Research Programs

The State of the US and World Economies

The State of the US and World Economies

This program's central focus is the use of Levy Institute macroeconomic models in generating strategic analyses of the US and world economies. The outcomes of alternative scenarios are projected and analyzed, with the results—published as Strategic Analysis reports—serving to help policymakers understand the implications of various policy options.

The Levy Institute macroeconomic models, created by Distinguished Scholar Wynne Godley, are accounting based. The US model employs a complete and consistent system (in that all sectors “sum up,” with no unaccounted leakages) of stocks and flows (such as income, production, and wealth). The world model is a “closed” system, in which 11 trading blocs—of which the United States, China, Japan, and Western Europe are four—are represented. This model is based on a matrix in which each bloc’s imports are described in terms of exports from the other 10 blocs. From this information, and using alternative assumptions (e.g., growth rates, trade shares, and energy demands and supplies), trends are identified and patterns of trade and production analyzed.

The projections derived from the models are not presented as short-term forecasts. The aim is to display, based on analysis of the recent past, what it seems reasonable to expect if current trends, policies, and relationships continue. To inform policy, it is not necessary to establish that a particular projection will come to pass, but only that it is something that must be given serious consideration as a possibility. The usefulness of such analyses is strategic: they can serve to warn policymakers of potential dangers and serve as a guide to policy instruments that are available, or should be made available, to deal with those dangers, should they arise.



Program Publications

United States

  • The Eurozone Crisis, Greece, and the Experience of Austerity

    Conference Proceedings | August 2014
    This conference was organized as part of the Levy Institute’s international research agenda and in conjunction with the Ford Foundation Project on Financial Instability, which draws on Hyman Minsky’s extensive work on the structure of financial systems to ensure stability, and the role of government in achieving a growing and equitable economy.
      Among the key topics addressed: the challenges to global growth and employment posed by the continuing eurozone debt crisis; the impact of austerity on output and employment; the ramifications of the credit crunch for economic and financial markets; the larger implications of government deficits and debt crises for US and European economic policies; and central bank independence and financial reform. 

  • The Coming "Tsunami of Debt" and Financial Crisis in America

    In the Media | June 2014
    By Dimitri B. Papadimitriou

    The Guardian, June 15, 2014

    The US Congressional Budget Office is projecting a continued economic recovery. So why look down the road – say, to 2017 – and worry?

    Here's why: because the debt held by American households is rising ominously. And unless our economic policies change, that debt balloon, powered by radical income inequality, is going to become the next bust....

    Read the full article here: www.theguardian.com/money/2014/jun/15/us-economy-bubble-debt-financial-crisis-corporations
     

    Associated Program:
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    United States
  • The Political Economy of Shadow Banking

    Working Paper No. 801 | May 2014
    Debt, Finance, and Distributive Politics under a Kalecki-Goodwin-Minsky SFC Framework

    This paper describes the political economy of shadow banking and how it relates to the dramatic institutional changes experienced by global capitalism over past 100 years. We suggest that the dynamics of shadow banking rest on the distributive tension between workers and firms. Politics wedge the operation of the shadow financial system as government policy internalizes, guides, and participates in dealings mediated by financial intermediaries. We propose a broad theoretical overview to formalize a stock-flow consistent (SFC) political economy model of shadow banking (stylized around the operation of money market mutual funds, or MMMFs). Preliminary simulations suggest that distributive dynamics indeed drive and provide a nest for the dynamics of shadow banking.

  • Fitch Ratings Warns U.S. on Credit Rating

    In the Media | October 2013
    Tim Mullaney
    USA Today, October 16, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

    Fitch Ratings took a step toward cutting the U.S. government's AAA debt rating Tuesday, as the clock ticked toward the Thursday deadline to raise the nation's debt ceiling or risk default.

    Chicago-based Fitch, the third-largest of the major debt-rating companies behind Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service, put U.S. Treasury bonds on Rating Watch Negative, which is sometimes but not always a first step before a downgrade. Fitch said in a statement that it still thinks the debt ceiling will be raised in time to prevent a default.
      Fitch said the government would have only limited capacity to make payments on the $16.7 trillion national debt after Treasury Department's emergency measures run out Thursday.

    Some Republicans have advocated Treasury make debt service payments before paying day-to-day bills, but Fitch said that may not be legal or technologically possible. Even Treasury could do that, a failure to act would still leave the U.S. missing payments for Social Security and payments to government contractors, Fitch said.

    "All of (these) would damage the perception of U.S. sovereign creditworthiness and the economy,'' Fitch said in a statement. "The prolonged negotiations over raising the debt ceiling ... risks undermining confidence in the role of the U.S. dollar as the preeminent global reserve currency, by casting doubt over the full faith and credit of the U.S. This `faith' is a key reason why the U.S. 'AAA' rating can tolerate a substantially higher level of public debt than other AAA" bonds.

    Fitch said it could make a decision on whether to lower its AAA rating on U.S. debt by the end of the first quarter.

    "The announcement reflects the urgency with which Congress should act to remove the threat of default hanging over the economy," the Treasury Department said in response.

    One money manager quickly backed Fitch's action, which affects all U.S. bonds.

    "This action by Fitch is not about ability to pay,'' said Cumberland Advisors chief investment officer David Kotok. "It is about governance and our willingness to pay. In that category the United States has reached the brink of political failure.'' Economists have warned that there are two main ways failing to raise the debt ceiling could hurt the economy.

    One is by causing chaos in financial markets, forcing stock prices lower and freezing credit to many borrowers. The other is by forcing the government to cut spending by as much as $130 billion over as little as six weeks to avoid borrowing more, Moody's Analytics estimated last week.

    A study Tuesday by Bard College estimated that a rapid-fire balanced budget scenario would cause the U.S. economy to shrink by almost 3% in 2014 and the unemployment rate to surge to more than 9.5%.

    That is before accounting for the chance that a failure to raise the debt ceiling will push U.S. trading partners into recession, the Bard study says.

    "A recession in the United States would certainly exert a negative influence on growth in the rest of the world, which would in turn feed back to the States," Bard economist Michalis Nikiforos said.

    Moody's says it has no plans to change its Aaa rating on U.S. debt.

    Political brinksmanship was a key reason for S&P's downgrade of the U.S. to AA+ from AAA in 2011, the last time Washington flirted with refusing to raise the debt ceiling. The lack of an agreement on the debt limit this week would not necessarily trigger another S&P downgrade, spokesman John Piecuch said.

    "Passing (Oct.) 17th is not a specific trigger," Piecuch said.

    If the U.S. missed a debt payment, however, its rating would be lowered to selective default, he added.

    Contributing: John Waggoner, Adam Shell and David M. Jackson 
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    United States
  • Rescuing the Recovery: Prospects and Policies for the United States

    Strategic Analysis | October 2013
    If the Congressional Budget Office’s recent projections of government revenues and outlays come to pass, the United States will not grow fast enough to bring down the unemployment rate between now and 2016. The public sector deficit will decline from present levels, endangering the sustainability of the recovery. But as this new Strategic Analysis shows, a public sector stimulus of a little over 1 percent of GDP per year focused on export-oriented R & D investment would increase US competitiveness through export-price effects, resulting in a rise of net exports, and slowly lower unemployment to less than 5 percent by 2016. The improvement in net export demand would allow the US economy to enter a period of aggregate-demand rehabilitation—with very encouraging consequences at home. 

  • A New “Lehman Moment,” or Something Worse?

    Policy Note 2013/9 | October 2013
    A Scenario of Hitting the Debt Ceiling

    The United States entered the second week of a government shutdown on Monday, with no end to the deadlock in sight. The cost to the government of a similar shutdown in 1995–96 amounted to $2.1 billion in today’s dollars. However, the cost and broader consequences of today’s shutdown are not yet clear—especially since the US economy is in the midst of an anemic recovery from the biggest economic crisis of the last eight decades.

  • Embracing Wynne Godley, an Economist Who Modeled the Crisis

    In the Media | September 2013
    By Jonathan Schlefer

    The New York Times, September 10, 2013. All rights Reserved.

    Wynn Godley

    BOSTON — With the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession still a raw and painful memory, many economists are asking themselves whether they need the kind of fundamental shift in thinking that occurred during and after the Depression of the 1930s. “We have entered a brave new world,” Olivier Blanchard, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, said at a conference in 2011. “The economic crisis has put into question many of our beliefs. We have to accept the intellectual challenge.”

    If the economics profession takes on the challenge of reworking the mainstream models that famously failed to predict the crisis, it might well turn to one of the few economists who saw it coming, Wynne Godley of the Levy Economics Institute. Mr. Godley, unfortunately, died at 83 in 2010, perhaps too soon to bask in the credit many feel he deserves.

    But his influence has begun to spread. Martin Wolf, the eminent columnist for The Financial Times, and Jan Hatzius, chief economist of global investment research at Goldman Sachs, borrow from his approach. Several groups of economists in North America and Europe — some supported by the Institute for New Economic Thinking established by the financier and philanthropist George Soros after the crisis — are building on his models.

    In a 2011 study, Dirk J. Bezemer, of Groningen University in the Netherlands, found a dozen experts who warned publicly about a broad economic threat, explained how debt would drive it, and specified a time frame.

    Most, like Nouriel Roubini of New York University, issued warnings in informal notes. But Mr. Godley “was the most scientific in the sense of having a formal model,” Dr. Bezemer said.

    It was far from a first for Mr. Godley. In January 2000, the Council of Economic Advisers for President Bill Clinton hailed a still “youthful-looking and vigorous” expansion. That March, Mr. Godley and L. Randall Wray of the University of Missouri-Kansas City derided it, declaring, “Goldilocks is doomed.” Within days, the Nasdaq stock market peaked, heralding the end of the dot-com bubble.

    Why does a model matter? It explicitly details an economist’s thinking, Dr. Bezemer says. Other economists can use it. They cannot so easily clone intuition.

    Mr. Godley was relatively obscure in the United States. He was better known in his native Britain — The Times of London called him “the most insightful macroeconomic forecaster of his generation” — though often as a renegade.

    Mainstream models assume that, as individuals maximize their self-interest, markets move the economy to equilibrium. Booms and busts come from outside forces, like erratic government spending or technological dynamism or stagnation. Banks are at best an afterthought.

    The Godley models, by contrast, see banks as central, promoting growth but also posing threats. Households and firms take out loans to build homes or invest in production. But their expectations can go awry, they wind up with excessive debt, and they cut back. Markets themselves drive booms and busts.

    Why did Mr. Godley, who had barely any formal economics training, insist on developing a model to inform his judgment? His extraordinary efforts to overcome a troubled childhood may be part of the explanation. Tiago Mata of Cambridge University called his life “a search for his true voice” in the face of “nagging fear that he might disappoint [his] responsibilities.”

    Mr. Godley once described his early years as shackled by an “artificial self” that kept him from recognizing his own spontaneous reactions to people and events. His parents separated bitterly. His mother was often away on artistic adventures, and when at home, she spent long hours coddling what she called “my pain” in bed.

    Raised by nannies and “a fierce maiden aunt who shook me violently when I cried,” Mr. Godley was sent at age 7 to a prep school he called a “chamber of horrors.”

    Despite all that, Mr. Godley, with his extraordinary talent, still managed to achieve worldly success. He graduated from Oxford with a first in philosophy, politics and economics in 1947, studied at the Paris Conservatory, and became principal oboist of the BBC Welsh Orchestra.

    But “nightmarish fears of letting everyone down,” he recalled, drove him to take a job as an economist at the Metal Box Company. Moving to the British Treasury in 1956, he rose to become head of short-term forecasting. He was appointed director of the Department of Applied Economics at Cambridge in 1970.

    In the early 1980s, the British Tory government, allied with increasingly conventional economists at Cambridge, began “sharpening its knives to stab Wynne,” according to Kumaraswamy Velupillai, a close friend who now teaches at the New School in New York. They killed the policy group he headed and, ultimately, the Department of Applied Economics.

    But after warning of a crash of the British pound in 1992 that took official forecasters by surprise, Mr. Godley was appointed to a panel of “six wise men” advising the Treasury.

    In 1995 he moved to the Levy Institute outside New York, joining Hyman Minsky, whose “financial instability hypothesis” won recognition during the 2008 crisis.

    Marc Lavoie of the University of Ottawa collaborated with Mr. Godley to write “Monetary Economics: An Integrated Approach to Credit, Money, Income, Production and Wealth” in 2006, which turned out to be the most complete account he would publish of his modeling approach.

    In mainstream economic models, individuals are supposed to optimize the trade-off between consuming today versus saving for the future, among other things. To do so, they must live in a remarkably predictable world.

    Mr. Godley did not see how such optimization is conceivable. There are simply too many unknowns, he theorized.

    Instead, Mr. Godley built his economic model around the idea that sectors — households, production firms, banks, the government — largely follow rules of thumb.

    For example, firms add a standard profit markup to their costs for labor and other inputs. They try to maintain adequate inventories so they can satisfy demand without accumulating excessive overstock. If sales disappoint and inventories pile up, they correct by cutting back production and laying off workers.

    In mainstream models, the economy settles at an equilibrium where supply equals demand. To Mr. Godley, like some Keynesian economists, the economy is demand-driven and less stable than many traditional economists assume.

    Instead of supply and demand guiding the economy to equilibrium, adjustments can be abrupt. Borrowing “flows” build up as debt “stocks.”

    If rules of thumb suggest to households, firms, or the government that borrowing, debt or other things have gone out of whack, they may cut back. Or banks may cut lending. The high-flying economy falls down.

    Mr. Godley and his colleagues expressed just this concern in the mid-2000s. In April 2007, they plugged Congressional Budget Office projections of government spending and healthy growth into their model. For these to be borne out, the model said, household borrowing must reach 14 percent of G.D.P. by 2010.

    The authors declared this situation “wildly implausible.” More likely, borrowing would level off, bringing growth “almost to zero.” In repeated papers, they foresaw a looming recession but significantly underestimated its depth.

    For all Mr. Godley’s foresight, even economists who are doubtful about traditional economic thinking do not necessarily see the Godley-Lavoie models as providing all the answers. Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics called them a “gallant failure” in a review. He applauded their realism, especially the way they allowed sectors to make mistakes and correct, rather than assuming that individuals foresee the future. But they are still, he wrote, “insufficient” in crises.

    Gennaro Zezza of the University of Cassino in Italy, who collaborated with Mr. Godley on a model of the American economy, concedes that he and his colleagues still need to develop better ways of describing how a financial crisis will spread. But he said the Godley-Lavoie approach already is useful to identify unsustainable processes that precede a crisis.

    “If everyone had remained optimistic in 2007, the process could have continued for another one or two or three years,” he said. “But eventually it would have broken down. And in a much more violent way, because debt would have piled up even more.”

    Dr. Lavoie says that one of the models he helped develop does make a start at tracing the course of a crisis. It allows for companies to default on loans, eroding banks’ profits and causing them to raise interest rates: “At the very least, we were looking in the right direction.”

    This is just the direction that economists building on Mr. Godley’s models are now exploring, incorporating “agents” — distinct types of households, firms and banks, not unlike creatures in a video game — that respond flexibly to economic circumstances. Stephen Kinsella of the University of Limerick, the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Mauro Gallegati of Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy are collaborating on one such effort.

    In the meantime, Mr. Godley’s disciples say his record of forecasting still stands out. In 2007 Mr. Godley and Dr. Lavoie published a prescient model of euro zone finances, envisioning three outcomes: soaring interest rates in Southern Europe, huge European Central Bank loans to the region or brutal fiscal cuts. In effect, the euro zone has cycled among those outcomes.

    So what do the Godley models predict now? A recent Levy Institute analysis expresses concern not about serious financial imbalances, at least in the United States, but weak global demand. “The main difficulty,” they wrote, “has been in convincing economic leaders of the nature of the main problem: insufficient aggregate demand.” So far, they are not having much success.

    A version of this article appears in print on September 11, 2013, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Embracing Economist Who Modeled the Crisis.

    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    United States

Europe

  • Greek Crisis and the Dark Clouds over the American Economy: An Interview with Dimitri B. Papadimitriou

    In the Media | August 2014
    By C. J. Polychroniou
    Truthout, August 27, 2014

    Is the Greek crisis nearly over as the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the Greek government like to proclaim because of the sharp decline in Greek bond yields, the attainment of a primary surplus and an increase in foreign tourism? If so, what about the 27.2 per cent of the population that remains unemployed and the widespread poverty across the nation, the ever growing public debt ratio and the dismal state of Greek exports? And what about the United States? Is America on the way to becoming Greece as many Republicans claimed a couple of years ago? Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, executive vice president and Jerome Levy professor of economics at Bard College, and president of the Levy Economics Institute at Bard, who foresees Greece emerging into a debt prison and a rather gloomy economic future for the United States, discusses these questions in an exclusive interview for Truthout with C. J. Polychroniou.

    Read the entire post here: 
    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/25796-greek-crisis-and-the-dark-clouds-over-the-american-economy-an-interview-with-dimitri-b-papadimitriou
  • Are EU Bankers Trying to Increase Unemployment in Greece?

    In the Media | August 2014
    By Dimitri B. Papadimitriou
    The Huffington Post, August 21, 2014

    Do European lenders want unemployment to keep rising in Greece?

    It looks that way. The commitment to economic austerity policies by the "troika"–the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund–hasn't wavered. Meanwhile, the country's unemployment rate has soared to yet another unexpected high. In a population of 9.3 million, 1.3 million are out of work....

    Read the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dimitri-b-papadimitriou/are-eu-bankers-trying-to-_b_5696270.html
    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Region(s):
    Europe
  • Will Tourism Save Greece?

    Strategic Analysis | August 2014
    What are the prospects for economic recovery if Greece continues to follow the troika strategy of fiscal austerity and internal devaluation, with the aim of increasing competitiveness and thus net exports? Our latest strategic analysis indicates that the unprecedented decline in real and nominal wages may take a long time to exert its effects on trade—if at all—while the impact of lower prices on tourism will not generate sufficient revenue from abroad to meet the targets for a surplus in the current account that outweighs fiscal austerity. The bottom line: a shift in the fiscal policy stance, toward lower taxation and job creation, is urgently needed. 

  • The Eurozone Crisis, Greece, and the Experience of Austerity

    Conference Proceedings | August 2014
    This conference was organized as part of the Levy Institute’s international research agenda and in conjunction with the Ford Foundation Project on Financial Instability, which draws on Hyman Minsky’s extensive work on the structure of financial systems to ensure stability, and the role of government in achieving a growing and equitable economy.
      Among the key topics addressed: the challenges to global growth and employment posed by the continuing eurozone debt crisis; the impact of austerity on output and employment; the ramifications of the credit crunch for economic and financial markets; the larger implications of government deficits and debt crises for US and European economic policies; and central bank independence and financial reform. 

  • Co-operative Banking in Greece

    A Proposal for Rural Reinvestment and Urban Entrepreneurship
    The crisis in Greece is persistent and ongoing. After six years of deepening recession, real GDP has shrunk by more than 25 percent, with total unemployment now standing at 27.2 percent. Clearly, reviving growth and creating jobs should be at the top of the policy agenda.

    But banks remain undercapitalized, and lending has been restricted to only the most creditworthy businesses and households. Many start-ups and small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) have almost no access to development loans, and for those to whom credit can be extended, it is at disproportionally high interest rates.

    The success of micro-lending institutions in developing nations (such as the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh) has highlighted the positive economic performance of community-based credit, and such lending models have proven to be an important poverty policy alternative in areas where transfer payments are limited. Community or co-operative financial institutions (CFIs) can fill the gap when existing institutions cannot adequately perform critical functions of the financial system for SMEs, entrepreneurs, and low-income residents seeking modest financing and other banking services.

    We propose expanding the reach and services of CFIs within Greece, drawing upon lessons from the US experience of community development banking and various co-operative banking models in Europe. The primary goals of this nationwide system would be to make credit available, process payments, and offer savings opportunities to communities not well served by the major commercial Greek banks.

    Our blueprint includes suggestions on the banks’ organization and a framework within which they would be chartered, regulated, and supervised by a newly created central co-operative bank. It also looks at the possible impact that such a network could have, especially in terms of start-ups, SMEs, and rural redevelopment (agrotourism)—all of which are critical to Greece’s exit from recession. 

  • When Good Intentions Pave the Road to Hell

    Working Paper No. 810 | June 2014
    Monetization Fears and Europe’s Narrowing Options

    With the creation of the Economic and Monetary Union and the euro, the national government debt of eurozone member-states became credit sensitive. While the potentially destabilizing impact of adverse cyclical conditions on credit-sensitive debt was seriously underestimated, the design was intentional, framed within a Friedman-Fischer-Buchanan view that “no monetization” rules provide a powerful means to discipline government behavior. While most countries follow some kind of “no monetization” rule, the one embraced by the eurozone was special, as it also prevented monetization on the secondary market for debt. This made all eurozone public debt defaultable—at least until the European Central Bank (ECB) announced the Outright Monetary Transactionsprogram, which can be seen as an enhanced rule-based approach that makes governments solvent on the condition that they balance their budgets. This has further narrowed Europe’s options for policy solutions that are conducive to job creation. An approach that would require no immediate changes in the European Union’s (EU) political structure would be for the EU to fund “net government spending in the interest of Europe” through the issue of a eurobond backed by the ECB.

  • A Sustainable Monetary Framework for an Independent Scotland

    Public Policy Brief No. 134 | June 2014

    This September, voters in Scotland will decide whether to break away from the United Kingdom. If supporters of independence carry the day, pivotal choices that affect the scope of Scotland’s economic sovereignty and its future relationship to the UK will need to be made, particularly with respect to the question of its currency. As the disaster in the eurozone makes clear, it is essential to get these arrangements right.

    In this policy brief, Philip Pilkington outlines a monetary framework designed to meet the macroeconomic challenges that would be faced by a newly separate Scotland. His conclusion: while it would be in Scotland’s best interests to continue using the sterling in the short run, making the transition to issuing its own, freely floating currency would place the country on a more stable economic footing.

  • Dead Economic Dogmas Trump Recovery: The Continuing Crisis in the Eurozone Periphery

    Public Policy Brief No. 133 | May 2014
    The “happy talk” emanating from eurozone officials regarding the economic crises in the periphery deserves some vigorous pushback. Focusing on the four bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, Research Associate and Policy Fellow C. J. Polychroniou argues in this policy brief that, contrary to the burgeoning optimism in official communications, these countries’ economies are still not on track for vigorous, sustainable recoveries in growth and employment—and that there is nothing surprising in this result. 

  • Levy Economics Institute President Dissects the Myth of the Greek "Success Story"

    In the Media | May 2014
    By C. J. Polychroniou
    Truthout, May 4, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

    When the global financial crisis of 2008 reached Europe's shores sometime in late 2009, Greece was the first victim of the euro system's failure. Facing persistently large deficits and very high public debt levels, the country ended up being shut out of the global bond markets, raising the prospect of a sovereign bankruptcy. In light of these developments, in May 2010, the Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to provide a 110 billion euro bailout loan to Greece in exchange for severe austerity measures and strict conditions. The "rescue" plan, as has been openly admitted by now, was designed not for the purpose of reviving Greece's ailing economy but to save Europe's banks. Thus, as many economists had anticipated, the bailout plan made things worse, spreading havoc with its "economics of social disaster." Less than two years later - and with the debt-to-GDP ratio having increased substantially - a second international bailout plan went into effect for the sum of 130 billion euros. All the money lent to Greece was being used to pay off debt obligations on time while the radical budget cuts and sharp tax hikes that were adopted were meant to readjust the nation's fiscal condition, with no regard for the economic and social costs which these policies entailed.

    Four years later, Greece looks like a badly battered boxer. Its economy has shrunk by 20%; the unemployment rate has reached stratospheric levels; poverty has become widespread; the debt-to-GDP ratio has increased dramatically and Greeks are leaving the country in record numbers. However, both EU and Greek government officials are claiming that the country is moving in the right direction, hailing its recent re-emergence in international credit markets as a sign the economy is recovering. Indeed, the government now talks of the Greek "success story," hoping that this narrative will tilt the electoral balance as Greece's main opposition Radical Left Coalition party (Syriza) is expected to win the European Parliamentary and local elections in May.

    For an analysis of the latest developments in Greece, C. J. Polychroniou (a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute and a columnist for the Greek nationally distributed newspaper, The Sunday Eleftherotypia) interviewed Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, president of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, executive vice president and Jerome Levy Chair Professor of Economics, for Truthout. An edited and shorter version of the interview appears simultaneously in Greek on the Sunday edition of Eleftherotypia).  

    C.J. Polychroniou for Truthout: After four years as the pariah of the financial markets, in the course of which 330 billion euros was granted/guaranteed in international bailouts in order to avoid an official bankruptcy, Greece has made a successful return to the international bond markets. Why did Greece return to the bond markets now when the country's debt-to-GDP ratio is much bigger than it was back in 2010?

    Dimitri B. Papadimitriou:
     The return to the bond markets was an act of pure symbolism. The government purposely made the success of the austerity program dependent on achieving a primary surplus as opposed to the return to growth in output and employment. Recall that the idea of expansionary austerity embraced by the country's international lenders was spectacularly discredited. Thus, the Troika (IMF, EU and European Central Bank ) and Greece's compliant government needed to invent a new metric of success, and it was associated with achieving a primary surplus as large as it could be so that financial markets can be impressed. However, no one else is impressed, especially the international lenders, for three main reasons: (1) The primary surplus was achieved by a one-off (non-recurring) excess revenue from the gains of Greek bonds in the portfolios of Eurozone's central banks and the European Central Bank's (ECB) holding that were returned to Greece; (2) collections of old tax revenue; and (3) non-recurring spending cuts and delayed payment of the government's debt to the private sector, whether VAT refunds or non-payments to private sector vendors.

    Finally, the return to the markets was costly to the country - the apparent low interest rate of 4.95% notwithstanding - since the interest rate of the funds borrowed from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is at a very much lower interest rate. To be sure, the hedge funds and the private sector [parties] buying the new bonds knew that there was an implicit guarantee from the ECB that would accept these bonds under its Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) program. So the bonds were not backed by the progress of the Greek economy - it would be ludicrous to assume so, for an economy in continuing recession and increasing debt to GDP ratio, especially if its credit rating is still below investment grade. So, all in all, it was an act of desperation and a strategy to give the government extra help in the soon-to-be-held local and European Parliament elections.

    The government has hailed the return to the financial markets as a sign that the crisis is over. Yet, the unemployment rate right now stands at 28%; the education and health care systems have been decimated; 1 out of 3 Greeks live below the poverty line and, according to some estimates, the debt could grow to 190% of GDP by the end of 2015. Do these numbers spell out an economic "success story" or a national tragedy?

    All these statistics point to the failure of the harsh program of fiscal consolidation, but if you are interested in presenting a portrait of success, you need to invent a condition that will persuade the non-critical mind that things are much better. No one likes Cassandras, even though they turn out to be quite accurate in the end. As has become clear by now, the Greek mass media industry has played an inappropriate role in persuading people that economic conditions are much better than they think, that the country has reached bottom and it is just about to turn the corner. How many times have we heard that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? But the tunnel is unfortunately very, very long and it will take either a decade or more for conditions to be turned around if present policy continues, with more erosion of living standards and very high structural unemployment, or a relatively quick improvement with an immediate reversal of policy. For this, the omens are very clear, but the political will is not. And one should not expect any change of policy to happen without a change in political leadership. Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt have a lot to lose with a change of the prevailing policy, and thus they must continue to enforce it despite the destroyed lives that it leaves behind as it moves forward. So we are seeing a tragedy which I am afraid will expand unless the European Parliamentary elections give a different message either with a significant showing of the extreme right or left parties. Marine Le Pen's impressive showing in the relatively recent local [French] elections speaks to my point. It would be ironic if voters, despite the catastrophic consequences they continue to endure, give the present European leadership another message of approval. It will be self-flagellation with a vengeance.

    The feeling one gets as a result of the implementation of austerity in the case of Greece and the other fiscallytroubled countries in the Eurozone is that this is not simply a fine-tuning policy. If that is indeed the case, what is then the ultimate strategy of austerity?

    In my view, the idea of austerity was not a policy of fine-tuning. To the contrary, it was a policy of radical change to allow markets to reign supreme with no government interference. This is a doctrine first put to test by the late US President Reagan and UK Prime Minister Thatcher. They both embraced the view that government is the problem to economic ills and not the solution. But the real world has taught us time and again that government at difficult times and downturns is the only solution. We saw it to be the case in the US, Germany, China, Japan and every other economy in trouble. Why Greece and the other fiscally troubled economies should become experiments of contrarian policy whose results were predicted is something that really boggles the mind. No one would dare apply the idea of austerity to the extent it has been applied to countries such as the US or even Germany and other countries of the industrial world irrespective of how high their debt-to-GDP ratios are. Why aren't we forcing Germany and France with their mighty GDP machines to have high public surpluses so they can decrease their debt to GDP ratios to the 69% limit as required by the Maastricht Treaty? After all, Germany is a growing economy. So it is clear that member states in the Eurozone are not equal. When Germany was the sick man in Europe, it was acceptable for the government to follow the Keynesian prescription, but now that its status has changed to that of hegemon, the laissez-faire paradigm returned in vogue. There will always be many thoughtless leaders, but sooner rather than later people take steps to remove them from positions of strength and power.

    The advocates of austerity claim that this policy will improve the external fundamentals of fiscally troubled countries in the Eurozone. Has this happened in the case of Greece?

    People who are not knowledgeable about structure of economies on which they impose policies should never be surprised with contrarian results. The Greek economy cannot be improved just because policy makers impose policies that supposedly restructure labor markets - read here, suppression of wages and eliminating labor rights and standards - if import and export elasticities are different than those assumed in the policy implementation. The sum of import and export elasticities in Greece is barely above one, which makes a substantial increase in net exports the goal of a wild imagination, at least in a relevant time frame. No wonder Greece's net exports have failed to offset the public spending cuts, and thus not contributed to the growth of GDP. And those increases are primarily from oil-related products that are volatile in concert with oil price volatility. To be sure, tourism is important, but despite last year's "huge" increase in foreign tourist arrivals to Greece, net employment continued to plummet. The external fundamentals are not dependent on labor reforms, but on large investment, public partnership with the private sector, which will not be forthcoming any time soon. It won't happen with the privatization of the old Athens airport or with other similar "privatization" schemes.

    Radical structural reforms, which include labor and product markets and blanket privatizations, constitute the second component of the conditions behind Greece's bailout plans. First, is there in economic literature a direct connection between labor market flexibility, productivity growth and national economic performance?

    The economic literature, as economists know, can produce conflicting results. It will not be surprising to find cases when statistics will prove that there is a positive outcome in terms of increasing productivity with flexible labor conditions, but this is always dependent on the level of technology diffusion. To be sure, German workers have the highest productivity in Europe along with those in the Netherlands, but it is not because they are paid less than other Eurozone workers but because of the high level of effective technology used. So they are about 70% more productive as compared to Greeks, Portuguese or Spaniards despite the fact that the latter work substantially many more hours during the week. Clearly, Germany's and other North European economies enjoy better economic performance, but this is not due to so-called labor flexibility only. Germany is successful because it is lucky, having an extraordinary number of idle and low-wage workers from East Germany when the unification took place. Unification gave Germany the ability to hold West German wages down. But this should not be used as an example of a successful application of a labor flexibility policy. The literature also abounds in studies showing that labor productivity is not dependent on labor flexibility. Indeed, the theory and policy of "efficiency" wages, promoted by none other than Nobel Laureate George Akerlof and current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, is part of the economic research which shows there are productivity gains and other positive outcomes to firms which pay higher than market wages. All in all, then, the argument of flexible wages does not, I am afraid, hold water.

    The international experience with privatizing electricity, gas, water, sanitation, and public health services indicates that there are anti-social effects behind privatization. So why are Greek governments so eager to privatize virtually everything in Greece?

    As has been shown in certain cases, the public sector can be inefficient, but this is not tantamount to the private sector being efficient either. There are key industries that must be in the public domain because their goods or services are considered public goods. In many advanced countries, such as in the US, the goods and services mentioned are mostly in the private sector's hands, but it does not mean that they are efficient or price competitive. To the contrary, whenever a service was privatized or became unregulated, it never gave the desired effects in being price competitive. For countries like Greece marked with high income distribution inequality, some of the services (such as health services, for example) must be the business of the public sector. Other services can be privatized, but they must be highly regulated. The privatization process in Greece is a fire sale of public property just because the international lenders have imposed it. If profitable, and in the public interest, then some of these services can be privatized, but should continue to be regulated. In the US, however, no one would dream of privatizing the national lotteries; they are the most profitable and high revenue sources of government revenue, yet in Greece it was the first public company to go on sale. There is no general rule that these services should be privatized. They need to be run efficiently either under the aegis of the government or the private sector - absent the corruption, nepotism or other ills of the up-to-now Greek clientist political system. The absence of transparency should not be the reason for privatizing them.

    You have argued in a number of publications in the recent past that what Greece needs is a European type of a Marshall Plan. Doesn't this suggestion run counter to existing political structures and economic realities in Europe?

    I am pleasantly surprised to read of late that even the government speaks of a European Marshall-type plan of aid to Greece. The existing political structure in Europe may be seeing such an aid program as anathema, but I believe it recognizes that if the European project is to be kept intact, it must begin to think along those lines. An economic and monetary union requires various types of support from the economically strong to the weak. This will eventually take place willingly or not, and the evidence shows that it not to the benefit of the weak only - but more so to the strong. The announcement of the creation of a Greek Investment Fund with the support of Germany's KfW is a step in the right direction even though the details of the plan are rather sketchy. Thus, even though I have been labeled by many the Cassandra of Greece, I want to be optimistic that such aid may not be that farfetched.

    The European Union and the International Monetary Fund have disagreed all along about the sustainability of the Greek debt load. Who is right, if any?

    There is no question in anyone's mind that the debt load is unsustainable. It was known from early on that a debt restructuring will be needed. The haircut that took place was ill-conceived and hurt the country more than it helped since it decimated the balance sheets of Greek and Cypriot banks along with public pension trust funds and middle-class Greek citizens. It occurred much too late after the German, French and Italian banks unloaded their Greek holdings to their counterparts in Greece and Cyprus. When it happened, it was a thoughtless decision despite the government celebrating it as a major accomplishment. I haven't agreed on anything with former ECB Vice President Papademos' views about the Greek economy except with his opposition to such a haircut when it happened. All in all, the IMF is, of course, correct - but Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt are trapped, having convinced every European citizen that Greece's debt load is sustainable. The government will celebrate a new accomplishment after the European elections when the debt will be restructured by extending its maturity to perhaps 50 years and lowering the interest rate. This is in economic terms a present-value "haircut," but not a debt-load reduction. It is the proverbial kicking the can further down the road, which will subject the country to continued vigilance and restrict its sovereignty over its fiscal policy stance.

    Syriza represents itself as a viable alternative to the current economic, social and political malaise in Greece by claiming that, when it comes to power, it will put an end to austerity and will force the European Union to rethink its policies towards Greece. However, while a good percentage of Greek voters have shifted to the left, many others seem to believe that Syriza's political rhetoric rests either on naive thinking or plain opportunism. What are your own thoughts on this matter?

    I believe Syriza is the only viable alternative that Greece has at the present time if a change in policy direction is to be achieved. Its mandate to change policy would be very difficult indeed. But it can be done, although not free of risks. But risks are endemic in any policy prescription that would be implemented, and I believe the current policy being followed entails higher risks for the economic future of Greece. What I fear more is the disappearance of what used to be a middle class, let alone the immiseration of low-income, low-skilled workers. What these groups need right now is a lifeline - which, unfortunately, is not in the cards. Given the additional financing that will be needed in 2014 and 2015, more austerity will be needed which will affect even further the country's living standards, a process which will have even further adverse effects for the middle class and the low-income and low-skilled segments of the population. With conditions worsening, even more people are expected to question the prevailing policy. And if there is one political force which can offer a viable alternative to the current nightmare, it is none other than Syriza. Yes, perhaps there is an element of political naivete characterizing Syriza, but there is seriousness of purpose and the work of the gifted in its midst is very refreshing and encouraging. To be sure, political analysts talk about the importance of the incumbent candidates and this would be a very difficult problem to overcome. I want to believe, however, that despite the internal squabbling which frequently occurs among the different groups inside Syriza, the party will, at the end, prevail. At least I hope so. To those who oppose them, I can only respond by saying be careful what you wish for.

    If the economic "success story" of Greece turns out in the end to be nothing more than a politically constructed myth, and the prospects of the European integration project remain what they are today, why shouldn't Greeks opt to leave the euro?

    There is plenty of evidence that the success story is a politically constructed myth with the acquiescence of the European leadership. The question about the country remaining in the euro club is interesting and very important. I believe that Greece cannot leave the euro since the costs associated with an exit are very consequential. As I have written elsewhere, Greece has a number of options that it can follow, if the European leadership continues with its intransigence and continuing policy of the dangerous idea of austerity. If all other options fail, the introduction of a carefully designed parallel financial system is a very viable alternative in order to get a handle on both domestic financial market liquidity and employment growth and output. This is not a novel idea. The Greek government used a similar program in 2010, although very haphazardly conceived, but it was introduced nevertheless. It is not a crackpot idea and has been embraced by both conservative and liberal thinkers. This will address some of the most serious challenges the Greek economy and society face without endangering the country's membership in the euro. So, there are other alternatives available before the unthinkable becomes the only option.
  • BCE: Constancio, faremo qualcosa perche' inflazione troppo bassa

    In the Media | April 2014
    Class Editori, April 11, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

    MILANO (MF-DJ)--La Banca centrale europea e' pronta a intervenire per affrontare il problema della bassa inflazione che continua a rimanere sotto il target ufficiale della Bce. Lo ha dichiarato il vice presidente della Bce Vitor Constancio, aggiungendo che i policy maker stanno ancora cercando di capire quali misure devono prendere e confermando che l'acquisto di titoli e' una possibilita'. "Faremo qualcosa perche' l'inflazione e' troppo bassa, e anche considerando solo il compito principale sulla stabilita' dei prezzi, noi chiaramente, nel medio termine, non stiamo raggiungendo il nostro target di inflazione del 2%. Quindi dobbiamo affrontare seriamente il nostro compito", ha detto Constancio in una conferenza a Washington sponsorizzata dal Levy Economics Institute. Il vice presidente ha sottolineato che neanche se il sistema bancario europeo ritornasse in piena salute si potrebbe garantire una ripresa della crescita economica. La Banca centrale ha posto grande enfasi sulla valutazione dei bilanci degli istituti europei prima di diventare supervisore unico alla fine dell'anno. Si spera che l'esercizio costringera' le banche a ripulire i bilanci e a raccogliere capitali, con l'obiettivo di renderli piu' forti in modo da concedere maggiori prestiti all'economia reale. Ma secondo Constancio questo modo di agire e' troppo semplicistico. "I bilanci delle banche sono gia' stati largamente riparati". Inoltre, ha aggiunto il membro della Bce, non e' assolutamente chiaro che "la finanza sia una condizione sufficiente per far ripartire la crescita europea". L'Eurozona deve affrontare numerosi problemi che "potenzialmente sono molto piu' seri dei danni inflitti dalla crisi finanziaria e la conseguente crisi del settore bancario". Questi problemi sono anche molto piu' difficili da affrontare", ha concluso il vice presidente. 
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  • Economic Policy in India

    Working Paper No. 813 | August 2014
    For Economic Stimulus, or for Austerity and Volatility?

    The implementation of economic reforms under new economic policies in India was associated with a paradigmatic shift in monetary and fiscal policy. While monetary policies were solely aimed at “price stability” in the neoliberal regime, fiscal policies were characterized by the objective of maintaining “sound finance” and “austerity.” Such monetarist principles and measures have also loomed over the global recession. This paper highlights the theoretical fallacies of monetarism and analyzes the consequences of such policy measures in India, particularly during the period of the global recession. Not only did such policies pose constraints on the recovery of output and employment, with adverse impacts on income distribution; but they also failed to achieve their stated goal in terms of price stability. By citing examples from southern Europe and India, this paper concludes that such monetarist policy measures have been responsible for stagnation, with a rise in price volatility and macroeconomic instability in the midst of the global recession.

  • China: The Bad Way and the Good Way to Burst Asset Bubbles

    In the Media | April 2014
    By Panos Mourdoukoutas

    Forbes, April 14, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

    For years, China has been enjoying robust economic growth that has turned it into the world’s second largest economy.

    The problem is, however, that China’s growth is in part driven by over investment in construction and manufacturing sectors, fueling asset bubbles that parallel those of Japan in the late 1980s. With one major difference: China’s overinvestment is directed by the systematic efforts of local governments to preserve the old system of central planning, through massive construction and manufacturing projects for the purpose of employment creation rather than for addressing genuine consumer needs.

    Major Chinese cities are filled with growing numbers of new vacant buildings. They were built under government mandates to provide jobs for the hundreds of thousands of people leaving the countryside for a better life in the cities, rather than to house genuine business tenants.

    China’s real estate bubble is proliferating like an infectious disease from the eastern cities to the inner country. It has spread beyond real estate to other sectors of the economy, from the steel industry to electronics and toys industries.  Local governments rush and race to replicate each other’s policies, especially local governments of the inner regions, where corporate managers have no direct access to overseas markets, and end up copying the policies of their peers in the coastal areas.

    We all know how the Japanese bubble ended. What should Chinese policy makers do? How can they burst their bubble?

    There is  a bad way and a good way, according to L. Randall Wray and Xinhua Liu, writing in "Options for China in a Dollar Standard World: A Sovereign Currency Approach.” (Levy Economics Institute, Working Paper No 783, January 2014).

    The bad way is to pursue European-style austerity, which reins in central government deficits.

    We all know what that means–the Chinese economy is almost certain to be placed in a downward spiral that will jeopardize employment growth. Besides, as the authors observe, China’s fiscal imbalances aren’t with central government, but with local governments. In fact, China’s main imbalance “appears to be a result of loose local government budgets and overly tight central government budgets.”

    That’s why the authors propose fiscal restructuring rather than austerity. Rein in local government spending, and expand central government spending.

    That’s the good way to burst the bubble. But is it politically feasible? Can Beijing reign over local governments?

    That remains to be seen. 

  • Options for China in a Dollar Standard World

    Working Paper No. 783 | January 2014
    A Sovereign Currency Approach
    This paper examines the fiscal and monetary policy options available to China as a sovereign currency-issuing nation operating in a dollar standard world. We first summarize a number of issues facing China, including the possibility of slower growth, global imbalances, and a number of domestic imbalances. We then analyze current monetary and fiscal policy formation and examine some policy recommendations that have been advanced to deal with current areas of concern. We next outline the sovereign currency approach and use it to analyze those concerns. We conclude with policy recommendations consistent with the policy space open to China.

  • Policy Options for China

    One-Pager No. 44 | December 2013
    Reorienting Fiscal Policy to Reduce Financial Fragility
    Since adopting a policy of gradually opening its economy more than three decades ago, China has enjoyed rapid economic growth and rising living standards for much of its population. While some argue that China might fall into the middle-income “trap,” they are underestimating the country’s ability to continue to grow at a rapid pace. It is likely that China’s growth will eventually slow, but the nation will continue on its path to join the developed high-income group—so long as the central government recognizes and uses the policy space available to it. 

  • Managing Global Financial Flows at the Cost of National Autonomy

    Working Paper No. 714 | April 2012
    China and India

    The narrative as well as the analysis of global imbalances in the existing literature are incomplete without the part of the story that relates to the surge in capital flows experienced by the emerging economies. Such analysis disregards the implications of capital flows on their domestic economies, especially in terms of the “impossibility” of following a monetary policy that benefits domestic growth. It also fails to recognize the significance of uncertainty and changes in expectation as factors in the (precautionary) buildup of large official reserves. The consequences are many, and affect the fabric of growth and distribution in these economies. The recent experiences of China and India, with their deregulated financial sectors, bear this out.

    Financial integration and free capital mobility, which are supposed to generate growth with stability (according to the “efficient markets” hypothesis), have not only failed to achieve their promises (especially in the advanced economies) but also forced the high-growth developing economies like India and China into a state of compliance, where domestic goals of stability and development are sacrificed in order to attain the globally sanctioned norm of free capital flows.

    With the global financial crisis and the specter of recession haunting most advanced economies, the high-growth economies in Asia have drawn much less attention than they deserve. This oversight leaves the analysis incomplete, not only by missing an important link in the prevailing network of global trade and finance, but also by ignoring the structural changes in these developing economies—many of which are related to the pattern of financialization and turbulence in the advanced economies.

  • The Rise and Fall of Export-led Growth

    Working Paper No. 675 | July 2011

    This paper traces the rise of export-led growth as a development paradigm and argues that it is exhausted owing to changed conditions in emerging market (EM) and developed economies. The global economy needs a recalibration that facilitates a new paradigm of domestic demand-led growth. Globalization has so diversified global economic activity that no country or region can act as the lone locomotive of global growth. Political reasoning suggests that EM countries are not likely to abandon export-led growth, nor will the international community implement the international arrangements needed for successful domestic demand-led growth. Consequently, the global economy likely faces asymmetric stagnation.

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    Author(s):
    Thomas I. Palley
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    Region(s):
    United States, Latin America, Asia

  • China in the Global Economy

    Working Paper No. 642 | December 2010

    China occupies a unique position among developing countries. Its success in achieving relative stability in the financial sector since the institution of reforms in 1979 has given way to relative instability since the beginning of the current global financial crisis. Over the last few years, China has been on a path of capital account opening that has drawn larger inflows of capital from abroad, both foreign-direct and portfolio investment. Of late, a surge in these inflows has introduced problems for the monetary authorities in continuing with an autonomous monetary policy in China, especially with large additions to official reserves, the latter in a bid to avoid further appreciation of the country’s domestic currency. Like other developing countries, China today faces the “impossible trilemma” of managing the exchange rate with near-complete capital mobility and an autonomous monetary policy. Facing problems in devising and sustaining this policy, China has been using expansionary fiscal policy to tackle the impact of shrinking export demand. The recent drive on the part of Chinese authorities to boost real demand in the countryside and to revamp the domestic market shows a promise far different from that of the financial rescue packages in many advanced nations.

    The close integration of China with the world economy over the last two decades has raised concerns from different quarters that relate both to (1) the possible effects of the recent global downturn on China and (2) the second-round effects of a downturn in China for the rest of world.

     

  • Asia and the Global Crisis

    Working Paper No. 619 | September 2010
    Recovery Prospects and the Future

    The global crisis of 2007–09 affected developing Asia largely through a decline in exports to the developed countries and a slowdown in remittances. This happened very quickly, and by 2009 there were already signs of recovery (except on the employment front). This recovery was led by China’s impressive performance, aided by a large stimulus package and easy credit. But China needs to make efforts toward rebalancing its economy. Although private consumption has increased at a fast pace during the last decades, investment has done so at an even faster pace, with the consequence that the share of consumption in total output is very low. The risk is that the country may fall into an underconsumption crisis.

    Looking at the medium and long term, developing Asia’s future is mixed. There is one group of countries with a highly diversified export basket. These countries have an excellent opportunity to thrive if the right policies are implemented. However, there is another group of countries that relies heavily on natural resources. These countries face a serious challenge, since they must diversify.

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    Asia

  • How to Sustain the Chinese Economic Miracle?

    Working Paper No. 617 | September 2010
    The Risk of Unraveling the Global Rebalancing

    This paper investigates China’s role in creating global imbalances, and the related call for a massive renminbi revaluation as a (supposed) panacea to forestall their reemergence as the world economy recovers from severe crisis. We reject the prominence widely attributed to China as a cause of global imbalances and the exclusive focus on the renminbi-dollar exchange rate as misguided. And we emphasize that China's response to the global crisis has been exemplary. Apart from acting as a growth leader in the global recovery by boosting domestic demand to offset the slump in exports, China has in the process successfully completed the first stage in rebalancing its economy, which is in stark contrast to other leading trading nations that have simply resumed previous policy patterns. The second stage in China’s rebalancing will consist of further strengthening private consumption. We argue that this will be best supported by continued reliance on renminbi stability and capital account management, so as to assure that macroeconomic policies can be framed in line with domestic development requirements.

  • Why China Has Succeeded—and Why It Will Continue to Do So

    Working Paper No. 611 | August 2010
    The key factor underlying China’s fast development during the last 50 years is its ability to master and accumulate new and more complex capabilities, reflected in the increase in diversification and sophistication of its export basket. This accumulation was policy induced and not the result of the market, and began before 1979. Despite its many policy mistakes, if China had not proceeded this way, in all likelihood it would be a much poorer country today. During the last 50 years, China has acquired revealed comparative advantage in the export of both labor-intensive products (following its factor abundance) and sophisticated products, although the latter does not indicate that there was leapfrogging. Analysis of China’s current export opportunity set indicates that it is exceptionally well positioned (especially taking into account its income per capita) to continue learning and gaining revealed comparative advantage in the export of more sophisticated products. Given adequate policies, carefully thought-out and implemented reforms, and skillful management of constraints and risks, China has the potential to continue thriving. This does not mean, however, that high growth will continue indefinitely.
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    Author(s):
    Jesus Felipe Utsav Kumar Norio Usui Arnelyn Abdon
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    Asia

Latin America

  • COLOMBIA: 'Ingreso de Colombia a la Ocde es un gran error': Jan Kregel

    In the Media | August 2014
    Etorno Inteligente, August 22, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

    Portafolio
     / Colombia comete un gran error en perseguir el objetivo de entrar a la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económicos (Ocde), porque eso debe ser para países con un grado similar de desarrollo, dice el economista Jan Kregel, investigador del Levy Economics Institute of Board College de Estados Unidos.

    El experto, relator de la Comisión de la ONU sobre la reforma al sistema financiero internacional, participa en la Décima Semana Económica de la Universidad Central.

    Colombia ha basado su crecimiento en productos básicos. ¿Cómo mantener esa tendencia a largo plazo? 

    Lo que se puede predecir para una economía como la colombiana es una crisis externa sustantiva porque, si se mira el déficit externo, algo así como el 50 por ciento de las exportaciones de Colombia provienen del petróleo. Si hay una disminución de los precios, el primer impacto es empeorar el déficit externo y reducir los flujos financieros y habrá una presión fuerte sobre la tasa de cambio y la posición de los exportadores empeorará.

    ¿Qué debe el país hacer para reactivar la industria? 

    Hay un impacto de la enfermedad holandesa. Las exportaciones de materias primas han tenido una elevación de precios y han apreciado la tasa de cambio. Por eso, otras exportaciones son menos competitivas. Otro factor es la redistribución de las manufacturas globalmente. Si uno mira el impacto de las importaciones en la economía colombiana, hay un gran incremento de las compras a Asia.

    ¿Colombia tiene enfermedad holandesa? 

    Absolutamente sí. La enfermedad holandesa se puede clasificar de dos maneras: una es simplemente el impacto de los productos básicos, creando una mejora en los términos de comercio y un aumento de los ingresos del país. Pero el impacto de la tasa de cambio en la competitividad acaba con un incremento de los ingresos nacionales y al mismo tiempo se abaratan los bienes importados.

    El peligro real de la enfermedad holandesa no está solamente en la tasa de cambio, sino que se ve en la distribución del consumo de productos nacionales a importados.

    Una mejora en los precios de las materias primas es lo mismo que un incremento en los ingresos nacionales pero, al mismo tiempo, esto causa una apreciación en la tasa de cambio y el ingreso doméstico incrementado se va a gastar en bienes más baratos y estos son los importados. Entonces es un factor doble.

    ¿Es sano para Colombia ingresar a la Ocde? 

    Es un gran error. México y Corea cometieron el mismo error y ambos sufrieron crisis financieras sustantivas como resultado de esto. Si nos remontamos a las viejas teorías de los economistas estructuralistas, se alegó que una de las condiciones básicas para ingresar a cualquier tipo de acuerdo de esta naturaleza es que hubiese un nivel similar de desarrollo, de productividad y de competitividad.

    Colombia va a entrar a la Ocde sin preocuparnos por competir con Estados Unidos, y estamos hablando de competir con México. La pregunta es si Colombia va a ser capaz de competir en los mercados internacionales con otros países en desarrollo que ya están en la Ocde y no parece prometedor. ¿Por qué se quiere entrar a la Ocde? Es básicamente para darles confianza a los inversionistas extranjeros para que inviertan en Colombia, pero esto implica empoderar más la enfermedad holandesa.

    Pero Colombia es hoy uno de los países de Latinoamérica que más crece. 

    Es un crecimiento que desilusiona. No se puede mirar crecimiento sin empleo. Si se va a desarrollar la economía no importa qué tan alta sea la tasa de inversión ni qué tan alto sea el crecimiento si no se genera empleo. Si no se reduce el sector informal no se está generando desarrollo.

    Pero el desempleo ha bajado… 

    Ha bajado, pero no es mucho y sigue siendo sumamente alto. Hay un problema de desempleo disfrazado que debe ser de 40 por ciento. La pregunta es ¿Por qué? La explicación proviene de la enfermedad holandesa y del impacto sobre el sector de manufacturas.

    ¿HAY QUE REGULAR MERCADOS? 

    La dificultad es que nunca habrá una regulación que dé estabilidad a los mercados financieros en el mundo, porque estos siempre van adelante de los reguladores.

    La reglamentación está para reducir la rentabilidad de los bancos y estos existen solo si pueden tener utilidades sustanciales en su negocio.

    Fernando González P. Subeditor Economía y Negocios 

    −−> Colombia comete un gran error en perseguir el objetivo de entrar a la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económicos (Ocde), porque eso debe ser para países con un grado similar de desarrollo, dice el economista Jan Kregel, investigador del Levy Economics Institute of Board College de Estados Unidos.

    El experto, relator de la Comisión de la ONU sobre la reforma al sistema financiero internacional, participa en la Décima Semana Económica de la Universidad Central.

    Colombia ha basado su crecimiento en productos básicos. ¿Cómo mantener esa tendencia a largo plazo? 

    Lo que se puede predecir para una economía como la colombiana es una crisis externa sustantiva porque, si se mira el déficit externo, algo así como el 50 por ciento de las exportaciones de Colombia provienen del petróleo. Si hay una disminución de los precios, el primer impacto es empeorar el déficit externo y reducir los flujos financieros y habrá una presión fuerte sobre la tasa de cambio y la posición de los exportadores empeorará.

    ¿Qué debe el país hacer para reactivar la industria? 

    Hay un impacto de la enfermedad holandesa. Las exportaciones de materias primas han tenido una elevación de precios y han apreciado la tasa de cambio. Por eso, otras exportaciones son menos competitivas. Otro factor es la redistribución de las manufacturas globalmente. Si uno mira el impacto de las importaciones en la economía colombiana, hay un gran incremento de las compras a Asia.

    ¿Colombia tiene enfermedad holandesa? 

    Absolutamente sí. La enfermedad holandesa se puede clasificar de dos maneras: una es simplemente el impacto de los productos básicos, creando una mejora en los términos de comercio y un aumento de los ingresos del país. Pero el impacto de la tasa de cambio en la competitividad acaba con un incremento de los ingresos nacionales y al mismo tiempo se abaratan los bienes importados.

    El peligro real de la enfermedad holandesa no está solamente en la tasa de cambio, sino que se ve en la distribución del consumo de productos nacionales a importados.

    Una mejora en los precios de las materias primas es lo mismo que un incremento en los ingresos nacionales pero, al mismo tiempo, esto causa una apreciación en la tasa de cambio y el ingreso doméstico incrementado se va a gastar en bienes más baratos y estos son los importados. Entonces es un factor doble.

    ¿Es sano para Colombia ingresar a la Ocde? 

    Es un gran error. México y Corea cometieron el mismo error y ambos sufrieron crisis financieras sustantivas como resultado de esto. Si nos remontamos a las viejas teorías de los economistas estructuralistas, se alegó que una de las condiciones básicas para ingresar a cualquier tipo de acuerdo de esta naturaleza es que hubiese un nivel similar de desarrollo, de productividad y de competitividad.

    Colombia va a entrar a la Ocde sin preocuparnos por competir con Estados Unidos, y estamos hablando de competir con México. La pregunta es si Colombia va a ser capaz de competir en los mercados internacionales con otros países en desarrollo que ya están en la Ocde y no parece prometedor. ¿Por qué se quiere entrar a la Ocde? Es básicamente para darles confianza a los inversionistas extranjeros para que inviertan en Colombia, pero esto implica empoderar más la enfermedad holandesa.

    Pero Colombia es hoy uno de los países de Latinoamérica que más crece. 

    Es un crecimiento que desilusiona. No se puede mirar crecimiento sin empleo. Si se va a desarrollar la economía no importa qué tan alta sea la tasa de inversión ni qué tan alto sea el crecimiento si no se genera empleo. Si no se reduce el sector informal no se está generando desarrollo.

    Pero el desempleo ha bajado… 

    Ha bajado, pero no es mucho y sigue siendo sumamente alto. Hay un problema de desempleo disfrazado que debe ser de 40 por ciento. La pregunta es ¿Por qué? La explicación proviene de la enfermedad holandesa y del impacto sobre el sector de manufacturas.

    ¿HAY QUE REGULAR MERCADOS? 

    La dificultad es que nunca habrá una regulación que dé estabilidad a los mercados financieros en el mundo, porque estos siempre van adelante de los reguladores.

    La reglamentación está para reducir la rentabilidad de los bancos y estos existen solo si pueden tener utilidades sustanciales en su negocio.
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  • Antídoto

    In the Media | April 2014
    Por Alfredo Zaiat
    Fracasos Múltiples Internacionales está regresando al escenario político y económico argentino. La moción de censura y la amenaza de iniciar el camino de la expulsión del país de esa institución por la calidad de las estadísticas públicas colocó al Gobierno en una situación incómoda. La opción era romper con ese organismo internacional, convirtiéndose en el único país del mundo en quedar fuera de esa entidad multilateral, lo que hubiera derivado en la marginación del G-20, en la clausura al acceso de créditos del Banco Mundial, el BID y del mercado, y en deteriorar la reputación internacional frente a otros países, o negociar el espacio de intervención de sus técnicos. Esta última fue la elección del gobierno de CFK. Implicó una primera evaluación silenciosa del FMI sobre el sistema financiero local el año pasado y luego la cooperación técnica para la elaboración del nuevo índice de precios al consumidor y la actualización del indicador PBI. La evaluación general de la economía (el conocido artículo IV del convenio constitutivo del Fondo, en cuya sección 3 establece “la supervisión de las políticas de tipo de cambio de los países miembros”) es la única cuestión de tensión en la relación Argentina-FMI.

    Aceptar la revisión anual es una decisión política, de carácter simbólico, más que económico. En Washington, en el marco de la Asamblea Anual conjunta del FMI-BM Axel Kicillof le reiteró a David Lipton, subdirector gerente del Fondo Monetario Internacional, que el país no analiza volver a aceptar las auditorías anuales. Argentina no registra deuda con el FMI después de que el 5 de enero de 2006 cancelara el total por 9530 millones de dólares, y no está negociando ni requiere de un crédito del organismo atado a condicionalidades en la política económica. Instrumenta una estrategia heterodoxa que no es simpática al staff del Fondo, como quedó expresado en el último Perspectivas Económicas Mundiales. Estos técnicos consideran a la Argentina como un mal ejemplo por su política económica de crecimiento, inclusión social y autonomía del mercado de capitales. También es resistida por la persistente crítica a las recetas ortodoxas realizada por CFK en foros internacionales.

    Después de ocho años de esa tensa relación, para las autoridades del Fondo les resulta satisfactorio retomar el vínculo con el país, como lo dijo su director gerente, Christine Lagarde, para mostrar que todas las ovejas están en el rebaño. Mientras, para el Gobierno le resulta necesario para despejar el frente externo en un contexto de escasez de divisas, y para facilitar la negociación del default de doce años con el Club de París. Incluso sin revisión anual de la economía es una reconciliación por conveniencia mutua.

    El entusiasmo que manifiestan analistas y economistas del establishment por cada comentario de funcionarios del Fondo o del Banco Mundial, excitación exacerbada si incluye algún componente crítico, es una particularidad argentina. En general las observaciones del Fondo no son tomadas con seriedad, puesto que ya ha habido suficiente experiencia global para comprobar el fracaso de sus recomendaciones. En los hechos, el FMI es esencialmente un actor político para condicionar políticas económicas en función de garantizar el pago de la deuda a los acreedores, además de preservar los intereses económicos de las potencias (Estados Unidos y Europa).

    Sobre ese rol del Fondo, la ex presidenta del Banco Central, Mercedes Marcó del Pont, señaló que “frente a los datos que muestran una desaceleración en las economías de la región el FMI, una vez más con serios problemas de diagnóstico, recomienda medidas que profundizarían los problemas. El desafío para América latina es utilizar el espacio de política ganado en estos años para sostener los niveles de actividad y empleo, con políticas anticíclicas, fundamentalmente en el terreno fiscal, para sostener la demanda interna”. Lo afirmó el miércoles pasado en la Minsky Conference, en Washington, siendo la primera vez que habló en público desde que dejó el cargo, ratificando que es diferente a otros ex funcionarios que cuando dejaron el gobierno se dedicaron a castigar a la Argentina en foros internacionales. Marcó Del Pont destacó la solvencia de la economía argentina en el 23rd Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference on the State of the US and World Economics, organizado por el Levy Economics Institute. Participó del panel Financial re-regulation to support growth and employment (re-regulación financiera para impulsar el crecimiento y el empleo). Los principales conceptos de Marcó del Pont sobre la situación económica de América latina y, en particular, de Argentina, fueron los siguientes:

    - No puede ignorarse que los dos factores clave que han promovido a nivel agregado el crecimiento de la región, el denominado viento de cola (precios de los commodities y flujos de capital) han acentuado, salvo casos excepcionales como el de Argentina, la primarización de sus estructuras productivas.

    - América latina deberá lidiar con estos fenómenos en un contexto internacional que se presenta menos benévolo para nuestras naciones ya que ni las condiciones de liquidez internacional ni los términos del intercambio se proyectan tan favorables como hasta ahora.

    - El desafío pasa entonces por delinear estrategias anticíclicas que al mismo tiempo que busquen sostener los niveles de actividad y empleo, actúen también en la transformación de sus estructuras productivas, alentando la diversificación e industrialización. Para ello deben maximizar el uso del espacio de política ganado durante la década.

    - La región tiene márgenes de maniobra para encarar ese desafío. En gran medida ello quedó de manifiesto durante lo peor de la crisis de 2008-2009. Disponen, por un lado, de mercados internos dinámicos que han constituido la base de sustentación del crecimiento durante los últimos años. Y a diferencia de lo ocurrido en las décadas del ’80 y ’90 América latina no atraviesa en general por situaciones de fragilidad financiera o elevada exposición en materia de endeudamiento externo. Ambos rasgos son particularmente ciertos en el caso de Argentina.

    - Ahora bien, esta descripción no supone ignorar que en la gran mayoría de los países de la región (ciertamente no en Argentina) persiste un elevado grado de integración con los mercados financieros internacionales, lo cual potencia su exposición a los ciclos de liquidez internacional. Recordemos que la cuenta capital y financiera de América latina registra el más elevado grado de apertura de todas las economías del mundo en desarrollo.

    - El diagnóstico predominante y las recomendaciones subsecuentes que surgen del main stream no toman en cuenta estos fenómenos estructurales, complejos, que caracterizan a nuestras economías. Persiste, en cambio, una unilateral preocupación por la ausencia de “reformas estructurales” (léase mayor flexibilización del mercado de trabajo) o por la presencia de la “dominancia fiscal” (léase ajuste fiscal) como uno de los principales fenómenos explicativos de inestabilidad macroeconómica y de crisis. Se soslaya en el debate la importancia de la “dominancia de la balanza de pagos” como factor que históricamente ha truncado los procesos de desarrollo de América latina.

    - Abordar las condiciones de la re-regulación financiera para el crecimiento y el empleo requiere incorporar a la regulación de los flujos de capital dentro del instrumental permanente de política económica de los países en desarrollo. Y los bancos centrales deberían jugar un rol activo en ese terreno.

    - Esa regulación de la cuenta capital incluyó, a partir de 2011, restricciones a la compra de moneda extranjera para fines de ahorro por parte de los argentinos, la cual se había constituido en una fuente desestabilizadora del mercado de cambios y en canal de fuga del excedente económico por fuera del circuito de inversión y consumo. En efecto, el elevado bimonetarismo que todavía caracteriza a nuestra economía es un condicionante no menor para la administración del mercado de cambios.

    - Ahora bien, ¿cómo se ubica Argentina frente al ya mencionado escenario internacional menos favorable? Sin duda alguna el haber regulado el ingreso de capitales de portafolio nos torna menos vulnerables a los cambios que se presentan en el ciclo de liquidez, no sólo en términos de volúmenes sino, en un futuro no tan lejano, de tasas de interés. Frente a la aparición en los últimos años de un ligero desequilibrio externo el desafío de la política económica es garantizar las fuentes de recursos externos que nos permitan sostener los niveles de actividad y empleo, y en paralelo abordar los déficit sectoriales que impactan en las cuentas externas. Y en ese sentido el desequilibrio industrial y energético deben ubicarse en el centro de las prioridades.

    - Argentina tiene, entonces, espacio para buscar recursos externos que se orienten hacia los destinos estratégicos que remuevan los obstáculos estructurales y garanticen capacidad de repago.

    - Vale la pena insistir, el carácter virtuoso o no que asuma el acceso de Argentina, ya sea de su soberano como de sus empresas, a corrientes de inversión directa o de financiamiento depende de manera decisiva en la asignación de esos recursos y su capacidad para remover las causas estructurales del estrangulamiento externo. Dicho en otros términos en la capacidad para promover el proceso de desarrollo, esto es, de transformación productiva y una más equitativa distribución del ingreso. Este conjunto de ideas puede actuar de buen antídoto ante tanta contaminación en el debate económico, al que ahora se ha vuelto a incorporar en forma activa el FMI. 
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    Latin America
  • Fundamentos da economia estão razoáveis, diz diretor do FMI

    In the Media | October 2013
    Agência Brasil
    DCI, 26 Setembro 2013. © 2013 DCI - Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços. Todos os direitos reservados.

    RIO DE JANEIRO - Batista citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, apesar da crise econômica mundial...

    RIO DE JANEIRO - O diretor executivo do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), Paulo Nogueira Batista, que representa o Brasil e mais dez países no órgão, disse nesta quinta-feira (26) que os fundamentos da economia brasileira estão razoáveis e que o ponto que merece mais atenção são as contas externas.

    “Os [fundamentos] fiscais estão bastante razoáveis, a política monetária também, a regulação do sistema financeiro boa. No setor externo, a deterioração da conta corrente preocupa um pouco, mas as reservas são altas e a entrada de investimentos diretos é alta. Então, eu diria que está razoável. Acho que tem de ficar de olho [nas contas externas], porque não convém ter déficit em conta corrente muito alto. É um ponto preocupante, mas não é alarmante”, avaliou Batista, que frisou estar declarando opinião própria, e não do fundo.

    Batista participou do seminário Governança Financeira Depois da Crise, promovido pelo Multidisciplinary Institute on Development and Strategie (Minds) e o Levy Economics Institute.

    Sobre a reportagem da revista britânica The Economist intitulada Has Brazil blown up? (Será que o Brasil estragou tudo?, em tradução livre), que foi às bancas hoje, questionando se o país fracassou na política econômica atual, depois de ter ido bem nos anos anteriores, Batista acredita que o país está apresentando recuperação progressiva.

    “O Brasil passou por uma fase de grande sucesso, era moda e referência. Havia um certo exagero naquela época, até 2011. Agora houve uma reavaliação mais negativa e está indo para o extremo oposto. Acho que o Brasil está crescendo menos do que o esperado, menos do que pode crescer. Na verdade, a desaceleração de 2011 foi desejada e planejada pelo governo brasileiro, porque havia a percepção, correta, de que em 2010 o país estava superaquecendo. Houve medidas deliberadas para desaquecer a economia, isso provocou uma queda na taxa de crescimento, o que não foi surpresa. O que foi uma surpresa negativa foi a dificuldade de se recuperar em 2012 e em 2013. Mas eu creio que agora estamos vivendo uma recuperação mais clara, ainda incipiente, mas os dados estão mostrando que a economia está se reativando”, disse.

    O diretor do FMI citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, apesar da crise econômica mundial, o que pode sinalizar um início de recuperação. “O mercado de trabalho é uma surpresa positiva nesse período todo. Apesar da desaceleração forte da economia, o mercado de trabalho continua forte. A taxa de desemprego aberta está bastante baixa, os salários continuam crescendo. O desempenho não é tão favorável quanto se esperava, mas eu acho que vem uma recuperação”, acrescentou.
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe
  • Fundamentos da economia estão razoáveis e país está em recuperação, diz diretor do FMI

    In the Media | September 2013
    Marcos Barbosa
    RBV News, 27 Setembro 2013. © 2012 www.rbvnews.com.br. Todos os Direitos Reservados.

    O diretor executivo do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), Paulo Nogueira Batista, que representa o Brasil e mais dez países no órgão, disse hoje (26) que os fundamentos da economia brasileira estão razoáveis e que o ponto que merece mais atenção são as contas externas.

    “Os [fundamentos] fiscais estão bastante razoáveis, a política monetária também, a regulação do sistema financeiro boa. No setor externo, a deterioração da conta corrente preocupa um pouco, mas as reservas são altas e a entrada de investimentos diretos é alta. Então, eu diria que está razoável. Acho que tem de ficar de olho [nas contas externas], porque não convém ter déficit em conta corrente muito alto. É um ponto preocupante, mas não é alarmante”, avaliou Batista, que frisou estar declarando opinião própria, e não do fundo.

    Batista participou do seminário Governança Financeira Depois da Crise, promovido pelo Multidisciplinary Institute on Development and Strategie (Minds) e o Levy Economics Institute.

    Sobre a reportagem da revista britânica The Economist intitulada Has Brazil blown up? (Será que o Brasil estragou tudo?, em tradução livre), que foi às bancas hoje, questionando se o país fracassou na política econômica atual, depois de ter ido bem nos anos anteriores, Batista acredita que o país está apresentando recuperação progressiva.

    “O Brasil passou por uma fase de grande sucesso, era moda e referência. Havia um certo exagero naquela época, até 2011. Agora houve uma reavaliação mais negativa e está indo para o extremo oposto. Acho que o Brasil está crescendo menos do que o esperado, menos do que pode crescer. Na verdade, a desaceleração de 2011 foi desejada e planejada pelo governo brasileiro, porque havia a percepção, correta, de que em 2010 o país estava superaquecendo. Houve medidas deliberadas para desaquecer a economia, isso provocou uma queda na taxa de crescimento, o que não foi surpresa. O que foi uma surpresa negativa foi a dificuldade de se recuperar em 2012 e em 2013. Mas eu creio que agora estamos vivendo uma recuperação mais clara, ainda incipiente, mas os dados estão mostrando que a economia está se reativando”, disse.

    O diretor do FMI citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, apesar da crise econômica mundial, o que pode sinalizar um início de recuperação. “O mercado de trabalho é uma surpresa positiva nesse período todo. Apesar da desaceleração forte da economia, o mercado de trabalho continua forte. A taxa de desemprego aberta está bastante baixa, os salários continuam crescendo. O desempenho não é tão favorável quanto se esperava, mas eu acho que vem uma recuperação”, acrescentou. 
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe
  • Fundamentos da economia estão razoáveis e país está em recuperação, diz diretor do FMI

    In the Media | September 2013
    Fator Brasil, 27 Setembro 2013. © Copyright 2006 - 2013 Fator Brasil.

    Rio de Janeiro – O diretor executivo do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), Paulo Nogueira Batista, que representa o Brasil e mais dez países no órgão, disse no dia 26 de setembro (quinta-feira), que os fundamentos da economia brasileira estão razoáveis e que o ponto que merece mais atenção são as contas externas. 

    “Os [fundamentos] fiscais estão bastante razoáveis, a política monetária também, a regulação do sistema financeiro boa. No setor externo, a deterioração da conta corrente preocupa um pouco, mas as reservas são altas e a entrada de investimentos diretos é alta. Então, eu diria que está razoável. Acho que tem de ficar de olho [nas contas externas], porque não convém ter déficit em conta corrente muito alto. É um ponto preocupante, mas não é alarmante”, avaliou Batista, que frisou estar declarando opinião própria, e não do fundo. 

    Batista participou do seminário Governança Financeira Depois da Crise, promovido pelo Multidisciplinary Institute on Development and Strategie (Minds) e o Levy Economics Institute. 

    Sobre a reportagem da revista britânica The Economist intitulada Has Brazil blown up? (Será que o Brasil estragou tudo?, em tradução livre), que foi às bancas hoje, questionando se o país fracassou na política econômica atual, depois de ter ido bem nos anos anteriores, Batista acredita que o país está apresentando recuperação progressiva.  “O Brasil passou por uma fase de grande sucesso, era moda e referência. Havia um certo exagero naquela época, até 2011. Agora houve uma reavaliação mais negativa e está indo para o extremo oposto. Acho que o Brasil está crescendo menos do que o esperado, menos do que pode crescer. Na verdade, a desaceleração de 2011 foi desejada e planejada pelo governo brasileiro, porque havia a percepção, correta, de que em 2010 o país estava superaquecendo. Houve medidas deliberadas para desaquecer a economia, isso provocou uma queda na taxa de crescimento, o que não foi surpresa. O que foi uma surpresa negativa foi a dificuldade de se recuperar em 2012 e em 2013. Mas eu creio que agora estamos vivendo uma recuperação mais clara, ainda incipiente, mas os dados estão mostrando que a economia está se reativando”, disse. 

    O diretor do FMI citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, apesar da crise econômica mundial, o que pode sinalizar um início de recuperação. “O mercado de trabalho é uma surpresa positiva nesse período todo. Apesar da desaceleração forte da economia, o mercado de trabalho continua forte. A taxa de desemprego aberta está bastante baixa, os salários continuam crescendo. O desempenho não é tão favorável quanto se esperava, mas eu acho que vem uma recuperação”, acrescentou.
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe
  • Pesquisador argentino diz que América do Sul não vai escapar de desvalorização cambial: Roberto Frenkel afirma que vulnerabilidade externa da região foi reduzida

    In the Media | September 2013
    Lucianne Carneiro
    O Globo Econômico, 26 Setembro 2013.  © 1996–2013. Todos direitos reservados a Infoglobo Comunicação e Participações S.A. 

    RIO – Professor da Universidade de Buenos Aires e pesquisador do Centro de Estudos de Estado e de Sociedade (Cedes), Roberto Frenkel afirma que os países emergentes, especialmente na América do Sul, não escaparão de um processo de desvalorização cambial para se ajustar ao novo cenário mundial, com elevação das taxas de juros nos Estados Unidos e menor ritmo de expansão da economia chinesa. A atual situação do câmbio muito apreciado tende a dificultar esse ajuste, com consequências como inflação.

    — Peru, Colômbia, Chile, Brasil e Argentina são alguns dos países que apreciaram demais suas moedas e agora terão que subir o câmbio — diz Frenkel, que está no Rio para participar do seminário “Governança Financeira depois da Crise”, promovido pelo Minds, Instituto Multidisciplinar de Desenvolvimento e Estratégia, em parceria com o Levy Economics Institute.

    Na avaliação de Frenkel, a vulnerabilidade externa dos países sul-americanos recuou e não se deve ver uma crise como no passado. A região não aproveitou integralmente, no entanto, o bom momento da economia mundial nos últimos anos. Crítico às políticas do governo de Cristina Kirchner, Frenkel diz que a Argentina tem um grave desequilíbrio em seu balanço de pagamentos, além de uma inflação “insustentável”.

    Alguns economistas afirmam que a recuperação da economia mundial está forte, outros dizem que o movimento não é sustentável. Qual é a sua avaliação?

    Os Estados Unidos estão se recuperando lentamente. Aliás, é isso que tem provocado o ajuste na política monetária. A Europa, por sua vez, continua na crise, a situação não está resolvida para nenhum país. Houve um incremento do Produto Interno Bruto (PIB, soma dos bens e riquezas de um país), mas a União Europeia vai continuar com sua grande crise. O que se vê de diferente é o ritmo de crescimento econômico dos países emergentes. Os países emergentes continuam crescendo mais rápido que os desenvolvidos, mas a taxa de expansão desacelerou. Aquele ganho mais rápido dos emergentes acabou.

    Países emergentes tiveram um certo alívio quando o Federal Reserve (Fed, o banco central americano) manteve os estímulos à economia na última semana. O que veremos agora?

    A decisão do Federal Reserve (Fed, banco central americano) de manter os estímulos é temporária. É certo que em algum momento as taxas de juros dos Estados Unidos vão subir. Essa perspectiva é bem concreta, mesmo que o Fed diga que vai manter o estímulo. É certo que a política monetária vai mudar. E a China também está mudando seu ritmo de crescimento para permitir a transição de seu modelo de crescimento de uma base de exportações para ser puxado pelo consumo interno. O que vemos é um novo ritmo de crescimento da economia mundial, e é preciso se ajustar a isso.

    Como os emergentes devem ficar nesse cenário?

    O crescimento menor da China afeta principalmente os exportadores de minerais e metais, já que o investimento será menor. E muitos emergentes estão com o câmbio apreciado e terão que se ajustar. A Índia, com um déficit grande em conta corrente e saída de capitais, tem uma situação mais complicada.

    A vulnerabilidade externa dos países da América do Sul está menor?

    A situação hoje na maioria dos países é robusta, existe um endividamento menor e esse ajustamento (ao novo ritmo da economia) não vai gerar crise como no passado. A vulnerabilidade externa foi muito reduzida. Mas o que na verdade se viu é que quase uma década excepcionalmente boa para a economia (entre 2002 e 2012) não foi aproveitada pelos países da América do Sul. A Argentina vive hoje tomada pelo forte populismo. O Brasil, por sua vez, alcançou um crescimento baixo. A região precisa de um crescimento econômico maior, que seja suficiente para alcançar um novo nível de desenvolvimento.

    Como os países da América do Sul terão que lidar com o câmbio?

    O tema central da economia da América do Sul hoje é como lidar com a desvalorização do câmbio neste momento de ajustamento ao novo cenário mundial, que complica a política econômica. Os países da região estão com o câmbio muito apreciado. Os exportadores foram beneficiados pela melhora do preço de exportações. Houve uma desvalorização transitória, mas seguiu-se uma apreciação cambial. Nessa situação de câmbio apreciado, fica mais difícil se ajustar a um novo cenário mundial. Esse ajuste se faz pelo câmbio mais alto. Quanto mais apreciado o câmbio, mais custoso é o ajustamento. E a desvalorização cambial traz consequências como o impacto na inflação e a queda salarial a curto prazo. Peru, Colômbia, Chile, Brasil, Argentina são alguns dos países que apreciaram demais suas moedas e agora terão que subir o câmbio.

    Quais as principais dificuldades hoje da economia argentina?

    Há um problema grave no balanço de pagamentos. Nós estamos perdendo reservas e, por causa do risco político, não temos acesso ao financiamento do mercado externo. E nesse contexto temos um controle forte do câmbio. Há o câmbio paralelo e o fixo, com uma diferença de cerca de 60%. Esse câmbio paralelo é o sintoma do grande desequilíbrio atual. Vamos ter que sair dessa situação.

    É possível esperar um ajuste pelo governo?

    Está claro que o governo de Cristina Kirchner não deve ser reeleito. A dúvida é se esse governo vai fazer esse ajuste antes de sair ou deixar os problemas para o próximo presidente.

    A desvalorização do câmbio deve ter impacto maior na Argentina por causa de uma inflação já elevada?

    A inflação na Argentina está muito distante dos números oficiais, o governo falsifica os dados. É uma situação insustentável. Nós temos uma inflação de 25% ao ano. No Brasil, os economistas estão preocupados com o efeito do câmbio na inflação. Agora imagine o impacto na Argentina. O país vai enfrentar uma aceleração inflacionária grande por causa do câmbio, que terá que passar por uma desvalorização significativa.
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe
  • Dimitri B. Papadimitriou: Regulação atual é incapaz de evitar nova crise

    In the Media | September 2013
    Ana Paula Grabois
    Brasil Econômico, 26 Setembro 2013. © Copyright 2009–2012 Brasil Econômico. Todos os Direitos Reservados.

    Dimitri Papadimitriou defende uma regulação do sistema financeiro mais forte: “A vigente não foi capaz de evitar o colapso de 2008.”

    Pesidente do Instituto Levy Economics, de Nova York, Dimitri Papadimitriou, é um crítico feroz da autorregulação do mercado financeiro. O economista grego, radicado há 45 anos nos Estados Unidos, dirige o instituto que elabora pesquisas sobre os mercados financeiros e sobre o que se pode fazer para evitar crises, como a de 2008. Papadimitriou defende uma regulação financeira mais forte que se antecipe aos choques. "Precisamos re-regular o sistema financeiro. Porque a regulação vigente não foi capaz de evitar o colapso de 2008".

    Em sua primeira visita ao Brasil, para participar da conferência "Governança financeira depois da crise", organizada pelo instituto que preside em parceria com o Instituto Multidisciplinar de Desenvolvimento e Estratégia (Minds), o economista diz que a instabilidade é inexorável ao sistema capitalista. "O aspecto mais importante é como regular esse sistema para prevenir que esse tipo de coisa aconteça de novo. Ou se entende as crises como acasos que ocorrem por choques e que não podem ser regulados", afirma o economista, ao Brasil Econômico, na véspera da conferência, que ocorre hoje e amanhã, no Rio.

    Para o economista, é possível prever eventos que determinam instabilidades futuras, e assim, evitar crises mais complexas. Apesar de governos espalhados pelo mundo defenderem a ampliação dos mecanismos de regulação financeira, Papadimitriou diz que muito pouco foi feito.

    "Desde o colapso de Lehman Brothers, nós ainda não tivemos nenhum progresso para prevenir que isso aconteça de novo", afirma. Parte do progresso quase nulo diz respeito à concentração das transações financeiras mas mãos de um grupo pequeno de grandes bancos. "É mais fácil regular os bancos pequenos porque você sabe o que realmente ele faz. Algumas vezes, é difícil entender o que os grandes bancos fazem e precificar o risco. A tendência desde 2008 é subprecificar os riscos dos bancos".

    Com tantos tipos de transações, entre depósitos, empréstimos, títulos, investimento, derivativos em poucos bancos, a atual estrutura regulatória - seja nos Estados Unidos, na Europa ou na América Latina - é ineficaz. "É preciso saber quem regula e supervisiona quem e o quê", completa.

    Na sua avaliação, os grandes bancos atingidos pela crise e depois ajudados pelo governo americano, como Citibank, JPMorgan e Chase Manhattan, continuam no controle das transações financeiras no mundo, sem avanços na regulação de suas atividades. "As restrições foram incapazes, por exemplo, de controlar questões como o caso da Baleia de Londres. O JP Morgan perdeu US$ 6 bilhões para seus clientes e teve US 1 bilhão de multa. Isso mostra que ainda falta regulação", diz. O escândalo do JP Morgan envolveu operações de alto risco com papeis derivativos.

    O presidente do Levy Economics afirma que num mundo onde as transações financeiras equivalem a 35 vezes o valor do comércio de bens e serviços entre os países, a complexidade das transações aumenta, o que dificulta ainda mais a supervisão do mercado. Papadimitriou defende a modificação das estruturas de regulação no mundo, a começar pelos Estados Unidos. "O grande problema é o lobby dos bancos no Congresso, que querem evitar a regulação. O governo Obama não é muito agressivo em implementar novas regulamentações", complementa.

    Totalmente favorável ao controle de capitais, o economista do instituto de pesquisa ressalta a conexão entre as crises financeiras e a economia real de vários países no ambiente globalizado atual.

    "Wall Street não é isolado da economia real", diz. Uma crise financeira pode aumentar desemprego, retrair o crescimento da atividade econômica de vários países, além de forçar o corte de gastos do governo para evitar déficits de orçamento. "Isso significa menos infraestrutura, menos educação, menos seguridade social", afirma.
    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe
  • Fundamentos da economia estão razoáveis e país está em recuperação, diz FMI O diretor do FMI citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, o que pode sinalizar um início de recuperação

    In the Media | September 2013
    Agência Brasil
    Correio Braziliense, 20 Setembro 2013.

    O diretor executivo do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), Paulo Nogueira Batista, que representa o Brasil e mais dez países no órgão, disse nesta quinta-feira (26/9) que os fundamentos da economia brasileira estão razoáveis e que o único ponto que merece mais atenção são as contas externas.

    “Os [fundamentos] fiscais estão bastante razoáveis, a política monetária também, a regulação do sistema financeiro boa. No setor externo, a deterioração da conta corrente preocupa um pouco, mas as reservas são altas e a entrada de investimentos diretos é alta. Então, eu diria que está razoável. Acho que tem de ficar de olho [nas contas externas], porque não convém ter déficit em conta corrente muito alto. É um ponto preocupante, mas não é alarmante”, avaliou Batista, que frisou estar declarando opinião própria, e não do fundo.

    Batista participou do seminário Governança Financeira Depois da Crise, promovido pelo Multidisciplinary Institute on Development and Strategie (Minds) e o Levy Economics Institute.

    Sobre a reportagem da revista britânica The Economist intitulada Has Brazil blown up? (O Brasil estragou tudo?, em tradução livre), que foi às bancas hoje, questionando se o país fracassou na política econômica atual, depois de ter ido bem nos anos anteriores, Batista acredita que o país está apresentando recuperação progressiva.

    “O Brasil passou por uma fase de grande sucesso, era moda e referência. Havia um certo exagero naquela época, até 2011. Agora houve uma reavaliação mais negativa e está indo para o extremo oposto. Acho que o Brasil está crescendo menos do que o esperado, menos do que pode crescer. Na verdade, a desaceleração de 2011 foi desejada e planejada pelo governo brasileiro, porque havia a percepção, correta, de que em 2010 o país estava superaquecendo. Houve medidas deliberadas para desaquecer a economia, isso provocou uma queda na taxa de crescimento, o que não foi surpresa. O que foi uma surpresa negativa foi a dificuldade de se recuperar em 2012 e em 2013. Mas eu creio que agora estamos vivendo uma recuperação mais clara, ainda incipiente, mas os dados estão mostrando que a economia está se reativando”, disse.

    O diretor do FMI citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, apesar da crise econômica mundial, o que pode sinalizar um início de recuperação. “O mercado de trabalho é uma surpresa positiva nesse período todo. Apesar da desaceleração forte da economia, o mercado de trabalho continua forte. A taxa de desemprego aberta está bastante baixa, os salários continuam crescendo. O desempenho não é tão favorável quanto se esperava, mas eu acho que vem uma recuperação”, acrescentou. 
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe
  • Fundamentos da economia brasileira estão razoáveis, diz diretor do FMI

    In the Media | September 2013
    Jornal do Brasil, 26 Setembro 2013. Copyright © 1995-2013 | Todos os direitos reservados

    Paulo Nogueira Batista ressalta que o único ponto que merece atenção são as contas externas

    O diretor executivo do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), Paulo Nogueira Batista, que representa o Brasil e mais dez países no órgão, disse hoje (26) que os fundamentos da economia brasileira estão razoáveis e que o único ponto que merece mais atenção são as contas externas.

    “Os [fundamentos] fiscais estão bastante razoáveis, a política monetária também, a regulação do sistema financeiro boa. No setor externo, a deterioração da conta corrente preocupa um pouco, mas as reservas são altas e a entrada de investimentos diretos é alta. Então, eu diria que está razoável. Acho que tem de ficar de olho [nas contas externas], porque não convém ter déficit em conta corrente muito alto. É um ponto preocupante, mas não é alarmante”, avaliou Batista, que frisou estar declarando opinião própria, e não do fundo.

    Batista participou do seminário Governança Financeira Depois da Crise, promovido pelo Multidisciplinary Institute on Development and Strategie (Minds) e o Levy Economics Institute.

    Sobre a reportagem da revista britânica The Economist intitulada Has Brazil blown up? (O Brasil estragou tudo?, em tradução livre), que foi às bancas hoje, questionando se o país fracassou na política econômica atual, depois de ter ido bem nos anos anteriores, Batista acredita que o país está apresentando recuperação progressiva.

    “O Brasil passou por uma fase de grande sucesso, era moda e referência. Havia um certo exagero naquela época, até 2011. Agora houve uma reavaliação mais negativa e está indo para o extremo oposto. Acho que o Brasil está crescendo menos do que o esperado, menos do que pode crescer. Na verdade, a desaceleração de 2011 foi desejada e planejada pelo governo brasileiro, porque havia a percepção, correta, de que em 2010 o país estava superaquecendo. Houve medidas deliberadas para desaquecer a economia, isso provocou uma queda na taxa de crescimento, o que não foi surpresa. O que foi uma surpresa negativa foi a dificuldade de se recuperar em 2012 e em 2013. Mas eu creio que agora estamos vivendo uma recuperação mais clara, ainda incipiente, mas os dados estão mostrando que a economia está se reativando”, disse.

    O diretor do FMI citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, apesar da crise econômica mundial, o que pode sinalizar um início de recuperação. “O mercado de trabalho é uma surpresa positiva nesse período todo. Apesar da desaceleração forte da economia, o mercado de trabalho continua forte. A taxa de desemprego aberta está bastante baixa, os salários continuam crescendo. O desempenho não é tão favorável quanto se esperava, mas eu acho que vem uma recuperação”, acrescentou. 
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe
  • Sobre reportagem da revista britânica The Economist intitulada Has Brazil blown up?, Batista acredita que país está apresentando recuperação progressiva

    In the Media | September 2013
    Vladimir Platonow / Agência Brasil
    Exame, 26 Setembro 2013. Copyright © Editora Abril - Todos os direitos reservados

    Rio de Janeiro – O diretor executivo do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), Paulo Nogueira Batista, que representa o Brasil e mais dez países no órgão, disse hoje (26) que os fundamentos da economia brasileira estão razoáveis e que o ponto que merece mais atenção são as contas externas.

    “Os [fundamentos] fiscais estão bastante razoáveis, a política monetária também, a regulação do sistema financeiro boa. No setor externo, a deterioração da conta corrente preocupa um pouco, mas as reservas são altas e a entrada de investimentos diretos é alta.

    Então, eu diria que está razoável. Acho que tem de ficar de olho [nas contas externas], porque não convém ter déficit em conta corrente muito alto. É um ponto preocupante, mas não é alarmante”, avaliou Batista, que frisou estar declarando opinião própria, e não do fundo.

    Batista participou do seminário Governança Financeira Depois da Crise, promovido pelo Multidisciplinary Institute on Development and Strategie (Minds) e o Levy Economics Institute.

    Sobre a reportagem da revista britânica The Economist intitulada Has Brazil blown up? (Será que o Brasil estragou tudo?, em tradução livre), que foi às bancas hoje, questionando se o país fracassou na política econômica atual, depois de ter ido bem nos anos anteriores, Batista acredita que o país está apresentando recuperação progressiva.

    “O Brasil passou por uma fase de grande sucesso, era moda e referência. Havia um certo exagero naquela época, até 2011. Agora houve uma reavaliação mais negativa e está indo para o extremo oposto. Acho que o Brasil está crescendo menos do que o esperado, menos do que pode crescer. Na verdade, a desaceleração de 2011 foi desejada e planejada pelo governo brasileiro, porque havia a percepção, correta, de que em 2010 o país estava superaquecendo. Houve medidas deliberadas para desaquecer a economia, isso provocou uma queda na taxa de crescimento, o que não foi surpresa. O que foi uma surpresa negativa foi a dificuldade de se recuperar em 2012 e em 2013. Mas eu creio que agora estamos vivendo uma recuperação mais clara, ainda incipiente, mas os dados estão mostrando que a economia está se reativando”, disse.

    O diretor do FMI citou como dado favorável a força do mercado de trabalho brasileiro, que vem apresentando números positivos, apesar da crise econômica mundial, o que pode sinalizar um início de recuperação. “O mercado de trabalho é uma surpresa positiva nesse período todo. Apesar da desaceleração forte da economia, o mercado de trabalho continua forte. A taxa de desemprego aberta está bastante baixa, os salários continuam crescendo. O desempenho não é tão favorável quanto se esperava, mas eu acho que vem uma recuperação”, acrescentou.
    Associated Program:
    Region(s):
    Latin America, Europe