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The Indian years were a period of high inflation, growth challenges (as the global financial crisis arrived in India), and also a remarkable growth recovery story, with India moving past China’s GDP growth rate. There were corruption scandals breaking, causing widespread street protests, a lot of late-night decision-making, which one knew would rock the stock market the next day, and getting to know politicians who were outstanding as statesmen in the midst of all this, and also many who were not.
The World Bank years weren’t that close to actual policymaking, but nevertheless breath-taking in their scope. They ranged from interacting with policymakers in tiny remote countries like Samoa to gigantic nations with comparable heft, such as China. It entailed sitting down with leading researchers to compute and announce global numbers on extreme poverty and rankings on how easy it is to do business in different countries (fully aware that there would be calls from irate finance ministers as soon as these were published). And there was the handling of politics within the World Bank, which could actually be as enjoyable as any global economic problem!
This book is a revised version of the diary that Kaushik Basu kept for seven years. Revised because he often wrote the diary in a hurry at the day’s or even week’s end. He has now inserted some reflections in retrospect, without altering any descriptions of what actually happened.
A leading economist offers a radically new approach to the economic analysis of the law
In The Republic of Beliefs, Kaushik Basu, one of the world's leading economists, argues that the traditional economic analysis of the law has significant flaws and has failed to answer certain critical questions satisfactorily. Why are good laws drafted but never implemented? When laws are unenforced, is it a failure of the law or the enforcers? And, most important, considering that laws are simply words on paper, why are they effective? Basu offers a provocative alternative to how the relationship between economics and real-world law enforcement should be understood.
Basu summarizes standard, neoclassical law and economics before looking at the weaknesses underlying the discipline. Bringing modern game theory to bear, he develops a "focal point" approach, modeling not just the self-interested actions of the citizens who must follow laws but also the functionaries of the state—the politicians, judges, and bureaucrats—enforcing them. He demonstrates the connections between social norms and the law and shows how well-conceived ideas can change and benefit human behavior. For example, bribe givers and takers will collude when they are treated equally under the law. And in food support programs, vouchers should be given directly to the poor to prevent shop owners from selling subsidized rations on the open market. Basu provides a new paradigm for the ways that law and economics interact—a framework applicable to both less-developed countries and the developed world.
Highlighting the limits and capacities of law and economics, The Republic of Beliefs proposes a fresh way of thinking that will enable more effective laws and a fairer society.
One of the central tenets of mainstream economics is Adam Smith's proposition that, given certain conditions, self-interested behavior by individuals leads them to the social good, almost as if orchestrated by an invisible hand. This deep insight has, over the past two centuries, been taken out of context, contorted, and used as the cornerstone of free-market orthodoxy. In Beyond the Invisible Hand, Kaushik Basu argues that mainstream economics and its conservative popularizers have misrepresented Smith's insight and hampered our understanding of how economies function, why some economies fail and some succeed, and what the nature and role of state intervention might be. Comparing this view of the invisible hand with the vision described by Kafka--in which individuals pursuing their atomistic interests, devoid of moral compunction, end up creating a world that is mean and miserable--Basu argues for collective action and the need to shift our focus from the efficient society to one that is also fair.
Using analytic tools from mainstream economics, the book challenges some of the precepts and propositions of mainstream economics. It maintains that, by ignoring the role of culture and custom, traditional economics promotes the view that the current system is the only viable one, thereby serving the interests of those who do well by this system. Beyond the Invisible Hand challenges readers to fundamentally rethink the assumptions underlying modern economic thought and proves that a more equitable society is both possible and sustainable, and hence worth striving for.
By scrutinizing Adam Smith's theory, this impassioned critique of contemporary mainstream economics debunks traditional beliefs regarding best economic practices, self-interest, and the social good.
In Law, Economics, and Conflict, Kaushik Basu and Robert C. Hockett bring together international experts to offer new perspectives on how to take analytic tools from the realm of academic research out into the real world to address pressing policy questions. As the essays discuss, political polarization, regional conflicts, climate change, and the dramatic technological breakthroughs of the digital age have all left the standard tools of regulation floundering in the twenty-first century. These failures have, in turn, precipitated significant questions about the fundamentals of law and economics.
The contributors address law and economics in diverse settings and situations, including central banking and the use of capital controls, fighting corruption in China, rural credit markets in India, pawnshops in the United States, the limitations of antitrust law, and the role of international monetary regimes. Collectively, the essays in Law, Economics, and Conflict rethink how the insights of law and economics can inform policies that provide individuals with the space and means to work, innovate, and prosper—while guiding states and international organization to regulate in ways that limit conflict, reduce national and global inequality, and ensure fairness.
Contributors: Kaushik Basu; Kimberly Bolch; University of Oxford; Marieke Bos, Stockholm School of Economics; Susan Payne Carter, US Military Academy at West Point; Peter Cornelisse, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Gaël Giraud, Georgetown University; Nicole Hassoun, Binghamton University; Robert C. Hockett; Karla Hoff, Columbia University and World Bank; Yair Listokin, Yale Law School; Cheryl Long, Xiamen University and Wang Yanan Institute for Study of Economics (WISE); Luis Felipe López-Calva, UN Development Programme; Célestin Monga, Harvard University; Paige Marta Skiba, Vanderbilt Law School; Anand V. Swamy, Williams College; Erik Thorbecke, Cornell University; James Walsh, University of Oxford.
Contributors: Kimberly B. Bolch, Marieke Bos, Susan Payne Carter, Peter A. Cornelisse, Gaël Giraud, Nicole Hassoun, Karla Hoff, Yair Listokin, Cheryl Long, Luis F. López-Calva, Célestin Monga, Paige Marta Skiba, Anand V. Swamy, Erik Thorbecke, James Walsh
More than a decade of financial crises, sovereign debt problems, political conflict, and rising xenophobia and protectionism has left the global economy unsettled and the ability of economics as a discipline to account for episodes of volatility uncertain. In this book, leading economists consider the state of their discipline in a world of ongoing economic and political crises.
The book begins with three sweeping essays by Nobel laureates Kenneth Arrow (in one of his last published works), Amartya Sen, and Joseph Stiglitz that offer a summary of the theoretical foundations of modern economics—the twin pillars of general equilibrium theory and welfare economics. Contributors then turn to macroeconomic stabilization and growth and, finally, new areas of research that depart from traditional theory, methodology, and concerns: climate change, behavioral economics, and evolutionary game theory. The 2019 Nobel Prize laureates, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer, contribute a paper on the use of randomized control trials indevelopment economics.
Philippe Aghion, Ingela Alger, Kenneth Arrow, Abhijit Banerjee, Kaushik Basu, Lawrence Blume, Guillermo Calvo, Francesco Caselli, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Shantayanan Devarajan, Esther Duflo, Samuel Fankhauser, James Foster, Varun Gauri, Xavier Gine, Gäel Giraud, Gita Gopinath, Robert Hockett, Karla Hoff, Ravi Kanbur, Aart Kraay, Michael Kremer, David McKenzie, Célestin Monga, Maurice Obstfeld, Hamid Rashid, Martin Ravallion, Amartya Sen, Luis Servén, Hyun Song Shin, Nicholas Stern, Joseph Stiglitz, Cass Sunstein, Michael Toman, Jörgen Weibull
This book offers unique glimpses of the author’s engagement with the world: his opinions on contemporary policies and economic issues; his exploration of different parts of the world; and his reflections on people, ideas, and books that have influenced him. An Economist’s Miscellany also puts on display his literary forays—translations of two hilarious Bengali short stories and a four-act play on academe, love, and cultural misunderstandings. This second and much-expanded edition of the book features a new set of essays that reflects the author’s dual perspective of the world: one from the groves of academe and one from the olicymaker’s perch. In the world of policymaking, he was not just an observer but an active participant, and many of the new essays dwell on ideas gathered from this hands-on engagement.
The papers having a direct bearing on economic policymaking in this quintessential compilation range from topics such as financial regulation, global policy coordination, aspects of the Indian economy like fiscal and monetary policy design, inflation management, food-grain policy and, more generally, the influence of theory on government policymaking. The volume addresses some of the most compelling challenges of our times, from the global financial crisis and sub-prime mortgage breakdown to corruption control and the design of interventions to provide subsidized food to the disadvantaged segments of society.
In December 2009, the economist Kaushik Basu left the rarefied world of academic research for the nuts and bolts of policymaking. Appointed by the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, to be chief economic adviser (CEA) to the Government of India, Basu—a theorist, with special interest in development economics, and a professor of economics at Cornell University—discovered the complexity of applying economic models to the real world. Effective policymaking, Basu learned, integrates technical knowledge with political awareness. In this book, Basu describes the art of economic policymaking, viewed through the lens of his two and a half years as CEA.
Basu writes from a unique perspective—neither that of the career bureaucrat nor that of the traditional researcher. Plunged into the deal-making, non-hypothetical world of policymaking, Basu suffers from a kind of culture shock and views himself at first as an anthropologist or scientist, gathering observations of unfamiliar phenomena. He addresses topics that range from the macroeconomic—fiscal and monetary policies—to the granular—designing grain auctions and policies to assure everyone has access to basic food. Basu writes about globalization and India's period of unprecedented growth, and he reports that at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Obama joked to him, “You should give this guy some tips”—“this guy” being Timothy Geithner. Basu describes the mixed success of India's anti-poverty programs and the problems of corruption, and considers the social norms and institutions necessary for economic development. India is, Basu argues, at an economics crossroad. As CEA from 2009 to 2012, he was present at the creation of a potential economic powerhouse.