June 9, 2017
Popular discourse holds that rural development is imperative for accelerating growth. USAID too seems to hold this belief and has put most of its billions that were dedicated for growth towards the development of agriculture. Yet the results of all this effort to develop agriculture have been disappointing.
Anjum and I assert that development is essentially a city phenomenon. And that the failure of Pakistan development strategy is the inability of the economics profession to understand cities and their role in development.
So listen and please increase your research and debate in this area.
In doing so do read the Framework of economic growth and some of our work on cities that you can find on the web.
Remember to cite what you read and listen. So cite Soch Bichar if you find it useful.
May 23, 2017
It is important to understand “austerity” which is a major controversial subject in Europe.
Our contention is that we have not understood how we are unthinkingly following a policy of “austerity.”
This “austerity” policy has relied on excessive and arbitrary taxation that falls more heavily on the poor, refused to rationalize expenditures and relied heavily on debt. This combination of policies has been kept in place to principally postpone reform and keep outmoded structures alive.
The combination of ‘austerity’ policy and postponement of structural reform has reduced productivity, growth and employment alive.
Please listen and learn. We need more research in austerity policy. Those interested should listen carefully and write papers on austerity. But please cite SOCH BIOCHAR.
May 19, 2017
Listen to this conversation with Wajid Rana--former Finance Secretary-- and learn about the budget.
Don’t waste time with those silly pre-budget seminars. Listen to the realities of the budget, fiscal policy and management from people who have been involved in the budget and will speak the truth.
Understand the budget during budget season
May 10, 2017
Economists love to show off numbers and their favourite mantra "evidence based policy," where evidence is numbers no matter how they are made and what they mean.
Do remember numbers without thought, theory and context are useless.
Recently FM Dar announced that based on advice from some government favoured economists GDP numbers will be revised upwards with the help of the World Bank. Why? Why would the World Bank do this? Would they fund the same economist who suggested it to do the needful?
GDP numbers were revised upwards in 2006 and 2012. Should they be revised upwards every 5 years? Does this not show that there is a larger problem with statistics? If there is, should just a World Bank report prepared by a consultant do?
Rebasing GDP has implications everywhere. What are they and what is likely to happen. This is an important subject and we should discuss it widely. So, should the government before just handing out work to the World Bank. Perhaps the government should first do its own study through the FBS and discuss it locally.
Perhaps some of you should start taking this up for research and discussion.
May 7, 2017
We speak to Ayesha Jalal, well known Pakistani Historian, Chaired Professor at the famous Fletcher School and the author of many books including "The Sole Spokesman".
We discuss the history of Pakistan the get a glimpse of Ayesha's path-breaking research. This allows us to understand how the politics and society of Pakistan developed. Ayesha gives us several new perspectives and raises several questions, thoughts and hypotheses that need further research and debate.
She also recommends several ideas for research not just for historians but also economists and social scientists.
I am particularly looking forward to reading her book recommendations.
Pleas listen and comment.
April 29, 2017
Salman Shah, former Finance Minister, professor and TV personality speaks candidly of how policy is made and governance is broken in Pakistan.
For those interested in Policy and economic thinking this show will be very interesting.
For those preoccupied why Pakistan does mot progress here an insiders' views of how badly policy is made.
For researchers, time to think about examining real live issues that are mentioned here beyond surveys and regressions.
For donors, please listen to some of our best on Soch Bichar! This too is evidence. Perhaps better than that culled by a distant academic flush with funding and replicating RCTs and regressions without context and history. Only insiders like Salman and I who went into government can tell you how policy is made and implemented.
April 9, 2017
Anjum was upset about the recent spate of very optimistic articles in Wall Street Journal and other mainstream media that talked about the next land of opportunity called Pakistan. He wrote a sharply critical piece in Dawn entitled "Economic Bullshit" talking about reality and such strange (possibly bought) journalism. Perhaps this is why President Trump talks of “fake media.”
Interestingly enough, while media is turning positive, the IMF and the ADB have issued a few warning statements talking about lack of reform and possible brewing challenges.
It is disturbing when analysts and so called experts appear whimsical and inconsistent in their projections, switching from making warnings to being cheerleaders frequently. It undermines confidence in policy, the role of experts and the economy.
In this episode, we discuss this issue and how these analyses are made, their use of data and evidence.
April 5, 2017
Anjum is very concerned about the rise of Trump and what it means for the world. So, we took up this subject to discuss the new interplay of globalization and the re-emergence of nationalism.
Interesting and thought provoking discussion if you want to learn about emerging economic issues.
April 5, 2017
Soch Bichar radio show has now been on air for 4 weeks.
Here is an episode discussing the most important issue of 'employment'.
Many poor people told me that this disucssion touched them to the core.
Please listen and comment.
March 30, 2017
Reqo DIq has appeared in the news yet again. This project has been in process for the last 18 years at least. It has had several twists and turns with several renewals, contractors changing hands, and little government inquiry or information of the decision-making process. The media turns its attention to it only when some major news breaks. These is no investigative journalist who knows anything about this project.
The way our media is structured few anchors as well as writers are dedicated journalists so information on a complex subject as Reqo Diq is very hard to get. In any case mining contracts are not easy to understand. Nor are mining companies saints. Their stories of pillage of underdeveloped countries are legend now with many movies reporting on them.
Recently, Pakistan government lost their battle against Barrick the mining company involved in Reqo Diq. Damages to Pakistan will now follow.
Several anchors rushed to talk say Pakistan should award the mining company the lease on a huge mining tract without a fight. Their reporting was very inaccurate. Clearly, they knew little about the case.
In this episode, we talk to Samar Mubarakmand who is our world-famous nuclear scientist. Samar was also a member of the Planning commission who dealt with Reqo DIq. He has followed the case, even appeared in arbitrations and the supreme court (where the mining company claim was rejected).
While Samar Mubarakmand role in the case has been controversial in the media, we must recognize his competence and his knowledge of Reqo Diq and listen to the facts laid out by him carefully.
I would urge my media friends to listen to this episode carefully understand the facts and then make up their mind. Rejecting our own knowledgeable people is not a sign of a developing society.