segunda-feira, 31 de janeiro de 2011

Eu Odeio o Termo "Competitividade"

Arnold Kling, do Econlog, fez este comentário ao mencionar o empreendedorismo político (entenda-se rent-seeking) da General Electric, cujo CEO foi indicado pelo Presidente Barak Obama para o President's Council sobre Emprego e Competitividade:

By the way, I hate the term "competitiveness." One of the main goals of an economics course should be to teach the difference between comparative advantage and absolute advantage. One key result is that there is always comparative advantage, and hence no such thing as the absence of competitiveness. No government fix is required, because nothing is broken.

sexta-feira, 28 de janeiro de 2011

Chega de Maluquice!

Esta é a mensagem central do artigo de John Taylor no WSJ:

"It's been three years since the financial crisis flared up and the recession began. Yet the unemployment rate is still over 9%—double what it was before the recession—and it's been stuck above 9% for 20 consecutive months. Why the extraordinarily high and prolonged unemployment? My research shows that discretionary government interventions—deviations from sound economic principles and policies—have been largely responsible."

"They should start by laying out a credible plan to reduce spending and stop the debt explosion. If spending as a share of GDP can be brought to 2000 levels and held there with entitlement reforms, then the budget can be balanced without employment-retarding tax-rate increases. A concrete goal should be to establish a long-term budget that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) can credibly show would bring the debt-to-GDP ratio to 40%. If the plan is ready for this summer's CBO long-term projections, it will give an immediate boost to economic growth and job creation as uncertainty about debt sustainability falls. An example of what the CBO's next projection might look like is shown in the nearby chart of U.S. debt history along with the CBO's projections made in 2009, 2010 and, if the plan is ready, in 2011.

Some want to delay reducing government spending because of high unemployment and the fragile recovery. But there is no convincing evidence that a gradual and credible reduction in government purchases will increase unemployment. The history of the past two decades shows that lower government purchases as a share of GDP are associated with lower unemployment rates. A much better way to reduce unemployment is to encourage private investment. Over the past two decades, unemployment fell when investment increased as a share of GDP. (See the other nearby chart.)

Meanwhile, the Fed should lay out a plan for reducing its extraordinarily large balance sheet. To achieve a more predictable rules-based policy going forward, the Fed's objectives should be clarified. The Federal Reserve Act now says the Fed must "promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates." But too many goals blur responsibility and accountability and they allow for confusing changes in emphasis from one goal to another."

Mais Sobre a Ética da Economia

Agora é Alex Tabarrok, do blog Marginal Revolution, que aponta:

"...the ethical views of economists—respect for individual choice and preference, support for voluntary trade, and equality of treatment—are all ethical views with considerable grounding and support in a wide variety of ethical and religious traditions.

Perhaps you have heard that Thomas Carlyle, the Victorian-era writer, called economics the “dismal science.” What you may not know is that Carlyle was a defender of slavery and he was attacking the ethical views of economics. Economists like John Stuart Mill thought that all people were able to make rational choices, that trade not coercion was the best route to wealth, and that everyone should be counted equally, regardless of race. As a result, Mill and the laissez-faire economists of the nineteeth century opposed slavery, believing that everyone was entitled to liberty. It was these ethical views that Carlyle found dismal. We beg to differ."

quarta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2011

A História Ilustrada dos Pubs Ingleses

Uma coleção com belas fotos. Aqui.

O Norte Moral da Disciplina de Economia

Longe de ser amoral e aética, preocupada apenas com teoremas matemáticos, Ed Glaeser argumenta que a disciplina de economia tem um fortíssimo componente moral: liberdade.

In the last century, Milton Friedman offered “freedom is a rare and delicate flower” and “a society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.”

Economists, like Friedman, often made the case that freedom had instrumental value — it achieved other aims, including equality and prosperity. But no one should doubt that Friedman and Mill and Smith saw freedom as a fundamental good, a thing to be valued for itself. That is, after all, how freedom is treated at the very heart of economic theory.

The belief in freedom does, however, create a predilection for human interaction and trade. As Friedman wrote, “The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.” For many economists, defending free trade isn’t just about gross domestic product; it’s fighting for core values of freedom and human interdependence.

As Smith said, “To give the monopoly of the home market to the produce of domestic industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, and must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation.”

domingo, 23 de janeiro de 2011

A Retórica da Competitividade

O governo americano resolveu transformar "Emprego e Competitividade" em um de seus principais temas econômicos e criar um conselho presidencial sobre o tema. Mas o que realmente significa competitividade? Paul Krugman argumenta que se o conceito de competitividade estiver associado à idéia de que países são como empresas e que o que é bom para as elas é bom para o país, então este conceito não apenas está errado mas é potencialmente perigoso:

"The competitive metaphor -- the image of countries competing with each other in world markets in the same way that corporations do -- derives much of its attractiveness from its seeming comprehensibility. Tell a group of businessmen that a country is like a corporation writ large, and you give them the comfort of feeling that they already understand the basics. Try to tell them about economic concepts like comparative advantage, and you are asking them to learn something new. It should not be surprising if many prefer a doctrine that offers the gain of apparent sophistication without the pain of hard thinking. The rhetoric of competitiveness has become so wide-spread, however, for three deeper reasons.

First, competitive images are exciting, and thrills sell tickets. The subtitle of Lester Thurow's huge best-seller, Head to Head, is "The Coming Economic Battle among Japan, Europe, and America"; the jacket proclaims that "the decisive war of the century has begun . . . and America may already have decided to lose." Suppose that the subtitle had described the real situation: "The coming struggle in which each big economy will succeed or fail based on its own efforts, pretty much independently of how well the others do." Would Thurow have sold a tenth as many books?

Second, the idea that U.S. economic difficulties hinge crucially on our failures in international competition somewhat paradoxically makes those difficulties seem easier to solve. The productivity of the average American worker is determined by a complex array of factors, most of them unreachable by any likely government policy. So if you accept the reality that our "competitive" problem is really a domestic productivity problem pure and simple, you are unlikely to be optimistic about any dramatic turnaround. But if you can convince yourself that the problem is really one of failures in international competition that -- imports are pushing workers out of high-wage jobs, or subsidized foreign competition is driving the United States out of the high value-added sectors -- then the answers to economic malaise may seem to you to involve simple things like subsidizing high technology and being tough on Japan.

Finally, many of the world's leaders have found the competitive metaphor extremely useful as a political device. The rhetoric of competitiveness turns out to provide a good way either to justify hard choices or to avoid them.

...Thinking and speaking in terms of competitiveness poses three real dangers. First, it could result in the wasteful spending of government money supposedly to enhance U.S. competitiveness. Second, it could lead to protectionism and trade wars. Finally, and most important, it could result in bad public policy on a spectrum of important issues.

...Perhaps the most serious risk from the obsession with competitiveness, however, is its subtle indirect effect on the quality of economic discussion and policymaking. If top government officials are strongly committed to a particular economic doctrine, their commitment inevitably sets the tone for policy-making on all issues, even those which may seem to have nothing to do with that doctrine. And if an economic doctrine is flatly, completely and demonstrably wrong, the insistence that discussion adhere to that doctrine inevitably blurs the focus and diminishes the quality of policy discussion across a broad range of issues, including some that are very far from trade policy per se."

Se, por outro lado, o significado de competitividade for produtividade, e a questão toda for apenas a escolha inapropriada de palavras, então o problema se resume em criar políticas públicas para aumentar a produtividade total dos fatores (PTF), como bem aponta Stephen Williamson, ao invés de subsidiar alguns empresários exportadores.

Não é desnecessário mencionar que esta discussão é importante para o Brasil também, para que possamos ter um foco correto na elaboração de políticas públicas.

quarta-feira, 12 de janeiro de 2011

Liberdade Econômica e o legado do Governo Lula

Saiu hoje o novo índice de liberdade econômica (2011) do Heritage Foundation. Liberdade econômica é o direito fundamental de cada ser humano de controlar seu próprio trabalho e propriedade. Em sociedades livres, indivíduos são livres para trabalhar, produzir, consumir e investir da maneira que lhes melhor couber, com estas liberdades protegidas pelo o estado. Liberdade econômica é fundamental, pois sociedades mais livres tendem a ser mais prósperas e resolver mais problemas sociais.

O novo índice de liberdade econômica (2011) da Heritage Foundation revela o impacto dos dois mandatos do presidente Lula: no primeiro, nenhuma melhora, no segundo, uma deterioração institucional. Permanecemos abaixo do Chile (o décimo primeiro da lista de 179 países), mas numa situação não tão ruim como a da Argentina (representada pela linha laranja, o 138o. da lista), embora cada vez mais próximo (o Brasil é 113o. país da lista).

Aquecimento Global: A Paleoclimatologia

O gráfico abaixo mostra que processos de aquecimento global tendem a ser mas rápidos do que os de resfriamento, ao longo dos últimos 350 mil anos. Uma projeção possível, com base visual, indica que estamos no limiar de um processo que nos levará à uma nova era glacial. Mas não espere que isto aconteça durante a sua vida: o período do gráfico está medido em milhares de anos!

Fonte: NOAA Paleoclimatology Program

sexta-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2011

Qual o Impacto das Políticas Não-Convencionais do Fed?

De acordo com este artigo de del Negro, Eggertsson, Ferrero e Kyiotaki, o impacto foi grande e evitou uma nova Grande Depressão:

This paper extends the model in Kiyotaki and Moore (2008) to include nominal
wage and price frictions and explicitly incorporates the zero bound on the short-term
nominal interest rate. We subject this model to a shock which arguably captures the
2008 US financial crisis. Within this framework we ask: Once interest rate cuts are
no longer feasible due to the zero bound, what are the effects of non-standard open
market operations in which the government exchanges liquid government liabilities
for illiquid private assets? We find that the effect of this non-standard monetary
policy can be large at zero nominal interest rates. We show model simulations in
which these policy interventions prevented a repeat of the Great Depression in 2008-

Os Melhores MBA's do Planeta

O ranking foi elaborado pela The Economist. Sua metodologia dá maior peso à empregabilidade e salário dos egressos de cada curso, o que é interessante pois os dados são de 2009 e refletem as dificuldades do mercado de trabalho decorrentes da crise econômica recente. Chicago Booth, com o sensacional time constituido por Raghu Rajan, Luigi Zingales, Eugene Fama, John Cochrane, entre outros - entre os outros estão seis (!!) prêmios Nobel - aparece merecidamente na frente. Na lista completa, nenhum MBA do Brasil, o que reflete o atraso organizacional de nossas universidades.

quinta-feira, 6 de janeiro de 2011

A Equivalência Fiscal de Quantitative Easing

Como explicada por Narayana Kocherlakota:

I believe that QE is a move in the right direction. However, as I have discussed on earlier occasions, I also think there are good reasons to suspect that the ultimate effects of any amount of QE are likely to be relatively modest. That’s why I would have greatly preferred for the committee to have been able to cut its target rate rather than using QE. The problem is that its target rate is already essentially at zero, and so it was not possible to cut the target rate any further.

Given this constraint on monetary policy, I believe it is important to ask if it is possible to synthesize the effects of a one-year interest rate cut of, say, 100 basis points using fiscal policy tools. In his current and past work, Minneapolis Fed staff researcher Juan Pablo Nicolini and his co-authors have answered this question in the affirmative.Their key insight is that there is a broad equivalence between monetary and fiscal policy. They argue that the essence of an FOMC interest rate cut is that it makes current consumption cheaper relative to future consumption. With that in mind, the fiscal authorities can use the time path of consumption taxes to accomplish this same change in relative prices.

O artifício fiscal para conseguir equivalência é bastante interessante, envolve aumento futuro de imposto sobre consumo e redução de impostos sobre trabalho e investimento. Mas tenho dúvidas de que tal artifício possa ser implementado na íntegra, por causa da presença de distorções políticas na elaboração de política fiscal.

Entrevista com Gary Gorton

O Fed de Minneapolis publicou uma fascinante entrevista com Gary Gorton, autor de Slapped by the Invisible Hand. Indispensável para quem deseja entender a crise financeira norte-americana.

Por Que Não Metas Para o Nível de Preços?

As vantagens e desvantagens de Metas de Nível de preços em relação a Metas de Inflação estão aqui, um bom artigo para iniciação ao tema.

Algo Mais do que Catchup

Por que alguns países ricos crescem mais do que os outros? Por que alguns crescem mais rapidamente durante algum período e colapsam em seguida? As possíveis causas estão aqui.

Blog Update

let's Talk Development - do Banco Mundial, com Yifu Lin, sobre Desenvolvimento Econômico.
Econbrowser, de Jim Hamilton e Menzie Chinn, sobre Macroeconomia. Na barra à esquerda.

Ed Glaeser: Quem deve Impor Limites Éticos à Profissão de Economia?

A discussão de Glaeser diz respeito à American Economic Association que, argumenta-se, deveria impor limites éticos à profissão. No entanto, ele conclui - a meu ver corretamente - que:

Universities have the resources to develop ethical guidelines and the power to enforce them. They are the employers of academic economists, and ethical lapses damage them, too. They are the natural institutional guardians of their employees’ professional behavior.

A conclusão aplica-se também às universidades brasileiras. Elas pecam, em sua grande maioria, por não estabelecer diretrizes claras quanto ao comportamento esperado dos alunos no que diz respeito a plágio, cola e comportamento admissível de forma geral. Da mesma forma, poucas têm um código de ética para seus docentes e pesquisadores. É certo que códigos de ética representam apenas um incentivo soft para limitar o comportamento, porém são importantes à medida que sinalizam o que não é apropriado e podem ser complementados por medidas disciplinares. Na sua ausência, palavras de ordem como punir e penalizar degeneram rapidamente para perseguir (em particular os desafetos), principalmente quando combinadas com a criação de metas arbitrárias, antagônicas e de aplicação dúbia, em particular quando existe concentração de poder nas instâncias decisórias relevantes. Nestes casos, pode-se esperar a proliferação de bullying profissional com a consequente queda na qualidade das relações profissionais e na disposição de cooperação na instituição. Alguém já viu este quadro antes?