Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Time to bring on the shrinks

Gautam Chikermane
December 23, 2008
What do policymakers and politicians do when those whom they look to for ideas and solutions say that they don’t have them? Where do they go for intellectual solace when the world’s top economists and thinkers, three of them Nobel laureate, candidly confess their own intellectual failures? How do you react when you hear luminaries, whose words exemplify the cutting edge of knowledge, say that they may only know what to do once the ongoing credit crisis is over, but not how to end it? Bring in the shrinks, I would suggest.
A bystander at the high table of economics, I was dazzled by the sheer expanse and depth of knowledge reflected in the elegant arguments that reviewed, critiqued and took forward the work of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen at an international conference held in Delhi. There are simpler ways of wishing Sen “Happy 75th Birthday”, but characteristic of their profession, 77 of the world’s top-ranked economists, philosophers, historians, policymakers and social scientists got together to offer him their best wishes, by writing 58 papers, now bound together into two brilliant volumes titled Arguments for a Better World, released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week — a must-read for policymakers.
Opinion in Hindustan Times

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All in the family

Gautam Chikermane, Hindustan Times
December 17, 2008
The unholy deal under which the board of Satyam Computer Services was unanimously ready to transfer the cash of the company to an unrelated firm, owned by its promoters that control 8.6 per cent of Satyam, raises issues that affect each and every one of us investors. While the deal has been withdrawn under investor pressure, the issue is no longer about a promoter gone bad or a blue chip, cash-rich company that carries a 2 per cent weight in the Sensex.
Opinion in Hindustan Times

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

(They can’t get no) Satisfaction

Gautam Chikermane
December 08, 2008

Should we call it policymaking by inertia — to do nothing until external conditions force a reaction? Or policymaking by habit — the wait-and-watch, one-step-at-a-time method in the ongoing economic madness? At a time when economic history is being written and when public policy is being forced to resonate and respond to global cues, are the sharp interest rate cuts by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Saturday combined with marginal tax cuts and increased government spending on Sunday enough to prevent a further slowdown?

Then there is the corporate sector that is able to organise ideas, entrepreneurship, material, money, and physical and intellectual resources under predictable conditions, overplaying the ‘Cry Wolf’ card. For, no amount of relief — fiscal or monetary — seems enough to this set of opinion-makers. Even before the packages were announced, the whining of their being ‘not enough’ or 'too little too late’ had begun. Sensing that the weekend package is only the first of many, the corporate, like a smart entrepreneur, has realised that the new currency for policy transactions is ‘dissatisfaction’. So, whatever the government does today will end up being ‘inadequate’.

Column in Hindustan Times

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sebi’s demand for transparency from itself a world’s first

Gautam Chikermane
December 07, 2008
Last week, CB Bhave, chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), announced among many other things, the introduction of a new regime of transparency. Under this, we will get access to all behind the scene agenda papers of all Sebi board meetings.
Column in Hindustan Times