miércoles, 18 de junio de 2014

Paraisos fiscales, riqueza y fiscalidad

 Casi 8 billones de dólares, que distorsionan la economía mundial y atan de manos a los Gobiernos a la hora de afrontar sus políticas económicas, es el valor de los activos que se mantienen ocultos en los paraísos fiscales.
Así lo establece Gabriel Zucman, profesor asociado en la London School of Economics (LSE) y uno de los discípulos del célebre Thomas Piketty, el gurú de la desigualdad. Su misión ha sido calcular lo más certeramente posible la cantidad de dinero que se evade a través de paraísos fiscales.
En lo que se ha basado Zucman para hacer el cálculo, tal y como recoge The New York Times, es en las diferencias entre los activos y los pasivos de los balances internacionales. Al contener muchos más pasivos, las cuentas no cuadraban; la explicación siempre ha sido los paraísos fiscales. Multinacionales e individuos acaudalados “esconden” sus activos para evitar el ojo del fisco.
La que nunca se había estimado con demasiada exactitud era a cuánto ascendía la evasión fiscal global. Tras analizar los datos que han publicado recientemente Suiza y Luxemburgo, este economista estima que actualmente hay aparcados unos 7,6 billones de dólares en paraísos fiscales, es decir, el 8% de la riqueza personal total mundial. Y, además, asegura que son unos cálculos conservadores.
Zucman cree que si este dinero fuera registrado y propiamente gravado, los ingresos fiscales de los Estados aumentarían en más de 200.000 millones de dólares anuales.
Y esos datos ni siquiera incluyen la elusión fiscal que practican algunas multinacionales, una cantidad que podría ser todavía mayor. De hecho, según sus cálculos, el 20% de los beneficios de las empresas estadounidenses son trasladados a paraísos fiscales y las prácticas evasivas reducen en un tercio los ingresos fiscales del Gobierno por este concepto.
De hecho, las prácticas fiscales de este tipo se han vuelto tan comunes desde los años 80 que el impuesto de sociedades efectivo en EEUU ha caído desde el 30 al 15%, aunque el tipo nominal no ha cambiado en ese mismo tiempo.
Recientemente, el think tank español Fedea recogía los estudios de Zucman a nivel español, que estiman que los españoles tendrían unos 144.000 millones de euros en paraísos fiscales, lo que supondría que solo en España se pierden 7.400 millones de euros en impuestos.
Estos números son lo suficientemente grandes como para poner en cuestión algunos lugares comunes que se han extendido en los últimos años, como por ejemplo que China se haya convertido en el “dueño” del mundo o que Europa y EEUU estén realmente tan endeudados como podría parecer. La idea de un mundo rico endeudado es “una ilusión creada por los paraísos fiscales”, defendía Zucman en un trabajo publicado el año pasado.
Otro efecto de los paraísos fiscales es que subestiman la desigualdad real que hay en el mundo, dado que solo las multinacionales y la gente que tiene como mínimo 50 millones de dólares pueden permitirse las estructuras necesarias para esconder su dinero en un paraíso fiscal. Además, pagan menos impuestos que un trabajador corriente, por lo que la desigualdad crece todavía más.
“Hubo un cambio profundo de actitud en los años 80. En los 50, los 60 y los 70 los impuestos eran mucho más altos, pero no se consideraba normal tratar agresivamente de reducir tu factura de impuestos”, dijo.

lunes, 16 de junio de 2014

Political and Economic situation in Europe

LONDON – The recent European Parliament elections were dominated by disillusion and despair. Only 43% of Europeans bothered to vote – and many of them deserted establishment parties, often for anti-EU extremists. Indeed, the official results understate the extent of popular dissatisfaction; many who stuck with traditional parties did so reluctantly, faute de mieux.
There are many reasons for this political earthquake, but the biggest are the enduring misery of depressed living standards, double-digit unemployment rates, and diminished hopes for the future. Europe’s rolling crisis has shredded trust in the competence and motives of policymakers, who failed to prevent it, have so far failed to resolve it, and bailed out banks and their creditors while inflicting pain on voters (but not on themselves).
The crisis has lasted so long that most governing parties (and technocrats) have been found wanting. In the eurozone, successive governments of all stripes have been bullied into implementing flawed and unjust policies demanded by Germany’s government and imposed by the European Commission. Though German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls the surge in support for extremists “regrettable,” her administration – and EU institutions more generally – is substantially responsible for it.
Start with Greece. Merkel, together with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, threatened to deprive Greeks of the use of their own currency, the euro, unless their government accepted punitive conditions. Greeks have been forced to accept brutal austerity measures in order to continue to service an unbearable debt burden, thereby limiting losses for French and German banks and for eurozone taxpayers whose loans to Greece bailed out those banks.
As a result, Greece has suffered a slump worse than Germany’s in the 1930’s. Is it really any wonder that popular support for the governing parties that complied with this diktat plunged from 69% in the 2009 European Parliament election to 31% in 2014, that a far-left coalition demanding debt justice topped the poll, or that the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party finished third?
In Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, the bad lending of German and French banks in the bubble years was primarily to local banks rather than to the government. But here, too, the Berlin-Brussels-Frankfurt axis blackmailed local taxpayers into paying for foreign banks’ mistakes – presenting the Irish with a €64 billion ($87 billion) bill, roughly €14,000 per person, for banks’ bad debt – while imposing massive austerity.
Support for compliant establishment parties duly collapsed – from 81% in 2009 to 49% in 2014 in Spain. Fortunately, memories of fascist dictatorship may have inoculated Spain and Portugal against the far-right virus, with left-wing anti-austerity parties and regionalists benefiting instead. In Ireland, independents topped the poll.
The misconception that northern European taxpayers are bailing out southern ones also prompted a backlash in Finland, where the far-right Finns won 13% of the vote, and in Germany, where the new anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland won 7%.
At Merkel’s behest and with the complicity of the ECB, which waited until July 2012 to quell a bond-market panic sparked by eurozone policymakers’ mistakes, the Commission also imposed eurozone-wide austerity, causing a cumulative loss of nearly 10% of GDP in 2011-13, according to the Commission’s own economic model. By plunging Italy into a deep recession (from which it has yet to recover), austerity sank interim Prime Minister Mario Monti’s broad-based coalition and boosted Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment, anti-euro Five Star Movement, which finished second in the European Parliament election.
Merkel also demanded a stifling and undemocratic EU fiscal straightjacket, which the Commission duly enforces. So when voters throw out a government, EU fiscal enforcer Olli Rehn immediately insists that the new administration stick to its predecessor’s failed policies, alienating voters from the EU and pushing them toward the extremes.
Consider France. After François Hollande became President in 2012 on a pledge to end austerity, his Socialist Party won a large majority in parliamentary elections. But Berlin browbeat him into further austerity. Now, with both the center right and the center left discredited – together, they received only 35% of the popular vote – Marine Le Pen’s racist Front National topped the poll by promising radical change.
Along with a chronic economic crisis, Europe now has an acute political crisis. Yet the EU establishment seems bent on pursuing business as usual. In the parliament, a vocal but fragmented minority of critics, cranks, and bigots is likely to push the center-right and center-left groups, which still have a combined majority, to club together even more closely.
The low turnout and weakening of mainstream parties gives the European Council – national leaders of the EU’s member states – a pretext to continue cutting deals in smoke-free rooms. First up will be the choice of the European Commission’s next president. The outgoing president, José Manuel Barroso, claims that “the political forces that led and supported…the Union’s joint crisis response…have overall won once again.” Merkel wants to stick to current policies that have failed to deliver growth and jobs.
Perhaps the man to shake things up is Matteo Renzi, Italy’s dynamic 39-year-old prime minister. In office since February, he won a resounding 41% of the vote, twice that of his nearest rival. Already committed to reforming his country’s crony capitalism, he now has a mandate to challenge Merkel’s crisis response. The timing is perfect: Italy takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in July. Renzi has already called for a €150 billion EU investment boost and greater fiscal flexibility.
Instead of a eurozone caged in by Germany’s narrow interests as a creditor, Europe needs a monetary union that works for all of its citizens. Zombie banks should be restructured, excessive debts (both private and public) written down, and increased investment combined with reforms to boost productivity (and thus wages). The fiscal straightjacket should be scrapped, with governments that borrow too much allowed to default. Ultimately, the fairer, freer, and richer eurozone that would emerge is in Germany’s interest, too.
Europeans also need a greater say over the EU’s direction – and the right to change course. They need a European Spring of economic and political renewal.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/philippe-legrain-lays-the-blame-for-the-disastrous-outcome-of-the-european-parliament-election-at-germany-s-feet#eF8hsqxl4PYHdBvJ.99

Innovation, industrial policies and learning societies

NEW YORK – Citizens in the world’s richest countries have come to think of their economies as being based on innovation. But innovation has been part of the developed world’s economy for more than two centuries. Indeed, for thousands of years, until the Industrial Revolution, incomes stagnated. Then per capita income soared, increasing year after year, interrupted only by the occasional effects of cyclical fluctuations.
The Nobel laureate economist Robert Solow noted some 60 years ago that rising incomes should largely be attributed not to capital accumulation, but to technological progress – to learning how to do things better. While some of the productivity increase reflects the impact of dramatic discoveries, much of it has been due to small, incremental changes. And, if that is the case, it makes sense to focus attention on how societies learn, and what can be done to promote learning – including learning how to learn.
A century ago, the economist and political scientist Joseph Schumpeter argued that the central virtue of a market economy was its capacity to innovate. He contended that economists’ traditional focus on competitive markets was misplaced; what mattered was competition for the market, not competition in the market. Competition for the market drove innovation. A succession of monopolists would lead, in this view, to higher standards of living in the long run.
Schumpeter’s conclusions have not gone unchallenged. Monopolists and dominant firms, like Microsoft, can actually suppress innovation. Unless checked by anti-trust authorities, they can engage in anti-competitive behavior that reinforces their monopoly power.
Moreover, markets may not be efficient in either the level or direction of investments in research and learning. Private incentives are not well aligned with social returns: firms can gain from innovations that increase their market power, enable them to circumvent regulations, or channel rents that would otherwise accrue to others.
But one of Schumpeter’s fundamental insights has held up well: Conventional policies focusing on short-run efficiency may not be desirable, once one takes a long-run innovation/learning perspective. This is especially true for developing countries and emerging markets.
Industrial policies – in which governments intervene in the allocation of resources among sectors or favor some technologies over others – can help “infant economies” learn. Learning may be more marked in some sectors (such as industrial manufacturing) than in others, and the benefits of that learning, including the institutional development required for success, may spill over to other economic activities.
Such policies, when adopted, have been frequent targets of criticism. Government, it is often said, should not be engaged in picking winners. The market is far better in making such judgments.
But the evidence on that is not as compelling as free-market advocates claim. America’s private sector was notoriously bad in allocating capital and managing risk in the years before the global financial crisis, while studies show that average returns to the economy from government research projects are actually higher than those from private-sector projects – especially because the government invests more heavily in important basic research. One only needs to think of the social benefits traceable to the research that led to the development of the Internet or the discovery of DNA.
But, putting such successes aside, the point of industrial policy is not to pick winners at all. Rather, successful industrial policies identify sources of positive externalities – sectors where learning might generate benefits elsewhere in the economy.
Viewing economic policies through the lens of learning provides a different perspective on many issues. The great economist Kenneth Arrow emphasized the importance of learning by doing. The only way to learn what is required for industrial growth, for example, is to have industry. And that may require either ensuring that one’s exchange rate is competitive or that certain industries have privileged access to credit – as a number of East Asian countries did as part of their remarkably successful development strategies.
There is a compelling infant economy argument for industrial protection. Moreover, financial-market liberalization may undermine countries’ ability to learn another set of skills that are essential for development: how to allocate resources and manage risk.
Likewise, intellectual property, if not designed properly, can be a two-edged sword when viewed from a learning perspective. While it may enhance incentives to invest in research, it may also enhance incentives for secrecy – impeding the flow of knowledge that is essential to learning while encouraging firms to maximize what they draw from the pool of collective knowledge and to minimize what they contribute. In this scenario, the pace of innovation is actually reduced.
More broadly, many of the policies (especially those associated with the neoliberal “Washington Consensus”) foisted on developing countries with the noble objective of promoting the efficiency of resource allocation today actually impede learning, and thus lead to lower standards of living in the long run.
Virtually every government policy, intentionally or not, for better or for worse, has direct and indirect effects on learning. Developing countries where policymakers are cognizant of these effects are more likely to close the knowledge gap that separates them from the more developed countries. Developed countries, meanwhile, have an opportunity to narrow the gap between average and best practices, and to avoid the danger of secular stagnation.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/joseph-e--stiglitz-makes-the-case-for-a-return-to-industrial-policy-in-developed-and-developing-countries-alike#bkxOZ11goL1b6Obq.99

IMF, growth and austerity

PRINCETON – “Do I have to go on my knees?” the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, asked the BBC’s Andrew Marr. Lagarde was apologizing for the IMF’s poor forecasting of the United Kingdom’s recent economic performance, and, more seriously, for the Fund’s longer-standing criticism of the fiscal austerity pursued by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government. Now endorsing British austerity, Lagarde said that it had increased confidence in the UK’s economic prospects, thereby spurring the recent recovery.
Lagarde’s apology was unprecedented, courageous, and wrong. By issuing it, the IMF compromised on an economic principle that enjoys overwhelming academic support: The confidence “fairy” does not exist. And, by bowing to the UK’s pressure, the Fund undermined its only real asset – its independence.

The IMF has dodged responsibility for far more serious forecasting errors, including its failure to anticipate every major crisis of the last generation, from Mexico in 1994-1995 to the near-collapse of the global financial system in 2008. Indeed, in the 6-12 months prior to every crisis, the IMF’s forecasts implied business as usual.
Some claim that the Fund counsels countries in private, lest public warnings trigger the very crisis that is to be avoided. But, with the possible exception of Thailand in 1997, the IMF’s long-time resident historian, James Boughton, finds little evidence for that view in internal documents. The IMF’s Internal Evaluation Office is more directly scathing in its assessment of the Fund’s obliviousness to the US subprime crisis as it emerged.

Given that the IMF is the world’s anointed guardian of financial stability, its failure to warn and preempt constitutes a far more grievous lapse than its position on British austerity, with huge costs borne by many, especially the most vulnerable. For these failures, the Fund has never offered any apology, certainly not in the abject manner of Lagarde’s recent statement.

The Fund does well to reflect on its errors. In a September 2003 speech in Kuala Lumpur, then-Managing Director Horst Köhler conceded that temporary capital controls can provide relief against volatile inflows from the rest of the world. He was presumably acknowledging that the Fund had it wrong when it criticized Malaysia for imposing such controls at the height of the Asian crisis. Among the countries hurt by that crisis, Malaysia chose not to ask for the Fund’s help and emerged at least as well as others that did seek IMF assistance.
Malaysia’s imposition of capital controls was a controversial policy decision. And even as the Fund opposed them, prominent economists – among them Paul Krugman – endorsed their use. In his speech, Köhler reported that the Fund had taken the evidence on board and would incorporate it in its future advice.

But in the current crisis, the academic evidence has overwhelmingly shown that fiscal austerity does what textbook economics says it will do: the more severe the austerity, the greater the drag on growth. A variety of studies confirming this proposition, including one by the IMF’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, have withstood considerable scrutiny and leave little room for ambiguity.
The two public voices arguing for the magical properties of austerity are official agencies based in Europe: the OECD and the European Commission. The Commission’s stance, in particular, is animated by an institutional commitment to a fiscal viewpoint that leaves no room for evidence.

Among the G-7 economies, only Italy has done worse than the UK since the Great Recession began. Indeed, the UK’s GDP has only just regained its 2008 level, lagging behind even France.
This is all the more remarkable given that the crisis in the UK was comparatively mild. The fall in property prices was modest relative to Ireland and Spain, and, because there was no construction boom, there was no construction bust. Having missed the warning signs about the bank Northern Rock, which needed to be bailed out by the UK government after a run on its deposits in September 2007, the British authorities, unlike their eurozone counterparts, quickly dealt with the economy’s distressed banks. For these reasons, the UK should have had a quick recovery; instead, the Cameron government’s gratuitous austerity stifled it.

The IMF’s apology was a mistake for two reasons. Thumbing one’s nose at scholarly evidence is always a bad idea, but it is especially damaging to an institution that relies so heavily on the credibility of its technical competence and neutrality. If the Fund embraces muddled economics, on what basis will it defend its policy advice?
Moreover, in choosing to flatter the UK’s misguided policy, the Fund has confirmed its deference to its major shareholders. For years, the view has been that the IMF is a foreign-policy instrument of the United States. The softness in its annual surveillance of UK economic policy has also been well known.

But in taking this latest step, the Fund has undermined – perhaps fatally – its ability to speak “truth to power.” If so, a fundamental question may well become unavoidable: Why does the IMF exist, and for whom?

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ashoka-mody-lambasts-the-fund-s-recent-apology-for-its-criticism-of-britain-s-austerity-policies#YDuoffjMc5RjYMba.99

domingo, 8 de junio de 2014

La desigualdad en la renta y en la riqueza

Sobre la negación de la desigualdad, de Paul Krugman en Negocios de El País

Hace algún tiempo publiqué un artículo titulado Los ricos, la derecha y los hechos en el que describía los esfuerzos por negar, obedeciendo a motivos políticos, lo evidente: el fuerte aumento de la desigualdad en Estados Unidos, sobre todo en lo más alto de la escala de ingresos. Probablemente no les sorprenderá oír que he descubierto un montón de malas prácticas estadísticas en las altas esferas.
Tampoco les sorprenderá saber que casi nada ha cambiado. Los sospechosos de rigor no solo siguen negando la evidencia, sino que insisten en desplegar los mismos argumentos desprestigiados: la desigualdad no está aumentado realmente; bueno, vale, sí está aumentando, pero da igual porque tenemos mucha movilidad social; en cualquier caso, es buena, y cualquiera que insinúe que es un problema es un marxista.
Lo que quizá les sorprenda es en qué año publiqué el artículo: 1992.
Lo cual me lleva a la última escaramuza intelectual, provocada por un artículo de Chris Giles, redactor jefe de economía de The Financial Times, arremetiendo contra la credibilidad del libro éxito de ventas de Thomas Piketty, titulado El capital en el siglo XXI. Giles afirma que el trabajo de Piketty comete “una serie de errores que distorsionan sus descubrimientos”, y que, de hecho, no hay pruebas claras de que la concentración de la riqueza esté aumentando. Y como casi todos los que hemos seguido estas controversias durante años, me dije: “Ya estamos otra vez”.
Como era de esperar, Giles no ha salido bien parado del debate subsiguiente. Los supuestos errores eran en realidad la clase de ajustes de datos normal en cualquier investigación basada en diferentes fuentes. Y la afirmación crucial de que no hay ninguna tendencia clara a una mayor concentración de la riqueza descansaba en una falacia conocida, una comparación de peras con manzanas de la cual los expertos han advertido hace tiempo, y que yo identifiqué en el mencionado artículo de 1992.
Comentario de Krugman sobre las criticas la Capital del siglo XXI

A riesgo de dar demasiada información, la cuestión es ésta. Tenemos dos fuentes de datos tanto sobre la renta como sobre la riqueza: los sondeos, en los que se pregunta a la gente sobre sus finanzas, y los datos fiscales. Los datos de los sondeos, si bien son útiles para seguir la pista de los pobres y de la clase media, subestiman manifiestamente las rentas más altas y la riqueza, hablando en líneas generales, porque es difícil entrevistar a suficientes multimillonarios. Por tanto, los estudios acerca del 1%, el 0,1% y demás se basan principalmente en los datos fiscales. Sin embargo, la crítica publicada en The Financial Timescomparaba cálculos antiguos de concentración de la riqueza basados en datos fiscales con cálculos recientes basados en sondeos, lo cual ocasiona una distorsión inmediata que impide identificar una tendencia al alza.
En suma, este último intento de desacreditar la idea de que nos hemos convertido en una sociedad muchísimo más desigual ha quedado desprestigiado por sí solo. Y era de esperar. Hay tantos indicadores independientes que apuntan a un fuerte aumento de la desigualdad, desde los precios por las nubes de las propiedades inmobiliarias de más alto nivel hasta el apogeo de los mercados de bienes de lujo, que cualquier afirmación de que la desigualdad no está aumentando tiene que basarse casi por fuerza en un análisis erróneo de los datos.
Con todo, la negación de la desigualdad persiste, prácticamente por las mismas razones por las que persiste la negación del cambio climático: hay grupos poderosos muy interesados en negar los hechos, o cuando menos en crear una sombra de duda. De hecho, pueden estar seguros de que la afirmación de que “todos los números de Piketty están equivocados” se repetirá hasta el infinito aunque se derrumbe rápidamente al ser sometida a escrutinio.
Dicho sea de paso, no estoy acusando a Giles de ser un sicario de la plutocracia, a pesar de que haya algunos autoproclamados expertos que se ajusten a esa definición. Y no hay nadie cuyo trabajo esté más allá de toda crítica. Pero cuando se trata de asuntos con carga política, los detractores del consenso tienen que ser conscientes de sí mismos; tienen que preguntarse si de verdad buscan la honestidad intelectual o si lo que están haciendo en realidad es actuar como duendes de la preocupación, desacreditadores profesionales de los credos liberales. (Por extraño que parezca, en la derecha no hay duendes que desacrediten los credos conservadores. Es curioso cómo funciona la cosa).
Por tanto, esto es lo que necesitan saber. Sí, la concentración tanto de renta como de riqueza en manos de unas cuantas personas ha aumentado enormemente a lo largo de las últimas décadas. No, la gente receptora de esas rentas y propietaria de esa riqueza no es un grupo en continuo cambio: la gente se desplaza con bastante frecuencia de la base del 1% a la cima del siguiente percentil y viceversa, pero eso de pasar de mendigo a millonario y de millonario a mendigo rara vez ocurre (la desigualdad de los ingresos medios a lo largo de varios años no está muy por debajo de la desigualdad en un año determinado). No, los impuestos y las ayudas no cambian significativamente el panorama; de hecho, desde la década de 1970, las grandes rebajas de impuestos en el extremo superior han provocado que la desigualdad después de impuestos aumente más deprisa que la desigualdad antes de impuestos.
Esta imagen incomoda a algunos porque favorece las demandas populistas de impuestos más altos para los ricos. Pero las buenas ideas no necesitan ser vendidas con engaños. Si el argumento en contra del populismo descansa en afirmaciones falsas sobre la desigualdad, habría que considerar la posibilidad de que los populistas tengan razón.

jueves, 22 de mayo de 2014

China State and Market Equilibrium for success

Stiglitz vision on market and state equilibrium in China

Reforming China’s State-Market Balance

BEIJING – No country in recorded history has grown as fast – and moved as many people out of poverty – as China over the last thirty years. A hallmark of China’s success has been its leaders’ willingness to revise the country’s economic model when and as needed, despite opposition from powerful vested interests. And now, as China implements another series of fundamental reforms, such interests are already lining up to resist. Can the reformers triumph again?
In answering that question, the crucial point to bear in mind is that, as in the past, the current round of reforms will restructure not only the economy, but also the vested interests that will shape future reforms (and even determine whether they are possible). And today, while high-profile initiatives – for example, the government’s widening anti-corruption campaign – receive much attention, the deeper issue that China faces concerns the appropriate roles of the state and the market.
When China began its reforms more than three decades ago, the direction was clear: the market needed to play a far greater role in resource allocation. And so it has, with the private sector far more important now than it was. Moreover, there is a broad consensus that the market needs to play what officials call a “decisive role” in many sectors where state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominate. But what should its role be in other sectors, and in the economy more generally?
Many of China’s problems today stem from too much market and too little government. Or, to put it another way, while the government is clearly doing some things that it should not, it is also not doing some things that it should.
Worsening environmental pollution, for example, threatens living standards, while inequality of income and wealth now rivals that of the United States and corruption pervades public institutions and the private sector alike. All of this undermines trust within society and in government – a trend that is particularly obvious with respect to, say, food safety.
Such problems could worsen as China restructures its economy away from export-led growth toward services and household consumption. Clearly, there is room for growth in private consumption; but embracing America’s profligate materialist life-style would be a disaster for China – and the planet. Air quality in China is already putting peoples’ lives at risk; global warming from even higher Chinese carbon emissions would threaten the entire world.
There is a better strategy. For starters, Chinese living standards could and would increase if more resources were allocated to redress large deficiencies in health care and education. Here, government should play a leading role, and does so in most market economies, for good reason.
America’s privately-based health-care system is expensive, inefficient, and achieves far worse outcomes than those in European countries, which spend far less. A more market-based system is not the direction in which China should be going. In recent years, the government has made important strides in providing basic health care, especially in rural areas, and some have likened China’s approach to that of the United Kingdom, where private provision is layered atop a public base. Whether that model is better than, say, French-style government-dominated provision may be debated. But if one adopts the UK model, the level of the base makes all the difference; given the relatively small role of private health-care provision in the UK, the country has what is essentially a public system.
Likewise, though China has already made progress in moving away from manufacturing toward a service-based economy (the GDP share of services exceeded that of manufacturing for the first time in 2013), there is still a long way to go. Already, many industries are suffering from overcapacity, and efficient and smooth restructuring will not be easy without government help.
China is restructuring in another way: rapid urbanization. Ensuring that cities are livable and environmentally sustainable will require strong government action to provide sufficient public transport, public schools, public hospitals, parks, and effective zoning, among other public goods.
One major lesson that should have been learned from the post-2008 global economic crisis is that markets are not self-regulating. They are prone to asset and credit bubbles, which inevitably collapse – often when cross-border capital flows abruptly reverse direction – imposing massive social costs.
America’s infatuation with deregulation was the cause of the crisis. The issue is not just the pacing and sequencing of liberalization, as some suggest; the end result also matters. Liberalization of deposit rates led to America’s savings and loan crisis in the 1980’s. Liberalization of lending rates encouraged predatory behavior that exploited poor consumers. Bank deregulation led not to more growth, but simply to more risk.
China, one hopes, will not take the route that America followed, with such disastrous consequences. The challenge for its leaders is to devise effective regulatory regimes that are appropriate for its stage of development.
That will require the government to raise more money. Local governments’ current reliance on land sales is a source of many of the economy’s distortions – and much of the corruption. Instead, the authorities should boost revenue by imposing environmental taxes (including a carbon tax), a more comprehensive progressive income tax (including capital gains), and a property tax. Moreover, the state should appropriate, through dividends, a larger share of SOEs’ value (some of which might be at the expense of these firms’ managers.)
The question is whether China can maintain rapid growth (though somewhat slower than its recent breakneck pace), even as it reins in credit expansion (which could cause an abrupt reversal in asset prices), confronts weak global demand, restructures its economy, and fights corruption. In other countries, such daunting challenges have led to paralysis, not progress.
The economics of success is clear: higher spending on urbanization, health care, and education, funded by increases in taxes, could simultaneously sustain growth, improve the environment, and reduce inequality. If China’s politics can manage the implementation of this agenda, China and the entire world will be better off.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/joseph-e--stiglitz-asks-what-role-government-should-play-as-economic-restructuring-proceeds#lg1EPFWZY7zfGbTc.99

sábado, 19 de abril de 2014

Politicos y Politica Economica

Comentario de Krugman sobre como los políticos hacen la política económica

Políticos cobardes

Por:  19 de abril de 2014
Simon Wren-Lewis, el economista de Oxford, preguntaba recientemente en su blog: “¿Por qué la política económica que sigue o que propone la izquierda en Europa parece a menudo tan patética?”.
Citaba al Gobierno de François Hollande en Francia como el perfecto ejemplo, pero también la falta de energía del Partido Laborista en Gran Bretaña. E insinuaba que la respuesta es una cuestión de recursos y de organización: “Buscar buenos consejos (y distinguirlos de los malos) exige dinero o tiempo”, escribía Wren-Lewis. “A un Gobierno consolidado esto le resulta mucho más fácil que a un partido en la oposición o a un Gobierno nuevo”.
Bueno, no puedo hablar de la situación europea, pero tuvimos nuestra propia versión del fracaso total de una especie de izquierda a la hora de adoptar una macroeconomía austera en EE UU, en el giro del presidente Obama del empleo hacia los déficits, que empezó realmente en 2009, cuando los demócratas todavía controlaban ambas cámaras del Congreso.  
Y nadie puede defender en esto el argumento de los recursos; no solo Obama era un presidente que gobernaba con una mayoría en el Congreso, sino que el progresismo estadounidense moderno contaba con un gran aparato de análisis de políticas fuera del Gobierno, gran parte del cual abogaba enérgicamente en contra del giro.    
Sin embargo, allí estaba Obama en noviembre de 2009 advirtiendo, en Fox News nada menos, de que los déficits excesivos podían provocar una recaída en la recesión.  
Entonces, ¿cómo pudo ocurrir eso? Basándome en mis observaciones, lo atribuiría a la influencia de la Gente Muy Seria, cuyas opiniones sobre la economía tienden a su vez a estar guiadas en gran medida por el sector financiero.
Cuesta creerlo, pero en la época en que Obama estaba en Fox News diciendo que el déficit era una enorme amenaza, también había rumores generalizados de que pronto sustituiría a Tim Geithner, el ex Secretario del Tesoro, por... Jamie Dimon, el consejero delegado de JPMorgan Chase. Y lo que esa gente del sector financiero le estaba diciendo a Obama era que tuviese cuidado con los vigilantes de los bonos invisibles
Me imagino que es muy parecido en Europa. El partido Laborista debería estar escuchando a los economistas como Jonathan Portes y, bueno, Wren-Lewis, pero estoy seguro de que a sus líderes les interesan mucho más las opiniones de los hombres bien trajeados de laCity londinense.  
 Puede que Hollande sea un hombre más de izquierdas que nadie en la política estadounidense, pero sigue recibiendo consejos de banqueros que le dicen que la rectitud fiscal lo es todo. (Y aunque Francia sea mucho más de izquierdas que EE UU en muchos aspectos, no tiene nada parecido a la infraestructura intelectual del movimiento progresista estadounidense para hacer frente a la supuesta sabiduría de los multimillonarios). Supongo que podrían decir que esto siempre ha sido así.
Pero la naturaleza de nuestra actual situación económica es que la política inteligente exige no hacer caso de lo que tiene que decir la gente supuestamente responsable, que parece como que sabe de lo que está hablando (y bueno, es rica, por lo que tiene que saber algo). Y ningún Gobierno de la izquierda moderada ha tenido la valentía intelectual y moral de hacer eso. 
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