Book Review: Rupal Patel and Jack Meaning, ‘Can’t we just print more money – Economics in ten simple questions’, Cornerstone Press, London, May 2022.
The Bank of England is the first central bank to carry out the set of functions which are today associated with a central bank. It is not the oldest, an honour which goes to the Riksbank established in 1668. After its establishment in 1694 as an issuer of currency and as a government bank, the Bank of England started adding functions over the years. It was only in the second half of the 19th century, when it became a lender of last resort, that the Bank of England came to be acknowledged and regarded as a central bank. Continue reading “Can’t we just print more money?”
A critical look at IMF recommendations on financial stability concerns from Fintechand DeFi
Fintech and financial stability
Fintech is technological innovation in financial activities, or in other words, financial innovation aided by technology. This by itself is not new. The ATMs which made their entry in the late 1960s was also in this sense, fintech. With the rapid growth in crypto assets in recent years, and that of decentralised ledger technology (DLT), fintech has evolved and grown rapidly in recent years to provide traditional banking functions, including deposit taking and lending. Referred to as Decentralized Finance, or DeFi for short, it threatens to disintermediate banks from savers and borrowers, transform the traditional banking landscape, and threaten financial stability. The IMF flagged its concerns in the third chapter of the April 2022 issue of its biannual Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR). Continue reading “Fintech and Financial Stability”
The growth of cryptocurrencies in the last decade has forced many central banks across the world to consider issuing their own version, called Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). There have been several studies, official and private, that examine the pros and cons of introducing CBDC. Eswar Prasad in his new book provides a comprehensive look at the entire gamut of issues relating to CBDC.
How Bank of Russia and Russian Central Banking is coping with war and other political expediencies
War and Peace
War and Peace, Tolstoy’s enduring masterpiece, starts with a party scene. Set in the St Petersburg of 1805, the main characters are introduced here. Most of us would have read the ‘novel’ (Tolstoy did not call it one) in English. Lost in translation is the fact that almost the entire conversation, page after page, is in French. It was the preferred language of the Russian aristocracy. For Tolstoy, it was a literary device. He was making fun of the nobles of the day who spoke French to flaunt their exclusivity. He wanted to show how disconnected they were from core Russian values and the world around. Continue reading “Bank of Russia in War and Peace”
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future” is a famous quote attributed in different forms to people ranging from Niels Bohr, the great physicist and Nobel Laureate, to Yogi Berra, the all-time great baseball catcher. But, that has never deterred predictions, especially economic predictions, as a universal beginning-of-the-year pastime. Continue reading “Ten economic predictions for 2022”
If the US pullout from Afghanistan signalled its disinclination to be the policeman of the world at the cost of its men and money, this year’s Jackson Hole Symposium and Chairman Powell’s address mark a no less strong aversion to being the central banker of the world. That it came in the 50th anniversary month of President Nixon snapping dollar convertibility into gold is particularly apt. This post is an overview of some of the presentations held at Jackson Hole Symposium 2021. Continue reading “Jackson Hole Symposium 2021”
There are two reasons why I am celebrating the centenary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). First, I learnt my first lessons in central banking as an undergraduate in 1978 from the classic book on central banking by M.H. de Kock (see here). A legendary and longest serving Governor of the SARB, de Kock’s book went into four editions in his lifetime. It was also popular across the world. References to the Bank and its history were therefore inevitable in my lectures on central banking over the years. Continue reading “100 years of the South African Reserve Bank”
What do the Bank of England, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nandan Nilekani, the Second World War, mathematical biology, Mettur Dam, the humble punkah, and Chatrapur have in common? For added measure, one might add the Madras Railway, Tungabhadra Bridge, Coonoor, the German U-Boats, cryptography, and Bletchley Park, once the top-secret home of British code breakers. The answer is Alan Turing, mathematician and philosopher. He contributed to cryptography and mathematical biology, among other subjects, and is the father of modern computer science. Continue reading “Alan Turing – The Madras Connection”
It was Bertrand Russell (or maybe Bernard Shaw in one of his long introductions) who wondered what an overthrown official would do thereafter. In ancient Greece, he speculated, the deposed official would round up mercenaries and attack his city state. The unseated Chinese civil servant, he added, would retire to the hills and write poetry. A retired Indian bureaucrat, I believe, would write his memoirs or set up an NGO. Continue reading “Why this blog”
No other economist would have probably had more books written on his life than John Maynard Keynes. I am currently reading, slipping in time whenever I can, a recent book by Zachary D. Carter, “The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes” (Random House, New York, 2020). I hope to able to write a brief review of the book soon. Continue reading “Best Books on Keynes”