Professor Eswar S Prasad, on the book he did not plan to write and why India might be a good bet for investments today
A professor, author, research associate and advisor on matters of finance — these are just some of the roles that Eswar S Prasad dons. The Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy at Cornell University, who made headlines earlier this year with his book The Dollar Trap, is visiting the country next week. And though he will not be stopping by his home town Chennai, he takes time off for a quick interview, giving us an insight into his book and his upcoming speech at the Delhi Economics Conclave in New Delhi, among other things.
Matters of coin
“This is not the book I planned to write,” begins Prasad, as we enquire about the inspiration behind The Dollar Trap. “I wanted to write about the patterns of capital flow. But I discovered something surprising,” he says, explaining that while the world thought the financial crisis (that began in the US) would lead to the decline of the US dollar’s supremacy, it actually strengthened it. “I saw a much more interesting story to tell,” Prasad admits, adding, “when there’s turmoil, people look for a safe place to keep their money and that place always turns out to be the US.” Thankfully, with India’s “growth prospects looking up,” Prasad believes that “investors around the world seem to view India as one of the most attractive investment destinations among the emerging markets.”
The game changers
Prasad, who has lectured at colleges like the Madras School of Economics, says that the biggest concern that youth around the world have, “is about their future career prospects in a world beset by rapid technological change, increasing competition and changing economic structures.” That said, Prasad feels that the talent of Indians “is on vivid display around the world,” and the country’s rapidly expanding middle class and the inherent dynamism of the economy “provide excellent opportunities for those youth who are willing to grab them.”
In New Delhi next week, Prasad will be talking about India’s growth prospects. “The state of world economy. And the economic reforms needed to keep growth high in India,” he elaborates. And before signing off, the professor points out that though the dollar reigns supreme, it may not always remain the most widely-traded currency. “The Chinese renminbi is already playing a role and in the next one or two decades, even the Indian rupee could,” he concludes.
Eswar S Prasad will be speaking at the Delhi Economics Conclave taking place on December 11-12. Details: delhieconomicsconclave.com
Prasad’s list for beginners
• The Shifts and the Shocks
by Martin Wolf,
• Capital in the Twenty-First
Century by Thomas Piketty,
• On China by Henry Kissinger,
• Fault Lines by Raghuram Rajan,
• Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee.