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The Qatar Blockade could have geopolitical repercussions

(June 08, 2017)

In this paper (published 3 days after the blockade was imposed) we predict that Qatar would not accede to Saudi demands.  It would instead weather the diplomatic crisis and economic isolation.  We argue that the blockade pushes Qatar closer to Iran and Turkey, reinforcing the presence of an anti-Saudi bloc in the region.  We conclude that, while Qatar will have to withstand some economic pain, its massive natural gas reserves (that it shares with Iran) and associated long-term sales agreements, give it an edge in the stand-off.  Word Count: 3,410.


Pakistan’s BOP: The Calm before the Storm

(May 31, 2017)

We argue that the brewing BOP problem is distinct from previous external sector crises – it is not driven by an oil shock, but structurally weak export revenues and a bleak outlook for remittances.  We discuss possible measures to relieve short-term pressure.  We then argue that CPEC will fail in the long term unless Pakistan’s capacity to generate FX is revived.  Finally, we contend that given Pakistan’s weak institutions and shrinking export sector, China may have to be more proactive by initiating export ventures within the country.  Word Count: 6,148.


The Changing Global Order

(May 10, 2017)

We argue that events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump are a prelude to a changing global order.  We contend that current US dominance will give way to a bi-polar world with two alliances: the US Allies (India, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UK), and the Sino-Russian Axis (with Iran, Turkey and Pakistan).  These blocs are remarkably well-balanced in terms of population, nuclear weapons, economic resources and growth outlook.  We discuss Syria and North Korea, two current flashpoints, in some detail.  Word Count: 2,907.


Does Pakistan need an Industrial Policy?

(January 05, 2017)

We argue that a break from the Washington Consensus and a return to development finance institutions (DFIs) may be good for Pakistan.  We use examples from Asia to show that broad-based industrial development (especially within heavy industry) can be achieved through strategic government intervention.  We conclude that CPEC could provide the blue-print for Pakistan’s industrial policy, which is focused on power projects, industrial cities, transport networks and Gwadar Port.  Word Count: 2,227.


The Parable of Pakistan and the IMF

(December 27, 2016)

We examine Pakistan’s prolonged relationship with the IMF through the parable of a self-serving doctor (the IMF) and the weak-willed patient (Pakistan).  The doctor is unable, or unwilling, to curb the patient’s bad behavior.  We argue, with the aid of a simple game theoretic model, that geopolitical compulsions and bureaucratic inertia create an environment where it is always in the interest of the doctor to string his patient along, without forcing any real, lasting change.  This pattern, which dates back to 1988, may not continue in the new world order.  Word Count: 2,029.


Cashless in Kolkata

(December 02, 2016)

We argue that media coverage of India’s demonetization has missed the point.  Despite its poor implementation and disruptive impact, demonetization signals India’s willingness to repair and rewrite the Social Contract with its people.  We contend that by documenting its economy and curbing the use of black money, India is changing its economic orientation to book its seat at the big table.  Word Count: 2,003.


Addressing the real economic challenges facing Pakistan

(November 21, 2016)

We discuss “non-IMF” economic challenges facing Pakistan.  We argue that Pakistan must take decisive economic steps in the spirit of India’s demonetization.  This could be achieved by documenting its increasingly dominant informal economy, ensuring more accurate real estate valuations, and curbing corruption and capital flight.  Word Count: 1,558.


The Trump Phenomenon

(September 28, 2016)

In this paper (published over a month before the US election) we predict that Trump would create a lasting political movement and permanently transform the Republican Party.  We consider Trump’s rise against the backdrop of American workers disadvantaged by unfettered globalization; the 24-hour news cycle; social media; and the ideological shift to the center by both major US political parties.  We predict that the US will move closer to protectionism, as demands for equity overshadow the pursuit of economic efficiency.  Word Count: 2,348.


One Belt, One Road: Building Asia on China’s Strengths

(August 12, 2016)

In this paper, we try to address some of the more worrying perceptions about CPEC, by considering China’s impelling economic and geopolitical motivations behind the initiative.  We put this into historical context by summarizing China’s unprecedented success in transforming its own economy (“The Great Leap Forward”) using a heuristic, trial-and-error style of economic reform.  This is anchored to a long-term macro vision while remaining flexible on how to achieve these goals.  We argue that CPEC’s deliberate vagueness becomes much less alarming when one abandons the “Washington Consensus” view of economic reforms.  We conclude with a consideration of possible future developments (vis-à-vis hard and soft power) for the US, UK and China till 2040.  Word Count: 9,526.


Brexit: Why the 23rd June Referendum is just the beginning

(June 14, 2016)

In this paper (published 9 days before the vote) we predict that the UK would leave the EU.  We argue that the EU’s impact on the Britain’s economy and British culture has created a level of resentment within the British public, which will push England to reclaim its unique national identity.  We contend that Brexit may in fact help restore balance to the British economy, which has developed a lop-sided focus on financial services and high-end retail & real estate.  Word Count: 4,374.


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