by Raunak Mittal (MALD 2018)
Demonetization, a bold move executed by the current government in India took everyone by surprise. Good or bad, it is one of the biggest policy decision taken by an economy as large as India in the recent past. The aspects that interest me in this big policy decision are the effects of this move towards the digitization of finance, including digital payments and alternative lending.
There has been a focus on alternative modes of credit lending ,not just in developing economies but also in the developed economies like the US. As part of my ongoing research, I had the opportunity to talk with the founders and leaders of alternative lending startups like Numerated, DistilledAnalytics, Branch.co and Entrepreneurial Finance Lab in the US. However, for getting a closer look on what is happening in India post the biggest strike on cash, I continued my research with the help of IBGC by visiting India during in August 2017. My research plan was two-fold: to meet startups that are operating in the space of digital finance or alternative lending; and to observe the change in people’s behavior in dealing with day-to-day transactions nine months post-demonetization.
Wiping out 86 per cent of a country’s currency is rarely a “good start” on anything. In a country where, according to recent analyses of income-tax probes, the cash component of undeclared wealth is estimated to be only about six per cent, leaving an economy virtually cashless is certainly not a good place to end up. If Thaler had studied the data on the Indian economy he might have realised that the policy instrument he had supported was aimed at the wrong target: The currency of corruption is mostly in non-cash assets.
Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in The Indian Express
When can we stop using cash?
by Kai Ryssdal & Maria Hollenhorst
Here’s a question: How much cash is in your wallet right now? If you answered not a whole lot, that’s not very surprising. It’s getting ever easier to operate in this economy without carrying cash. You tip your Lyft driver on your phone, you pay your dinner bill with a credit card and you Venmo your friends to split the check. Consider then, the future of cash. Bhaskar Charkravorti, the senior associate dean of international business and finance at The Fletcher School at Tufts, has done a number of studies on the subject, including the “Cost of Cash.” Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to him about the future of bills and coins in this changing world. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Listen to the interview with Dean Chakravorti on Marketplace
Cash is falling out of fashion – will it disappear forever?
Cash is being displaced in so many ways that it’s hard to keep track. There are credit cards and electronic payments; apps such as Venmo, PayPal and Square Cash; mobile payments services; cryptocurrencies that operate outside the purview of central banks; and localized offerings such as Kenya’s mPesa, India’s Paytm and Bangladesh’s bKash. These innovations are encouraging cashlessness across communities worldwide.
It’s reasonable to expect cash to follow the path of other goods that have been replaced by digital alternatives, such as photos, music and movies. Will cash – and the ATMs that dispense it – experience a “Blockbuster” moment and disappear from our neighborhoods?
Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in The Conversation
Planet Money: On Why India Made Most Of Its Money Worthless
India’s prime minister recently decided to make almost all of the cash in his country worthless. He said it was meant to stop corruption. It turns out, that idea came from a very surprising source.
“In many ways, people in India are actually quite comfortable, you know, going back and forth between science and spirituality. The lines are sometimes quite blurred.”
Listen to the full NPR piece, including comments from Dean Chakravorti
Evaluating India’s Radical Experiment In Eliminating High-Value Currency
Economist Bhaskar Chakravorti says even after all the drama, almost all of the cash in circulation in India made its way back into the banking system.
BHASKAR CHAKRAVORTI: Not all of that was legal cash. It just happened to be the case that India has – is extremely innovative in getting it on constraints.
STACEY VANEK SMITH: But the public loved it. Modi’s approval rating has continued to climb. It’s just amazing to me that people aren’t angry about this. Like, why do you think that people are supportive of this move?
CHAKRAVORTI: Because populism is a strange thing, right?
Listen to the full piece at NPR
The End of Money
by Emily Cashen
Bhaskar Chakravorti, an economics scholar and Executive Director of the Fletcher School’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, said: “The initial argument made by Modi was that these bank notes were demonetised to flush out the underground economy – known as the ‘black economy’ in India – or to flush out the illegal activities carried out by underground groups and terrorist groups.”
Read the full piece at World Finance
Early Lessons from India’s Demonetization Experiment
Did India just pull off a monetary and political miracle?
Consider the sequence of events in its demonetization saga. In November the government made a high-risk, high-stakes economic intervention in the world’s largest democracy, with an objective to reduce corruption. Overnight, 86% of cash in circulation was voided. In a country almost 90% cash reliant, chaos ensued. As I said at the time, it was a case study in poor policy and even poorer execution.
Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Harvard Business Review
What Can India Teach Us About Abolishing High-Value Currency?
by Julie McCarthy
Bhaskar Chakravorti of The Fletcher School at Tufts University says most Europeans don’t rely on the 500 euro bill to conduct legitimate business any more than Singaporeans depend on their country’s S$10,000 bill, which has also been phased out.
“Those denominations are so high that generally, anybody who would have to deal with that value of a transaction would probably use a digital transfer for it,” says Chakravorti.
Read the full piece at NPR
India’s Botched War on Cash
[In the wake of demonetization], retail and wholesale markets have stalled around the country. Supply chain transactions, real estate deals, and even weddings and funerals have been frozen. Consumers are coping with lines that are frustrating even for Indians used to standing in lines or waiting for basic services. People up and down the income spectrum are dealing with changing cash withdrawal policies and empty ATMs. The nation’s status as the world’s fastest-growing big economy has been severely imperiled and its currency risks being further devalued, a situation made worse by prospects of a strengthening dollar after the U.S. election.
Sounds bad, right? But there is a question that hasn’t been asked: Is there a digital upside to this crisis?
Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in the Harvard Business Review