Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Is finance too competitive?

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The opinions expressed are his own

Many economists are advocating for regulation that would make banking “boring” and uncompetitive once again. After a crisis, it is not uncommon to hear calls to limit competition. During the Great Depression, the head of the United States National Recovery Administration argued that employers were being forced to lay off workers as a result of “the murderous doctrine of savage and wolfish competition, [of] dog-eat-dog and devil take the hindmost.” He appealed for a more collusive business environment, with the profits made from consumers to be shared between employers and workers.

Concerns about the deleterious effects of competition have always existed, even among those who are not persuaded that government diktat can replace markets, or that intrinsic human goodness is a more powerful motivator than monetary reward and punishment. Where the debate has been most heated, however, concerns the effects of competition on incentives to innovate.

The great Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter believed that innovation was a much more powerful force for human betterment than was ordinary price competition between firms. As a young man, Schumpeter seemed to believe that monopolies deaden the incentive to innovate — especially to innovate radically. Simply put, a monopolist does not like to lose his existing monopoly profits by undertaking innovation that would cannibalize his existing business.

By contrast, if the industry were open to new players, potential entrants, with everything to gain and little to lose, would have a strong incentive to unleash the waves of “creative destruction” that Schumpeter thought so essential to human progress. In a competitive industry, only paranoid incumbents – those constantly striving for betterment – have any hope of surviving.

Exit Afghanistan?

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The opinions expressed are his own

In his victory speech to a rapturous crowd in Chicago following his re-election, President Barack Obama affirmed that America’s “decade-long conflict” in Afghanistan will now end. The line was greeted with prolonged applause — and understandably so. In fact, this ill-advised war — launched on the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution — has been grinding on for 11 years, making it the longest in American history.

At the beginning, the war was aimed at eliminating Al Qaeda, vanquishing the Taliban, and transforming Afghanistan into something resembling a Western-style nation-state. With none of these goals fully achieved, America’s intervention — like every other intervention in Afghanistan’s history — is ending unsatisfactorily.

US-India strategic partnership set to grow in second Obama administration

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The re-election of President Barack Obama is likely to be more promising and fruitful for the growing strategic partnership between India and the United States. During the second Obama administration, his India policies are expected to be upgraded further and there would possibly be more tangible outcomes from policy pronouncements made in the last four years.

India Market Weekahead: Trading subdued but markets back on track

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Last week was a volatile one with the stock market poised for a surge but the Nifty eventually closed in the red with a loss of 0.20 percent at 5686.

Higher growth can help lower deficit

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India’s bloating budget deficit has been a matter of concern. It means more borrowing by the government which results in overcrowding of the debt market and consequently, a higher rate of interest for the private sector. It also raises the rate on borrowings from abroad due to the downgrading by rating agencies which is bound to follow.

India Market Weekahead: Buy on dips with no roadblocks till budget

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

There wasn’t much point-to-point movement on the Nifty but it was not a listless week by any standard.

Life insurance still struggling, non-life continues to grow

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The lean half of the financial year for insurance sales is behind us and the numbers for the life insurance vertical are not impressive. But the general insurance or non-life vertical has shown a healthy growth rate. Highlights are given below.

When will the repo rate be reduced?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

In his policy review on Oct. 30, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor D. Subbarao stuck to his position that money cannot be made cheap when commodities are becoming expensive.

Why financial planning is important

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of either Quantum AMC or Reuters)

The unexpected sight of a familiar pair of shoes placed on the shoe rack at home evoked memories of my dad, who died a few months ago.

RBI policy review: Subbarao could have taken a calculated risk

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The Reserve Bank governor kept interest rates unchanged on Tuesday with a marginal 25 basis points decrease in cash reserve ratio (CRR), disappointing stock markets and  resulting in the Nifty going below 5640.

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