Dr. Ravi Batra, a professor of economics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, has made a great career from his uncanny forecasts. He started making predictions in 1978 when he wrote a book called The Downfall of Capitalism and Communism, which predicted the fall of Soviet Communism by the end of the century, and the demise of monopoly capitalism around 2010.
No one took the book seriously until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed soon thereafter. So stunning and swift was the fall of the Russian empire that Italy awarded Dr. Batra a medal of the Italian Senate for his accurate prediction. He updated his book in 2006 in another work titled The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution in Political Corruption and Economic Chaos.
Forecasts he made in this book were as breathtaking at those in his earlier work. Again, he foresaw a variety of revolutions beginning in 2009 and going all the way to 2019. As with his earlier work, this one also is a mixture of history and economics.
He predicted a big recession starting in 2008 from a major rise in wealth concentration and the price of oil, which you may recall peaked at $147 per barrel. He also foresaw a collapse in the oil price after 2011. Regarding politics, he predicted a revolution in 2009 and then again in 2016.
Since many of his forecasts have been accurate, I caught up with Dr. Batra just before Christmas and interviewed him about his predictions, focusing on the role of technology in the economy and history. He was gracious enough to spend a few hours with me and later offered written answers to my questions, explaining why and how he saw what no one else did. Here is an account of that interview.
Mulay: Thank you Dr. Batra for agreeing to explain the nature of your work. My first question is about the role of technology in your economic and historical analysis. I have heard from many economists that a good deal of American unemployment arises from the use of new technology that makes labor redundant. What do you think?
Batra: Let me start by thanking you for offering to air my views. Modern economists have a myopic view of technology, because they have failed to look at history. New inventions are nothing new; they have been occurring from the very birth of the American Republic. First came horse-driven carriages, then came railroads, then automobiles, and now airplanes, computers, cellphones, robotics and so on. The list of new inventions is endless. Yet for much of US history there has been full employment. So new technology is not the cause of unemployment, at least from a study of history.
Mulay: But you have to agree the use of computers etc. has sharply increased labor productivity and indeed led to some unemployment.
Batra: “Let me tell you why technology is not the culprit here. It is the government policy which is at fault. You see, there are two types of technologies: labor replacing and job creating. Computers indeed are labor replacing, but building those computers creates new and more lucrative jobs. In the past, we had foreign trade but no outsourcing, which today’s economists believe works like foreign trade. This, however, is wrong and has destroyed the positive effects of new technology.