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India’s Lack of Entrepreneurship is Due to its Culture

Saurabh Malkar

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I came across an article shared on a Facebook group, describing Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak’s, take on Indians’ lack of creativity and the resultant dearth of innovative enterprise. The article was met with a lot of pushback and hate-posting, mostly arising out of national and cultural chauvinism.

But Woz’s words were like music to my ears. He is certainly not the first person to have lambasted Indians for their lack of creativity and innovation, but he is one of the few ones who touched on points that subtly implicated the culture, straying away from the oft-cited bogey man – the Indian educational system.

I will try to swing further Woz’s wrecking ball and try to break down (pun intended) the shortcomings of Indian culture that stymie creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and individual progress.

For this rant, I shall use everyday examples and observations, while eschewing citing scientific literature. This is, thus, an opinion grounded in empiricism.

Low Expectations

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of a lofty goal, often, with scant resources. The challenges are not merely of an infrastructural or a monetary nature, they are first and foremost of a psychological kind. The individual has to place his personal life and tertiary goals on the proverbial altar that will serve as the foundation of his venture.

Unfortunately, such goals and aspirations have no place in a culture of low expectations. Indian culture encourages playing safe just so one gets to check off a centuries old check list of ‘success.’ The check list comprises of education (in select disciplines), employment (in select industries), matrimony, a mortgage, and a car loan.

With the bar set to keeping up with the Joneses, setting off on an almost monkish, backbreaking entrepreneurial journey is off limits.

Group Think

Starting a business or being innovative requires a person to make critical decisions that can either make it or break it. Such critical decision-making needs one to be self-aware and accustomed to make independent decisions from a young age.

A culture that puts a premium on defining one’s identity in the ethnolinguistic group in which one was born is not at all geared for the rigors of independent decision-making.

To add to the burden, individuals are perceived as part of a group and are expected to be in lockstep with group conventions, practices, and thought. For a maverick, this can be stifling and self-isolation is the only counter-measure.

A sub-malady of group think is that individuals get painted with a rather broad brush. Group outliers, viz. future mavericks, tend to be ridiculed, jeered, and in some cases, ostracized due to the misalignment of their compass with the group north star.

A combination of group think and steep penalties on renegade behavior means that the raw creative energy, the fuel of entrepreneurship, is lost or discharged in hackneyed pursuits.

Identity Politics

Group think and ethnolinguistic segmentation segues into identity politics. People tend to judge individuals by their default identities, issued at time of birth, by no virtue or fault of their own.

While this pathology seems to be at its peak in the US, fortunately, there are counter voices that rail against it.

In India, it’s part and parcel of the routine life. Preferential policies and biases towards hiring folks of similar ethno-linguistic groups as that of the employer is rampant in most parts of the country.

Identity politics can creep into fraternizing, segmenting the populace along ethnolinguistic fault lines. This can be extremely counterproductive to the process of information exchange and making beneficial acquaintances – essential pre-requisites to entrepreneurial beginnings.

Lack of Grassroots Innovation

Entrepreneurship has become such a money-minting buzzword that universities now run courses that teach folks how to bootstrap their ideas into successful businesses. Big to medium sized cities see at least one event dedicated to discussing and fostering entrepreneurs. Magazines beat the entrepreneurial drum at least once in their publication cycle and Youtube is chalk full of videos on entrepreneurial hacks.

 

But really, entrepreneurship and innovation is not a gala affair and certainly doesn’t result from a structured top-down plan. It’s more akin to the randomness and meandering trajectories of Brownian motion. Over time, a few of these random trajectories lead to success.

Rockefeller’s success with oil, Henry Ford’s successful application of the assembly line, modern day advances in fracking, the smartphone, and all the petty things that make our domestic life convenient have one thing in common. They are the cumulative result of the effort of average individuals, with great minds and even greater dreams, who wanted to innovate contemporary processes and systems to bring about a greater good.

Indians, for a variety of reasons, lack the innovative mindset. Outliers apart, most Indians don’t think of upgrading existing ways of doing things to make their own lives better. To demonstrate this, I will use two extremely routine, but telling, elements of our lives – house cleaning and food packaging.

House cleaning involves sweeping, mopping, and wiping down surfaces.

The Indian broom hasn’t undergone any significant upgrade since its inception. It’s still made of long fibers of processed grass, held together by a plastic casing which doubles up as the handle. From head to tail, the broom measures around 3.5 feet. The result: poor cleaning and significant strain on the back from bending over. No thought has ever been put into upgrading this tool. It’s only through the entry of products from the West that urban Indians are being introduced to the ‘real’ broom – one with greater work efficiency and optimized for use in upright posture.

Mopping in the average Indian household is performed with a rag and a bucket of water. One has to squat and use their bare hands to mop the floor with the wet rag. Only recently has a mop and a purpose-built bucket been introduced into Indian homes. But to much dismay, this convenience is the result of globalization and trade, not local innovation.

It’s routine to wipe down surfaces with a damp rag. The process requires frequent rinsing and wringing of the rag. Not only is it time consuming, it also produces poorer results. To date, there is no alternative to this, as there is nothing like Clorox wipes on the market.

Food packaging is my pet peeve. I was particularly wowed by food packaging in North America. There is a great emphasis on three criteria – ease of opening, resealability, and ease of dispensing. Cue food packaging in India, and except a few multinational brands, most food packaging is dismal. None of it meets the above three criteria and situation hasn’t changed much over the past few decades.

It seems, at least empirically, that the driver of innovation and entrepreneurship – the individual – is missing in action. This very much explains, partly, the state of shambles India has found itself in.

Lack of Infrastructure

I won’t detail on infrastructural quagmires affecting at a macro level like GDP and public transportation. This is an individual-centric harangue, so I will touch on the micro effects.

Innovation or entrepreneurial pursuit needs contemplation, solitude, and some spare time to etch out the road map. The above elements become unattainable due to the way infrastructure is (mis -)set up in India, at least in urban India. (These problems don’t occur in rural India because there is no infrastructure to begin with.)

The Indian infrastructural setup is for the most part pre-industrial. This accompanied by a pre-industrial culture and way of life throttles any serious contemplation and self-reflection.

Following has been my observation.

Poor roads and dismal traffic management often result in urban Indians spending over 3 hours commuting one-way. While one could theoretically brainstorm and introspect while stuck in traffic, the co-existent cacophony from honking and outdated car motors makes this theoretical prospect unfeasible.

But what about using ear plugs and reading up on relevant issues on the Internet while stuck in traffic? This unfortunately is made impossible due to poor Internet speeds/bandwidth – a characteristic flourish of digital India.

The same lack of quiet is continues on into the urban residential setup, thanks to poor city planning, resulting in noisy vehicular traffic streaming right down the middle of the township. The problems get compounded, every now and then, by cultural and social events, where making the most noise and being inconsiderate to others seems to be the end goal.

With a lack of privacy, quiet, and uninterrupted me-time, it’s hard to think about anything, except the most trivial matters.

Inverse Logic

Part of the goods and services tax in India is also the culprit for not affording the average Indian sufficient downtime. Elements that free up time and make daily routine convenient – frozen and canned foods, processed foods, packaged foods, and household appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, and ovens – incur a steep tax.

The rationale: the above goods and products are luxury items, hence, should be steeply taxed.

The counter-rationale: how can these conveniences become mainstream if they cost a lot?

The result: most Indians continue to live pre-industrial lives, with household chores occupying a significant chunk of their daily schedule.

Introspection, contemplation, and brainstorming, then, are prerogatives of post-industrial cultures of the West, which is where most innovation and developments occur. This is not serendipity, it is cause-and-effect.

Parental Baggage

This might become a contentious issue.

Exceptions aside, adults in the West are expected to bear fewer parental responsibilities than adults in India. While helping parents out occasionally and tending to their health in times of need can certainly be accommodated in the life of a young adult, there is a threshold to such accommodation, beyond which it adversely affects the adult’s life.

Indian children are not only expected to take care (read middle age to grave) of their parents, they are also expected to fulfill some of the latter’s dreams and expectations. In some unfortunate cases, adults are expected to live with their parents, in line with long-standing cultural norms, despite having the means to move out.

The externalities of such a setup: young adults live a sheltered life and become encumbered with expectations and demands that can put their personal pursuits in a chokehold.

Such young adults can hardly be expected to become trailblazers and mavericks.

Indians are Philistines

Granted India has its own philharmonic orchestra and hosts art exhibitions and cultural festivals. Upon analyzing closely, one finds that such events draw out only the uber-elites of Indian metros – the real bourgeoisie with Ivy-league education and refined tastes. Unfortunately, they are a niche minority.

Most of the the Indian population, including inhabitants of metros, despite their university degrees and corporate careers, couldn’t care less about the arts. Patronage to the arts is considered so superfluous that it doesn’t even brush past the mental orbit of an average Indian.

The arts play a vital role in that they encourage creativity, out-of-box thinking, and open intellectual dimensions that cannot be opened by rote lessons that are the forte of the Indian K-12 system.

Case in point: the user experience on Apple products wouldn’t have been so definitively distinct had Steve Jobs not dropped in on a calligraphy course at Reed College.

It would be almost blasphemous and heretical for an Indian to wish to study the arts or want to build a career in humanities. Not only will he/she incur the wrath of their parents and the ridicule of a vacant society, they will remain cash strapped for the rest of their lives. The culture and the resultant economic system isn’t built to nurture artistic pursuits.

Notable Takeaway

The common thread running through all the above listed reasons is culture. It’s not the lack of money, or the burgeoning population, or poor governance – oft-cited culprits – that result in a dearth of entrepreneurship, lack of innovation, and a miserable existence.

In Closing,

While I would like to end on a sanguine note, I prefer realism to optimism. Cultures are difficult to change. Cultural upheaval results from the efforts of individuals who have seen the light and hazard walking towards something better.

There is a genuine dearth of rugged individualism in the Indian culture. With the engine for change, innovation, and entrepreneurship non-existent, there cannot be a cultural shift or individual progress or creative enterprise in India.

An ex-dentist and a business graduate who is greatly influenced by American conservatism and western values. Having born and brought up in a non-western, third world country, he provides an ‘outside-in’ view on western values. As a budding writer and analyst, he is very much stoked about western culture and looks forward to expound and learn more. Mr. Malkar receives correspondence at saurabh.malkar[at]gmail.com. To read his 140-character commentary on Twitter, follow him at @saurabh_malkar

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Economy

Inflation and Economic Crisis in Pakistan

M.Abaid Manj

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Cooperation on International level to protect economy and financial markets is a good development, but in our country with sealed borders amid the killer virus fatalities, economy and financial market is in deep crisis. Prime Minister and his team are taking different measures ranging from domestic to international level, to win the war against the COVID-19 disease, but the fear and consternation forced investors to confine themselves to a limited investment in government and private sectors. Recently, government declared a state of emergency which again left adverse impacts on supply chain and flow of goods. Due to emergency, most companies and businesses are operating from home, but they are in deep financial crisis. All the Businesses across the country are badly affected including travel Industry. While crisis deepen, investors choose different way to save their investment.

The development of society depends on its needs. For this, there are some rules and regulations in every society that inculcate citizens to follow these rules and the way a country developed. From the borders of the country to the point of view, every person is tied to the chain of economics. The chains of this chain are so deep that every moment from the universe to the bedside they are interconnected. Every need of the world is related to money and the value of money depends on export and financial market’s fluctuation. For example, the value of dollar is converted into many rupees in Asia shows that where the currency stands against the dollar.

The source of inflation on a daily basis and the source of human identity, determines quality of life. The maturity of the foundation is seen revolving around the economic activities of individuals. There are many important points to influence individual forces and social decisions. But there are problems in the destinations when they are difficult to travel. Such destinations are always full of thorns. The jatts of the destination make the paths easy or difficult. It is possible for any community or regional head to rise only when its economic action is spoken of social values.

If the principles are made, Europe has adopted social and economic principles to further its agenda, and even we can say that they are following the streak what Islam suggested. If our state is talking about madina state, then it can be learned as a matter of fact, then the social patches can be straightforward, but the actions were considered to be very straightforward. It is known to be done. The life of the world is always a matter of humility, politicians are one of his inventions, and human being is not only a human being, but also the principle of compassion is also learned. The principle of humility is also one of those who make humans humble with humans. The principles of a human being become the destiny of an area.

The last several years of Pakistan’s economy were regarded as highly inflationary periods due to its political instability. Inflation has been the major obstacles in the way of development since years. The inflation adversely affected the country economic growth and financial sector development. Since the last six months, Pakistan received $8 billion in grants and loans from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China, but cannot be termed as the whole panacea for its financial and economic diseases. We need more help and more progress to stabilise our economy. International fuel prices have also cause inflation. The inflation hike is mainly due to the increasing prices of fuel and food, according to a PBS statement. The country GDP growth would remain close to 2.5% because of slowdown specifically in large scale manufacturing and agriculture sectors. According to macrotrends, the year 2018 average the inflation was 5.8%, which was quite low this year. If the average inflation of the budget 2016-17 was 4.1%, then the average inflation rate of 2017-18 was 2.9%. The rate of the year was 7.0%. According to the 2018- year of March 2019, inflation is 9.4% at the record level. According to the Pakistan bureau of statistics, the measurement of mingi is distributed to groups. In this group, cpi (consumer price index) includes nfne non-food and non-energy items. Oil, petrol, diesel, CNG, electricity and natural gas Inclusive. Their rates were recorded at 5.6% in July 2017-18 and 7.6% in 2018-19.But in the year 2017-18, the average rate was recorded 5.6% and the average rate of 2018-19 was 8.1% extra. After that, the effects of inflation were seen by dividing people into five groups in terms of income.

The first group was 8000-12000, which was 2.7% in 2017-18 and 4.9% in the year 2018-19. The second group is 8000-12000, which is 3.0% in the year 2018-19 in the year 2017-18. The third group was 12000-18000, which faced 3.1% in the year 2017-18 and 5.5% in the year 2018-19. What is the salary group? The fourth group is considered as a salary class, it has experienced an average rate of inflation in the year 2017-18 at 3.3% and 6.6% in the year 2018-19. In the end, more than 35,000 people included in the year 2017-18, who did not tolerate the rate of inflation from 4.4% in the year 2018-19 and 8.4% in the year 2018-19.

 If the annual average is taken out, 3.8% in the year 2017-18 and 7.0% in 2018-19. After that, if the wpi (wholesale price index) wholesale goods are spoken, the agricultural forestry and fish industry 7.4% in ores and minerals 14.31%, the clothing industry 13.79%, leather 33.07%, metal machinery 6.70%, and 21.15% in the transport goods were increased. The record was behind the inflation, the imf went to the previous government or the current government’s wrong policies. In the past sixty years, 6000 billion Pakistani rupees were one million twenty thousand, but in these two bells, one million sixty Thousands will be born. The current government has raised 11 thousand billion loans in different deal forms.

Every day in 2013, the PPP has taken 5 billion rupees every day, 2018 Muslim league-nawaz has spent 25 billion rupees every day. The poor people of Pakistan are considered to be the winners. From the people of the country, the thinking of government houses starts from home and ends in the end of the house. Because the nation in which the forgiveness of the dead is the prayer of the mpa of the area If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. The swords of doubts hang. Recognize the inner… economic and social values will be the dust of your feet…

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COVID-19 cruelly highlights inequalities and threatens to deepen them

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In many countries, income inequality has risen steeply since the 1980s, with adverse social and economic consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic now cruelly highlights those inequalities – from catching the virus, to staying alive, to coping with its dramatic economic consequences.

Some groups, such as migrant workers and workers in the informal economy, are particularly affected by the economic consequences of the virus. And women, who are over-represented in the public health sector, are particularly exposed.

High levels of poverty, informality and unprotected jobs also make it more difficult to contain the virus.

Policy responses must ensure that support reaches the workers and enterprises who need it most, including low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the self-employed and the many other vulnerable people. 

Everyone is at risk

While some workers can reduce their exposure to the risk of contagion by teleworking from home, or benefitting from preventive measures, many cannot because of pre-existing inequalities.

Across the world, 2 billion workers (61.2 per cent of the world’s employed population) are in informal employment. They are more likely to face higher exposure to health and safety risks without appropriate protection, such as masks or hand disinfectants. Many also live in cramped housing, sometimes without running water.

This not only exposes these workers to health risks, it also makes preventive measures for the wider population less effective.

Getting sick means becoming even poorer

Inequalities also play out cruelly in what happens to people when they catch the virus.

For some it means going on sick leave, accessing health services and continuing to receive a salary.

But for those at the bottom of the income chain it’s a catastrophic scenario. Many are not covered by health insurance and face a higher risk of mortality. They may not even have access to health services.

Even if they ultimately recover, the absence of income replacement benefits means that they can become even poorer. Every year, an estimated 100 million people fall into poverty as a result of catastrophic health expenses.

The “work or lose your income” dilemma

Governments and central banks have adopted large-scale measures to save jobs and enterprises, and provide workers with income support.

Unfortunately, not all workers or enterprises benefit from these measures.

For informal economy workers, reduced hours, due to the pandemic, means loss of income with no possibility of receiving unemployment benefits.

Informal micro and small enterprises that constitute 80 per cent of enterprises worldwide are generally out of reach of public policies.

Part-time workers, many of who are women, temporary workers, or workers under short-term contracts and in the digital gig economy are frequently not eligible for unemployment benefit or income support.

Many of them face the same “work or lose your income” dilemma as informal economy workers. To pay their food and other basic expenses they often continue to work until forced to stop by measures to limit contagion by the virus. This compounds the economic insecurity they already face.

We need equitable and inclusive policy responses

In adopting short-term responses to the crisis, urgent attention should be devoted to protecting low-income households.

This means income support measures broad enough to cover the most vulnerable workers and the enterprises that employ them.

Italy for example extended income support (80 per cent of the gross salary) to workers in enterprises with financial difficulties, to all economic sectors and to enterprises with less than 15 employees, which are normally not eligible. Lump-sum income compensation is also provided to the self-employed and external collaborators.

Spain is providing income support for the self-employed, members of cooperatives and workers whose employment has been temporarily suspended, even if they would not have normally received unemployment benefits.

In developing countries, informality and limited fiscal space add to the difficulties. However, income support could be extended through non-contributory social security schemes or existing cash transfer programs. Support could also be offered temporarily to informal enterprises.

ILO

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War economics

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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In 2019 – the last year for which we have complete statistics – all classes of financial investment had a total increase of 23 trillion US dollars, particularly Stock Exchange securities and public debt instruments. The global value of Stock Exchange securities alone grew by 17 trillion US dollars, from 67,000 to 84,000 US dollars, while, finally, the global value of bonds alone grew by 6 trillion US dollars.

 A very weak house of cards. In fact, two events alone, such as the closure of the Straits of Hormuz, or a new “democratization” in the Middle East, would be enough to trigger an inflation led by oil or other raw materials cost, which would bring the whole great house of cards of public and private debt down.

 A “short-term life”, an “altered stage” of finance that currently – with fintech and derivatives, born with Clinton’s banking reform – can afford not to consider the financial flows data, but only a manipulated calculation of probabilities, against which, however, you can insure yourself.

 The entire Eurozone, which believes to be smarter than the others, lives on trade surpluses – often huge as in Germany – but also with a mix of low domestic wages and booming foreign trade, which makes the EU economies extremely vulnerable to asymmetric attacks from some non-EU expanding countries – not to mention the USA and China, which will tolerate for a short time yet this difference in level, which harms them significantly.

 The European Target 2, the interbank payment system that no longer allows to resort to foreign currency reserves to offset banks’ liquidity deficits, has now a full balance of over 1 trillion euros, of which 800 billion euros are German flows only, which therefore live on purchases by the Euro area.

 Hence a system that amplifies the asymmetric shocks, which are inherent in a “rigid” currency and not lender of last resort as the euro, but which favours above all the holders of greater surpluses than the EU countries, which are currently less capable of achieving trade surpluses. Therefore, for Italy, beating the surplus within the Eurozone is a primary goal of economic and financial warfare. It can be done.

 Certainly Keynes’ old and still valid idea – launched at the Bretton Woods Conference – to find a single currency and also an account currency, namely bancor, which would revalue the currency of the country recording a surplus and devalue the country recording an excessive deficit, was defeated by the USA, the winning country, which had also financed Great Britain – that paid its debt to the USA until 1973 – but which wanted above all to internationalize the dollar, so that it could have a “high” value despite its structural trade deficit.

 Therefore, this enables the EU countries which record higher balance of payments surpluses to purchase bonds –  for example, Italian ones – while the further reduction in value of the Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds is maintained by favouring one or the other markets of government bonds and securities. Currently the shopping of public debt instruments is a primary method of economic warfare.

 In this very weakened framework, the huge Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

 It is the seal – if ever there was a need – of a new war economics.

 This means: a) initial planning of actions; b) predefined distribution of resources; c) hierarchy of goals; d) careful selection of public and private spending.

 Furthermore, democratic Socialism, but also social Catholicism, were born from the experiments that the great capitalist economies carried out during the First World War, such as the Beveridge Plan – a continuation of war Socialism by other means – just to paraphrase Von Clausewitz’s well-known statement – but also the subsequent democratization of Germany following the end of the Third Reich, which led the winners to maintain the workers’ co-participation in the management of small and large companies.

 When this health and human tragedy is over, we can think about a sort of new “Glorious Thirties”, as a French economist called the years from 1945 to 1975.

 Nevertheless, we shall give up what the Maoist Red Guards called the “four old habits”, i.e. old ideas, old culture, old habits and old behaviours.

 But obviously we shall do so within our eternal Western culture, which respects all the others and, often, enhances them.

 Old ideas: balancing the budget as a goal in itself. Let us consider that currently the EU Member States’ Constitutions enshrine precisely the “balanced budget” principle. It is a laughing matter. What should be done if Vesuvius erupted? Could we leave the whole Campania region without aid? What about Smith’s invisible hand?

What if a new pandemic broke out? What should be done? Are we not aware of the fact that probably also the current financial criteria may be undermined, not only by people’s demands, but precisely in their intrinsic structure?

 Old culture: what if we rethought all the finance and productive economy?

What if, for example, we rebuilt the internal market, without thinking – as it will never happen – that trade-induced capitalization will be such as to refinance the system? The mountains of money on which the global “billionaires” are sitting like Uncle Scrooge are not really cashable now, even if it seems so.

 Hence we are building a “Monopoly” that looks like a real system, but it is not so any longer.

 Old habits: what if we tried to control production so as to avoid – even manu military – companies’ delocalization abroad? What if we understood, for example, that a mechanic from the Piaggio company in Pontedera is not at all interchangeable with a poor Indian immigrant?

 Surely they will never make the same Vespa scooter. Hence, what if we invested not in the quick planned obsolescence – possibly with much advertising rhetoric – but in items capable of being a non-monetary investment for buyers?

 This is the theory of generalized wear – even in goods production – that Ezra Pound expressed in the 45th Canto of his most important work.

 However, there are no industrial nations by vocation or mission.

 Nevertheless, the shrinking of the Welfare State following the eventful advent of the so-called “Second Republic” in Italy has been based on the concept – which is very hard to prove scientifically – that the cost of market limitation is always greater than the cost of a restructuring crisis.

 This has never been the case, not even on a simple accounting level.

 Hence a war economics against the pandemic is needed to rebuild the old Welfare State with new formulas.

 The war economics, as it was studied after the Second World War, is made of many things: the economic “war cycles”, which absorb the Schumpeterian creative destruction; the calculation of the national income; the estimate of real capital and its depreciation, not to mention the input-output tables.

 There is an old study by the Naval War College, drafted by Jim Lacey in 2011, which tells how US economists probably determined the allies’ real victory in the war against the Axis powers.

 In 1931, a British intelligence cell supervised the German industrial reconstruction, while in the 1930s and 1940s, the economic experts – not the poor ideologists of the current tout va bien – identified the industrial sectors which had to be selectively funded, as a priority, to secure the victory and the war efforts.

 A cost-benefit analysis was made – not the ridiculous one that is currently so fashionable for infrastructure in Italy – but the one based on Leontief’s matrices.

 Preference for strategic bombing, for example, as well as for precision weapons and for surgical actions on convoys.

The battle of materials theorized by Ernst Jünger was made by the Allies, not by the Third Reich.

 Hence, in the current Covid-19 times, selective investment is needed in biological sciences and electronic infrastructure – all public investment, even if some private entities would have the possibility to invest in these fields – but also in technical and mass information, scientific training and all the new technologies.

 The private sector may currently have the capital to invest, but it has not the heads for it while, in the medium or long-term, the public sector can afford a return on non-financial investment and, in any case, lower than the one that a private investor in the same sector would expect.

 This is the reason why, based on my first-hand experience of that era, I can say it was silly to privatize IRI’s large product and business sectors.

 This is also the reason why energy is still mostly public in Italy, precisely because the capitalists in the sector would have been forced to – or would have anyway preferred – a “shorter” timeframe for the return on capital.

 As is the case with household appliances, cars and even computers. As often currently happens, they are homogeneous products, but selected by consumers on the basis of structurally non-efficient criteria such as colour, fashion, user-friendliness, advertising, etc.

 The next industrial revolution will be much less advertising-based than the current one. The market is already rather updated and selective.

 The Washington Consensus is also over. Disciplined fiscal policy is not necessary, as the most recent European history has shown us. Quite the reverse. “Fiscal moderation” does not produce capital and investment. Also the “public spending readjustment” does not produce the desired effects, because the average wages of those who remain at work are lowered and the positive interest rates do not always guarantee the investment expansion, but probably above all the unearned and unproductive income.

 Furthermore, there is no free “market” of exchange rates, considering that it is guided by exquisitely political evaluations and that the privatization of public companies does not ensure greater quality of management. Quite the reverse. It entails a distribution of “donations and contributions” to the new political parties – as happened with the “Second Republic” in Italy. Finally, deregulation is not necessary given that it permits the exploitation of the lower labour costs, but does not automatically optimize the production formula.

 With these economic and financial mechanisms, the wealth produced in the Glorious Thirties has been drained. However, much less wealth than expected has materialized.

 The offensive weapons of war economics are still traditionally the same: limiting the financial flows in the enemy country; the embargo; the manoeuvres on the public debt (to cause the fiscal crisis of the State or its insolvency). Today it is a matter of overturning these rules, so as to identify those that capitalize on the Covid-19 epidemics and stop their adverse actions.

 For Italy, the cost of this epidemics is now quite clear: if it ends next May, although it is unlikely, the cost for companies – generically calculated – will be approximately 300 billion euros.

 If the epidemics lasts until next December, companies’ losses will be over 640 billion euros.

 Obviously all this requires a war economics, both in terms of a planned strategy for investment and subsidies and in terms of the future reprogramming of Italy’s production system.

 This system shall be targeted to take essential market shares away from the States that would currently like to benefit from our crisis, both to acquire our companies at low prices and to make the remaining Italian companies ancillary to their production formula.

 This is the new war economics.

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Leading World Economic Forum representatives and members, including Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan,...

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