Trading Away Capital Controls under Bilateral Trade Agreements

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | April 13, 2003

The sinister move by the US to curb the use of capital controls under the guise of just concluded bilateral trade agreements with Chile and Singapore has not received adequate attention. America’s economic predominance – and the resulting shape of the global economy – has long rested on a combination of bullying, threats and inducements, but recent US bilateral trade deals signed with Chile and Singapore hint at something entirely more sinister. This is because both agreements include strict financial conditions alongside aggressive safeguards for intellectual property which go beyond multilateral benchmarks agreed by the World Trade Organization.

The fact that Chile and Singapore have agreed to surrender the use of capital controls in return for more favorable market access should set…

Microcredit Myths: No Lending Hand for the Poor

By Kavaljit Singh | Op-Ed, Times of India | January 30, 2003

Historically, women’s groups and NGOs initiated microcredit programmes at local levels as one component of the development strategy to empower poor women. But nowadays microcredit is no longer a localised activity. For banks and financial institutions, microcredit offers new avenues of profit-making since interest rates range from 20 to 40 per cent and repayment rates are over  90 per cent, far above commercial lending. This economic logic makes the poor more attractive to banks and financial institutions, but not vice-versa. Even agricultural and consumer goods companies have jumped onto the microcredit bandwagon to penetrate rural markets.

In this context, the Microcredit Summit +5 was held in New York recently to take stock of the commitments made at…

The Enron Debacle

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | February 20, 2002

The anti-corporate activists and groups in the US and elsewhere are in a jubilant mood over the impending collapse of the Houston-based Enron Corporation, which till recently symbolized corporate-led globalization model. But it is important to emphasize here that anti-corporate activists have not engineered the collapse of Enron rather the company became victim of its own contradictions and large-scale fraudulent practices by its top management.

The collapse of Enron was almost inconceivable a few weeks ago because the company was internationally known for its risk management practices. In the business schools and universities, Enron’s risk management models and systems were not only taught but also praised as…

Turkey: Limping From One Financial Crisis to Another

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | September 17, 2000

For over three weeks during the months of November-December 2000, Turkey’s financial system was in deep turmoil. The overnight inter-bank interest rates climbed reached as high as 1700 per cent. At one point, these rates even touched 1950 per cent. Domestic interest rates reached at 60 percent, almost double from the pre-crisis period. As foreign investors started selling equities, the Istanbul stock market became extremely volatile and almost lost half of its value at the beginning of the year. The contagion effects of the Turkish “flu” were also witnessed in the Russian and Hungarian stock markets. As witnessed in the case of the…