Free trade is a buzzing concept in modern times, with all governments across the world proclaiming to promote it. Indeed, the last thirty years or so of global economic integration is based on free trade principles – also referred to as laizzez-faire capitalism. Definitely, there are many advantages to be availed as a result of free trade arrangements. At the same time, it also has its own set of drawbacks. One should also make discernment in what exactly ‘free trade’ means. This is because, often, politicians use the term for its rhetoric appeal while implementing policies that are protectionist. So, while free trade is beneficent in its purest form, modern policymakers have hijacked the concept to serve the interests of select private businesses at the cost of smaller business enterprises. The rest of this essay will look into how free trade causes development and also scrutinize the nature, merits and demerits of such development.
At the outset, let us . . . Read More
Supply Chain Management (SCM) has become an integral part of many manufacturing companies’ production processes. SCM came to be recognized as crucial to the success of a business especially if there is high competition within the industry and room for inefficiencies are low. First pioneered by Japanese automobile companies like Toyota, SCM is essential in order for companies to implement lean manufacturing methods. SCM strategies need to adapt and evolve according to the needs of the economy. Hence, the early strategies employed by Japanese automobile firms are no longer fully applicable today. Especially in the recession stricken economic situation of today, new innovative ways of managing supply chains have to be devised. What follows are five such prominent strategies.
Strategy 1: Adopting a demand-driven approach to production based on inputs from real-time demand data. This strategy quite useful both when applied to pre-production and post-production supply chain . . . Read More
As manufacturing industries are steadily replaced by services industries, the concept of productivity assumes new meanings and dimensions. Improving productivity automatically reduces costs incurred by companies, thereby boosting the bottom line. As a consequence, the company has more resources at its disposal to spend on R&D and supplementary services. So, there is incentive for managers to improve service productivity. Productivity is usually measured as the quantity of output produced with respect to the quantity of inputs. So, a higher ratio indicates higher productivity. Compared to manufacturing industries, it is much difficult to measure productivity in services industries, especially those that are enabled by Information Technology. (Saari, 2006) Yet, management gurus have identified a few proven techniques for improving service productivity, which are discussed below.
One way of improving service productivity is by applying operations-driven . . . Read More
The author duo of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have made economics accessible to the general reader through their popular work Freakonomics and its sequel. Continuing on with the spirit of scholarly adventure, they yet again unfold unexpected correlations in understanding odd phenomenon. In the article in question, originally published in Slate magazine in May of 2005, the authors connect the dots and explain the skewed sex ratio in some parts of the Third World.
Amartya Sen, who has done extensive research on the problems of the Third World, especially his native India, originally attributed the skewed sex ratio to a list of social ills. This includes preference for boy babies in a patriarchal society, leading to female infanticide; neglect of baby girls in terms of care, nutrition and education; trafficking of adolescent girls through prostitution. Sen argued that all these factors combined to create a disparity of 100 million missing women in Asia. . . . Read More
In the era past World War II, America established itself as one of two superpower nations. With the Soviet Union providing counterbalancing power, America waged a diplomatic war (Cold War) to assert and spread its ideological content. This ideological confrontation manifested in two forms: 1. between communism and liberal democracy, 2. between socialism and capitalism. The former belong in the realm of political systems while the latter belong to the realm of economic organization. But even while balance of power existed between the two superpowers, American ideological imposition on the global stage was gaining ground. By the start of 1970s, currents of change were detected in the global economic order, with nationalism and protectionism being replaced by neo-liberalism and free flow of capital. Even as American elites promoted this new economic order, the process was facilitated by respective participant elites from nations across the world. The irony lies in the . . . Read More
Amartya Sen is a Nobel Prize winning economist of Indian origin, who has made vital contributions to the field of development economics. One of his major seminal contributions is ‘social choice theory’, but his contributions extend to ‘welfare economics’ and studying the problems of poverty as well. Born in a country with one of the highest poverty rates, his focus area in research was ‘welfare economics’, where he studied the effect of government policies on the lowest strata of society. By identifying how such policies manifest themselves in society, he recommended several constructive methods through which basic welfare (that includes access to food, healthcare and education) could be extended to the whole of the population.
Being one of the first economists to break-away from capitalist theories and assumptions, Sen brought a whole new perspective to studying economic activity. In his influential work Collective Choice and . . . Read More
In a recent BBC online poll for finding the greatest thinker of the Millenium, Karl Marx came first. That Marx beat Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking among other leaders in their fields amounts to a big statement of Marx’s relevance in the new millenium. The relevance of the results is magnified when we consider that neo-liberal capitalism has established itself as the dominant economic ideology today. With many leading economists of our time, including Thomas Friedman, Joseph Heath (and to a lesser extent Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz) not being critical of the capitalist ideology, the poll results give away the public pulse on this important issue. It is reasonable to assume that public sentiment and government economic policies (usually informed by contemporary economists noted above) are pulling in opposite directions. And the tensions created by these opposing tendencies are already giving rise to widespread social unrest, as shown by the . . . Read More
One of the convenient myths being perpetrated is that slavery no longer exists in modern societies. As the experience of black Americans clearly shows, attaining nominal legal recognition as freed people need not translate into real, meaningful independence. The condition of black Americans before 1861 and in the decades after it were not drastically different. Usually slavery is associated with bonding chains, physical exploitation and the crack of the whip by slave owners. This kind of outright possession of other human beings has largely ceased to exist, but other sophisticated forms of slavery have cropped up. Today, the most potent instrument of slavery is economic power as opposed to physical power. With most countries in the world joining the neo-liberal bandwagon, the power of money has established itself as the most potent instrument of perpetrating slavery. Previously, slaves would obey their masters for fear of the whip. But today, they do so for fear of . . . Read More
As a member of the Economic Committee, I urge the President to reconsider America’s trade relations with Cuba and start a new era of economic co-operation and trust. There are good reasons why such reconsideration is warranted. Much has changed since the Cuban revolution that occurred in the middle of last century. At that time, global politics was seeing rapid changes and the world was divided into two counteracting poles. While it was unfortunate that Cuba choose to align with the Soviet Union, the fall of Berlin wall twenty years ago has created new opportunities for reconciliation with the country. Today, Cuba does not pose a threat, as it once did as an ally of the Soviet Union. (The New York Times, 2003)
Indeed, a brief look at the period of embargo reveals the economic losses incurred by businesses in our country. Being one of the more resourceful countries in Central America, Cuba presents great opportunities for business corporations headquartered . . . Read More
That China continues to be a communist state with no meaningful democratic practices in place is a cause of concern for the international community. The Communist Party follows a traditional process of selecting members for its leadership positions. Such being the case, it is impossible for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to make it to influential positions in body politic. Ever since the opening up of the Chinese economy in the 1980s, the economic growth of the country has been stupendous. From being a marginal and isolated player in world affairs, China has risen to be a contender for global superpower status. While it is premature to call it a superpower yet, a continuation of its growth trajectory of last thirty years would catapult it into the top league of geo-politics. In this scenario, many outside commentators and a few Chinese intellectuals themselves have raised questions about China’s internal situation, which can appear to be oppressive . . . Read More