A spurt in number of billionaires and increasing wealth creation by any means have made India rank ninth among the crony capitalist countries, said a study in “The Economist” latest issue.According to the weekly crony-capitalism index, crony fortunes had leapt relative to global GDP and as a share of total billionaire wealth.
The index ranked Russia as the worst crony-capitalist country, followed by Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Ukraine, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey above India. Taiwan and China are ranked 10th and 11th after India. The magazine’s index of crony capitalists is based on a study by Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Aditi Gandhi and Michael Walton of Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research.
The index was designed in 2014 to test whether the world was experiencing a new era of arobber barons’ – a global re-run of Americas’s “gilded age” in the late 19th century. “It may seem that this new golden era of crony capitalism is coming to a shabby end. In London, Vijay Mallya, a ponytailed Indian tycoon, is fighting deportation back to India as the authorities there rake over his collapsed empire,” the article said, in light of legal battles the liquor baron is facing back home.
Using data on billionaires’ fortunes from rankings by the US magazine Forbes, the article labelled each billionaire as a crony or not, based on the industry in which he is most active. “The pin-ups of Indian capitalism are no longer the pampered scions of its business dynasties, but the hungry founders of Flipkart, an e-commerce firm,” the study said, referring to its co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal figuring in the Forbes’ 2016 billionaires list, ranked jointly at 1,476 position.
Among the 22 countries in the updated index, Germany is the cleanest with least number of crony capitalists, ranking at the bottom of the index, while China has the biggest concentration of crony wealth in the world at $360 billion. The study suggested that since globalisation had taken off in the 1990s, there had been a surge in billionaire wealth in industries that often involve cosy relations with the government, such as casinos, oil and construction.
Over two decades, crony fortunes had leapt relative to global GDP and as a share of total billionaire wealth. “The economic climate has been tough on cronies, too. Commodity prices have tanked, cutting the value of mines, steel mills and oilfield concessions. Emerging-market currencies and shares have fallen. Asia’s long property boom has sputtered,” the study added.