segunda-feira, 30 de setembro de 2013

Edward Luce: The Republican lost cause – bringing Barack Obama down

There is no need to watch Gone with the Wind to grasp the American south’s taste for lost causes. Just watch Congress.
Some time before Tuesday morning we will discover whether the south-dominated Republican party is prepared to shutter the US government in a bid to defund “Obamacare”. Two weeks or so later, we will find out if hatred of Barack Obama’s signature achievement outweighs belief in the full faith and credit of the US.
In neither case will the party come close to overturning the law. But as Obamacare’s socialist, secular machine gradually mows down what remains of civil society, diehards can comfort themselves they were brave enough to lie in its path. It will be a glorious defeat.
So, at least, runs the reel in Ted Cruz’s head. But there are big problems with the script.
First, the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is still occasionally called, is nothing like as its opponents describe it. In reality it is a relatively moderate reform to the market-based US health insurance system. As Republican lawmakers know, the bill’s mechanism was taken directly from a 1993 paper by The Heritage Foundation – the best-funded conservative advocacy group in Washington. Today Heritage is spearheading opposition to the ACA. As they also know, the ACA is in crucial respects to the right of the health reform passed by Mitt Romney, their 2012 presidential nominee, when he was governor of Massachusetts. All of Obamacare’s insurance plans – whether subsidised or not – are offered by the private sector. There is no public option. On substance, the law is a victory for conservative reform.
Nor, as it is often assumed, can Republican fury be about the size of the US government. More than half of American healthcare is already provided directly by the federal government – Medicare for retirees, Medicaid for the poorest, and the Veterans Administration for anyone who has served in the armed forces.
In key respects, therefore, half of US healthcare looks like Canada or Britain’s National Health Service. Republicans have no plans to repeal these programmes. When the ACA passed in 2010, many of Mr Obama’s supporters were disappointed he did not simply extend Medicare to cover everyone under 65. Instead, Obamacare will subsidise broader participation in the existing private system. Hopefully a large chunk of America’s 48m uninsured will now get coverage. But if Republicans are worried about big government, they are looking in the wrong place.
Finally, the Republican bid to stop Obamacare will not gain the party any political advantage – at least not by the usual yardstick of becoming more popular. The ACA remains relatively disliked. A plurality of Americans say so. But by large majorities they disapprove of Republican attempts to link Obamacare’s defunding to renewal of the US debt ceiling. Newt Gingrich’s decision to shut down government in late 1995 and early 1996 contributed to his party’s defeat to Bill Clinton at the presidential election later that year. If Republican numbers get much worse, it could jeopardise the party’s hefty House of Representatives majority in next year’s midterm elections. A US sovereign default would pretty much guarantee it. There is no ambiguity in the polls about which party would take the blame.
What, then, is driving the Republican obsession with Obamacare? The answer has been in plain view for years. It boils down to the Tea Party’s hatred of Mr Obama.
After the stormy town hall protests of August 2009, Jim DeMint, a senator from South Carolina, vowed to turn healthcare reform into “Obama’s Waterloo”. He came close to succeeding. The bill passed only by a whisker. Mr DeMint now heads The Heritage Foundation. In pulling off that first noble defeat, Tea Party Republicans rallied a heavily white and elderly backlash against the bill, claiming it would result in “death panels” for the old and a health system run by bureaucrats. The policy arguments for and against Obamacare had little to do with it. Republicans claimed Mr Obama was robbing Medicare to fund Obamacare. “Hands off my Medicare” was a common sign among the protesters.
Today’s drive is no more fact-based than the last. The banal truth about the ACA is that it will take years to bring about modest improvements to America’s expensive and complex system of healthcare delivery. To be sure, the ACA will make life more humane for millions of Americans. It may even reduce the US fiscal deficit modestly (by $108bn over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office). But it will leave the essential features in place.
On substantive grounds, Tea Party Republicans have chosen a highly idiosyncratic piece of turf to re-enact Custer’s last stand. Only on psychological grounds can their recklessness be fully understood.
Mr Obama has repeatedly said that he will not bargain with the Republicans over raising the US debt ceiling. This is the only responsible position a US president can take. When faced with an all-or-nothing demand, there is no room for negotiation.
And so we have arrived at the bizarre juncture where it makes more sense for Mr Obama to talk to the leader of Iran than to talk to Congress. Republicans will soon face the choice of climbing down from their demands or pressing the fiscal equivalent of the nuclear button. Either route will bring them defeat. Everyone must hope that they opt for the less glorious version this time.

Edward Luce

Fonte: FT

sexta-feira, 27 de setembro de 2013

Rural Ireland feels the pinch as Dublin bounces back to life

“The reason why I am emigrating is purely for work,” says Anthony McPaul, a 28-year-old construction worker. “I’ve tried to get a bit of work here but I could only get a day here or there.”
Mr McPaul is one of 41 club members, who will have left Milford since Ireland’s financial crisis struck in 2008. Many emigrated to Australia and Canada while others moved to Dublin, which is finally showing signs of economic recovery just as Ireland prepares to leave its international bailout in December.
New data show Ireland pulled out of recession in the second quarter, unemployment is falling and property prices are rising again after halving in value over five years. But the economy is fragile and there is evidence of a two-speed recovery with cities like Dublin, Cork and Galway growing while regional towns and rural areas stagnate.
House prices in Dublin have increased by 10 per cent in the past year and estate agent CBRE is forecasting commercial property prices could rise by up to 20 per cent in 2013. But outside Dublin property prices are still falling and tens of thousands of houses and retail units lie vacant.
In Dublin the unemployment rate is 12 per cent, compared with a regional high of 18.3 per cent in Ireland’s southeast. The last county by county analysis, which was carried out in mid-2011, showed one in four people out of work in Donegal, a rural county in the northwest.
A walk down Milford’s main street, which is littered with boarded-up shops, to let signs and a derelict hotel with broken windows and peeling paint, illustrates how recovery has not yet reached the area.
“The town is dying on its feet. The two banks have closed, ripping the commercial heart out of the town,” says John McAteer, editor of the Tirconaill Tribune, a local newspaper.
“Milford is just a microcosm of a wider malaise in rural Ireland. In Donegal the only export we have is our young people,” he says.
Emigration has been a feature of Irish life for generations but the construction boom during the Celtic Tiger boom provided well-paid jobs, enabling young people to live in rural areas where they grew up. The property bust changed that. Construction jobs dried up, the government imposed recruitment embargoes on public service jobs and the service sector shrank.
Every six minutes a person emigrates from Ireland – the highest number since records began in the 1980s. This is leading to depopulation in rural areas, particularly among the economically active 18-65 years age group.
“The social fabric of community life is at risk,” says Pat Curley, chairman of Milford Gaelic football club, who sees local clubs in regional locations struggling to field teams. “The government needs to act,” he says.
Conscious of the weak domestic economy, Dublin is considering easing up on €3.1bn austerity measures planned in next month’s budget. But it faces opposition from its international lenders, which are concerned rowing back on prior commitments could damage investor confidence.
This argument finds little support in areas where jobs are scarce. Last week 1,000 people applied for 15 retail jobs at Shaws department store in Longford. In Fossa, a small town in County Kerry, 435 people applied for 15 apprenticeships at a crane manufacturer.
The employment situation is more positive in Dublin and Cork where Ireland’s state investment agency is attracting record levels of projects, particularly in the technology sector. Three-quarters of the 144 new multinational investments last year were located in Ireland’s two biggest cities while just one was located in Donegal.
“We chose to set up in Dublin primarily for the talent and we knew we could source good engineers,” says Fidelma Healy, chief operating officer, Gilt Ireland. “There is a great young vibe in the environment here. And there’s such a cluster of other companies Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay,” she says.
Dublin’s formerly dilapidated docklands have been transformed by an influx of internet companies. Shiny glass-fronted office blocks compete for space with trendy hotels and bustling coffee shops in the area, known as the “Silicon Docks”. Young professionals, many recruited overseas, earn high wages, boosting the local economy.
“Cities are the drivers of employment growth and they’re doing much better than the rural areas [where] there is no sort of what I would call big benchmark employers,” says Anne Heraty, chief executive of recruitment firm CPL Resources.
Poor road, rail and broadband infrastructure make counties such as Donegal less attractive to foreign investors than cities. The big overhang in retail, hotel and residential property in regional and rural areas acts as a drag on investment and construction activity.
Letterkenny, which was Ireland’s fastest growing town during the boom, is littered with ghost estates and half empty retail parks. Shopkeepers have suffered a huge drop in business since the crisis struck in 2008 and are not yet seeing a recovery.
“The economic bounce is happening in Dublin all right and there is rumour that it might happen in the rest of the country and we are optimistic but it hasn’t happened yet,” says Alfie Greene, founder of Greenes Shoes.
Like many business owners in Letterkenny, Mr Greene wants the government to ease up on austerity in the budget.
“If there was a little bit of stimulus in the budget next month it might help things along,” he says.

Jamie Smyth in Milford, County Donegal

Fonte: FT

quinta-feira, 26 de setembro de 2013

David Kilcullen: Nairobi foreshadows tomorrow’s urban conflicts

It is easy to see the siege at Nairobi’s Westgate mall as just another jihadist atrocity. But although the attack was claimed by al-Shabaab, the Somali group, the problem is not simply militant extremism. It also reflects a broader pattern of urban overstretch in fast-growing cities, exposing marginalised populations to multiple threats.
Since September 11 2001, armies have been fighting guerrillas in the world’s toughest terrain, much of it landlocked and mountainous, as in Afghanistan, supported by aid agencies and diplomats working to stabilise remote communities. Conflicts such as this have become the new normal. But megatrends in the global environment, including population growth, coastal urbanisation and connectivity, suggest a starkly different future.
As the pace of industrialisation has quickened, the global population has increased from 750m in 1750 to 7bn today. It is expected to level off at about 9.5bn by 2050. Meanwhile, the planet has urbanised: in 1800, only 2 per cent of people lived in cities of 1m or more; by 2050 the world will be two-thirds urbanised.
Almost all this growth will be in urban environments in developing countries and in coastal areas. Already 80 per cent of people live within 50 miles of the sea, and 21 of the 25 biggest cities are on the coast. Theorists such as Mike Davis, the US writer, predict a “planet of slums”, where shanty towns fill the spaces between existing cities. One projection shows India’s west coast as a single conurbation by 2040. Coastal megacities such as Karachi, Dhaka, Lagos, Jakarta and Cairo are already growing at a frantic pace.
In the next generation, the developing world’s coastal cities will be swamped by 3bn people – the same number it took all of history to generate, across the entire planet, until 1960. The unprecedented pace and scale of urban growth will strain infrastructure, governance and public safety, even in inland cities such as Nairobi. In coastal areas, slum growth will put more people at risk of flooding, pollution and disease.
These are longstanding trends. What is new is the rapid increase in connectivity in the past decade: 6bn people now own mobile phones, 1.5bn more than have access to clean water. Mobile phone use in India is up 24,000 per cent since 2000. Nigeria, with 30,000 mobile phone users in 2000, has 113m today. India and China have each registered a 2,300 per cent growth in internet use.
This, of course, affects conflict just as it affects all other aspects of life. In the Arab uprisings, activists exploited dense terrain in coastal cities, using online connectivity to rally global support and mobilise tech-savvy populations. Tunisian and Egyptian soccer fans were crucial to the urban revolutions of 2011, co-ordinating online while battling riot police in the street. Libyan fighters used transcontinental Skype hookups to plan attacks. Syrian rebels build homemade tanks with remote-controlled machine guns, driven by Gameboy consoles through flatscreen TVs. Coastal shipping and smuggling networks connect megacities such as Karachi and Mumbai, creating opportunities for maritime terrorism such as the 2008 attack on India’s largest city – which itself featured striking similarities to the Westgate raid.
Lower down the conflict spectrum, criminal gangs emerge in the doughnut-shaped slum areas around growing cities. These put a chokehold on urban centres that depend for water, fuel and food on access to a hinterland that gets farther away as slum settlements expand into croplands and water catchments. Places such as Mogadishu, or the garrison districts of Kingston, Jamaica, have become feral cities, outside state control. Rio’s favelas and the slums of Mumbai and Nairobi are dominated by local groups, often armed, that fill the gap left by absent governments.
It is not all bad. By mid-century, 3bn new urban-dwellers could mean 2bn more people in the global middle class, lifting billions out of poverty, improving health, opening vast new markets and unlocking enormous human potential. Denser, smaller urban settlements could relieve pressure on the environment. But freeing up the economic opportunities and advantages of scale that come with urbanisation – and avoiding a future somewhere between Mad Max and Blade Runner – will demand creative thinking and determined action.
There are no purely military solutions here, though armies should get comfortable with operating in urban, networked environments. More police is not necessarily the answer either: more underpaid officers often just mean more opportunities to shake people down.
What is crucial is to understand cities as flow systems, and improve their carrying capacity – seeking resilience rather than stability. Designing solutions with local people can help unlock their creativity, drawing on the insight necessary to secure the crowded, connected, coastal cities of the future.
If we want to succeed, rendering today’s dire projections inaccurate, we will need to get our heads into the cities and out of the mountains.

David Kilcullen is the author of ‘Out of the Mountains: the Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla’

Fonte: FT

quarta-feira, 25 de setembro de 2013


Com as eleições alemã encerra-se o longo verão europeu e questões que estavam sendo empurradas com a barriga devem retornar ao centro do debate na zona do euro, com possíveis impactos sob a economia mundial. A situação econômica e política na Grecia continua explosiva e um novo acordo com corte mais substancial da sua divida dificilmente poderá ser evitado. Portugal e Irlanda, ainda que longe de serem uma Grecia, tão pouco podem ser considerados casos de sucesso a serem cantados em versos e prosa. Muito pelo contrário. O risco de contágio, de mais uma atrapalhada negociação dos problemas gregos, é bem alto. Alias, Espanha e Italia, também, continuam na marca do penalti. A resistência destas duas últimas tem sido notável e não vejo motivo para um resultado diferente no presente ano. O mercado, obviamente, vai tentar mais uma quebra de braço e mais segundo semestre com muitas emoções.

No Imperio, a mesma sensação de deja vu: o limite da divida deverá ser atingido em meados de Outubro e mais uma vez entrará em cena a dança macabra dos Republicanos. Ontem, ouvi alguem na CNN afirmar ser uma questão constitucional e por isto o Obama não deveria repetir o mesmo erro do ano passado e ceder a chantagem dos republicanos. Não sei se uma crise institucional é uma saída melhor que a repetição do cenário visto pela última vez no Governo Clinton. Dado que naquela ocasião os republicanos, na eleição seguinte, obtiveram uma ampla maioria na Camara dos Deputados é de se esperar endurecimento e pouco interesse em encontrar uma solução negociada antes da prorrogação.

No grande bananão, Dilma postergou a visita ao Imperio e fez um discurso duro na abertura da Assembleia da ONU. Não deverá produzir resultado concreto, argumentam àqueles que não conseguem entender as sutilezas do jogo da diplomacia; mais uma bravata vocifera a quinta coluna de sempre. Gostei da reação. Demonstração de maturidade e realismo político. Evitou a solução fácil que seria recorrer a conhecida retórica do nacionalismo esquerdista doidivano de setores do próprio governo.

Na política econômica, o velho estilo barata tonta ainda da a tônica, apesar do refresco proporcionado pela manutenção, pelo menos ate a mudança de comando no FED, da atual política de compras de títulos. O Governo não foi o único a ficar surpreso com a decisão do Bacen do Império. O mercado, mais uma vez, confundiu desejo com realidade e levou uma rasteira da qual ainda não conseguiu se recuperar. A probabilidade de mudanças da política do FED era baixa devido ao estrago causado pelo simples anuncio sobre esta possibilidade na taxa de juros de longo prazo. O numero do mercado de trabalho também não eram(são) nada animadoras, se lembrarmos que ele indica uma redução no numero de pessoas procurando emprego.

Por estas e outras é que não acredito em mudanças na política do FED antes da escolha do novo boss. No grande bananão, continuo apostando que a Selic deverá fechar o ano em 9,75%.

terça-feira, 24 de setembro de 2013

Martin Wolf: Germany’s strange parallel universe

Angela Merkel’s remarkable election result confirms her position as the dominant politician in Germany and so also in Europe. It is assumed she will get the eurozone she wants: Germany writ large. That may prove right. Alas, if she does, it is going to be a deeply depressing spectacle.
Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, laid out the view on which Berlin’s current policy is based, with sobering clarity, in the Financial Times last week. The doomsayers, he argued were wrong. Instead, “the world should rejoice at the positive economic signals the eurozone is sending almost continuously these days”. If depressions and mass unemployment are a success, then adjustment in the eurozone is indeed a triumph. Mr Schäuble accuses his critics of living in a “parallel universe”. I am happy to do so rather than live in his.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchardof The Telegraph has provided a colourful rejoinder. Kevin O’Rourke of Oxford and Alan Taylor of the University of California, Davis, offered a sober assessment, concluding that a break-up is not unthinkable.
So where is the eurozone? Its unemployment is 12 per cent. Its gross domestic product in the second quarter was 3 per cent below its pre-crisis peak and 13 per cent below its pre-crisis trend (see chart). In the most recent quarter, Spain’s GDP was 7.5 per cent below its pre-crisis peak; Portugal’s, 7.6 per cent; Ireland’s, 8.4 per cent; Italy’s, 8.8 per cent; and Greece’s, 23.4 per cent. None of these countries is enjoying a strong recovery. The latest unemployment rate is 12 per cent in Italy; 13.8 per cent in Ireland; 16.5 per cent in Portugal; 26.3 per cent in Spain; and 27.9 per cent in Greece. These would be higher without emigration. Ireland’s plight is a warning: it has long since restored its competitiveness and is running a large current account surplus. Yet its GDP has stagnated for four years.
Similar stagnation may be the fate of others. Why? To understand this, one needs to understand why the parallels drawn by Mr Schäuble between Germany’s reforms in the 2000s and the position of today’s vulnerable countries are absurd.
Germany experienced a mild recession in 2003; today’s vulnerable countries are suffering depressions. Germany’s largest current account deficit was 1.7 per cent of GDP in 2000; those of today’s crisis-hit countries were far larger, with those of Greece, Portugal and Spain more than 10 per cent of GDP. Germany did not have huge debts and had no difficulty in financing itself; today, the vulnerable countries have huge debt overhangs and much difficulty in financing themselves.
Before the crisis, the world and eurozone economies generated strong demand for German exports; today’s vulnerable countries are pursuing adjustment in a period of chronically weak demand. In the pre-crisis boom, Germany’s partners found it hard to avoid high inflation; in today’s weak economy, Germany has no difficulty in keeping its inflation low.
The difficulties confronting the vulnerable eurozone countries reflect these conditions. They have to improve their competitiveness. But the only one in which nominal wages have fallen substantially is Greece. Elsewhere, it is rising productivity that has improved competitiveness. But that is the other side of the coin from the unemployment. Moreover, if prices and wages did fall, the real burden of debt would rise. High nominal interest rates relative to the growth of nominal incomes also raise the debt burden. All these countries are going to end up with gross public debt at more than 100 per cent of GDP. This will be hard to manage.
In the terrifying summer of 2012, the European Central Bank promised to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. The ECB then announced its Outright Monetary Transaction programme of support for bonds of beleaguered sovereigns. This assuaged the markets’ alarm without any need (so far) to fire a shot in anger. This has given the eurozone time. But it has not solved the underlying problems.
What are those problems? The first is to get out of the current mess. The second is to achieve the reforms needed in the longer run. Ongoing fiscal transfers seem neither desirable nor feasible. But better insurance mechanisms for sovereigns and banks are needed in the long run. Yet all this will be academic if the eurozone does not allow its members to return to economic health over a reasonable time period.
Can that be done? Without a change in Germany’s philosophy, the answer is No. As Mr Schäuble’s piece makes quite clear, demand does not appear in the analysis. Yet a large country with a huge structural current account surplus does not just export products. It also exports bankruptcy and unemployment, particularly if the counterpart capital flow consists of short-term debt. That the new macroeconomic imbalances procedure avoids recognising the role of Germany’s shortage of domestic demand is most revealing. The benchmark for concern over a current account surplus is 6 per cent of GDP, regardless of the size of the country. Germany’s average turns out to be exactly 5.9 per cent.
So what is actually happening? The answer is that the eurozone is trying to become a bigger Germany (see charts). A mixture of rising productivity and collapsing demand has driven vulnerable economies into external balance.
Meanwhile, Germany is redirecting its surpluses outside the eurozone. Overall, the shift in the eurozone’s current account balance towards surplus between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2013 is €340bn. To the extent that this helps solve the eurozone’s internal problems, it does so by exporting bankruptcy elsewhere. This attempt to export its difficulties via beggar-my-neighbour policies is inconsistent with the eurozone’s obligations inside the Group of 20 leading countries.
But it also will not work, for two reasons: first, the eurozone is far too big to achieve export-led growth, as Germany has done; and, second, the currency is likely to appreciate still further, thereby squeezing the less competitive economies all over again.
None of this, so far as I can judge, even appears relevant inside Mr Schäuble’s universe. In that universe, pursuit of competitiveness is never recognised for the zero-sum game it is if demand is completely ignored.
The eurozone could be a success, but not under such a philosophy. Will it survive? Nobody really knows. Is this how Europe’s most ambitious project should be run? No.

Martin Wolf

Fonte: FT

segunda-feira, 23 de setembro de 2013

Laura Tyson and James Manyika: The return of great expectations for US growth

The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently announced that US output grew at an annualised rate of only 1.7 per cent during the second quarter of 2013. The figure was later revised upward – to 2.5 per cent – but there was something truly surprising about the reaction to the earlier, lower number. This sluggish performance was actually treated as good news.
The Great Recession, it seems, has put an end to great expectations for the US economy. As Washington remains gridlocked, business leaders, public officials, and commentators alike have begun to accept lackluster growth and depressed employment levels as the new normal. But the new normal may prove to be much more robust than anticipated.
Recent research from the McKinsey Global Institute has identified five mutually reinforcing “game changers” that can spur productivity growth, boost gross domestic product by hundreds of billions of dollars and generate millions of new jobs by 2020. These game changers are continued expansion of shale gas and oil production; increased trade competitiveness in knowledge-intensive goods; the potential of big data analytics to raise productivity; increased investment in infrastructure, with a new emphasis on efficiency and cost; and a more cohesive and effective system of talent development in education.
Each of the game changers has the potential to boost annual GDP by at least $150 billion by 2020. In most cases, the potential is much greater—almost $700bn by 2020 for shale energy, and more than $1.5tn by 2030 for talent. The impact on employment is also striking, with energy, infrastructure, and trade competitiveness potentially creating more than 1.5 million new jobs each by 2020
These opportunities can exert immediate demand stimulus effects that boost the economy’s growth in the short term and longer-term enabling effects that build its competitiveness and productivity well beyond 2020. The shale boom, for example, has already coaxed private capital off the sidelines to invest in both oil and gas production and energy-intensive manufacturing. Big data analytics is already being adopted by US companies across a wide range of sectors, but it will take time to reach critical mass and raise sector-wide productivity. An increase in infrastructure investment would be a powerful short-term stimulus, and its effects on productivity would strengthen as the nation’s capital stock deepens.
The US has the resources to pursue these opportunities—and to do so without getting bogged down in a battle royal over federal funding. In fact, we estimate that more than 90 per cent of the initial investment required in shale energy, 70 per cent in trade, and 60 per cent in big data adoption will come from the private sector. Even in areas such as infrastructure and talent development, state and local governments will be driving forces—and businesses will have to become more actively engaged.
To illustrate the potential that is waiting to be unlocked, take a closer look at just one of these areas: increased trade competitiveness in knowledge-intensive goods such as automobiles, aircraft, semiconductors, and pharmaceuticals. As a world leader in R&D spending, the US should dominate in these categories. Yet it is one of the few advanced economies that runs a trade deficit in these products—one that has ballooned from $6bn in the early 1990s to $270bn in 2012 (in 2005 dollars).
It’s tempting to write this off as inevitable – yet more evidence of globalization swallowing US manufacturing jobs. But while the trade balance reflects a range of factors, including monetary policy and the value of the dollar, there is an opportunity to reverse this trend, especially now that an abundant supply of cheap natural gas is lowering energy costs and making US manufacturing more competitive. Although fully realizing the shale boom hinges on whether energy producers can successfully mitigate environmental risks, this development offers another cause for optimism on the trade front. The stage is now set for increased US petrochemical production that can transform the current $25bn trade deficit in chemicals into a substantial surplus.
And there are promising signs of renewed competitive strength in other export sectors as well. The US auto industry is not only bouncing back, but is beginning to stake out a niche in next-generation hybrid and electric vehicles. Foreign carmakers are now investing in the Southeast, and may eventually begin sourcing more parts and components in the US. In aerospace, US exports of commercial aircraft have nearly doubled in real terms since 2009, driven by demand growth in Asia and the Middle East. Industry analysts project that global aircraft fleets will double in size over the next 20 years, and the US is well positioned to capture a large share of this growth. US makers of medical devices can similarly capitalize on growth in emerging economies, which are rapidly expanding their health-care systems.
To build on this momentum, US businesses will need to move quickly to take advantage of growth in emerging export markets, new technologies, and changing factor costs. If the United States makes a concerted push to close the trade deficit in knowledge-intensive industries to roughly the same level as in the early 1990s, it could increase annual GDP by $590 billion annually by 2020 and create 1.8 million new jobs.
Supportive actions by the public sector are essential to taking advantage of game-changing opportunities. In the case of trade, most economists agree that possible new trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have the potential to play a catalytic role. Federal policymakers should also implement domestic policies, including corporate tax reform, to foster a more competitive business environment.
State and local governments can also drive national competitiveness by promoting local export industries, attracting foreign direct investment, and developing the necessary infrastructure. And all levels of government should take a fresh look at streamlining cumbersome regulations and lengthy permitting processes that bury too many projects under red tape.
If young Americans are to enjoy the same increase in living standards over their lifetimes as previous generations, settling for stagnation can’t be an option. The US economy needs to jumpstart job growth and productivity gains. All five of the game changers have the potential to do just that—restoring confidence and setting the stage for greater prosperity by 2020 and in the decades that follow.

Laura Tyson is professor of global management at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. James Manyika is the San Francisco-based director of the McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of McKinsey & Company.

Fonte: FT

sexta-feira, 20 de setembro de 2013

Janet Yellen: The cheery economist tipped to be the first lady at the Fed

There is perhaps only one thing in their notoriously contentious discipline upon which all economists agree: Janet Yellen is unusually kind and decent. Sir Partha Dasgupta, now a professor at Cambridge who rented his house to her in the late 1970s, says: “If we were neighbours I can easily see myself discussing personal worries with her.”
After a bruising fight within the Democratic party over President Barack Obama’s preferred choice, Lawrence Summers, Ms Yellen is now the frontrunner to replace Ben Bernanke as chair of the US Federal Reserve. Ms Yellen’s trajectory through academia was steady rather than stellar but, at the age of 67, she is poised to take the tiller of the US economy. Yet it is not her warmth that has put Ms Yellen in this position. “I think that Janet is truly brilliant,” says Jim Adams, a professor at the University of Michigan, “and who knows brilliance better than a co-author”.
Born in a working-class area of Brooklyn, New York, in 1946, her father was a family doctor who worked from the ground floor of their terraced house on Ridge Boulevard; her mother had taught elementary school but quit to look after Ms Yellen and her brother, who was four years older.
The family were Jewish, although not particularly observant. Academic success was prized, and Ms Yellen excelled at the local public high school where she was top of the year in just about everything. She picked up from her mother, who managed the family finances, an interest in stocks, economics and the business pages of the newspaper.
Attending Brown University in Rhode Island, she had intended to study maths but switched to economics because it was still rigorous but less abstract. Ms Yellen graduated with highest honours but her one appearance in the student newspaper, in 1966, was as a protester.
The dean of Pembroke – until 1971, the college for women attending Brown – had suspended a girl for failing to sign out of the college in order to spend the night in a man’s apartment. A photograph shows an earnest Ms Yellen with a Jackie Kennedy bob discussing reform of the Pembroke social code.
She went on to Yale to study for a doctorate with James Tobin, the great Keynesian economist and Nobel Prize winner. Joseph Stiglitz, another Nobel winner, also then at Yale, says Tobin’s views on the interplay of financial markets and the real economy made a deep impression on Yellen. “Janet very much understood the power of markets and the limitations of markets,” he said.
Later, she taught at Harvard (where one of her students was one Lawrence Summers). She became a staff economist at the Fed, but it did not last long, because she met a visiting research fellow called George Akerlof – later a Nobel Prize winner himself – in the cafeteria. They married and after a spell in London teaching at the London School of Economics, the couple eventually washed up in San Francisco, where Akerlof and Yellen were the names on the top of a long series of academic articles in the 1980s. Colleagues say they complemented each other: the intuitive Mr Akerlof came up with wild ideas. The rigorous Ms Yellen channelled them into careful, logical arguments.
Ms Yellen seemed destined for a career of relatively anonymous academic success until, in 1994, aged of 48, there was a phone call from the White House. She began a new career serving in succession as a Fed governor, chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, head of the San Francisco Fed and – now – vice-chair of the Fed board of governors.
Before this summer she had seemed an obvious choice for the chair. Bradford DeLong, a fellow economist at the University of California, Berkeley, said she had “shown a better understanding of the state of the economy and the impact of economic policies than most of her peers at the Fed”.
As well as her record, she would offer the president an opportunity to appoint the first woman to lead the US central bank. Yet the White House wanted Mr Summers, a former Treasury secretary. In part this owes something to Mr Summers’ personal links to the Obama administration: he had been an adviser to the president and enjoyed his trust.
One question often asked about Ms Yellen – often with a scarcely disguised sexist subtext – is whether a person described as “lovely” and “delightful” can be tough enough to run the Fed. Her period in the sharp-elbowed Clinton White House was often difficult, according to those who worked with her.
But staff at the Fed found it amusing to see a Yellen appointment depicted as a soft option compared with the supposedly tempestuous Mr Summers. She has relentlessly pushed for the Fed to consider new communications policies during the past few years, and sometimes ruffled feathers among the staff.
“She was demanding of us, it’s true, but never in the light that ‘you will do this because I want this done’,” says Mary Daly, who worked for Ms Yellen at the San Francisco Fed. “She would never ask more of us than she would of herself, and always for the right reasons – to improve her policy decisions.”
But unlike those driven to prove themselves or fleeing personal demons by climbing the ladder of power, Ms Yellen seems motivated by genuine fascination with the questions she deals in. “I know it does sound too good to be true but she really does analyse issues to see where they take her,” says Michael Katz, a Berkeley colleague.
In private, friends say there is another side. “She has a really good sense of humour. Her husband can make her laugh until she’s almost in tears,” says Laura Tyson, a Berkeley professor who preceded Ms Yellen at the CEA. “I think she’s a well-adjusted person. I think she’s had a happy life.”
It seldom happens that a happy person rises to a position of highest authority. The plot could still twist – but, in the next few weeks, Ms Yellen may become the world’s most powerful economic policy maker.

Fonte: FT

quinta-feira, 19 de setembro de 2013

Entrevista com Mark Gertler da Universidade de Nova York

Valor: O sr. se surpreendeu com a decisão do Fed de não reduzir o ritmo de compra de ativos?

Mark Gertler: Na verdade, não, porque o Fed disse o tempo todo que as suas decisões de ajustar o fluxo de compra de ativos dependeriam das condições econômicas. Acho que a economia se mostrou um pouco mais fraca do que eles esperavam desde a reunião anterior e a inflação continua baixa. Além disso, os juros de longo prazo haviam subido bastante.

Valor: Foi a decisão correta?

Gertler: Acho que sim. O problema é que o Fed é a única instituição na cidade que está tentando fazer alguma coisa pela economia. O Congresso parece dedicado a estragar tudo. Houve o aumento dos juros de longo prazo, o que poderia desacelerar ainda mais a recuperação.

Valor: O comunicado do Fed diz que o aperto nas condições financeiras registrado nos últimos meses, se mantido, poderia desacelera o ritmo de melhora da economia e do mercado de trabalho. É de algum modo um mea culpa pelo efeito que o próprio Fed causou nas taxas de longo prazo ao acenar com a redução das compras de ativos?
Gertler: Primeiro, quando se fala em culpa de primeira ordem, é necessário falar do Congresso. Se houvesse algo minimamente próximo a uma política fiscal responsável, nós não estaríamos na confusão em que estamos. O Fed tem sido bastante consistente. Eles disseram que as decisões iam depender das condições econômicas e também das condições financeiras. Uma das lições para o mercado é que, quando o Fed decide sobre o ritmo de compra de ativos, é menos importante olhar para o tamanho do balanço (do Fed) do que para os juros de longo prazo, e essas taxas subiram de modo significativo, o que poderia frustrar a recuperação ainda mais.

Valor: Em junho, Bernanke havia dito que poderia encerrar as compras de ativos em meados de 2014, quando a taxa de desemprego poderia estar em 7% caso a retomada estivesse firme. Agora, ele deixou de lado esse limite de 7%. Por quê?

Gertler: Provavelmente por causa da queda da taxa de participação na força de trabalho, o que de algum modo faz a taxa de desemprego subestimar a fraqueza do mercado de trabalho. A relação entre as pessoas empregadas e o total da população também continua bastante baixa. Uma possibilidade é que a taxa de desemprego seja um pouco enganosa agora.

Valor: Na coletiva, Ben Bernanke parecia de fato menos confiante sobre o que a taxa de desemprego informa sobre as condições do mercado de trabalho.

Gertler: Sim. E outro fator completamente objetivo é que a inflação continua baixa, o que lhes dá espaço para uma política expansionista. Uma inflação abaixo da meta é um sinal de fraqueza na economia. Ainda que você não possa saber a taxa natural de desemprego (que não acelera a inflação), um sinal de que a desocupação está acima dessa taxa é que a inflação continua abaixo da meta.

Valor: Em que medida o ritmo de aperto fiscal e o risco de interrupção das atividades do governo e a discussão sobre o teto da dívida influenciaram a decisão do Fed?

Gertler: Há um grande efeito. Eu fico feliz em ser citado dizendo isso. O Congresso, em especial a Câmara dos Deputados, é uma desgraça absoluta.

Valor: A política fiscal está restringindo a recuperação?

Gertler: Sim, sem dúvida. A política monetária não teria que ser tão expansionista se a política fiscal fosse responsável. Há essas pessoas conduzindo a política fiscal de modo completamente irresponsável, em parte por motivos ideológicos e em parte porque não são muito inteligentes. Eles dificultam a vida para o Fed e depois o criticam por ser expansionista, quando o motivo para o expansionismo é que o Fed tem que compensar o que fazem no Congresso. O foco precisa estar no Congresso.

Valor: Qual a eficácia do QE3?

Gertler: É difícil dizer com certeza, porque é necessário fazer um exercício contrafactual para analisar o que teria ocorrido sem o QE3. Mas há alguma evidência de que os juros das hipotecas caíram por causa disso. O mercado imobiliário é um dos setores mais fortes da economia. O recuo das taxas de hipotecas ajudou a puxar os preços de imóveis e a demanda. O Fed se mostrou preocupado porque essas taxas estavam em alta (nos últimos meses).

Valor: Como o sr. vê a política de orientação futura (forward guidance, em inglês) adotada pelo Fed depois da crise, para guiar as expectativas na economia?

Gertler: Com os juros próximos de zero, a orientação futura é o que sobra para as taxas de curto prazo. Para o QE, você também tem que fazer a orientação futura, porque o efeito não depende apenas do que você faz hoje, mas do que se espera que você faça amanhã. Nós vivemos num mundo em que todo mundo entende em que o importante não é apenas o que o Fed faz hoje, mas também o que diz que vai fazer amanhã.

Valor: Quem o sr. considera a melhor opção para suceder Bernanke no comando do Fed?

Gertler: Janet Yellen. Ela é muito experiente, mostra boa capacidade de julgamento e é bastante respeitada. O momento atual é um período muito complexo para a política monetária. Ela faria uma transição suave, porque ela está lá e sabe o que está ocorrendo. Acho que seria difícil para alguém de fora entrar lá agora.

Mark Gertler é professor da Universidade de Nova York

Fonte: Valor

quarta-feira, 18 de setembro de 2013

Bradford DeLong: Why Janet Yellen is now the best choice to lead the Federal Reserve

There is now, in my view, only one candidate to be chair of the US Federal Reserve. Janet Yellen, the current vice-chair, stands head, shoulders and torso above the rest of those on the shortlist. The withdrawal of the candidacy of Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and my first choice, has removed her only real competition.
I have watched her from a distance since she left the corner office next to mine at the Berkeley Economics department and moved across San Francisco Bay to become president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2004 – and she has shown a better understanding of the state of the economy and the impact of economic policies than most of her peers at the Fed.
I saw her worry more than other senior Fed policy makers that the housing market was undergoing not rational upward price adjustment or “froth” in the 2000s, but a bubble. I also saw her warn that deflation of the housing market might be rapid and dangerous.
I have noted Ms Yellen point out that the fact the presidents of banks such as Bear Stearns and its ilk bet their own fortunes on the proposition that they understood and controlled their derivatives books did not mean that they, in fact, understood and controlled their derivatives books.
I have observed her impress upon people that the time to worry about and guard against “moral hazard” in finance comes during the boom and the bubble, not during the crash and depression. I have seen her aggressively promote urgent and extraordinary measures to avoid the collapse of the financial system.
Ms Yellen has urged people to read work by Erica Groshen, now commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, saying shifts in the US jobs market mean a big downturn is no longer guaranteed to be followed by a rapid employment bounceback.
She helped steer the Federal Open Market Committee from its late-2009 confidence that monetary policy could be rapidly normalised to its current posture that extraordinary monetary accommodation is likely to be required for years. That is no mean record – and it is all on the record – on which to build a candidacy.
But, in truth, that understates her record of insight. When I first saw Ms Yellen up close and in action, it was late-1988. She was a professor at Berkeley and taught me something important, something that I had not previously known and would not have thought of on my own. In a conference room at the Brookings Institution, she explained just how the welfare benefits of lowering unemployment were of much greater value than the mere boost in production it brings. For example, it also means fewer people in the wrong type of job.
When I next saw Ms Yellen up close and in action, it was the mid-1990s, and she had been appointed a governor of the Fed by Bill Clinton, then president. She was not in the business of showing she was the smartest person in the room. But she was in the business of making sure that the person in the room who had the most constructive thing to say got the floor. And she did know how to keep in check those who were trying to show they were the smartest person in the room whenever they grew attached to ideas because they were clever rather than because they were true.
Those of us on the Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisers staff who had recommended that Mr Clinton recruit her to the Fed were very pleased. We had been worried that the culture of the central bank – where staff deferred to division directors, division directors sought to please the chair and governors largely stayed out of the loop – was not the healthiest of environments for encouraging sound debate. Ms Yellen (along with some others selected by Mr Clinton) helped to open the place up.
Ideally, I would ask for more. I am in the faction of economists who think that what the Fed needs now is a regime change like the one that Paul Volcker imposed in 1979 as he launched the very painful breaking of the stagflation of the 1970s. It needs some of the bold leadership that President Franklin Roosevelt launched in the US in the 1930s and that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing in Japan right now. Ms Yellen is, to my taste, a little overinvested in the proposition that the Fed’s current policy consensus is the appropriate policy.
When the two leading candidates were Ms Yellen and Mr Summers, everyone who was not crazy knew that the policy stakes were small: the two have very similar views of the economy and were likely to follow very similar policies. Now the policy stakes are actually significant – and a substantial chunk of America’s future prosperity may well ride on the outcome.

Bradford DeLong is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley

terça-feira, 17 de setembro de 2013

Martin Wolf: We still live in Lehman’s shadow

Both the past and future of our financial system remain as poisonous a topic as they were five years ago, when Lehman Brothers failed. That is a lesson to draw from the forced withdrawal of Lawrence Summers, former US Treasury secretary, from the list of candidates for chair of the US Federal Reserve. For many Democrats, Mr Summers is responsible for the financial liberalisation that led, in their view, to the crisis of 2007-09. Indeed, the debate about the origins and aftermath of the crisis is not over. How can it be when the exceptional policies it caused are still with us?
The fifth anniversary of Lehman’s failure is an opportunity to assess where we have come from and where we are going. How important, for example, was Lehman’s failure? It was less significant than many believe, for two reasons. The less important one is that a financial crisis was on its way, anyway. The more important one is that the financial crisis was a manifestation of overstretched balance sheets. These impaired balance sheets are, in turn, the reason a strong recovery has been so long in coming.
This is not to argue that the decision to let Lehman fail in September 2008 was unimportant. The shock began a devastating run on markets. An indicator of these stresses is the spread between three-month Libor (the rate at which banks could supposedly borrow from one another without offering any security) and the overnight indexed swap rate (the implied central bank rate over the same period). This spread, already elevated, started to widen on the day of Lehman’s failure. It kept on widening as the financial dominoes kept on falling in the US and Europe. The stresses revealed in this measure of the perceived solvency of banks peaked on October 10. (See chart.)
So what happened on October 10? The finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven leading high-income countries, meeting in Washington, declared that they would “take decisive action and use all available tools to support systemically important financial institutions and prevent their failure” (my emphasis). The core global financial system became the ward of the states. The idea that this was a private system was revealed to be an illusion. Taxpayers woke up to discover that bankers were exceptionally highly paid and out-of-control civil servants.
Governments and central banks dealt with the global financial panic relatively quickly and effectively, though a devastating aftershock emerged in the eurozone in 2010. Yet eliminating panic and even restoring the banks to health relatively quickly, as the US did, was not enough to generate a vigorous recovery. Even in the US, which has recovered faster than the other large crisis-hit economies, gross domestic product has fallen consistently relative to the pre-crisis trend (see chart). In the second quarter of 2013, it was 14 per cent below that trend. In the UK, it was 18 per cent below trend. Since much of the income generated in the recovery has accrued to the very top of the income distribution (partly because of the policies employed), it is little wonder discontent is rife.
Lehman was not the only possible cause of a panic. Any one of a host of institutions might have failed, with similarly devastating effects. The big impact of Lehman was to make transparent the losses. That had to happen. The reason for the subsequent economic weakness is also clear: economies had become dependent on the debt-fuelled spending promoted by rising property prices. The panic was itself a result of the cessation of this demand engine. The intermediaries that had bet their prosperity on ever-rising asset prices were in trouble. So, too, were economies that had made exactly the same bet. So, too, were economies that had bet on selling to these debt-fuelled economies. Should we have been surprised by this aftermath? No. Several well-informed economists had warned of just this dire possibility.
Why had important economies become so dependent on debt-fuelled growth? The best answer is the one advanced by Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, in 2005: the global savings glut, especially in developing countries after the Asian crisis. There are two simple indicators of that worsening glut: one is the real interest rate on safe securities, which can be measured from the yield on index-linked government bonds (see chart); the other is the global imbalances.
The simplest explanation of the outcome of this glut was that central banks, particularly the Fed, responded to the contractionary forces coming from the world economy with a monetary policy that worked by promoting a domestic bubble economy. Given its mandate, it simply had to do so. The explosive rise in gross debt was a result of the leveraging up of both property assets and the financial sector to generate household spending at levels sufficient to absorb potential supply (including foreign net supply) in the economy.
This, then, was a world of excess potential supply, as Daniel Alpert of Westwood Capital argues in The Age of Oversupply – a fascinating new book. It still is – indeed, even more so. Not just today, but for many years, the central banks of Japan, the US, the UK and the eurozone – essentially the whole high-income world – are not just offering free money but creating vast quantities of it. Even so, economies are weak. Upward twitches are hailed as a new dawn in economies that remain smaller than they were before the financial panic, as in the UK. US economic performance is better than that, but still decidedly poor. Lehman’s failure did not cause all this. Its failure was a symptom of imbalances that did.
Worse, the one way we seem to know to restore health to our economies is to restart the credit machine, as is now at last beginning to happen in the US and UK. On the principle that a bad recovery is better than none, I accept over-reliance on monetary policy as the least bad available option. In countries suffering from foreigners’ mercantilism and domestic aversion to investment and fiscal deficits, little alternative seems to exist. But managing that policy is really tricky. For this reason, though not only for this reason, it is high time that the White House nominated the next chair of the Fed. It needs to be someone who understands and believes in the only policy available.
It should, of course, be Janet Yellen, the current vice-chair.

Martin Wolf

Fonte: FT

segunda-feira, 16 de setembro de 2013

Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barros: O começo do fim da crise de 2008

Areunião rotineira do Fed, a ser realizada na próxima quarta feira, deve entrar para o rol dos chamados eventos históricos. Quando no futuro os olhos dos analistas se voltarem para o texto das minutas desta reunião encontrarão nele muito mais do que a decisão de reduzir, em alguns bilhões de dólares, o volume de compras de títulos públicos e vinculados a hipotecas. Eles estarão consultando um documento que passará a ser conhecido como aquele que relatou o começo do fim da grande crise econômica e financeira iniciada em fins de 2007.

Muitos leitores vão mais uma vez achar que eu estou me antecipando ao declarar hoje o fim da crise financeira que vivemos. Mas fui treinado a ser mais ousado do que os analistas convencionais na previsão de acontecimentos econômicos futuros. Mas sempre dou este passo baseado em fatos concretos e em convicções de natureza ideológica que moldaram meu olhar para a economia. É o que pretendo fazer nesta coluna, na semana em que a falência do Lehman Brothers completa cinco anos e a atenção da maioria dos analistas se volta ainda para o passado.

O ponto de apoio mais importante desta minha previsão vem da convicção que tenho de que o capitalismo é um sistema econômico voltado para o crescimento. Mas rapidamente, antes de ser criticado, quero introduzir uma pitada de Keynes nesta leitura afirmando que as crises cíclicas de curto prazo também fazem parte de seu script. Aliás, a economia brasileira hoje é prova disto. A desaceleração do crescimento e a pressão sobre os preços que estamos vivendo estão previstas em qualquer bom livro texto de macroeconomia.

Neste quadro analítico em que acredito e trabalho, as crises como a que vivemos nestes últimos cinco anos só aparecem quando os pecados de liberais extremados na gestão de algumas economias âncoras do mundo atingem níveis extremos. Como o que aconteceu nos Estados Unidos depois da virada do século passado. São, portanto, eventos aleatórios e de ocorrência muito pouco frequente como nos mostra a história recente. Felizmente, desta vez, tínhamos no comando do Fed um especialista neste tipo de evento e que soube aplicar - no ambiente institucional do século XXI - os conhecimentos acumulados desde os anos em que Keynes iniciou uma reflexão sobre este fenômeno.

Portanto, para mim é uma coisa natural que, uma vez superados estes momentos de irracionalidade e covardia dos homens públicos, a economia mundial volte a seu leito do crescimento. Um subproduto desta minha convicção é que vamos voltar a ter a macroeconomia como a referência central dos mercados nos próximos anos.

Mas antes de chegarmos a esta situação de normalidade, vamos passar ainda por um período de volatilidade irracional dos mercados financeiros. A partir do momento em que o Fed sinalizou o início de uma redução cautelosa da política de monetização do déficit fiscal nos Estados Unidos, o mercado entrou em mais uma de suas crises histéricas. A maioria dos analistas e especuladores, com o tsunami monetário que irrigava de dólares as economias emergentes invertendo seu sentido, agiram como se estivéssemos à beira de uma nova crise financeira no mundo emergente.

Nesta situação as moedas emergentes sofreriam forte desvalorização e a fuga de capitais deixaria os países, que operam com elevados déficits em sua conta corrente externa, em situação muito difícil. O passo seguinte seria um aumento brutal dos juros internos nestas economias, com reflexo negativo sobre o crescimento econômico e os lucros das empresas. O Brasil - junto com outras economias como a da Austrália - sofreria um choque adicional com o colapso dos preços das commodities, que com certeza ocorreria a partir da desaceleração da economia chinesa. Um perfeito cenário para os que começaram a apostar contra o real e contra o IBovespa e que levou o real a se desvalorizar em quase 20% e a Bovespa a namorar com os 45.000 pontos.

Felizmente, neste mês de setembro, o bom senso de um grupo crescente de analistas começa a colocar as coisas nos eixos. Em primeiro lugar o próprio Fed, por meio das palavras de alguns diretores, passou a mandar o recado de que a redução no volume de compras de títulos nos mercados seria muito menor do que as estimativas iniciais do mercado. Com isto, houve uma acomodação nos juros de prazo mais longo e, principalmente, uma volta nos juros de prazos curtos e intermediários para os níveis anteriores a este chilique.

Esta correção retirou um pouco da pressão sobre os emergentes, fazendo com que as cotações das ações e o valor das moedas nacionais tivessem uma recuperação importante. Este movimento reforçou-se na medida em que os dados sobre a atividade econômica na China mostraram a inconsistência do cenário de quase catástrofe de muitos.

Na próxima quarta feira o Fed vai tomar sua decisão de iniciar o processo de retirada dos estímulos extraordinários dos últimos anos e o mercado vai acordar no dia seguinte sem esta ameaça. E mais uma vez vamos provar a máxima que todos no mercado financeiro conhecem: compre no boato e venda no fato.

Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barros

Fonte: Valor

sábado, 14 de setembro de 2013

sexta-feira, 13 de setembro de 2013

A Battle for the Soul of India

O debate entre dois grandes economistas indianos: Jagdish Bhagwati e Amartya Sen

At first glance, there did not seem to be anything unique, or, voyeurism aside, even all that interesting about this past summer’s public quarrel between Indian economist and political philosopher Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate who now teaches at Harvard, and his former Cambridge University classmate Jagdish Bhagwati, a Columbia University economist and law professor who has long been one of the most eloquent champions of globalization based largely on free trade as the surest, if not indeed the only sure, way for poor countries to become prosperous. As Henry Kissinger is said to have remarked, academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low. Those who like their sarcasm gift-wrapped in erudition may enjoy reading about slagging matches between scholars, whether of the ‘witty fury’ type exemplified by the decades-long quarrel between the British historians A. J. P. Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper, or of the ‘titanic clash of narcissisms’ type that Edward Said and Bernard Lewis illustrated so indefatigably in their exchanges over Said’s ‘Orientalism.’ It is true that these and other such rivalries were partly grounded in political and even moral differences of real substance. But their effect on the politics and public policy of their time is usually pretty trivial, even if the disputants don’t usually see it that way.

Every once in a while, though, a bitter controversy erupts between scholars where, far from being small, the stakes in terms of public policies affecting the lives of huge numbers of people and the wealth or poverty of nations could scarcely be higher. Unsurprisingly, they usually involve economists (though Krugman v. Rogoff and Reinhart is not one of them!). The most important of these in the twentieth century was certainly John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek’s long-running debate over the question of whether significant state interventions in fiscal and employment policies, above all massive government spending, were what were needed, as Keynes thought, or, as Hayek believed, instead would either have no effect or even potentially prevent the economy from recovering from the Great Depression.

One of Keynes’ colleagues at Cambridge described it at the time as “the method of the duello conducted in the manner of Kilkenny cats.” The recent Sen-Bhagwati debate had something of the same character, with one crucial difference: while Bhagwati can surely be said to have gone the Kilkenny cat route, apart from one letter to the Economist, Sen has not. Even there, Sen contented himself with saying that “I have resisted responding to Mr. Bhagwati’s persistent and unilateral, attacks in the past,” before going on to say that Baghwati distorted the position they had taken in their recent book, An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, when he charged that Sen and his collaborator, the Indian economist, Jean Dreze, had only been giving lip service to the importance of economic growth—the centrality of which Bhagwati and his collaborator and fellow Columbia University economist, Arvind Panagariya, had emphasized in their recent book, Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Has Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries.

In contrast, Bhagwati (Panagariya has been a good deal more circumspect) has gone after Sen with an ad hominem remorselessness—“foot, horse, and gun,” as the late Christopher Hitchens, who was fond of such British imperial expressions, liked to put it—that an outsider is left awestruck by the energy of the assault but somewhat baffled as to what possible purpose it could serve. For example, in one article, the rumbustious Bhagwati, having labeled Sen as the only Indian economist “to have inflicted damage twice on Indian policy and therewith on poverty reduction,” went on to deprecatingly called him “the Mother Teresa of economics,” only two sentences later to retract the charge, saying, “Let us not insult Mother Theresa,” who, he said, at least “did a lot of good at the micro level, whereas [Sen’s] policy prescriptions have done huge damage instead.”

Bhagwati went on to charge in the same piece that Sen’s commitment to supporting economic growth—the position Bhagwati views as the one that he, contra Sen, truly espoused—was false, and that Sen’s claim was akin to “an anti-Semite [who] would claim that Jews are among his best friends.” And in a subsequent interview, Bhagwati said that it was “high time to jettison Sen…whose ideas are harmful to the poor.”

Understandably, editors and journalists in India have been fascinated by Bhagwati’s assault (and doubtless in some cases, hoping that sooner or later Sen will reply in kind), and have devoted amounts of space to the controversy usually reserved for gossip about politicians, plutocrats, Bollywood stars and cricketers to what one of them called this “one-way shouting match.”

But in response to numerous reporters’ queries that would have provided Bhagwati the opportunity to dial back his comments, he has consistently insisted that he has done nothing untoward, and that compared with what he called “the brawls” between Taylor and Trevor-Roper, his critique has been mild. At moments, it has even seemed as if Bhagwati considers himself to be the aggrieved party. For example, after telling an interviewer that “Unlike Sen, who talks and writes as if he is not constrained by facts or analysis, I am more cautious,” Bhagwati went on to insist that, “My exchanges with Sen are truly polite.” But then, like a skier making stem Christie turns down a slope, Bhagwati went on to reveal that he had declined to review the book by Sen and his frequent collaborator, the Indian economist Jean Dreze, had published earlier in the summer, telling the editors of the British magazine Prospect that “it was likely trashy and I did not want to destroy the book.”

The only thing missing from Bhagwati’s indictment is a direct accusation charging Sen with corruption. What Bhagwati has done is allude to such charges without stating whether or not he finds them credible. And in an interview with India’s Business Standard at the end of this past August, Bhagwati, also made a point of saying that he had been “told” that “lascivious photos of [Sen’s] actress daughter are now circulating on the internet.” Bhagwati went on to insist that Sen had brought such “gutter politics’ down on himself because of anger over his attacks on Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat and now leader of India’s main opposition party, the BJP. To be clear, Bhagwati had not been asked by the interviewer to comment on either matter and brought both up of his own volition.

Anyone who has followed Bhagwati’s career will know that Sen is scarcely the only economist to be on the receiving end of this signature combination of self-aggrandizement combined with slash and burn, ad hominem attacks. In his latest book, Bhagwati calls the views of his Columbia colleague, Joseph Stiglitz, and of George Soros, ‘Jurassic Park economics.” Nor have his maledictions been confined to them. More recently, when the deputy chairman of the Indian Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who at twenty-eight was the youngest division chief in the history of the World Bank, defended Sen, Bhagwati dismissed him as a “bureaucrat. “No one,” he said, “could expect [such a functionary] to offer sincere opinions.” And about Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel prize for his work setting up the Grameen Bank, Bhagwati said in the same recent interview that it “should have been awarded instead to Elaben Bhatt…a true Gandhian and not into cultivating influential people who work for your Nobel Prize.” One does not have to be the second coming of Sigmund Freud to wonder whether that last dig wasn’t directed at Sen, who is also a Nobel laureate, by Bhagwati, who is not?

The great pity of all this is that the substance of the debate between the two men, and between the two schools of economic thinking about poverty and development that each has had such a huge role in shaping, is of enormous practical, political and moral significance. While Sen and Bhagwati would doubtless differ in their evaluations of individual Indian leaders and of particular national policies, they would agree on India’s enormous achievements since independence in 1947. They would also agree, Bhagwati and Panagariya enthusiastically, Sen and Dreze more reservedly, that the economic reforms that began in the early 1990s that put an end to the so-called ‘License Raj’ were what lie at the root of India’s astonishing economic growth over the past two decades that has averaged over 8 percent annually and have, depending on how one measures the phenomenon, raised up to 200 million Indians out of poverty. As Sen and Dreze put it, the pre-1991 system, in which virtually all private business initiatives required government permission, and in which the Indian market was virtually closed to imports, “made economic enterprise extremely difficult and put it at the mercy of bureaucrats (large and small), thereby powerfully stifling initiative while nurturing corruption considerably.” For the top 20 percent of the population, that is, for the middle class of the License Raj and the post-1991 new middle class, living standards have “improved well beyond what was expected—or could be anticipated—in the previous decades.”

But Indian growth has now slowed and even the country’s most fervent boosters, whether at home or abroad, no longer talk about ‘India Shining,’ a merchandising slogan devised by the Grey Worldwide advertising firm to promote the country abroad and popularized by the BJP during the 2004 elections. But if two hundred million Indians can still celebrate their newfound prosperity, the overwhelming majority of its one billion people cannot do anything of the sort, and that is leaving to one side the estimate that there will be at least 1.6 billion Indians in 2050, with most of this population growth in the country’s poorest states and among families from those states who have migrated to richer ones. Three hundred million Indians are without electricity, open defecation is the only option for almost half the population, with all the obvious public-health consequences, above all for children, and at 43 percent the country’s childhood malnutrition and undernutrition rates are double that of the sub-Saharan African average. According the UN’s Human Development Index, India ranks 136th out of the 186 countries surveyed.

What can and should be done about this? This is what the debate between Bhagwati and Panagariya and Sen and Dreze could and should have been about, had it not been obscured by Bhagwati’s summer-long tantrum in the media. For their analysis and their prescriptions are as radically different as their political sympathies. But like the Keynes-Hayek debate, and unlike the Tory Trevor-Roper and the Laborite Taylor, whose views were impassioned but largely irrelevant to the course of the British state in the post-World War II period, the fate of hundreds of millions of Indians depends to a significant extent on whether the Indian government signs on to the basic premises behind the economic and social policies Bhagwati has been recommending, or, instead, to the one Sen has championed.

Some Indian economists and pundits have suggested that the gap is not in fact as wide as all that, and not even remotely as wide as Bhagwati has claimed. “The boring truth,” wrote the prominent Indian journalist, Swaminathan Aiyar, “is that differences between Sen and Bhagwati are much exaggerated, as also between the Congress [Party] and the BJP.”

If all that Aiyar means is that both agree on the need for growth, as Sen would surely agree, even if Bhagwati would not, then he is on solid ground. Aiyar is also correct in saying that while, rightly or wrongly, Sen is widely viewed as a supporter of the Congress and Bhagwati of the BJP, Congress has experimented Bhagwati’s prescriptions for cash transfers to the poor, while the BJP has supported the Food Security bill that commits the government to providing subsidized food to more than 50 percent of the Indian population just passed in the Indian parliament—a piece of legislation that very much reflects Jean Dreze’s influence and that Panagariya recently charged was part of the cause of India’s current difficulties.

But this begs the question of which model of growth is the one India should follow? And here, Bhagwati’s furious insistence of the incompatibility of his views and Sen’s is probably closer to the mark, and one wonders if Sen, though he has refused to be drawn, would disagree. If one economist calls for an emphasis on growth that relies primarily on the deepening of trade liberalization both internationally and domestically, private-sector entrepreneurship, and a smaller role for the state, and the other emphasizes redistribution and, as Sen and Dreze put it, harnesses “the constructive role of the state for growth and development,” you are not just offering two paths to growth that politicians will eventually find a way of largely reconciling. To the contrary, like the great economists of the past, Smith and Marx, Keynes and Hayek, Minsky and Milton Friedman, Bhagwati and Sen’s policy prescriptions depend for their force and coherence on a philosophical vision of what a good society is. An obvious example is not where either man stands on the need to reduce poverty but rather on the importance each attaches to not just to economic inequality but to social equality as well. Their divergent views on Gujarat is a case in point. For Bhagwati and Panagariya, what stands out about Narendra Modi’s tenure as chief minister of the state is the economic growth he has brought to it. For Sen and Dreze, Modi’s anti-Muslim attitudes and what they view as its consequence, the Muslim community’s economic marginalization in the state, go hand in hand. As the political editor of Open magazine, Hartosh Singh Bal, put it in a critique of Bhagwati and Panagariya’s book “this is the kind of inequity that cannot be quantified.”

One of Baghwati’s and Panagariya’s most ardent supporters, the Carleton College economist Vivek Dehejia, has called Sen’s rights- and entitlements-based approach to development “a sophisticated retread of the failed socialist policies that led [India] to the very brink of economic ruin in 1991,” that is, just before the country turned to economic liberalization. And whether or not one agrees with him, Dehejia is surely right to insist on the ideological character of the dispute. The importance of whose ideas prevail to India’s future is obvious. But its effects will be felt in the rest of the world as well. The authoritarian capitalism of China has profoundly altered how we now view capitalism itself. So will the implementation either of Bhagwati or of Sen’s conflicting visions for the economic organization of the country that soon will displace China as the most populous country on earth.

David Rieff

Fonte: The National Interest

quinta-feira, 12 de setembro de 2013

Philip Stephens: The audacity of stealth – Merkel’s plan for the euro

So might miserly Merkel play the last act as audacious Angela? The rest of Europe dearly hopes so. I cannot recall the last time a German election had the rest of us on the edge of our seats. But then this month’s poll is as much about the future of Europe as it is about the condition of Germany.
The suspense does not hang on polling day. The universal assumption – I suppose it could be wrong? – is that whatever the precise disposition of political forces when the votes are counted on September 22, Ms Merkel will secure a third term as chancellor. And would a grand coalition of her Christian Democrats with the opposition Social Democrats veer off in a direction markedly different from that of the present pact with Free Democrats? Probably not.
By all accounts, Ms Merkel has decided that a third term would be her last. She wants to avoid the mistake of her mentor Helmut Kohl – staying too long. Some think she could depart before the end of the term. We Brits remember how Margaret Thatcher was slightly mad by the time she went. Whether circumstance allows Ms Merkel to bow out early is another question.
The resolutely parochial nature of the election campaign has fitted Germany’s mood. Save for selling lots of things to China, the country feels much better looking inward than outward. The euro crisis that has so long dominated European politics has flared only briefly on the campaign trail. The eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, could spring a surprise by crossing the 5 per cent threshold for seats in the Bundestag. Most polls suggest not. In any event, a full two-thirds of Germans have concluded they are safe with Ms Merkel.
For all that, the fate of the euro and the EU will draw the contours of a third term – and settle the chancellor’s place in history. The immediate threat to the single currency has passed. But decisions taken – mostly, though not entirely, by Germany – during the coming few years will determine whether the euro can be put on a sound footing. History may yet record Ms Merkel as the leader who presided over the collapse of a unique experiment in European integration; or as the German chancellor who steered a badly-leaking ship into safe harbour.
I struggle to make up my mind about Ms Merkel. Like many, I have been sharply critical of her one-minute-to-midnight approach to decision making during the euro crisis which, apart from raising the blood pressure of leaders as distant as Washington and Beijing, has increased the cost of stabilising the single currency. Yet there is also a nagging admiration. Unflappability is a rare commodity in modern politics. So is careful deliberation.
The case for the prosecution is easily made, even if one discounts the more hysterical charges laid against the chancellor in some of the eurozone’s southern states. Germany’s economic power carries responsibilities – within and beyond Europe. Forcing unparalleled austerity on her partners at the price of depression and record unemployment is not the way to build a cohesive EU. The burden of economic adjustment must fall on creditors as well as debtors. Leadership requires a willingness to mould public opinion rather than be caught in its thrall.
Expecting US President Barack Obama to make hard choices to uphold order in the Middle East while allowing Germany to disavow any complicity is not a foreign policy fit for Europe’s pre-eminent power. Protecting feckless German banks while punishing debtors in Spain, Portugal or Ireland scarcely speaks to solidarity. The chancellor’s critics can produce a long list.
There is, however, another possible narrative. This says that Ms Merkel understands there is more to leadership than vaulting rhetoric (look at how much trouble Mr Obama has got himself into). Effectiveness is about marrying the desirable with the possible – expanding the boundaries, yes, but also carrying popular support. Ms Merkel, in this guise, knows Germany is best led from behind.
The reality is that Germany has moved since the crisis erupted. Three or four years ago it was impossible to imagine that it would support a €500bn bailout fund in the form of the European Stability Mechanism; that it would sign up to two rescue deals for Greece and be ready, once the polls have closed, to contemplate a third; and that the chancellor would defy the sacred Bundesbank to support an open-ended commitment to the debtors from the European Central Bank. The future of the euro rests with German consent. The voters have been led – but almost without realising it.
There is one more thing. Ms Merkel’s judgment that the euro can flourish in the long term only if weaker economies undertake the reforms needed to restore national competitiveness is essentially right. Solidity in return for solidarity is not a bad slogan.
For the future, two things are clear. The first is that the eurozone nations are not going to build the federal Europe deemed vital by those with overly tidy minds. The pace of integration should quicken, particularly in areas such as banking union, but Europe’s single currency will remain, like the EU itself, a hybrid – a monetary union with both collective rules and national decision making. The second is that getting there will not be a smooth process. There are plenty of squalls ahead.
Ms Merkel’s settled view is that Germany’s prosperity and security rest on sustaining the euro. There will be no grand gestures, but she will do what is necessary. Forget eurobonds but think of German acquiescence in loose monetary policy. Watch Berlin ease up on the deficits of those states that prove themselves serious about structural reform. Is there such a thing, I sometimes wonder, as stealthy, even miserly, audacity?

Philip Stephens

Fonte: FT

quarta-feira, 11 de setembro de 2013

Kishore Mahbubani: Syria exposes the decline of American diplomacy

Barack Obama is both right and wrong. He is right in saying that “the credible threat of US military action” pushed Syria to give up its chemical weapons. He is wrong in believing that a “limited military strike” would have made the Syrian situation better. If indeed the US president had ordered a bombing of Syria, it would have made him and some Americans feel good. But it would have done no good. The people of Syria would not be better off. It would only have made a messy situation messier. This is obvious.
It is good that Mr Obama has decided to pursue the diplomatic path. Yet the bad news here is that America has over time lost its skills in diplomacy. If anyone doubts this, just look at Washington’s failure to even persuade its fellow Group of 20 countries to join its statement on Syria.
The G20 website boasts that its 20 members represent almost 90 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product and 65 per cent of the world’s population. At the end of the meeting, 10 G20 countries – representing 12 per cent of the world’s population – supported the American call for action. The maths is clear: 50 per cent of the world’s citizens, a vast majority of the G20 population, did not support the US.
Why did Washington fail to persuade? One simple reason is that in recent times America has increasingly abandoned diplomacy as a tool in its foreign policy. When a problem surfaces, be it in Iraq or Kosovo, Sudan or Libya, the impulse is to bomb, not engage. But this was not always the case. In previous decades, America has produced some of the best diplomats the world has seen.
Henry Kissinger skilfully steered China into leaning towards America during the cold war. This sharply tilted the correlation of forces against the Soviet Union. James Baker travelled around the world to gather overwhelming support for America’s first invasion of Iraq. Indeed, it became a profitable war with the US actually making money instead of losing $1.7tn, as it did in the second Iraq war. Similarly, Richard Holbrooke did a brilliant job of restoring geopolitical confidence in the countries of southeast Asia after the American military beat an ignominious retreat from Saigon in 1975. He saved the “dominoes” from falling without a single military action. And Chester Crocker would do a brilliant job of marshalling African opinion in support of America.
So what happened? How did America lose its art of diplomacy? Three major handicaps shackle American diplomacy. Firstly, in most countries, the diplomats spent 20 per cent of their time negotiating with their own capitals and 80 per cent of their time negotiating with their foreign adversaries. In Washington, the ratio is the reverse. American diplomats have to spend 80 per cent of their time negotiating to obtain a reasonable mandate from all their political masters in DC and 20 per cent of their time negotiating with their foreign adversaries.
Secondly, even before Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) came along, Washington has been a leaky place. In diplomatic negotiations, diplomats have to take risks. Occasionally, they have to go beyond their assigned mandates and suggest viable compromises to lure the other side into making compromises too. American diplomats have to be especially careful in not going outside their mandates as their proposals could be leaked and they would be politically killed by the media and lobbies in DC.
Thirdly, American diplomacy has become imprisoned by a strange prejudice in DC. Diplomacy was invented 3,000 years ago to enable societies to talk to enemies, not friends. The whole point of diplomatic immunity was to enable the establishment of diplomatic missions in enemy capitals. The US has inverted the meaning and purpose of diplomacy by insisting that a country must become a “friend” before it can establish an American mission there. This curious prejudice explains the inability of America to establish missions in Tehran, Pyongyang or Havana.
Despite these limitations, America can succeed in diplomacy if it works out clear and defined objectives in Syria. If the defined objective is to destroy chemical weapons in Syria, the US will easily gain global support. No country has defended the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Almost all countries want to do something to prevent it from recurring. Hence, if America were to take the lead, as Mr Baker did in the first Iraq war, to actively seek the support of the rest of the world for this objective, it will succeed.
One point is worth emphasising. UN inspectors did a very good job of investigating the weapons of mass destruction sites in Iraq. Their record was vindicated when the US failed to find a single trace of WMDs after invading Iraq. Hence, it would not be an act of weakness for the US to work closely with the UN inspectors.
However, if the US switches its objective to regime change in Syria, the majority of the rest of the world will balk. It is true that Bashar al-Assad has few supporters overseas. But few believe that a sudden toppling of Mr Assad will make Syria better. At the end of the day the messy situation in Syria can only be improved through a messy political process involving all of the major parties.
After having been in diplomacy for more than 33 years, I know well that good diplomats can handle and improve messy situations. America should therefore switch away from its recent impulse to bomb and revive its old impulse to plunge into diplomacy, no matter how messy. Mr Obama was right in saying, “The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.” He should now couple that statement with the reminder in the US declaration of independence that America should show “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind”. And if America can once again win over the majority of the world’s population to support its objectives in Syria, this would prove that America has begun to regain its lost diplomatic skills.

Kishore Mahbubani is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. His latest book is ‘The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World’

Fonte: FT

terça-feira, 10 de setembro de 2013

Yoshiaki Nakano: Novo ciclo de expansão está aí!

Artigo interessante do conhecido tucano e administrador do country club da rua itapeva.

Desde 2011, a economia brasileira perdeu seu dinamismo. No atual quadro, se houver recuperação, o crescimento deverá ficar entre 2% a 3%. Por enquanto, não há nada de concreto no horizonte que possa reverter o pessimismo, gerar um novo conjunto de investimentos e deslocar a economia brasileira para uma nova trajetória de crescimento acelerado e sustentado, pelo menos para os próximos 10 anos.

Economias emergentes como a brasileira não alcançaram a "maturidade" por que ainda estamos longe da fronteira tecnológica. Portanto, a trajetória mais rápida e de menor custo é trazer rapidamente para dentro do país, a fronteira tecnológica, ampliando as importações e melhorando a capacidade das empresas brasileiras de absorverem e se adaptarem a essas inovações.

A pré-condição para que isto aconteça é que a taxa de investimento seja elevada dos atuais 18% do PIB para pelo menos 25% do PIB e que as exportações cresçam rapidamente para vibilizar as importações. Dai o papel chave que a taxa real de câmbio competitiva tem no processo de desenvolvimento, a capacidade de estimular investimentos no setor de tradables. Entretanto, uma taxa de câmbio para gerar um "boom de investimentos", particularmente de manufaturados, teria que ser excessivamente depreciada para compensar o custo Brasil, o que tornaria as importações de bens de capital excessivamente caras. Portanto, o estímulo teria que vir de outra fonte.

Em outras palavras, o que poderia gerar, no atual contexto, um bloco de investimentos suficientemente grande, que tenha forte efeitos multiplicadores, capazes de aumentar a produtividade e se transformar na locomotiva da economia brasileira?

O grande economista Ignácio Rangel, com longa experiência de analista de projetos do BNDES, dizia que o ponto de estrangulamento da economia, num período, cuja remoção exige grandes investimentos, tende a transformar-se, no período seguinte, na locomotiva que vai comandar a expansão econômica. E antevia que dado que a poupança pública era negativa, a concessão de serviços públicos poderia engendrar esta locomotiva.

A locomotiva aí está na nossa cara: é o programa de concessões de infraestrutura anunciado há um ano pela presidente Dilma. É a incompetência da burocracia brasileira e o ranço ideológico petista que está emperrando. Agora que o ministro Guido Mantega está assumindo o comando do programa, já com bom encaminhamento das negociações com o setor privado, temos novas esperanças.

Não há dúvidas de que o programa de concessões de rodovias, ferrovias, portos e aeroportos pode gerar centenas de bilhões de reais de investimentos nos próximos anos e um novo ciclo de expansão da economia brasileira. O setor privado está com apetite e há uma fantástica abundância de recursos em busca de retorno, ainda com financiamentos a taxas de juros baixíssimas.

Sabemos também que investimentos em infraestrutura e sua qualidade são condições necessárias tanto para crescimento, como para aumento de produtividade. Num estudo econométrico recente, dois economistas franceses (NATIXIS Economic Research no. 227, march 22, 2013) estimaram para quatro países da Europa (Alemanha, França, Itália e Espanha) que a elasticidade do PIB em relação ao investimento em transporte é muito elevada, de 0,11 após um ano e 0,18 após cinco anos. O efeito multiplicador total de um euro investido em transporte nestes países resultou num aumento de l4 euros. No Brasil, o prof. Vladimir Teles (FGV/EESP), estimou que um aumento de 1% no capital investido em infraestrutura, gera incremento de produtividade entre 0,48% a 0,53% na produtividade total dos fatores, com defasagem de 4 anos. Pode-se concluir que o investimento em infraestrutura se auto-financia, no médio e longo prazos. Os investimentos públicos se auto-financiam com aumento da receita tributária, sem aumento da carga tributária.

No caso brasileiro após tantos anos de investimento muito abaixo do mínimo necessário (3% do PIB) para manter o estoque de capital existente, estima-se que precisaremos investir 6% do PIB durante 20 a 30 anos para termos uma infraestrutura competitiva, isto é comparável ao padrão mundial. O mais trágico é que este estoque de capital padrão, considerando países como a China, corresponde a 70% do PIB, no Brasil este percentual atinge apenas 16% do PIB, segundo um estudo da Mckinsey. Isto leva a uma estimativa de que precisaremos investir US$ 1 trilhão para sermos competitivos globalmente!

Para concluir, temos que ser realistas. Sendo otimista e assumindo que tudo vai ocorrer como programado, as licitações que se iniciam neste mês deverão ter um trâmite burocrático tal que os investimentos deverão, na melhor das hipóteses, iniciar daqui a um ano. Assim, impactos sobre crescimento do PIB teremos somente a partir de 2015. Os ganhos de produtividade têm defasagem de 4 anos, mas se as licitações forem bem sucedidas ao menos surge uma luz no fim do túnel.

Yoshiaki Nakano

Fonte: Valor

segunda-feira, 9 de setembro de 2013

Entrevista com o Delfim Netto

Valor: O Brasil foi beneficiado na última década pelo explosão da demanda chinesa. Esse ciclo acabou?

Antônio Delfim Netto : A demanda por produtos agrícolas depende, no fundo, do crescimento da população e da urbanização. Mas eu não vejo que você vai ter uma redução muito importante da taxa de crescimento da demanda de produtos agrícolas nos próximos anos. O que vai mudar, seguramente, é a estrutura da demanda. Você vai caminhar mais para produtos proteicos, porque o mundo está melhorando seu nível de renda. Mas não vejo nenhuma razão para imaginar uma debacle nos preços agrícolas. Teremos, no fundo, uma relativa estabilização. Os preços, provavelmente, vão voltar a declinar lentamente como sempre acontece, o que não significa que a demanda global vai diminuir.

Valor: Mas o maior salto já foi?

Delfim : O principal salto foi o avanço espetacular da China, que não vai se repetir. Mas imaginar que a China vai reduzir a sua demanda dramaticamente é um erro. Ela vai continuar crescendo 4,5%, 5% ao ano. E mais importante: vai aumentar muito a urbanização, o que reduz a oferta de produtos agrícolas de um lado e aumenta a demanda de outro, porque aumenta a renda.

Valor: O sr. acha que o Brasil aproveitou bem o boom da China?

Delfim : O Brasil não aproveitou bem o boom das commodities. Durante dez anos, tivemos um crescimento das relações de trocas importante, o que significa que a renda crescia mais do que o PIB. Teria sido o momento para fazer as mudanças estruturais que nós precisamos. Mas optamos por um caminho um pouco diferente. Usamos muito mais desses recursos na redistribuição de renda do que no aumento da eficiência produtiva, o que é compensado por um aumento do bem-estar visível. Mas um dos aspectos mais difíceis de entender é que você sacrificou uma parte das vantagens da melhoria das relações de troca para valorizar o câmbio e para combater inflação - ou seja, você jogou fora uma parte desses recursos.

Valor: De algum modo, o Brasil é refém da "maldição" dos recursos naturais, se é que ela existe?

Delfim : Não tem maldição nenhuma. O Brasil aproveitou esses recursos e desenvolveu um setor agrícola extremamente eficiente. A agroindústria, que talvez seja um quarto do PIB, é um setor altamente eficiente. É um setor sofisticadíssimo, mas muito prejudicado por falta de estrutura, de transportes, de portos, por falta de armazenagem e por falta de uma política importante, que é a política de seguro de safra.

Valor: O último Plano de Safra avançou na questão do seguro?

Delfim : Evoluiu muito. Esse último plano de safra é dos melhores que já foram produzidos no Brasil. Ele atentou para algumas coisas críticas. Está começando a haver uma consciência de que o país não tem conseguido fazer chegar a essa gente o progresso da tecnologia na pequena propriedade. No fundo, se abandonou um sistema de assistência técnica que já foi muito eficiente no Brasil e esse plano começou a reconstruí-lo. Se você conseguir mobilizar a pequena agricultura com os avanços da tecnologia que estão na gaveta, vai produzir uma revolução.

Valor: Num artigo de 2004, o sr. dizia que, depois do completo desastre que foi a política agrícola do governo Collor e da pecha de caloteiros no governo FHC, o relação do governo com o setor começava a melhorar. Isso se comprovou?

Delfim : Melhorou. O problema da agricultura é que ela é uma atividade de altíssimo risco. A agricultura depende da vontade de São Pedro. Como a agricultura precisa de crédito, o fato de a receita ser altamente influenciada pelas variações climáticas coloca uma dificuldade gigantesca. Por quê? Quando, por efeito do clima, há uma queda da oferta de produtos, os preços não sobem para suprir a renda. O agricultor vê seu patrimônio desaparecer. Como não há seguro de safra, ele fica devendo. Na próxima vez, você tem um acordo com o governo. Mas o governo é pior do que o pior dos banqueiros. Cada negociação de dívida é uma tragédia, ou foi uma tragédia no passado. Você embutia custos espantosos, taxas de juros gigantescas. Desse ponto de vista, houve uma avanço muito grande. Já começou no Fernando Henrique e veio avançando. Para a agricultura funcionar tranquilamente, ela tem que ter seguro de safra. Ou seja, se houver um acidente, a tua renda é complementada e você pode honrar os seus compromissos.

Valor: Nesse sentido, qual é o papel do Estado na política agrícola?

Delfim : Provavelmente, a pesquisa não se sustenta simplesmente com financiamento privado. O Estado produziu, ou pelo menos divulgou, todas a grandes invenções, da internet até a semente do milho transgênico.

Valor: Como o senhor vê a atuação da Embrapa. É natural que ela perca participação nos mercados mais cobiçados como soja e milho?

Delfim : A Embrapa não foi feita para substituir o setor privado. Ela é um instrumento de pesquisa. O mundo se aproveita das pesquisas da Embrapa. Quando você diz que a Embrapa reduziu participação, ela não reduziu o seu papel. Ela está se sofisticando e é claro que os ganhos são menores, na margem. A base é muito mais alta. Mas a Embrapa foi e é um instrumento distintivo, que distingue a economia brasileira do resto do mundo. O que você não pode é pensar que essas coisas acontecem por acaso. E não é só no Brasil, não. A soja nos EUA também dependeu do departamento de agricultura [USDA]. O Estado é um fator importante no processo de desenvolvimento.

Valor: O sr. acha que o Estado deve intervir nos preços agrícolas?

Delfim : O Estado precisa de um estoque regulador por causa da flutuação da agricultura, da oferta. A política de estoques é fundamental. Não para perturbar, mas para regular o mercado quando há um acidente climático.

Valor: O Estado brasileiro incentivou uma concentração entre frigoríficos? O sr. concorda com isso?

Delfim : Isso é um grave erro, porque cria organismos que são um oligopsônio na hora de comprar e oligopólios na hora de vender. Você não pode ter milhões de produtores e dois sujeitos comprando tudo o que eles produzem. Aliás, essa é uma tragédia que está acontecendo no mundo. O número de empresas que transacionam commodities se reduziu dramaticamente. O monopólio é muito ruim. Estruturas oligopsônicas e oligopolíticas são contra o aumento da produtividade, mesmo quando se diz que há grandes economias de escala. A estrutura em que você reduz a quantidade de oferta ou reduz a quantidade de compradores é uma estrutura perversa.

Valor: Mas uma das alegações, no caso dos frigoríficos, é que a concentração ajudaria a melhorar a sanidade da cadeia produtiva.

Delfim : A política sanitária é coisa do governo. Você não precisa de gente grande para comprar gado bom. Você pode ter gente pequena comprando gado da melhor qualidade do ponto de vista da sanidade.

Valor: E o que fazer para combater esse processo de concentração?

Delfim : O Estado não pode deixar que se formem monopólios. Quando existir um monopólio, ele tem que ter uma agência reguladora independente e que ele não possa se apropriar dela.

Valor: No caso do Brasil, o Estado escolheu os vencedores?

Delfim : Isso não importa. A política em si é que está equivocada. Não é que se escolheu A ou B. Pode até ter escolhido pessoas ou empresas que vão progredir. Mas o que está errado é a política.

Valor: Na área política, como o sr. vê o papel da bancada ruralista? Existem polêmicas na questão ambiental, na questão indígena...

Delfim : A bancada ruralista faz o seu papel. A questão indígena está definida na Constituição. Sempre há dois lados. Se você entrega tudo para antropólogos, vai para um lado. Se você entrega para empresários agrícolas, vai para o outro. É por isso que tem que ter o Estado para arbitrar.

Valor: E como conciliar produção agrícola e preservação ambiental?

Delfim : Não há contradição entre a preservação do meio ambiente a agricultura. Só um agricultor muito burro não preserva o meio ambiente. O que há é uma certa contradição entre algumas pessoas que gostariam muito de voltar para a Idade da Pedra e aqueles que acham que não têm que tomar conhecimento de nada, e querem colocar um trator onde puder. De novo: por isso é que existe o Estado, Deus meu!

Valor: E o que fazer com os frequentes casos de exploração de trabalho análogo à escravidão?

Delfim : Pondo na cadeia.

Valor: O que o senhor acha da proposta de expropriar a terra de quem fizer esse tipo de exploração?

Delfim : Não é uma solução, mas seguramente é uma forma de impedir que isso aconteça. Tem que ser uma punição draconiana.

Fonte: Valor