XAT 2016 Question 17


Analyse the following passage and provide appropriate answers for the questions that follow:

Advances in economic theory in the 1970s and 1980s illuminated the limits of markets; they showed that unfettered markets do not lead to economic efficiency whenever information is imperfect or markets are missing (for instance, good insurance markets to cover the key risks confronting individuals). And information is always imperfect and markets are always incomplete. Nor do markets, by themselves, necessarily lead to economic efficiency when the task of a country is to absorb new technology, to close the “knowledge gap”: a central feature of development. Today, most academic economists agree that markets, by themselves, do not lead to efficiency; the question is whether government can improve matters.

While it is difficult for economics to perform experiments to test their theories, as a chemist or a physicist might, the world provides a vast array of natural experiments as dozens of countries try different strategies. Unfortunately, because each country differs in its history and circumstances and in the myriad of details in the policies - and details do matter - it is often difficult to get a clear interpretation. What is clear, however, is that there have been marked differences in performance, that the most successful countries have been those in Asia, and that in most of the Asian countries, government played a very active role. As we look more carefully at the effects of particular policies, these conclusions are reinforced: there is a remarkable congruence between what economic theory says government should do and what the East Asian governments actually did. By the same token, the economic theories based on imperfect information and incomplete risk markets that predicted that the free flow of short-term capital - a key feature of market fundamentalist policies - would produce not growth but instability have also been borne out.

Question 17

“… whether government can improve matters”. Here ‘matters’ indicates


The author talks about the given question while talking about economic efficiency. Hence, the answer is option A.

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