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Jayati Ghosh

Articles by Jayati Ghosh

Farmers vs. the Indian State

December 11, 2020

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government apparently thinks that the huge open-air farmers’ protests outside Delhi may fizzle out in due course. But the farmers’ resolve, and their widespread public support, suggest that this time could be different.

NEW DELHI – India’s capital is under siege from more than two million farmers, who are currently gathered at the city’s border in a massive protest that started two weeks ago. Old and young men, women, and even children from farming families are camping on open roads in the bitter cold of a Delhi winter. They have abandoned their concerns about viral infection and come prepared for the long haul, bringing enough food to last for several months.


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Vaccine Apartheid

November 16, 2020

Because a pandemic can be overcome only when it is overcome everywhere, embracing an every-country-for-itself approach would seem irrational. And yet, as the unseemly competition for vaccine doses indicates, that is exactly what many countries have done.

NEW DELHI – The American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have announced that the COVID-19 vaccine they are jointly developing was more than 90% effective in early clinical trials. The news raised hopes around the world that life may soon return to pre-pandemic normal.

Why Biden Can Overcome Political Gridlock

Alex Wong/Getty Images

How to

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How the Green Revolution Is Harming Africa

October 14, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing climate change should have taught us the importance of resilience. Unfortunately, well-intentioned efforts to improve food security in Africa are instead increasing small farmers’ dependence on global agribusinesses without raising their incomes, and making farming systems more fragile.

NEW DELHI – The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations World Food Programme, declaring that it wanted “to turn the eyes of the world toward the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger.” Those numbers are now greater than ever – and the dysfunctional global food system is largely to blame.


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A Multicolored New Deal

October 2, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified socioeconomic disparities between and within countries around the world, offering a disturbing preview of what awaits us on a warming planet. To get ahead of both current and looming crises, the world must commit to a recovery agenda that is not only green, but also blue, purple, and red.

NEW DEHLI – The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented economic crisis, deeper and wider than any since the Great Depression. After months of turmoil, there is still no certainty as to how severe, widespread, and prolonged the damage will be.

The Way We Could Live Now

PS OnPoint

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Stop Doing Business

September 10, 2020

The World Bank should no longer publish its Doing Business index, owing to its flawed design and vulnerability to manipulation. The Bank also owes the developing world an apology for all the harm this misleading and problematic tool has already caused.

NEW DELHI – The World Bank’s Doing Business index has been both conceptually and operationally suspect since its inception in 2003, but mainstream economists have only recently started to criticize it. Although the Bank’s own recent acknowledgement of some of the problems is welcome, the index has already caused huge damage to developing countries, and it should be scrapped.

The Post-Pandemic Economy’s Barriers to Growth


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Male Leadership Malpractice

August 11, 2020

The timing and intensity of the US, Brazilian, and Indian responses to COVID-19 may have varied, but the results have been the same: the world’s highest numbers of infections. Their leaders’ authoritarian personalities and divisive policies have a lot to do with it.

NEW DELHI – The United States, Brazil, and India have surged ahead of the rest of the world in terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with no peak in sight. They (and fourth-place Russia) have one thing in common: macho leaders with authoritarian personalities.

How to Prevent the Looming Sovereign-Debt Crisis

Teradat Santivivut/Getty Images

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Still No Care for Care Workers

July 14, 2020

Decades of public neglect and underspending have brought us to the point that even an unprecedented global health emergency and economic collapse are not enough to make mistreatment of low-paid essential workers socially and politically unacceptable. Our applause is no longer enough to keep them keeping us safe.

NEW DELHI – Those who thought that a pandemic would make everyone realize the crucial role of care workers should think again. With the coronavirus still spreading rapidly, frontline workers are more essential – and at greater risk – than ever, yet public attention has shifted elsewhere.

Toward a New Fiscal Constitution

PS OnPoint


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Modi’s Fiscal Follies

June 12, 2020

If households decide to save more and consume less during an economic slump, then the correct policy response is to increase government spending. Unfortunately, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is doing the opposite during the current pandemic-induced downturn – with potentially disastrous consequences.

NEW DELHI – Students in introductory macroeconomics courses typically used to learn about the paradox of thrift. This theory, popularized by John Maynard Keynes, states that if households decide to save more and consume less during a slowdown or recession (because of uncertainty about future income), then the resulting reduction in aggregate demand will aggravate the economic decline.

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Messages from “Fiscal Space”

May 13, 2020

While many advanced economies increase government spending to unprecedented levels to mitigate the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, most developing countries have struggled to marshal even relatively small rescue packages. These differences reflect a systemic flaw in the global economy.

NEW DELHI – Among the many inequalities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most striking is the dramatic divergence in governments’ fiscal responses. Economic activity has collapsed worldwide as a result of lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus. But while some developed countries have been able to deploy fiscal stimulus on an unprecedented scale, most have not.

The Crisis of a

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COVID-19 is the IMF’s Chance for Redemption

April 9, 2020

After decades of failing to fulfill the explicit purpose for which it was created, the International Monetary Fund now finds itself uniquely positioned to facilitate a globally coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis. But to make good on its potential, the Fund first needs to abandon some bad old ideas.

NEW DELHI – The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the entire world – rich and poor – into uncharted territory, prompting extraordinary policy responses almost everywhere. The looming economic fallout will be more severe than that of the Great Depression, the 2008 global financial crisis, and perhaps even the two world wars. After all, none of these previous epochal crises involved a simultaneous global collapse of both

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The COVID-19 Debt Deluge

March 16, 2020

How long the COVID-19 crisis will last, and what its immediate economic costs will be, is anyone’s guess. But even if the pandemic’s economic impact is contained, it may have already set the stage for a debt meltdown long in the making, starting in many of the Asian emerging and developing economies on the front lines of the outbreak.

NEW DELHI – Pandemics like COVID-19, alarming and destructive as they are, can serve a useful purpose if they remind everyone of the critical importance of public health. When a contagious disease strikes, even a society’s most protected elites must worry about the health of neglected populations. Those who have advocated privatization and cost-cutting measures that deny health care to

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The Biometric Threat

February 14, 2020

As with so many other convenient technologies, the world is underestimating the risks associated with biometric identification systems. India has learned about those risks the hard way – and should serve as a cautionary tale to the governments and corporations seeking to expand the use of these technologies.

NEW DELHI – Around the world, governments are succumbing to the allure of biometric identification systems. To some extent, this may be inevitable, given the burden of demands and expectations placed on modern states. But no one should underestimate the risks these technologies pose.
Money and Empire

PS OnPoint

Ann Ronan/PicturesPrint/Collector/Getty Images

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Why Modi’s Thugs Attacked My University

January 14, 2020

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is engaged in a wide-ranging campaign to damage, discredit, and reduce access to higher education. It is a strategy straight out of the authoritarian playbook, and it will impede the innovation that is vital to human progress – and to India’s future.

NEW DELHI – On January 5, masked men and women stormed the New Delhi campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where I am a professor, and attacked the students and faculty they found there with sticks, iron rods, and scythes. The university administration, security guards, and local police not only failed to protect the innocent victims of this rampage, which included vandalism and trespassing, in addition to the violence; they

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The Rape of India’s Soul

December 10, 2019

India’s rapid descent into xenophobia, violence, and irrationality has an important economic dimension, but it takes politicians to channel these emotions into nationalism, and to embolden the nationalists to commit violence. Now that the BJP has done so, is it able – or willing – to exorcise the many demons it has unleashed?

NEW DELHI – Injustice, discrimination, and violence are hardly unheard of in India. But today, they are being normalized, enabled, and even encouraged by the state, which is promoting an aggressive form of Hindu nationalism that looks increasingly like mob rule. India’s diversity and complex civilizational legacy are now under assault, and it is shaking the very foundations of Indian democracy.

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The Growing Threat of Water Wars

November 13, 2019

In 2015, United Nations member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which include an imperative to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” Yet, in the last four years, matters have deteriorated significantly.

NEW DELHI – The dangers of environmental pollution receive a lot of attention nowadays, particularly in the developing world, and with good reason. Air quality indices are dismal and worsening in many places, with India, in particular, facing an acute public-health emergency. But as serious as the pollution problem is, it must not be allowed to obscure another incipient environmental catastrophe, and potential source of future conflict: lack of access to

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Our Shrinking Economic Toolkits

October 10, 2019

For the last four decades, mainstream economists and policymakers have been wedded to fixed dogmas. Their blind belief in fiscal discipline and consolidation, and resulting refusal to consider more public spending even in an obvious downturn, now threatens the very stability of societies.

NEW DELHI – In the natural world, humans stand out for the complexity of the tools, technologies, and institutions that we have developed. According to the anthropologist Joseph Henrich, we owe this success to our ability to accumulate, share, and adapt cultural information across generations. But just as interconnection causes our “collective brains” to expand over time, isolation can cause them to shrink. Economists should take

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Getting Serious About the SDGs

September 12, 2019

Since adopting the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the “global community” has singularly failed to create the conditions needed to realize them. But by addressing three big problems in the international economic system, world leaders could yet help to put the SDGs back on track.

NEW DELHI – At the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York later this month, world leaders will discuss a host of important issues – not least progress toward meeting the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. And some of the SDGs are highly topical, including those on climate action, decent work and economic growth, quality education, and partnerships to achieve the goals.
The Trump Narrative and the

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The IMF’s Latest Victims

August 14, 2019

In 2013, the International Monetary Fund produced a report acknowledging that it had “underestimated” the effects that austerity would have on Greece’s economy. Yet the Fund has made the same mistakes in its subsequent deals with Argentina and Ecuador.

NEW DELHI – The process of selecting the International Monetary Fund’s next managing director must change. In particular, the tradition of choosing a European for the post – based on an unfair and anachronistic “gentlemen’s agreement” reached with the United States when the institution was established 75 years ago – needs to be discarded. But even more important, the IMF’s longstanding approach to lending should be transformed.
The Case

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The Exploitation Time Bomb

July 16, 2019

Worsening economic inequality in recent years is largely the result of policy choices that reflect the political influence and lobbying power of the rich. There is now a self-reinforcing pattern of high profits, low investment, and rising inequality – posing a threat not only to economic growth, but also to democracy.

NEW DELHI – Since reducing inequality became an official goal of the international community, income disparities have widened. This trend, typically blamed on trade liberalization and technological advances that have weakened the bargaining power of labor vis-à-vis capital, has generated a political backlash in many countries, with voters blaming their economic plight on “others” rather than

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Blame US Trade Policy for Sky-High Drug Prices

June 10, 2019

Skyrocketing drug prices were a major issue in the 2016 US presidential campaign, and the Trump administration has since announced measures to bring them down. Why, then, is the administration also pushing for intellectual-property rules that give pharmaceutical giants even more price-gouging power?

NEW DELHI – Sharp price increases for essential and life-saving medicines have generated a political backlash against the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. In February, the US Senate Committee on Finance scolded industry representatives for pursuing policies that are “morally repugnant.” Since then, 44 US state governments have filed a lawsuit against Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals

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The Real Victims of China’s Trade Patterns

May 10, 2019

Many in the West, especially US President Donald Trump, have railed against China’s massive trade surpluses, which emerged after the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001. But China’s developing-country neighbors have far more reason to be worried.

NEW DELHI – Much has been written about the consequences of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), especially for the developing countries of Asia. Yet another, equally consequential phenomenon has gone largely unnoticed: China’s upending of trade relationships with those countries.
The Economy We Need

PS OnPoint

Keith Bishop/Getty Images

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How to Tax a Multinational

April 15, 2019

For too long, multinational corporations – and digital firms in particular – have used existing rules to avoid paying taxes in countries where they do much of their business. But recent encouraging signs suggest that the idea of a global corporate tax on these companies’ profits is gaining traction.

NEW DELHI – For some time now, multinational companies (MNCs) have been gaming the rules of the global economy to minimize their tax liability – or even eliminate it altogether. And for some time now, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) has argued for the unitary taxation of MNCs. Fortunately, there have been some encouraging recent signs that the idea of a unitary tax is

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The Revolt Against Big Food

March 8, 2019

Today’s food problem is not absolute scarcity. It is that food is so unequally distributed and irrationally consumed that the world’s most deprived people die or suffer from cognitive impairment because of undernutrition, while others face death or disease because of obesity.

NEW DELHI – Confounding the grim prediction made by the British economist Thomas Malthus in 1798, the world currently produces more than enough food for a population that has increased almost tenfold since then. Today’s food problem is not absolute scarcity. It is that food is so unequally distributed and irrationally consumed that there is widespread malnutrition at both ends of the spectrum: the world’s most deprived people die or suffer from cognitive

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Science and Subterfuge in Economics

February 14, 2019

John Kenneth Galbraith noted in 1973 that establishment economics had become the “invaluable ally of those whose exercise of power depends on an acquiescent public.” If anything, economists’ embrace of that role has grown stronger since then.

NEW DELHI – Mainstream economics has a tendency to decide on some “established” conclusions, and then hold to them, notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary. This is bad enough, but what may be worse for a discipline that lays claim to being a science is the lack of insistence on the replicability of empirical results. This is both standard and essential in most natural sciences; in economics, by contrast, there is mostly indifference and occasionally even fierce resistance to it. In

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India’s Great Wall of Equality

January 9, 2019

While gender inequality is nothing new for India, the unabashed and vehement misogyny displayed in response to a Supreme Court decision to allow women into a temple in Kerala state is notable. In this context, displays of unity and commitment to equality are not just uplifting, but also vitally important to India’s future.

NEW DELHI – Last year was a watershed for gender relations. The #MeToo movement rocked establishments around the world, forcing even powerful men to face public scrutiny for their behavior toward women. But, despite a patriarchal backlash, the movement shows no signs of abating: on January 1, in the Indian state of Kerala, an estimated five million women formed a human chain – or “women’s wall” – stretching

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The Political Roots of Falling Wage Growth

December 11, 2018

New findings from the International Labor Organization show that workers across many advanced and emerging economies continued to miss out on the gains from growth in 2017. Rather than trotting out the usual suspects – trade and technology – it is time for policymakers to place the blame where it belongs.

NEW DELHI – It’s now official: workers around the world are falling behind. The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) latest Global Wage Report finds that, excluding China, real (inflation-adjusted) wages grew at an annual rate of just 1.1% in 2017, down from 1.8% in 2016. That is the slowest pace since 2008.

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Who Should Control India’s Central Bank?

November 12, 2018

The standoff between India’s government and the Reserve Bank of India isn’t problematic because of the risk of infringing on central-bank independence. It is problematic because, rather than fighting to protect the public interest, the government’s goal is to revive irresponsible bank lending, protect its cronies, and win votes.

NEW DELHI – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is locked in a bitter public feud with the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Modi’s attempts to encroach on the central bank’s independence. In fact, the government’s actions are a serious problem, but not for the reason many people seem to think.

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Asia’s Strongmen and Their Weak Economies

October 3, 2018

Many people seem to believe that authoritarian rulers deliver better economic results. And yet, with the possible exception of China’s Xi Jinping, Asia’s autocrats, from India to the Philippines, are presiding over increasingly fragile states and even more vulnerable economies.

NEW DELHI – US President Donald Trump grabs the most headlines, but the cult of the strongman leader is most developed in Asia. The continent abounds with rulers – including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the strongest of them all, Chinese President Xi Jinping – who make a virtue of centralizing power.

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The Real Problem with Free Trade

September 10, 2018

Even if free trade is ultimately broadly beneficial, the fact remains that as trade has become freer, inequality has worsened. One major reason for this is that current global trade rules have enabled a few large firms to capture an ever-larger share of value-added, at a massive cost to economies, workers, and the environment.

NEW DELHI – For most critics of globalization, trade is the villain, responsible for deepening inequality and rising economic insecurity among workers. This is the logic driving support for US President Donald Trump’s escalating tariffs. Why, then, does the message resonate far beyond the United States, and even the advanced economies, to include workers in many of the developing countries that are typically portrayed

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