Maitreesh Ghatak | Ideas for India

Maitreesh Ghatak
London School of Economics; IGC Bihar
Maitreesh Ghatak was educated at the Presidency College, University of Calcutta, Delhi School of Economics, and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1996. He has been Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics since 2004, having earlier taught at the University of Chicago. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Development Economics since 2009 and the Director of the research programme Economic Organization and Public Policy (EOPP) at STICERD, LSE since 2006. Earlier he was the Managing Editor of the Review of Economic Studies, and a Co-Editor of the Economics of Transition. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of BREAD, and a Lead Academic of the India-Bihar Programme of the International Growth Centre. He is a founder member of the research networks Theoretical Research in Development (ThReD) and Non-Profits, Governments, and Organisations (NGO). His areas of research interest are development economics, economics of contracts and organisations, and public economics. Current projects include the role of market structure in microfinance, land acquisition and compensation for displaced farmers, non-profits and social enterprise, and incentives and organisation design in public service delivery.

Articles By Maitreesh Ghatak
Union Budget 2018: Unpleasant arithmetic and the art of the possible
Posted On: 13 Feb 2018

In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak contends that while the Union Budget 2018-19 deserves some praise for signalling priorities given the constraints, it disappoints in terms of its vision of reforms.
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Why ‘free’ speech is not always ‘costless’
Posted On: 19 Jul 2017

Topics:   Political Economy

A recent CBI raid at the premises of the owners of NDTV has sparked off yet another round of debates about freedom of the media, the spectre of authoritarianism, and freedom of expression in India. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak contends that confusion over what ‘free speech’ means stems from equating the two different senses in which it is used: free as in unconstrained, and free in the sense of not having a price or cost.
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The dangers that lie beneath India’s IT layoffs
Posted On: 24 May 2017

Topics:   Jobs

The ongoing layoffs in India’s IT sector are at a scale that has not been seen since the global financial crisis of 2008. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at LSE, contends that while this is a major shock, the country’s demographic dividend, and global trends such as automation, demand an economic strategy that prioritises job creation more broadly.
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Free speech and the rule of law
Posted On: 07 Apr 2017

Topics:   Political Economy

In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, argues that the fight over freedom of expression in India is a shadow fight; the real fight is about preserving the sanctity of our law-enforcement and judicial institutions to protect freedoms of any kind.
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Notes ban: Modinomics vs. Moditics
Posted On: 23 Nov 2016

Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, contends that while the ban on high-denomination currency notes is bad economics, it is a brilliant political move.
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Nobel prize in Economics 2016: The economy as a nexus of contracts
Posted On: 19 Oct 2016

Tags:   management

An important line of research in microeconomics has tried to explain how the economic institutions that underpin the ‘invisible hand of the market’ actually work. The specific economic institution that Hart and Holmström focus on is contracts. In a tribute to the Nobel laureates, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, discusses the working and importance of contract theory.
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Is India ready for a universal basic income scheme?
Posted On: 28 Sep 2016

Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics, contends that potential resources do exist to fund a universal basic income scheme, via subsidy cuts and/or raising more tax revenue - but the real issue is whether there will be political support to do so.

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Surrogacy bill: Boon or ban(e)?
Posted On: 07 Sep 2016


The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 proposes a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and restrictions on altruistic surrogacy. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics, contends that the bill does not provide any compelling argument for the ban. Rather, by singling out those who are not even allowed the option of altruistic surrogacy, it reveals its biases.
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Fixit, not Brexit
Posted On: 24 Jun 2016

Topics:   Global Economy
Tags:   UK

In a referendum on 23 June, Britain voted for its exit from the European Union. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics, discusses the causes and likely consequences.
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Union Budget 2016: A UPA-III Budget
Posted On: 04 Mar 2016

In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, contends that the Modi government presented a reasonably good United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-III Budget that tinkers at the margin. However, in his view, minor tweaks may not suffice in the current growth scenario.
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Bihar verdict: Development, cow politics, and caste
Posted On: 12 Nov 2015

Topics:   Political Economy

The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance of JD(U)-RJD-Congress defeated the Modi-led NDA in the recent Bihar assembly elections. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, analyses the role of alternative models of development associated with the two leaders, divisive social issues, and caste-based politics in the verdict.
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Angus Deaton: The real world economist
Posted On: 20 Oct 2015

Tags:   consumption

In a tribute to Angus Deaton, recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, outlines Deaton’s contribution to economic and policy analysis, and to bridging the gap between theory and empirics. He also highlights the strong connection to India in his work.
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Moving beyond the growth-versus-redistribution debate
Posted On: 14 Aug 2015

The two dominant narratives on the state of the Indian economy – one centred on growth and the other on poverty – are in a constant state of conflict. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, argues that we need to move beyond the stale growth-versus-redistribution debate and focus on economic mobility through investments in human capital.
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Land acquisition Act: Addressing both justice and prosperity
Posted On: 29 Jul 2015

Topics:   Land

The Modi government’s land acquisition ordinance did away with the consent and social impact assessment requirements for private projects in certain sectors under UPA’s 2013 land Act. In this article, Ghatak and Ghosh contend that in seeking to eliminate these hurdles, the ordinance puts more weight on prosperity and less on justice. In their view, justice and prosperity need not be irreconcilable objectives.
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The crisis of farmer suicides
Posted On: 04 May 2015

More than 15,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide per year, on average, in the last two decades – a suicide rate that appears to be higher than that of the general population. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak emphasises the need to think of farmer suicides as a policy problem, rather than tragedy, and to deliberate on the causes and remedies.
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Land acquisition debate: The price is not right
Posted On: 31 Mar 2015

The central government’s move to amend the 2013 land acquisition Act has come under criticism for being ‘anti-farmer’. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak and Parikshit Ghosh argue that while the amendments would streamline the land acquisition process, the law will still be fatally flawed unless a more rational method of determining compensation for land owners is put in place.
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Response to the Bhagwati-Panagariya rejoinder on MNREGA
Posted On: 14 Dec 2014

Tags:   MNREGA

In a recent article, Abreu et al. refuted the Bhagwati-Panagariya argument for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. respond to claims in a rejoinder by Bhagwati-Panagariya, regarding net benefits of MNREGA employment, the self-selection feature of the programme, and rural asset creation.
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(Mis)Leading attack on MNREGA
Posted On: 12 Nov 2014

Tags:   MNREGA

Bhagwati and Panagariya have argued for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. contend that the argument is based on inflating the costs of the programme and deflating the benefits. While they do not claim that all is well with MNREGA, they believe it needs better governance, not slow suffocation.
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From ‘Mess in India’ to ‘Made in India’ as a global brand?
Posted On: 15 Oct 2014

PM Modi recently launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign to attract investment and boost manufacturing. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak contrasts the campaign with the Chinese model of economic governance, and reflects on its potential to enable higher growth and poverty reduction.
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Please weight
Posted On: 05 Sep 2014

Tags:   statistics

The latest wealth index by New World Wealth that looks at multimillionaires has ranked India eighth in the global rich list. This article contends that looking at absolute numbers may be misleading. Accounting for population and economic differences across countries, it shows that while India does not stand out in terms of income going to the top 1%, it does in terms of income going to the top 0.1%.
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Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most dynamic state of them all?
Posted On: 23 Mar 2014

This column analyses the economic performance of 16 major Indian states over the last three decades. It finds that Bihar has improved the most during the 2000s, Kerala has always been a star performer in terms of HDI, Rajasthan has achieved the maximum decline in inequality, Tamil Nadu tops in poverty reduction, and the levels and growth rates of per capita income of Maharashtra and Gujarat have consistently been the highest. However, no one state can be singled out as the top performer in the 2000s. Moreover, while Gujarat’s overall record is undoubtedly very good all through the last three decades, its performance in the 2000s does not seem to justify the wild euphoria and exuberant optimism about Modi’s economic leadership. In particular, there is no evidence of any significant growth acceleration in Gujarat in the 2000s.
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The Land Acquisition Act is deeply flawed
Posted On: 23 Oct 2013

Topics:   Land

In the second part of the Land Acquisition Act debate, Ghatak and Ghosh argue that the legislation is ill-conceived and falls short on several counts. They contend that the formula for compensation is arbitrary, and recommend holding large-scale land auctions to discover the true value of land. They contradict Pande’s point that the Act strikes a fine balance between industrialists and farmers.
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The Chit fund crisis: Should not put all financial intermediaries in the same bracket
Posted On: 03 May 2013

Topics:   Finance , Crime

The government has announced a bailout package for the participants of unregulated saving schemes that have been put at risk by the current Chit fund crisis in West Bengal. In this article, Banerjee and Ghatak caution against putting deposit-takers and micro-lenders in the same bracket while considering stricter financial regulation to prevent recurrence of such events.
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Developing a Land Acquisition Policy for India
Posted On: 05 Sep 2012

Topics:   Land

The Land Acquisition Bill is a key piece of legislation under consideration in the Indian Parliament. This column argues that the current policy on compensating landowners, as proposed in the Bill, is misguided and could adversely affect the pace and character of future growth in India. It draws lessons from economic theory as well as the failed land acquisition experience in Singur to propose a workable model for determining appropriate compensation for land acquisition.
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Land acquisition: Is there a way out?
Posted On: 16 Jul 2012

Topics:   Land

India is hungry for space to grow into a developed economy. Yet this hunger is increasingly raiding farmland and threatening traditional livelihoods. For some, this is a necessary evil, for others it is unjustified exploitation. This column argues that the debate need not be so stark and that politicians, policymakers and the public need to see that another way is possible.
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