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Mostrando postagens com marcador Keynesianism. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Keynesianism. Mostrar todas as postagens

sábado, 27 de fevereiro de 2016

Teoria Geral de Keynes faz 80 anos - Robert Skidelsky (e minha avaliacao: PRA)

Skidelsky é o biógrafo de Keynes e autor de muitas outras obras nessa área, inclusive de um dos livros que eu reputo a melhor explicação sobre o fracasso do socialismo no século: The Road From Serfdom, uma evidente alusão ao The Road to Serfdom de Hayek.
Não concordo com ele, por uma razão muito simples: Keynes não fez uma "teoria geral", e sim uma teoria particular ao momento de crise vivido pelas economias de mercado devido à excessiva intervenção dos governos na economia, inclusive e principalmente no que se refere à criação de inflação e de desemprego, pela imposição do monopólio sobre as moedas e de muitas regras afetando os mercados laborais (políticos sempre querem fazer bondades com os recursos alheios).
Não partilho da ideia de que mercados produzem desequilíbrios e que eles não são capazes de corrigir a si próprios. Mercados SEMPRE se corrigem a si próprios, mesmo em detrimento dos agentes que interviram com pouca informação, com propósitos especulativos, ou "corretivos", como pretendem os governos. Os mercados simplesmente refletem o comportamento de pessoas, e as bolhas são SEMPRE corrigidas por uma destruição de riqueza artificial, ainda que alguns venham a perder ativos nesse processo.
A pretensão de pretender corrigir "desequilíbrios", ou "falhas de mercado" é justamente o fator que impede os mercados de se autocorrigirem.
O keynesianismo é uma pretensão fatal, no sentido hayekiano da palavra, embora combine com a arrogância dos "engenheiros sociais", que estão sempre querendo construir um "mundo melhor", como aprendizes de feiticeiro. Costuma dar errado.
Em qualquer hipótese, cabe ler Skidelsky.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Keynes’s General Theory At 80

Project Syndicate
Robert Skidelsky
Robert Skidelsky lecturing on Keynes (photo: Screenshot YouTube)

In 1935, John Maynard Keynes wrote to George Bernard Shaw: “I believe myself to be writing a book on economic theory which will largely revolutionize – not, I suppose, at once but in the course of the next ten years – the way the world thinks about its economic problems.” And, indeed, Keynes’s magnum opusThe General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in February 1936, transformed economics and economic policymaking. Eighty years later, does Keynes’s theory still hold up?
Two elements of Keynes’s legacy seem secure. First, Keynes invented macroeconomics – the theory of output as a whole. He called his theory “general” to distinguish it from the pre-Keynesian theory, which assumed a unique level of output – full employment.
In showing how economics could remain stuck in an “underemployment” equilibrium, Keynes challenged the central idea of the orthodox economics of his day: that markets for all commodities, including labor, are simultaneously cleared by prices. And his challenge implied a new dimension to policymaking: Governments may need to run deficits to maintain full employment.
The aggregate equations that underpin Keynes’s “general theory” still populate economics textbooks and shape macroeconomic policy. Even those who insist that market economies gravitate toward full employment are forced to argue their case within the framework that Keynes created. Central bankers adjust interest rates to secure a balance between total demand and supply, because, thanks to Keynes, it is known that equilibrium might not occur automatically.
Keynes’s second major legacy is the notion that governments can and should prevent depressions. Widespread acceptance of this view can be seen in the difference between the strong policy response to the collapse of 2008-2009 and the passive reaction to the Great Depression of 1929-1932. As the Nobel laureate Robert Lucas, an opponent of Keynes, admitted in 2008: “I guess everyone is a Keynesian in a foxhole.”
Having said this, Keynes’s theory of “underemployment” equilibrium is no longer accepted by most economists and policymakers. The global financial crisis of 2008 bears this out. The collapse discredited the more extreme version of the optimally self-adjusting economy; but it did not restore the prestige of the Keynesian approach.
To be sure, Keynesian measures halted the global economy’s downward slide. But they also saddled governments with large deficits, which soon came to be viewed as an obstacle to recovery – the opposite of what Keynes taught. With unemployment still high, governments returned to pre-Keynesian orthodoxy, cutting spending to reduce their deficits – and undercutting economic recovery in the process.
There are three main reasons for this regression. First, the belief in the labor-market-clearing power of prices in a capitalist economy was never wholly overturned. So most economists came to view persistent unemployment as an extraordinary circumstance that arises only when things go terribly wrong, certainly not the normal state of market economies. The rejection of Keynes’ notion of radical uncertainty lay at the heart of this reversion to pre-Keynesian thinking.
Second, post-war Keynesian “demand-management” policies, credited with having produced the long post-1945 boom, ran into inflationary trouble at the end of the 1960s. Alert to a worsening tradeoff between inflation and unemployment, Keynesian policymakers tried to sustain the boom through incomes policy – controlling wage costs by concluding national agreements with trade unions.
Income policy was tried in many countries from the 1960s to the end of the 1970s. At best, there were temporary successes, but the policies always broke down. Milton Friedman provided a reason that jibed with growing disenchantment with wage and price controls, and that reasserted the pre-Keynesian view of how market economies work. Inflation, Friedman said, resulted from attempts by Keynesian governments to force down unemployment below its “natural” rate. The key to regaining stable prices was to abandon the full-employment commitment, emasculate the trade unions, and deregulate the financial system.
And so the old orthodoxy was reborn. The full-employment target was replaced by an inflation target, and unemployment was left to find its “natural” rate, whatever that was. It was with this defective navigational equipment that politicians sailed full steam ahead into the icebergs of 2008.
The final reason for Keynesianism’s fall from grace was the rightward ideological shift that began with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan. The shift was due less to rejection of Keynesian policy than to hostility toward the enlarged state that emerged after World War II. Keynesian fiscal policy was caught in the crossfire, with many on the right condemning it as a manifestation of “excessive” government intervention in the economy.
Two final reflections suggest a renewed, if more modest, role for Keynesian economics. An even bigger shock to the pre-2008 orthodoxy than the collapse itself was the revelation of the corrupt power of the financial system and the extent to which post-crash governments had allowed their policies to be scripted by the bankers. To control financial markets in the interests of full employment and social justice lies squarely in the Keynesian tradition.
Second, for new generations of students, Keynes’s relevance may lie less in his specific remedies for unemployment than in his criticism of his profession for modeling on the basis of unreal assumptions. Students of economics eager to escape from the skeletal world of optimizing agents into one of fully-rounded humans, set in their histories, cultures, and institutions will find Keynes’s economics inherently sympathetic. That is why I expect Keynes to be a living presence 20 years from now, on the centenary of the General Theory, and well beyond.

quinta-feira, 2 de maio de 2013

A imoralidade economica do keynesianismo - Hunter Lewis

Two Sides of the Same Debased Coin
by Hunter Lewis
Mises Daily, on May 2, 2013
[This article originally appeared in the January 2013 edition of The Free Market.]

In the beginning of The General Theory, John Maynard Keynes says that his ideas will no doubt be rejected because they are so novel and revolutionary. Toward the end of the same book, he seems to have forgotten this because now he says he is reviving the same centuries-old ideas that he had once dismissed as the most absurd fallacies. At least he acknowledges that he is changing his position, although he does not explain how his ideas can be new, revolutionary, and also centuries old.

This is of a piece with his describing himself as a member of “the brave army of rebels and heretics down through the ages” even as he recommends policies that appeal to the basest and most self-serving instincts of politicians — and even as he enjoys all the immense privileges that accrue from being at the top of the existing financial and political establishment.

Although it may be true, as the art historian Kenneth Clark said, that Keynes “never dimmed his headlights,” it cannot be said that he knew how to drive on a single side of the road. Keynes, would become the principal apologist for “crony capitalism,” which is perhaps the best term to describe our current system. As you probably know, much of Keynes’s writing is intentionally obscure, although the threads can be unraveled and rebutted, as Henry Hazlitt so brilliantly proved in The Failure of “The New Economics.”

What is the very essence of Keynesianism? Can we describe it in the briefest and simplest terms, so that anyone can understand what is wrong with it, and thus strip away the intellectual fog that surrounds and protects crony capitalism?

At first glance, it might seem that the essence of Keynesianism is simply the endless self-contradiction to which I have already alluded. He was never in one place, intellectually or otherwise, for long.

For example, he railed at the love of money. He called it “the worm ... gnawing at the insides of modern civilization.” But he also desperately wanted to be rich. He railed against investment speculation, but avidly speculated himself. At one point, he was completely wiped out, and had to turn to his father, a teacher, for rescue. Two more times, he could have been wiped out, one of them 1929, which he did not anticipate, the other 1937, which he did not anticipate either.

Keynes’s relationship with gold is a good example of his continual self-contradiction. In 1922, he wrote in The Manchester Guardian: “If the gold standard could be reintroduced ... we all believe that the reform would promote trade and production like nothing else.” A little later he described gold as the “barbarous relic.” Yet even when he called gold the “barbarous relic” he privately continued to recommend it as an investment diversifier.

When we turn to Keynes’s economics, perhaps the most fantastic self-contradiction was that an alleged savings glut, too much supposed idle cash, could be cured by flooding the economy with more cash, newly printed by the government. Perhaps even more bizarrely, Keynes says that we should call this new cash “savings” because it represents “savings” just as genuine as “traditional savings.” That is, the money rolling off the government printing presses is in no way different from the money we earn and choose not to spend.

All this new “savings” enters the economy through the mechanism of low interest rates. At this point, Keynes further confounds his forerunners and elders by arguing that it is not high interest rates, as always thought, but rather low interest rates, that increase savings, even though we started by positing too much savings in the first place.

Keynes’s followers echo this even today. Greenspan, Bernanke, and Krugman have all written about a savings glut which is supposed to be at the root of our troubles, and have proposed more money and lower interest rates as a remedy, although they no longer call the new money “genuine savings.” They prefer quantitative easing and similar obscure euphemisms.

Keynesian Gregory Mankiw, one of two chief economic advisors named by Mitt Romney, has even proposed ramping up CPI inflation to create deeply negative interest rates, perhaps as negative as -6 percent. In other words, increase inflation to around 6 percent but keep interest rates repressed to near zero by buying bonds with whatever money has to be printed.

This latest proposal of deeply negative interest rates outdoes even Keynes. The General Theory does argue that interest rates could and should be brought to a zero level permanently (that’s pages 220–21 and 336). This idea of permanent zero interest rates appears first in Proudhon, although Keynes does not acknowledge or perhaps know that, and seems absurd on its face. Lending money at no interest is equivalent to giving it away, and it is hard to understand how anything can have value that is given away.

Nevertheless, Keynes said that it would be reasonable to get to zero interest rates (and zero level dividends) within a generation. By that standard, we have evidently failed him because we should have reached this utopia by 1966.

But note that even Keynes didn’t suggest negative interest rates. The idea of engineered negative interest rates reminds me of a Yiddish phrase which I am told is translated roughly as: “Smart, smart, stupid.” It takes very smart people to think it up but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. And it is worrying that this is coming not just from President Bush or President Obama. One couldn’t be surprised at anything coming from those quarters.

President Bush said that “I have abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.” His successor, President Obama, said in his first budget message that he was taking us from “an era of borrow and spend” to an era of “save and invest.” Then we had Mitt Romney not only relying on a retread Bush advisor, but even a proponent of deep negative interest rates. A very nice man, I might add, but not someone we need in Washington again.

These Romney advisors also, of course, believed in the fairy tale of borrow-and-spend stimulus. It is usually forgotten that Keynes assured us that each dollar of such stimulus would produce as much as twelve dollars of growth and not less than four dollars. Even the most ardent Keynesians have, of course, been unable to demonstrate as much as one dollar. How did Keynes know that you would get four dollars at least? He didn’t. He told the governor of the Bank of England, Norman Montague, that his ideas were “a mathematical certainty” but that was just a crude bluff.

What is empirically verifiable is that all debt, private or public, has been generating less and less growth for decades. In the ten years following 1959, the official figures say that you got 73 cents in growth for each dollar borrowed. By the time of the Crash of ’08, that was down to 19 cents. And I expect it was really negative by then and is deeply negative now.

Rather than follow Keynes and his followers down all these rabbit holes, let’s ask ourselves: is there a common theme to this nonsense? And there is a common theme. The common theme is that market prices don’t matter. In a system replete with paradoxes, this is the ultimate paradox: “In order to fix the price and profit system, we must subvert it. No free price or profit relationship must be left alone. The price/profit system must be poked, pushed, pulled apart, only to be left in a complete shambles.” The assault on interest rates and currency rates is particularly destructive, but all of this madcap tinkering with prices is destructive.

Is this, then, the essence of Keynesianism, its blind destruction of the price mechanism on which any economy depends, as Mises demonstrated? Yes. But there may be an even deeper essence.

When we think of Keynes’s headline ideas, they have a kind of formulaic quality. You take a long established observation, for example, that over-spending and debt are the road to bankruptcy and ruin, and turn it on its head. No, spending and debt are the road to wealth.

For the Victorians, spending within your means and avoiding debt were not just financial principles. They were moral principles. Keynes, who was consciously rebelling against these same Victorians, described their “copybook morality” as “medieval [and] barbarous.” He told his own inner circle that “I remain, and always will remain an immoralist.”

You will recall Mr. Micawber’s famous admonition in Charles Dickens’s nineteenth-century novel David Copperfield: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen, nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Keynes certainly subverted that idea. In particular, he insinuated the very odd, but now very prevalent idea, that old-fashioned wisdom and morality is out of date, even a bit retarded, and odder still, in conflict with science. This is all such nonsense, but it permeates our culture. And the very people who preach honesty and sustainability outside of economics, for example in our treatment of the environment, entirely fail to understand that Keynes is preaching dishonesty and unsustainability in economics.

So, in conclusion, when we strip down Keynesianism to its essence, the relationship to crony capitalism becomes even clearer. Crony capitalism represents both a corruption of capitalism and a corruption of morals. Keynesianism also represents both a corruption of economics and a corruption of morals. Crony capitalism and Keynesianism are just two sides of the same debased coin.

Hunter Lewis is cofounder of Against Crony Capitalism. He is the former CEO of Cambridge Associates and the author of six books. His most recent book is Where Keynes Went Wrong. He has served on boards and committees of 15 not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural organizations, as well as the World Bank. See Hunter Lewis's article archives.

terça-feira, 30 de abril de 2013

Debt and growth - Editorial Wall Street Journal

Debt and Growth
Editorial The Wall Street Journal
April 29, 2013

Perhaps you've read that America's debt burden is no longer a problem. Former White House economist Larry Summers says the U.S. should borrow even more money today because interest rates are low, and his Keynesian brethren are busy trying to discredit economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart for their famous claim that a country's economic growth begins to fall when debt hits 90% of GDP. Time for Stimulus 5.0!
The Reinhart-Rogoff duo have admitted a math error while defending their core argument, though we've never considered their 90% figure to be dogma. Their main contribution was to remind politicians amid the post-crisis Keynesian spending blowout that public debt isn't a free lunch. It has to be repaid, which means a country must either spend less, tax more, grow faster, repudiate the debt or inflate it away.
The Keynesians are attacking Reinhart-Rogoff with such vitriol now precisely so they can rev up the spending engines once again. In their economic model, more government spending equals more GDP. So governments must keep spending more no matter what they spend it on.

This isn't how these columns, or the classical economic models we follow, think about debt and growth. In our model, every dollar of government spending has to come from somewhere, which means it is either taxed or borrowed from the private economy. Thus the crucial issue isn't merely the level of debt, though at some point that can become a problem. The important matter is what that additional debt is buying.
The nearby chart shows U.S. federal debt held by the public as a share of GDP since the beginning of World War II. Debt soared to well above 100% of GDP during the war, but few thought defeating Hitler and Tojo was a bad investment. Once victory was attained, the debt ratio fell rapidly along with government spending. Private growth resumed despite Keynesian predictions of doom at the time as government spending fell, and debt as a share of GDP continued its gradual decline.
The next big debt burst came in the 1980s, as the Reagan Administration sought to break both the Soviets abroad and stagflation at home. The cure was a tax cut plus more defense spending, which in the short term led to higher deficits. Even then the peak Reagan deficit was only 6% of GDP in 1983, compared to President Obama's first term deficit average of 8.7%.
The key point is that those deficits were buying faster growth and defense goods such as aircraft carriers that would win the Cold War. As rapid economic growth returned, deficits and debt both declined. And when the Soviets surrendered, the Clinton Administration was able to cut (too rapidly) defense spending to 3% of GDP in 2000 from 4.8% in 1992. Modest deficits returned as President Bush cut taxes and boosted defense spending after 9/11. But debt as a share of GDP was still only 40.5% of GDP as recently as the first recession year of 2008.
Contrast that experience with where we are today. President Obama's stimulus spree and the mediocre recovery have doubled the debt to an estimated 76.6% of GDP this year. This is despite a record tax increase in January. The Administration now says the debt to GDP ratio will peak in 2014 at 78.2%, but that will be true only if spending growth slows and economic growth is more rapid.
One reason to be more worried about debt now is what we're borrowing to finance. Spending on wars eventually ends. But today most spending by far goes to social welfare payments and entitlements that are difficult to reduce. Those payments are only going to increase as the baby boomers retire, and as ObamaCare takes effect.
These income transfers spread the wealth but they do nothing to increase the growth of the economy. To the extent that they are financed by higher taxes, they retard growth by taking money that would be invested more productively in the private economy.
Mr. Summers says governments should borrow more now at near-zero interest rates to invest in future growth. But this is what we were told in 2009-2010, when Mr. Summers was in the White House, and the $830 billion stimulus was used to finance not primarily roads or bridges but more unionized teachers, higher transfer payments, and green-energy projects that have since failed. Why will it be different this time?
Another reason to reduce debt today is to create some breathing room if we have another recession or an emergency such as a war. At least going into the 2008 financial panic, the U.S. had room to borrow. The Obama era has blown out the U.S. balance sheet, and it will take many years to restore it to that pre-crisis level.
Where we agree with at least some Keynesians is that the main policy goal now should be faster economic growth rather than rapid debt reduction. Where we disagree is how to promote that growth. The Keynesians are now using a false choice between "austerity" and growth to justify more of the government spending they think drives economic prosperity. The brawl over Reinhart-Rogoff is thus less a serious economic debate than it is a political exercise to turn more of the private economy over to government hands.
After five years of trying, we should know this doesn't work. The real way to promote a stronger economy is more austerity and reform in government, and fewer restraints on private investment and risk taking.

domingo, 26 de junho de 2011

A grande depressao de 1946 (que nao existiu) - Keynesianos vs Austriacos

Um artigo que me foi recomendado pelo Gabriel Oliva (estudante de economia baiano, na FEA-USP), apreciador da Escola Austríaca de Economia:

"The Great Depression of 1946", Richard K. Vedder and Lowell Gallaway
The Review of Austrian Economics, vol. 5, n. 2, 1991, p. 3-32
link: http://econstories.tv/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/The-Great-Depression-of-1946.pdf

Transcrevo a mensagem do Gabriel e recomendo a leitura do artigo acima:

- Os economistas keynesianos na época em que a guerra estava terminando estavam todos fazendo previsões catastróficas sobre o que aconteceria com a economia americana depois de terminada a 2ª Guerra Mundial. Eles diziam que haveria uma profunda depressão econômica. O Hayek foi um dos poucos nessa época que falava que isso tudo era uma bobagem. Tem um trabalho interessante que fala sobre isso com o título irônico de "The Great Depression of 1946" disponível nesse link: http://econstories.tv/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/The-Great-Depression-of-1946.pdf

-Hayek, e o seu mentor Mises, foram um dos pouquíssimos economistas que previram a Grande Depressão de 1929. Em Fevereiro de 1929, Hayek escreveu: "O boom entrará em colapso nos próximos meses". No verão do mesmo ano, Mises rejeitou um alto posto num dos bancos mais importantes da Europa, com a justificativa de que "...uma grande recessão está chegando e eu não quero que o meu nome esteja de alguma forma relacionado a ela". Na minha opinião, a Teoria Austríaca dos Ciclos Econômicos, desenvolvida exatamente por Mises e Hayek, é a única que consegue explicar de forma satisfatória a ocorrência desse fenômeno. Sobre essa teoria, eu recomendo o seguinte artigo do prof. Ubiratan Iorio (UERJ): http://www.ubirataniorio.org/teoria.pdf

-Não existe tal coisa como uma "teologia" do liberalismo. A retratação dos liberais como sendo "fundamentalistas" de livre-mercado é quase sempre feita por gente que não entende absolutamente nada dos pensadores liberais, principalmente os economistas. Existem diversas teorias extremamente sérias que embasam a defesa das liberdade providas por estudiosos de várias matizes econômicas como a Escola Austríaca, a Escola de Chicago, a Escola da Escolha Pública e a Escola das Expectativas Racionais, entre outras. Quem fala que a defesa do liberalismo econômico só pode ser feita através de uma profissão de fé no livre mercado demonstra que desconhece completamente as teorias desenvolvidas por essas Escolas Econômicas.

Voilà, c'est tout dit!
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

quarta-feira, 11 de agosto de 2010

Keynes-Hayek: um velho debate sempre atual

Keynes versus Hayek: El gran debate continúa
por Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
The Wall Street Journal, 7 de julio de 2010

Gerald P. O'Driscoll es ex-vicepresidente del Banco de la Reserva Federal en Dallas y académico asociado del Cato Institute.

El debate acerca de qué clase de políticas sacarán a la economía estadounidense de su Gran Recesión repite aquel que se dio durante la Gran Depresión. Gracias a los esfuerzos de Richard Ebeling, profesor de economía en la Universidad de Northwood, tenemos evidencia contundente y concisa. Él ha desempolvado cartas enviadas al Times de Londres desde dos perspectivas que reflejan el debate contemporáneo.

El 17 de octubre de 1932, el Times publicó una larga carta de John Maynard Keynes y cinco otros economistas académicos. Keynes y sus coautores esgrimieron el argumento a favor del gasto —de cualquier tipo, privado o público, ya sea en consumo o inversión.

“La economía privada” era el obstáculo que impedía un retorno a la prosperidad. Si una persona decide ahorrar, no hay garantía de que los fondos “encontraran su camino hacia la inversión en nuevo capital de construcción por parte de emprendimientos públicos o privados”. Ellos citaban a la “falta de confianza” como la razón por la cual los ahorros no se convierten en inversiones. Consecuentemente, “el interés público en las condiciones actuales no conduce hacia una economía privada; gastar menos dinero del que quisiéramos no es patriótico”. Ellos concluían respaldando el gasto público para compensar la miope austeridad privada.

El punto de vista esbozado en esta carta llegó a ser conocido como la economía keynesiana. Las depresiones son causadas por un déficit en el gasto, que puede compensarse mediante gasto público. La economía keynesiana (la cual precede a Keynes) es fácilmente reconocible en los discursos del presidente Obama y su equipo económico.
Dos días después, el 19 de octubre de 1932, cuatro profesores de la Universidad de Londres respondieron a la carta de Keynes y uno de los firmantes era Friedrich A. Hayek quien casi 50 años después ganaría el Premio Nóbel de Economía.

Hayek y sus coautores señalaron tres puntos de divergencia. Primero, identificaron correctamente el argumento de Keynes acerca de la futilidad del ahorro como un argumento sobre lo que tradicionalmente ha sido conocido como los peligros del ahorro, es decir, las consecuencias potencialmente perjudiciales de un aumento en la demanda del dinero a lo largo y ancho de la economía que no es correspondido por un aumento en la oferta de dinero. “Se está de acuerdo con que el acumular dinero, ya sea en efectivo o en cuentas inactivas, tiene efectos deflacionarios. Nadie piensa que la deflación en sí es deseable”.

Segundo, los profesores de Londres cuestionaron la premisa de que no importaba en qué se gastaba, ya fuese en consumo o en inversión. Ellos vieron un “renacimiento de la inversión como peculiarmente deseable”, tal y como lo ven los partidarios actuales de la economía del lado de la oferta. Ellos hicieron una distinción entre acumular dinero y los ahorros que fluyen hacia valores, y reafirmaron la importancia de los mercados de valores en transformar los ahorros en inversión.

Su tercer y más importante punto de desacuerdo con Keynes radicaba en los beneficios del gasto público financiado mediante déficit. Ellos expresaron dudas. “La existencia de una deuda pública a gran escala impone fricciones y obstáculos al reajuste mucho mayores que las fricciones y obstáculos impuestos por la existencia de la deuda privada”. Este no era el momento para “nuevas piscinas municipales” (el ejemplo dado por Keynes). En nuestro contexto actual, sería nada de estímulo.

Finalmente, e igual de importante, sugirieron una estrategia. Los gobiernos a nivel mundial, liderados por EE.UU. con el destructivo paquete de aranceles Smoot-Hawley de 1930, se habían volcado hacia el proteccionismo y las restricciones a los flujos de capitales. Hayek argumentó que era hora de “abolir aquellas restricciones sobre el comercio y el libre movimiento del capital”.

En resumen, ellos argumentaban que la cura para la Gran Depresión era un revigorizado sistema global de comercio. La economía mundial no ha se ha volcado hacia el proteccionismo esta vez, pero esfuerzos por expandir el comercio mundial se han debilitado. Como Allan Meltzer, profesor de economía en la Universidad de Carnegie Mellon, recientemente le recordó a los lectores página de opinión del Wall Street Journal (“Why Obamanomics Has Failed”, 30 de Junio de 2010), solamente la expansión del comercio nos puede permitir pagar la deuda pública que pesa sobre la economía.

El redescubrimiento del profesor Ebeling de estas cartas ha desatado un torrente de comentarios en los blogs. Como dijera Mario Rizzo, economista de la Universidad de Nueva York, “El gran debate todavía es Keynes versus Hayek. Todo lo demás es una nota al pie de página”. Los economistas han cubierto al debate con cada vez más complejidad matemática, pero los asuntos de fondo siguen siendo los mismos.

¿Estaba Keynes en lo correcto cuando decía que los ahorros se convierten en dinero inactivo y deprimen la actividad económica? O, ¿acaso la perspectiva de Hayek, primero articulada por Adam Smith en La riqueza de las naciones en 1776, era la correcta? (Smith: “Lo que es ahorrado anualmente es tan regularmente consumido como lo que es gastado anualmente, y casi al mismo tiempo también”.)

¿Todo gasto es igualmente productivo o deberían las políticas estatales buscar estimular el gasto privado? Si esto último es cierto, entonces Obama ha estado siguiendo los pasos de Franklin Delano Roosevelt e impidiendo la recuperación. Lo hace al demonizar los negocios y crear un régimen de incertidumbre con nuevas regulaciones y programas costosos. En esto no sigue ni a Hayek ni a Keynes, ya que generar incertidumbre era considerado como algo destructivo por ambos.

Finalmente, ¿acaso crear más deuda pública en una economía debilitada será el camino a la recuperación? O, ¿es la “economía” (austeridad en el debate de hoy) y el ahorro el camino a la prosperidad ahora, como usualmente se ha creído?

terça-feira, 25 de maio de 2010

Adam Smith, Keynes, Hayek e os outros..

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Kurdish-Swedish perspectives on the American Economy

Hayek defeats Marx once again
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tino Sanandaji *

Justin Wolfers, a clever up and coming economist, thinks that Friedrich von Hayek was not an important enough economist to be included in the company of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman.

He basis this on a search on JSTOR, that shows Hayek to have the same influence as Larry Summers.

But Wolfers methodology is faulty. First of all, it seems to be very sensitive to wording. Second, it does not tell us the influence of the most important idea.

I instead use Google Scholar to look at the number of citations for the 20 most cited works of each economist. Since I can see exactly who wrote what, this does not have the problem associated with Wolfer's method.

The result confirms what (at least my) common sense tells me, Hayek is very influential.

First, number of citations of most cited work (regardless of spelling):

1. Adam Smith (15616).
2. John Maynard Keynes (11445)
3. Friedrich von Hayek (5397)
4. Milton Friedman (3528)
5. Karl Marx (3210)
6. Larry Summers (2082)

Which confirms another point, Hayek's theory on dispersed knowledge is more important than any *single* article Milton Friedman wrote, even though Friedman was a broad guy who made contributions in several parts of economics. Marx does not do as well here, because his followers made their strongest impression conducting revolutions (and more recently analyzing language as a tool of oppression) rather than doing mainstream economics.

Second, number of citations of 20 most cited work:

1. Milton Friedman (35867)
2. Adam Smith (22997)
3. Friedrich von Hayek (22668)
4. John Maynard Keynes (21679)
5. Karl Marx (19695)
6. Larry Summers (13039)

(for those curious, and as a measure of how much a "normal" top economist gets, Wolfers himself has 3170 citations).

By Wolfer's own criteria, a quantitative measure of scholarly influence, Hayek beats or ties with Keynes and with Milton Friedman, and beats Marx in both measures. He is far above Larry Summers (an unfair comparison, since prolific Summers is contemporary, which boosts you in this type of count.).

What Wolfers also fails to take into account is the diversity of the idea. Hayek is extremely original, and his insights about decentralized knowledge and spontaneous order are quite different from mainstream neoclassical arguments for the market.

This is a *plus* for putting him in the textbooks. You don't want a dozen more neoclassical intellectuals who make the exact same argument Adam Smith and Milton Friedman made. Hayek had a unique mind and offered unique insights.

* Tino Sanandaji is a 29 year old PhD student in Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and the Chief Economist of the free-market think tank Captus.