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A Worldly Philosopher (or Two) at 100

From Economic Principals:

Economics Principals notes “the rapidly-approaching centenary of Robert L. Heilbroner(1919-2005), author of The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. Can there ever again be as wildly popular a history of economic thought as that modern classic?  The answer is, No, there cannot.

The first edition appeared in 1953, with its table of contents brilliantly spilled across the cover of its dust jacket.  In notebook-fashion script, complete with little pen portraits, it read:  “The wonderful world of Adam Smith. The gloomy world of Parson Malthus and David Ricardo. The beautiful world of the Utopian Socialists:  John Stuart Mill, Charles Fourier, Saint-Simon, Robert Owen.  The inexorable world of Karl Marx. The Victorian world and the underworld of economics: Henry George. The savage world of Thorstein Veblen. The sick world of John Maynard Keynes. The modern world: Joseph Schumpeter.”

In each case. Heilbroner was attentive to the “philosophical history” envisaged and propounded by his authors, but never overbearing about it. Those lives, times, and ideas about the future are set out in prose sonorous and lyrical by turns, with a  Dickensian flair for characterization throughout. Heilbroner’s account remains nearly as fresh as on the day it first appeared.

Yet for many the exhilaration of reading the book is followed by disappointment of one sort or another.  As Robert Solow wrote, in “Even a Worldly Philosopher Needs a Good Mechanic,”

Anyone who teaches owes a debt to The Worldly Philosophers for having attracted so many bright and interested students to economics….  Those same teachers are also aware that some of the same students felt let down by the texture of the discipline when they begin to study it. Instead of debating big ideas about the nature of society, they found themselves drawing demand and supply curves and learning to set marginal this equal to marginal that.

On the other hand, some of the students who took to economic analysis felt frustrated that Heilbroner failed to tell the story of their great adventure.”

Continue reading here.

From Economic Principals:

Economics Principals notes “the rapidly-approaching centenary of Robert L. Heilbroner(1919-2005), author of The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. Can there ever again be as wildly popular a history of economic thought as that modern classic?  The answer is, No, there cannot.

The first edition appeared in 1953, with its table of contents brilliantly spilled across the cover of its dust jacket. 

Read the full article…

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Make in India: Which exports can drive the next wave of growth?

From Saurabh Mishra

Structural transformation depends not only on how much countries export but also on what they export and with whom they trade. In my new IMF working paper with Rahul Anand and Kalpana Kochhar, we break new grounds in analyzing India’s exports by the technological content, quality, sophistication, and complexity of India’s export basket. The paper can be found here. Here are few key pieces of evidence from our paper:

Technological content of India’s exports

The evolution of Indian exports has not followed a “textbook” pattern. The pattern of evolution points to a dichotomy in the Indian economy – a well integrated, technologically advanced services sector and a relatively lagging manufacturing sector. The share of service exports in total exports has grown to over 32 percent in 2013 from 28 percent in 2000. On the other hand, the share of manufacturing exports in total export has declined to 67 percent from nearly 80 percent during 1990-2013.

The growth in service exports has been more rapid, resulting in the share of services exports in total exports to increase rapidly over the last decade. This can be explained by technological changes. Many services do not require face-to-face interaction, and can be stored and traded digitally. These services are called modern services. Modern services are the fastest growing sector of the global economy. This is particularly evident in India, where modern services exports account for nearly 70 percent of the total commercial services exports (compared to around 35 percent in EMs) (see Figure 1).

Within manufacturing exports, there is a clear shift away from traditional exports, such as textiles, gems, and leather products, towards high-tech and medium-tech manufacturing products. The relative share of high-tech manufacturing exports has been increasing (however lower when compared to China or other EMs); Resource based production and low-tech manufacturing dominate the goods export basket (Figure 2).

Manufactured machinery accounts for almost 10 percent, while textile and garments account for more than 15 percent of India’s merchandise exports. In resource-based products – refined petroleum oil, cotton, jewelry of precious metals, and rice – constitute majority of export. In low-tech manufacturing exports – jewelry, textile and apparel based exports constitute the majority of India’s exports. In medium-tech manufacturing – the automotive industry dominates the basket, with machinery, various motor vehicle intermediary inputs for cars, bikes, construction, mining equipment and cosmetics making up the major portion. In the high technology export basket – veterinary and pharmaceutical products, television, telecommunication transistors, aircraft components, X-ray equipment and electronic R&D in electro-medical, power and automotive industry are key elements of the export basket. The main contribution of our work is to comprehensively document Indian exports, which has not been done over the past decade.

Continue reading here.

From Saurabh Mishra

Structural transformation depends not only on how much countries export but also on what they export and with whom they trade. In my new IMF working paper with Rahul Anand and Kalpana Kochhar, we break new grounds in analyzing India’s exports by the technological content, quality, sophistication, and complexity of India’s export basket. The paper can be found here. Here are few key pieces of evidence from our paper:

Technological content of India’s exports

The evolution of Indian exports has not followed a “textbook” pattern.

Read the full article…

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