Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Questions for Economics Experts


“…the denial of access to product markets is often among the deprivations from which many small cultivators and struggling producers suffer under traditional arrangements and restrictions. The freedom to participate in economic interchange has a basic role in social living.” (Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics)


Let it be clear, since I have no academic training at all in economics or banking my concerns here should be seen as gross ignorance seeking good information.

So we now have a credit bureau in Jamaica. I presume having a credit score and credit worthiness will be part and parcel of the enterprise. This means owing people money, right? What does this mean for people who desire to, or who right now, live debt free? To my horror, I discovered years ago, when my family immigrated to the USA, that you are virtually non-existent if you do not owe any company money and thus the system encourages and thrives on indebtedness or volitional economic bondage.

Who monitors this kind of established system to protect uninformed consumers from themselves and rapacious financial institutions? I am not ignorant of the fact that “financial institutions are not philanthropic organisations” as one banker snapped back in response to a query I raised on radio about ‘just price’ as it relates to credit card rates and the meagre interest rates on savings offered by banks. Is there any legislative guidelines or limits to credit card interest rates?

I recall President Obama intervening in the US market a few years ago and prompted (or mandated?) a reduction in credit card interest rates. Could/would any governmental body here consider a similar move as necessary or is it open season on hapless clients of our banking institutions? Just asking in ignorance.

If I volitionally opt to own a credit card and use it unwisely I remain the primary culprit but if most of what I owe each month is not due so much to goods and services that I buy but high bank charges isn’t the bank somehow guilty of reducing my freedom to survive in a dread economic climate? Again just asking in ignorance.

When I read of the billions that banks and other companies declare as profits over a given period my uninformed mind wrestles with questions. Why should such profits not be seen as the fruit of iniquity and the extent to which citizens are being deprived of a level of freedom to simply survive, a kind of ‘unfreedom’ in Professor Sen’s reckoning?






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