instead of using your hosts’ name server. with a low TTL such as 300 seconds or 15 minutes or whatever. If your account or the hosting company is hacked, you can always change DNS entries in Route 53 to either point it to a backup site or to completely remove access to your domain name. So if your domain name is and someone hacks, you can use Route 53 to immediately redirect browser requests for to some other IP address or block it completely.
  2. Do not use “admin” as your username. In fact there are some good WordPress plugins such as Better WP Security which – among many other things – lets you change your username and also hide the login screen so that it is known only to you. You can also ban IPs using the tool if you still see someone still trying to hack.
  3. Backup. If using WordPress, you need to backup two things – the database and the “uploads” folder.
  4. Cloudflare: Although I don’t use it, it seems like a good option for security and is free for normal usage.
  5. Something I missed.

Touch Wood.

Manmohan Violet Singh

In a short recent speech, the Indian Prime Minister – the great man who steered the direction of the Indian economy in the early 1990s – says:

The purpose of the study of economics is not to provide settled answers to unsettled and difficult questions, but sometimes to warn economists and the world-at-large, how not to be misled by clever governments.

which is similar to what Joan Robinson once:

The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.

– in “Marx, Marshall And Keynes”Occasional Paper No. 9, The Delhi School of Economics, University Of Delhi, Delhi, 1955.

I’d say Manmohan Singh doesn’t go as far as Robinson in putting the blame on economists themselves but I guess there is some amount of influence. But what Singh says is true – governments of advanced nations mislead the less advanced ones.

Also in the short speech:

I would like to say, that when we study economics, our impulse is not the philosopher’s impulse – knowledge for the sake of knowledge – but for healing that that knowledge may help to bring. These are the words of past thinkers: Wonder is the beginning of philosophy; but it is not wonder, but social enthusiasm, which revolts against the silence of fixed life, and the orderliness of the mainstream, which is the beginning of economic science.

Which is not not surprising since Manmohan Singh is influenced by Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor. Here is a nice interview by the BBC’s Mark Tully from 2005 Architect Of The New India published in the October 2005 issue of the Cambridge University Alumnus Magazine. 

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

The thinking behind his solutions to India’s financial problems was first shaped at Cambridge by the theories of John Maynard Keynes. The great man had died almost 10 years before Manmohan Singh arrived but his legacy was still very much alive. ‘At university I first became conscious of the creative role of politics in shaping human affairs, and I owe that mostly to my teachers, Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor. Joan Robinson was a brilliant teacher but she also sought to awaken the inner conscience of her students in a manner that very few others were able to achieve. She questioned me a great deal, and made me think the unthinkable. She propounded the leftwing interpretation of Keynes, maintaining that the state has to play more of a role if you really want to combine development and social equity.’

‘Kaldor influenced me even more; I found him pragmatic, scintillating, stimulating. Joan Robinson was a great admirer of what was going on in China, but Kaldor used the Keynesian analysis to demonstrate that capitalism could be made to work. So I was exposed to two alternative schools of thought. I was very close to both teachers, so the clash of thinking sometimes got me into difficulties. But that made me think independently.’

In Other News

The Reserve Bank of India announced some measures recently to curb the instability of the Indian Rupee:

The first announcement – effectively raising short term interest rates and which caught everyone by surprise – was on 15 July 2013:

The market perception of likely tapering of US Quantitative Easing has triggered outflows of portfolio investment, particularly from the debt segment. Consequently, the Rupee has depreciated markedly in the last six weeks. Countries with large current account deficits, such as India, have been particularly affected despite their relatively promising economic fundamentals. The exchange rate pressure also evidences that the demand for foreign currency has increased vis-a-vis that of the Rupee in part because of the improving domestic liquidity situation.

Against this backdrop, and the need to restore stability to the foreign exchange market, the following measures are announced:

On 23 July it further tightened monetary policy:

Over the last two months, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has undertaken several measures to contain the volatility in the foreign exchange market. Among them, some measures intended to check excessive speculation adding to undue volatility in market conditions were instituted vide the RBI’s Press Release No.2013-2014/100 dated July 15, 2013. These measures have had a restraining effect on volatility with a concomitant stabilising effect on the exchange rate. Based on a review of the measures, and an assessment of the liquidity and overall market conditions going forward, it has been decided to modify the liquidity tightening measures as follows: