Ravi Batra

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Raveendra N. Batra (b. 27 June 1943) is a U.S. economist and professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He is best known for his best selling books The Great Depression of 1990 and Surviving the Great Depression of 1990. In the former book he predicted a sharp rise in the US stock market in the 1980s, followed by a cataclysmic drop and a depression in or around 1990.


[edit] Biography

Raveendra N. Batra was born near the ancient city of Multan in Pakistan on 27 June 1943. The family moved to Delhi in India shortly after the partition, where his father became a Professor of Sanskrit.

[edit] Academic career

Batra obtained his B.A. degree from Punjab University in 1963 and M.A. degree from Delhi School of Economics in 1965. In 1969 he received his Ph.D. in Economics from Southern Illinois University. He surprised his professors by becoming published in distinguished refereed journals while a student. He became Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Western Ontario in 1969. He moved to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas in 1970 to become Assistant Professor of Economics. In 1972, he became Associate Professor and in 1973 he was appointed full Professor of Economics and Head of Department at the age of 30. Until 1978, his career was on a fast track, while he published advanced theoretical articles and two books primarily in the field of trade theory.

[edit] Novel ideas

In 1963, Batra met his revered teacher, P.R. Sarkar (1921–1990), also known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurti to disciples of the socio-spiritual movement Ananda Marga (Path of Bliss). After establishing himself in his chosen field, he decided to branch out by contributing to his mentor's work. In 1978, he published a novel book The Downfall of Communism and Capitalism: A New Study of History, where he turned his gaze from theoretical economics to history. In the book Batra promoted the Social Cycle Theory of his spiritual mentor, Sarkar, based on an analysis of four distinct classes with different psychological preferences or endowments.

[edit] Social evolution

The main thesis of the book was that the age of acquisitors, better known as capitalism, was soon to come to an end in the West. This dramatic change was to be followed by the downfall of the age of commanders in the Soviet Union, more commonly known as communism. While his predictions for capitalism to collapse within a few decades due to rampant inequality and speculation have not come true, his prediction for the collapse of communism, due to inner stasis and oppression, arrived in 1990, sooner than expected. The key reason that capitalism, as a self-perpetuating social formation, was seen to be on an unsustainable path, was the relentless drive of acquisitors to acquire ever more capital. Over time, this activity was seen to gain momentum and result in financial booms and busts. A depression would then follow and as it came on top of extreme inequality it would quickly bring social chaos and revolt. As anarchy was not a normal state of affairs, the class of military leaders would step in the breech and reestablish order and thereby usher in a new age of "commanders". In this context, Batra reviews a prior such social change, which occurred two millennia ago, when the Roman Republic was transformed into the Roman Empire. At that time slave uprisings were common but were violently suppressed. This period became known as the Servile Wars. At the same time, the military was in ascendancy as the Roman Army continued to expand the empire. The pivotal figure in the development was the military leader, Julius Caesar, who wrested control from the Senate by diluting its membership, but was in turn murdered by the disgruntled Senators. The military class, led by his adopted son Octavian, cemented the new social order. Batra thinks such a scenario in the future will refocus the social motivity, away from acquisition of money to a mastery of technology and physical bravery including the conquest of space, heralding a new age of commanders in the West. These ideas contrast starkly with those of thinkers like Francis Fukuyama who argues that capitalism, as it is based on democracy and freedom, represents the pinnacle of human social development. For Fukuyama, the collapse of Soviet Communism could have been inevitable, but not that of Capitalism.

[edit] Spiritual heritage

Batra's writings should be considered in terms of the philosophy of his mentor, Sarkar, which has had such a big influence on him. The ideas of Sarkar are in the tradition of Hindu idealism - a cosmology stating that the universe, both inanimate and animate matter, is permeated with a singular consciousness, a living God. The basic premise is that the souls of all life forms have a singular embedded motive over the evolutionary eons, going from birth to death to birth again, to develop their consciousness. Once they reach the level of human reflective consciousness it is their duty to seek to ultimately unite it with the God consciousness. Part and parcel of this view is that humans should regularly practise yogic meditation - ideate on God - and follow an ethical and vegetarian life style. But Sarkar goes further than anyone else in declaring that God realization is easier with full participation in social service. According to this philosophy, Batra rejects the basic foundations of materialist economics, including the need to consume and acquire without limit, as well as the premise that the saving of capitalists promotes the greater good through investment, itself the penultimate justification for allowing inequality to exist. Instead, Batra promotes raising the incomes of people with the sole purpose to increase their consumption, but in a balanced and sustainable way - in harmony with nature, each other and other life forms. An equitable distribution is not seen as a means to only ensure material welfare but also to secure the ability of all to develop a full personality. This is an integral part of Sarkar's practical theory of PROUT - PROgressive Utilization Theory.

[edit] Bestseller

In 1980 he published Muslim Civilization and the Crisis in Iran where he predicted the fall of the Shah and the rise of a class of intellectuals, or Mullahs, followed by a drawn out war with Iraq. In 1984, he penned what was to become his first bestseller, first under the title “Regular Cycles of Money, Inflation, Regulation and Depressions”. A central theme of this book was that the mal-distribution of wealth, which Batra found to be the cause of past episodes of financial speculative manias that were followed by a crash and depression. Lester Thurow was so impressed that he wrote a preface stating the ideas were “novel and brilliant”. As The Great Depression of 1990, this book rose to first place on the New York Times bestseller list for Non-Fiction in the Autumn months of 1987, just as the Dow Jones share price index was about to suffer its biggest daily drop in almost sixty years. In 1988, he followed his success with another book on how to survive the predicted calamity. The book also made it on the bestseller list. However, due to his unorthodox and controversial views, and to the predictive failure of his bestseller, Batra began to fall out of favour with the mainstream academic community — something that has haunted him to this day.

[edit] Outcomes of predictions

When 1990 arrived, a minor depression hit Japan and there were concerns about the stability of the US banking system. However, monetary policy was accommodative and effective. Moreover, credible bank insurance was in place and the government had demonstrated resolve to be lender of last resort. As a result, there was no panic in the stock market or run on banks. His reputation rose in Europe on account of his correct prediction for Communism and he was awarded the Medal of the Italian Senate that year. In Japan, where an economic crisis had gripped the country, he continued to publish bestselling works. In the USA, however, his sales began to drop and his booming side-line career as a media commentator on matters economic and financial began to sour. Batra was even presented with an Ig Nobel prize. In the 1990s, he published such books as The Myth of Free Trade and The Pooring of America, criticism of free-market policies.

[edit] Recent works

In 1998, Batra published Stock Market Crashes of 1998 and 1999. The book was revisiting the premise of his earlier bestselling work, arguing nothing had changed, only the pallative cures of economic policy had become more effective at suppressing the symptoms of financial capitalism, but not cure its underlying illness. He therefore predicted increasing stock market volatility. Again in 1999, he published a book The Crash of the Millennium, which suggested a plunge in stocks. The drop in high-tech stocks in the Spring of 2000 sent a shiver through the global market place. However, the capitalist system remained intact and he was proven markèdly wrong yet again. In 2004, he wrote a new book Greenspan's Fraud where he critically evaluates the policy prescriptions of this iconic figure of the economic, financial and political establishment.

[edit] Books by Ravi Batra

  • Greenspan's Fraud: How Two Decades of His Policies Have Undermined the Global Economy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 ISBN 1-4039-6859-4

[edit] Links

[edit] External link s

Ravi Batra

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