The ping pong people

William Pesek of Bloomberg makes his point while he says an economy’s biggest export should never be its people.

He goes that nations get smug with large scale “remittances” from abroad that it stops exploring new avenues to attract “investments inward” that creates jobs and opportunities locally. He has got a lot of data to back, with enough of Bloomberg survey results thrown in. 

I finished reading it and had my own questions. Has Pesek been hired by USIS to fuel a debate in the media? Locking down borders is not easy; fueling debates in media, gathering public opinion are…

Most people go on their own. It’s not an economy that drives them away; its lack of depth does. It’s after all a function of demand and supply, isn’t it? You go because someone out there could use you.

What’s wrong with a government that feeds on “remittance inwards” kitty to build its future as long as it lasts?   

[Disclosure : I am not a pro-migration guy]

I think Illegal immigration happens because legal immigration is tough. Not all illegal immigrants harbor ill will. Most of them leave home because they see brighter opportunities elsewhere. Instead of rewarding that acts of enterprise and using the flock to bridge the demand supply gap, nations limit and restrict people traffic by imposing legal restrictions and by making stupid laws. 

Capable students getting Harvard admissions, despite willing to pay full fees, cannot make it because they don’t get Visa – now, isn’t that ridiculous?  Yes, immigrants both legal and illegal will compete for jobs with locals in developed destinations, but then local employers and consumers benefit too; from reduced wages and prices. The immigrants also become consumers and an already vibrant market is further expanded.

When they fly back and forth, the local airlines in the home country orders hundreds of airplanes from Airbus (France) and Boeing (US) creating more jobs there – who benefits?  

Why, it didn’t occur to you Mr.Pesek?  Come on… You can do better.



5 Responses to “The ping pong people”

  1. Shefaly Says:

    Pesek’s is an opinion piece so when data runs short, he relies on his opinions. It does belong in the same category as Altman’s recent IHT blog post to which Indians reacted very angrily (see on the Indian Economy blog).

    The piece suffers from many shortcomings:

    His view appears to be a narrow one, focused on how the US sees Mexico and Filipinos. I would argue that it is really not even meant to be interpreted beyond that narrow constituency.

    The visa argument is a bit lame; it is a testimony to the writer’s strange world view that clubs Indians coming for a Harvard MBA with migrants to whose families their remittances might matter.

    He gives no evidence to back his suggestion that recipient governments’ dependency on remittances harms their national industrial policy and reform agendas.

    In brain-drain he sticks to a convenient Mexico-centric argument. Lets take an example other than cleaners and manual workers. I think Salma Hayek is a pretty good export from Mexico. She has made a name in Hollywood and recently MGM (I think) funded her to make programmes for the growing Hispanic population in the US. This brain drain may benefit many including those in Mexico.

    If one were to stretch this to India, many Valley entrepreneurs have been catalytic in generating enterprise and jobs in boom-time India. Brain drain, brain regain, brain retrain, brain gain, whatever you want to call it.

    Come on, Krishna, YOU too can do better than to bother with such 2-bit pieces 🙂 No?

  2. Krish Says:


    I see your point, but I think the piece couches a lot more than that… Pesek is one of the few good economic journalists around and has written some stellar pieces. I wouldn’t grant him that leeway of being callous. In this article, I wasn’t too sure of his targeted audience.

    May be, he intends to arm the opposition parties in Mexico and Philippines to take on the ruling parties that attribute the high single digit growth of their GDP (that fell on their lap thro remittance windfalls) to successful execution of their public policies.

  3. Shefaly Says:

    I think you are generous 🙂 Reputations built in years can be undone by one single remark, I think. Imagine if this were an article about Indians in the US. Everyone who got on Altman’s case would have got on to Pesek’s by now, don’t you think?

    “May be, he intends to arm the opposition parties in Mexico and Philippines to take on the ruling parties that attribute the high single digit growth of their GDP (that fell on their lap thro remittance windfalls) to successful execution of their public policies.”

    May be in these lean times, he just wants to arouse the anger of the common American man and woman, eager to hang on to his/ her job so that the US’s immigration policies can be shaped for the conservative turn, in the year preceding the presidential elections. Not impossible that as an aim, is it?

  4. Krish Says:

    That’s Lou Dobbs country….

    He’s doing that night after night in CNN….

  5. Shefaly Says:

    Well, what can I say? Har shaakh pe ullu baitha hai…

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