ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Finance, Banking, Money, in That Order

The “Banking: Theory & Policy” class of 2020–21 was a sounding board. The comments of an anonymous reviewer added value to an earlier draft. The usual caveats apply.

Evolving Contours of Monetary Policy

Monetary policy has emerged as an important tool of economic policy both in developed and developing economies. The monetary and financial system is far more complex today than it has been in the past. Financial intermediation has reached a high level of sophistication, which has itself become a source of concern. The impact of monetary policy action can be transmitted through a variety of channels, some of which though recognised in the past, have become more important. While the traditional issues such as the objectives of monetary policy and the possible trade-off among them remain relevant, they need to be related to the far-reaching changes in the institutional environment at home and abroad. The changing objectives of monetary policy, newly evolving instruments of monetary control and the transmission mechanism and issues related to autonomy in the pursuit of monetary policy are examined.

Financial Fragility in ‘Mature’ Markets

With rising non-financial corporate debt and evidence of elevated borrowing levels among non-bank financial companies, the fragility resulting from excess leverage has returned to haunt developed country financial markets. The fact that the collapse of a little-known family office firm like...

From Balmikis to Bengalis

The reorganisation of informal household garbage collection work in Delhi is analysed, as migrants from eastern states like West Bengal have begun doing manual waste work, even as their Balmikis deal only with monthly cash payments. Drawing on fieldwork, the effect on the Balmiki jamadars is noted, and the Bengali Muslims, who newly contend with the practices of untouchability in their neighbourhoods of work, are focused on. These newer migrants come to justify the shame they experience by focusing on the equivalence of scrap with money, which has redemptive potential. This reveals a dynamic process through which caste differences are being remade—”casteification”—in relation to economic life.

The 2015 Gram Pradhan Elections in Uttar Pradesh

The 2015 gram pradhan elections in Uttar Pradesh present a distinct picture of local elections as compared to state-level and national elections. Three factors— money, power, and violence with localised overtones— have driven the course of elections lately. Large-scale monetary benefits accruing from the position of pradhani motivate the contestants to make substantial investment in elections. The second important element is power that is primarily based on caste status. Although caste positions have changed, the power of caste remains intact. Middle castes have gained salience but relative empowerment of certain communities within the Scheduled Castes is a notable feature in rural societies. The most visible expression of power assertion is violence which is colloquially referred to as dabangai.

Can Jan Dhan Yojana Achieve Financial Inclusion?

While there has been a tremendous increase in the number of bank accounts opened, the data show that the average balance in these accounts is low and a significant proportion of the accounts are inoperative. Although there was a rise in the average deposits during demonetisation, they later settled at a lower level. Further, financial inclusion means not just the opening of bank accounts but, more importantly, access to credit from formal sources. The limited data available in this regard show that after the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was launched there has not been any increase in the credit–deposit ratio and the share of small loans has continued to decline. Very few people have benefited from the overdraft facility that is supposed to be provided by the accounts under the scheme. Issues of access to banking in rural areas remain.

Deciphering Financial Literacy in India

Utilising a nationally representative data set, an index of financial literacy consisting of financial knowledge, behaviour, and attitude is constructed. The findings suggest significant variation in financial literacy across states with an over 60 percentage point difference between the state with the highest financial literacy and that with the lowest. Multivariate regressions show that there exist large and statistically significant gender-, location-, employment-, education-, technology-, and debt-driven differences in financial literacy. Much of the observed regional divergence persists even after we control for cohort effects.

Can Central Banks Reduce Inflation?

To explore the empirical validity of the proposition that a rise in the interest rate would necessarily lead to a lower rate of inflation, empirical evidence from 158 countries, during 1981 to 2013, is used to critically evaluate this widely accepted idea. Based on the findings, it is argued that from a policy perspective, the so-called “inflation targeting” should be revisited.

Some Analytics of Demonetisation

Given the difficulty of a reasonably rigorous assessment of the long-term effects of demonetisation, its macroeconomic consequences in the short run are analysed. Standard macroeconomic tools are moulded for this purpose. It is found that there is a fall in demand as well as in supply-constrained output.

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