A grand economic tour that engages the common reader

A grand economic tour that engages the common reader

By RENÉE RANCHAN | | 10 September, 2016
A new book on the current state of world economy by Rachna Singh breaks through the academic jargon, presenting the burning issues of the day with uncommon clarity and insight, writes Renée Ranchan.

Any ignoramus, who wishes to decode the intricacies of matters economic, would find a ready reckoner in this assortment of articles on a range of issues that have been hitting the headlines. And what really adds pizzazz to this collection is the author Rachna Singh’s literary panache, a gold medallist in English literature with a special medal for distinction in linguistics, besides a doctorate in cinema and fiction. Lest you should wonder about this baffling combo, Singh happens to be an Income Tax Commissioner. As evident, she has kept her muse in fine fettle, though her domain is the cut-and-dry world of financial scrutiny. 

Unravelling the complex arena of stock exchange and real estate, the unpredictability of the prices of crude oil and gold, the rate hike shivers, the inflation forecasts, currency battles, tax sanctuaries, the start-up syndrome, and much else with remarkable lucidity to make it comprehensible to a lay reader, the author diligently stays clear of economic jargon. Narrated and analysed with acumen, the book also takes a dig at all those “Doubting Thomases & Sceptical Simons, who believe economics is not the realm of the untutored reader”.

Just as Dr Charan Singh, the RBI Chair and Professor of Economics, IIM Bangalore, states in the foreword: “When I first began to read Penny Panache: Piecing the Economic Puzzle, I was intrigued by the literary flourish the author had given to the titles of her articles. Many a Slip Between SIPs, Not a Penny More, Bourses: Boom or Doom?, Do Angels Profit?, The Fault is Not in Algorithm Trading read more like the dust-jackets of exciting novels and less like a collection of articles on economics... A 25-year career span, with good training, ensured that she gained important insights into a multitude of economic subjects.”

Narrated and analysed with acumen, the book also takes a dig at all those “Doubting Thomases & Sceptical Simons, who believe economics is not the realm of the untutored reader”. 

The eight segments of the book, Street Savvy, Policy Patterns, Banking Bulls & Bugbears, Global Gimmicks, Currency Concerns, Controversy Clouds, Current Coinages and The Way Forward avidly discuss Will GST Walk the Talk?, Ifs and Buts of Gold Monetization, Why the Brouhaha about Federal Interest Hike?, Paying for Defaulting Black Sheep, Iran deal: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Its Curtains for Greece, The Fall of the Dragon Currency, The Dollar Juggernaut, What has Upset the Start-up Applecart?, The Fault is not in Algorithm Trading, Easing the Way for Taxpayers, Corporate Debt Overload: A Way Out, Will the Rupee Rally or Languish?, and Populism or Socialistic Pragmatism, among other burning topics.

Singh succeeds in her attempt to dissect economic policies from varied perspectives, given her simplicity of style and a conversational tone that would fully engage an untutored reader in economics. I, for one, as a non-economist could decipher the jigsaw puzzle of global economic trends, and as a literary buff relished the delightful reading. That should reassure the author that she has been able to give a “grand economic tour without a heavy academic baggage” and she need not fear one bit that this compendium would be cast way to the “boredom bin”.


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The book appears to be a good collection to be made a prescribed rwading on business environment courses, especially in the international context. Thanks Renée for hard selling this to me. I just hope to find time enough to read this. :-)

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