Subrata Ghatak

Subrata Ghatak

Credit market imperfections in developing countries are an obstacle to achieving sustainable growth and development. Theoretical and empirical research on finance and development is rife in the economics profession and much effort currently focuses on understanding developing countries like India. But there is a long and fruitful agenda on the topic and Subrata Ghatak was an early contributor.

Ghatak (1975) aims at understanding the behaviour of interest rates in India’s rural areas. The study argues that interest rates are determined not so much by moneylenders’ market power but by the risk and uncertainty which are pervasive in the market. The paper shows, inter alia, that there is a negative relationship between interest rates and repayment rates. Therefore, the investigation throws light on issues of direct relevance to influential contributions in the field, like Stiglitz and Weiss’s model of credit rationing in markets with imperfect information. A related article by Hoff and Stiglitz (1990), introducing a World Bank-sponsored symposium on imperfect information and rural credit markets, refers to one of Ghatak’s (1983) papers on the subject.

Subrata Ghatak was born in India in 1939. He was educated at the University of Calcutta, gaining undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in economics. Ghatak later moved to the UK to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of London. Subsequently, he taught Economics at the University of Leicester in the UK —starting as lecturer and reaching the rank of reader — and held visiting positions at the University of Florida in the US and the University of Guelph in Canada.

Ghatak was a prolific author. In addition to contributing to the understanding of monetary and financial issues in developing countries, starting with the PhD thesis on rural money markets in India submitted to the University of London, his research encompassed transition economies and migration. He authored and edited several volumes, including Introduction to Development Economics, Current Issues in Monetary Economics (co-edited with Taradas Bandyopadhyay), and Migration and Mobility: The European Context (co-edited with Anne Showstack Sassoon). Ghatak also published a substantial number of papers in academic journals, including the Economic Journal, the Journal of Public Economics, and the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics.

Following a long tenure at Leicester, Subrata Ghatak joined Kingston University’s School of Economics as professor in 1997. He contributed to the teaching of economics at Kingston and was active in promoting the nascent research culture in the School. Notably, he worked alongside Professor Vince Daly in preparing Kingston’s submission to the UK’s research assessment exercise.

Ghatak retired in 2004 and became professor emeritus at Kingston University. He remained quite involved after retiring and was often at the School attending seminars, working with co-authors, and advising colleagues and PhD students. He also contributed at the national level in the UK as a member of the Economics and Econometrics panel for the research assessment exercise conducted in 2008. And at the international level he recently contributed to a research assessment exercise of Romania’s universities. Ghatak also maintained a dynamic collaboration with colleagues in Poland, New Zealand, the UK, and India.

The last time I talked with Subrata, in December 2011, he was very much looking forward to visiting India after the New Year. But destiny had planned otherwise and he passed away soon after suffering a heart attack. Subrata’s wife, Anita Ghatak, also an economist, passed away in 2005. He is survived by his daughter Churni Jennings. Friends, colleagues, and past students around the world will miss Subrata’s bonhomie and willingness to teach and to collaborate in academic projects.

José R. Sánchez-Fung
School of Economics
Kingston University, London


Ghatak, Subrata (1975) Rural interest rates in the Indian economy, Journal of Development Studies, 11, 190-201.

Ghatak, Subrata (1983) On interregional variations in rural interest rates in India, Journal of Developing Areas, 18, 21-34.

Hoff, Karla, and Joseph E. Stiglitz (1990) Imperfect information and rural credit markets — puzzles and policy perspectives, World Bank Economic Review, 4, 235-50.

From issue no. 157, April 2012, pp.18-19

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