Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Banks have a fundamental cultural problem

Not a week passes by without some bank in being embroiled in some violation or scam. This happens in many economies and it happens to well-known banks as well as obscure banks. Banks seem prone to mischief. Their mischief often creates huge problems for the economy at large. How we do address banks' propensity to land in trouble. See my article today Banking's toxic culture.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Are simultaneous polls for centre and the states a good idea?

Don't miss the terrific two part article on the subject by former RBI Governor Y V Reddy (for once wielding his pen on a political subject). The first part's here and the second part here.

What are some of the arguments made for simultaneous polls. Here's a partial list:

i. The model code of conduct comes in the way of government enacting policies at election time and results in policy paralysis

ii. It's costly to have separate polls

iii. Economic growth suffers because of frequent elections

Reddy demolishes every one of these. If the model code of conduct is a problem, let's modify it suitably. Let governments go ahead and announce polls at election time but let the EC have a panel of independent experts pronounce on these for the benefit of the public.

Costly? Reddy shows that the government expenditure on elections is trivial..

Economic growth has had little to do with frequency of elections or rule by a government by a majority or a coalition government.

So why are the major political parties pushing for it? Data indicates simultaneous polls may work to the advantage of national parties and to the detriment of regional parties.

Simultaneous elections seems intuitively appealing. They provide stability for five years. But this could well come at the cost of greater accountability. It's not enough if the electorate expresses itself once in five years. Periodic voting in states provides valuable feedback to the government at the centre. Reddy quotes B R Ambedkar as saying that responsibility must be preferred to stability. He thinks simultaneous elections could spell the opposte: stability prevailing over responsibility.

Reddy points out that our greatest achievement is making the federal system work. The present proposal could undermine that achievement.