Saturday, December 21, 2013

An Economic Overview

The prices of food items have increased manifold during the last three years. In 2008 the prices of wheat and rice had doubled. Rising price of food items affect the poor and the lower middle class the most, because they spend a major portion of their income on purchase of food items. But apparently there is no shortage of food items. Better storage facilities of food grains are required, mainly in the developing countries to preserve what has been produced. Wastage cannot be afforded. Developing nations, with borrowings and investments from developed nations, have moved forward a bit. But they also have not been able to divert the fruits of development in the right direction. Rising Oil prices have affected the balance of payments.

Low interest rates, deficit budgets, and government borrowings have dampened the growth of the world economy. As a result of moderate growth, unemployment has cropped up. Accumulation of wealth and liquidity in the hands of a few has affected the economies adversely. Developing nations have tried to control inflation by keeping the interest rate high. High interest rate discourages investment and growth of gross domestic product. In spite of their best efforts to keep the economy away from the pressure of inflationary price rise, through monetary and fiscal policies, effective demand has not gone down as desired. Without proper investment decisions, employment has been affected adversely.

A huge capital resource is remaining sunk in fixed assets. Conversion into liquid assets is not so easy. Markets, on one side, are getting flooded with consumer durables. Over-emphasis on opportunities in some areas has resulted in an unbalanced growth of the world economy. Some areas have progressed, while some have fallen back. Governments need to put a judicious check on expenditure, subsidies and benefits to mellow down the price rise. But that again gives rise to unemployment. It has to be ensured that subsidies and benefits reach those sections of the population for which it is meant.

Per unit cost of energy is increasing. This adds to the production cost. So the price rise is not only because of high effective demand. It is also a case of cost-push inflation. Need to find alternative sources of energy are necessary. A suitable alternative for coal needs to be found out. The energy resource needs to be used more effectively and judiciously. Nuclear energy is not appearing to be a very safe long-term option. Those who are at the helm of managing the energy resources have to handle the situation with more caution and care, keeping in mind long-term effects of their decisions and actions.

It is required to boost the economies with fresh investments, but the moment that is done, prices will rise further.
More areas have to be brought under food grain cultivation to increase food production. New technologies have to be implemented to get more yields from the same land. Importing food grains puts pressure on the economy, as it is always costlier. Transportation cost also adds to the cost. Local yields have to be raised. Cutting down the cost is an absolute necessity.

Attention should be shifted to less saturated areas where small and medium scale industries can and need to be developed. Capital resources should be diverted to areas and sectors where it is needed the most. This will increase the output. More supply of goods and services will then bring down the price level. This will create fresh employment as well, which will gear up the economies with a more equitable distribution of income. A change in consumption pattern and lifestyle is required. Collective well-being should get a big priority. Too much of optimism, with respect to revenue earning, is required to be curtailed. Speculative activities, based on the rising price level, should be controlled, keeping in mind that ultimately it will be a self-defeating policy. Governments need to chalk out their fiscal and monetary policies very judiciously. Distribution system needs to be smooth enough to bring parity in price level. Governments will have to manage their debts, if any, efficiently.

Most of the economies need to swing back to a near non-inflationary situation. A total evaluation and overhauling of the world economic structure needs to be done with sufficient co-operation among countries. 

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