Greg Ip: “Industrial policy, often called “picking winners,” is sometimes seen as un-American by elevating the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats over that of the free market. In fact, the U.S. has a long history of intervening to support particular industries. Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury secretary, favored protection for American manufacturers to help them compete with the U.K…The lesson is that industrial policy is most likely to succeed when the goal is narrowly defined and leverages private-sector incentives. It is less likely to succeed when it is used to solve multiple social goals disconnected from the industry’s economic viability.”
NYTimes on India’s UPI: “The scan-and-pay system is one pillar of what the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has championed as “digital public infrastructure,” with a foundation laid by the government. It has made daily life more convenient, expanded banking services like credit and savings to millions more Indians, and extended the reach of government programs and tax collection. With this network, India has shown on a previously unseen scale how rapid technological innovation can have a leapfrog effect for developing nations, spurring economic growth even as physical infrastructure lags. It is a public-private model that India wants to export as it fashions itself as an incubator of ideas that can lift up the world’s poorer nations…Digital payments are being made for even the smallest of transactions, with nearly 50 percent classified as small or micro payments: 10 cents for a cup of milk chai or $2 for a bag of fresh vegetables. That is a significant behavioral shift in what has long been a cash-driven economy.”
Linwood Barclay on his love for model railways. ” When you’re a writer, and you spend your day imagining a world in your head, it’s nice to take a break and create one with your hands. Laying and ballasting track, sculpting mountains, planting trees, making roads, assembling intricate structures. And then there’s the actual running of the trains. Standing in the middle of the layout as a triple-headed freight or a VIA passenger train circles around me, the digital diesel sounds echoing throughout the room, affords a kind of Zen-like experience. I am transported from the stressful world we live in to this one, where anything and everything that happens is in my control.” I too had a model railways setup when Abhishek was young.
Atanu Dey: “Wealth is a purely human construct. Wealth is artificial. It’s not natural. There was no wealth in the world before humans arrived on the scene; there was only stuff. There were mountains, forests, fertile lands, rivers, minerals in the ground, animals and birds and fish and all sorts of things we don’t even have names for. But that was all stuff, not wealth. Humans created wealth in the world (and who knows perhaps in the entire universe, if humans are the only intelligent life in the universe.) Second, the amount of wealth has been growing monotonically since wealth began to be created. This increase is not due to some law of nature but it is an empirical fact. It’s partly because of the fact that humans create wealth coupled with the fact that the number of humans who have ever lived keeps increasing.”
Economist: “There are plenty of problems with India’s economy, from poor primary education to an inability to grow its limited manufacturing sector. But these were present even as previous growth spurts lifted millions out of poverty. Recent pains are thus more likely to reflect the pandemic’s after-effects. Construction firms in cities, for example, complain of labour shortages, as many workers who headed to villages during lockdowns have not yet returned. These may at last be starting to ease. The latest data releases suggest that rural wages may be picking up. Deposits in bank accounts set up for the poor are also rising. Even sales of two-wheelers are slowly creeping up. A lot more improvement will be needed, however, for claims of Amrit Kaal to ring true.”