A Manifesto for Trade Justice

By Forum Against FTAs | Manifesto | March 19, 2019

Following is the text of a manifesto for trade justice released by Forum Against FTAs – a network of India’s civil society organisations, trade unions, farmers’ groups, and concerned citizens – on the eve of the 2019 general elections urging all political parties to take a people-centric approach on trade policy and to institutionalise transparency in the process of India’s trade negotiations:

India is a huge country with great development potential. However, for this potential to be realised, Indian people must gain equitably from development, and development must serve the best interests of our people, including our farmers, workers, fisherfolk, traders, local industries, etc. We cannot blindly…

It Seems the FSB Has Been Fighting the Last War

By Kavaljit Singh | Letter (FT) | March 12, 2019

At last, the Financial Stability Board has woken up to assess the potential financial stability risks emanating from leveraged loans that currently stand at more than $1.3tn (“Watchdog turns up heat on leveraged loan industry as high risk debt soars”, March 8).  Since 2010, leveraged lending issuance has witnessed a rapid growth as yield-hungry investors rushed to grab the specialist loan vehicles — collateralised loan obligations.

What is worrisome is not merely the magnitude of outstanding debt, but the deteriorating underwriting standards for leveraged loans. Close to 80 per cent of outstanding US leveraged loans are covenant-lite, placing fewer restrictions on the borrowers and lesser…

CSOs Demand a Complete Overhaul of the ISDS System

By CSOs | Letter | October 30, 2018

More than 300 civil society groups and trade unions from 73 countries – including Madhyam – have urged governments participating in United Nations meetings in Vienna this week to completely overhaul the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system contained within many international trade and investment agreements. Released on October 30, their public letter is addressed to member governments attending meetings of the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), which provides one set of rules under which many ISDS cases are litigated. After years of public outcry against ISDS, UNCITRAL has decided to convene a working group to engage in a discussion about the…

The IMF Needs to be More Flexible about Capital Controls

By Kavaljit Singh | Letter (FT) | October 18, 2018

Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, central bank governor of Malaysia, rightly warns against the deeply-rooted stigma attached to capital controls that can be helpful in pre-empting financial crises  (“Malaysia backs option of capital controls”, October 17).  As many emerging market economies in Asia and elsewhere are currently grappling with the challenges posed by volatile capital flows (large capital inflows followed by abrupt reversals), it is high time for the IMF to revisit its 2012 Institutional View that endorses capital controls as a last resort, imposed selectively on capital inflows, and on a temporary basis.

The Institutional View is a welcome departure from the IMF’s earlier rigid stance but…

Reform the IMF to Reflect New Economic Landscape

By Kavaljit Singh | Letter (FT) | September 21, 2018

Martin Sandbu rightly warns about the diminishing role of the IMF as a crisis manager (Free Lunch, September 19). The challenges faced by the fund are much bigger than its lack of financial resources to put out fires. The current financial market turmoil in Argentina shows the IMF’s standby loan of $50bn — the largest ever credit line in IMF history — has failed to provide an effective anchor for addressing financial vulnerabilities and bolstering market confidence.

The immediate disbursement of $15bn (30 per cent of the total IMF loan) to Argentina did not help in averting currency collapse or arresting capital flight.

These developments in Argentina may…