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LESS MONEY, MO’ PROBLEMS

Originally hailed as a victory over tax cheats and swindlers, India’s radical plan to recall much of its currency could end in disaster
+ CHANGE PLEASE: Prime Minister Modi recently announced that anyone holding 500-and 1,000- rupee notes had to exchange them for new bills before December 31. After that date, the old money will become worthless.
ALTAF QADRI/AP

ON NOVEMBER 8, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a surprise recall of more than 80 percent of the country’s cash in circulation, his supporters hailed the measure as an ingenious “surgical strike” against corruption and tax evasion. Everyone else was too busy running to the ATM.

Before the move, Modi had made little progress in fulfilling his campaign promise to bring back billions in untaxed “black money” stashed abroad so he could deposit it in the bank accounts of India’s poor. Washington, D.C.–based corruption watchdog Global Financial Integrity recently estimated that an average of $50 billion a year in illicit funds flowed out of India from 2004 to 2013, while bureaucrats, politicians and business tycoons amassed huge fortunes from influence peddling, backroom deals and outright graft.

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THE ROBOT ECONOMY Next time you stop for gas at a self-serve pump, say hello to the robot in front of you. Its life story can tell you a lot about the robot economy roaring toward us like an EF5 tornado on the prairie. Yeah, your automated gas pump killed a lot of jobs over the years, but its biography might give you hope that the coming wave of automation driven by artificial intelligence (AI) will turn out better for almost all of us than a lot of people seem to think.
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