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”.
Hollande
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.  
Obama
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. 
Traducción de News Clips.
© 2014 The New York Times

sábado, 8 de marzo de 2014

Empleo de Estados Unidos en Febrero

El severo invierno que sufre Estados Unidos está enfriando los datos desde diciembre y eso complica el análisis de la marcha de la economía, cuando se cumplen cinco años desde que Wall Street tocó fondo. La creación de empleo, sin embargo, repuntó en febrero. El mes pasado se registraron 175.000 nuevos ocupados, por encima de los 129.000 de enero. La tasa de paro, entretanto, subió una décima, al 6,7%. No se espera que la Reserva Federal vaya a cambiar la estrategia de retirada de estímulos.
La primavera se acerca, pero harán falta un par de meses más para tener datos más claros que indiquen hacia donde va la economía. El consenso en Wall Street anticipaba la creación de 149.000 empleos en febrero y que el paro bajara al 6,5%. Pero había opiniones para todos los gustos. Los indicadores de los dos meses anteriores se revisaron al alza y dan 25.000 empleados más de los anunciados. El de diciembre queda ahora en 84.000 empleos.
Aunque el indicador de febrero es mejor de lo publicado, la creación de empleo es ligeramente inferior a los 190.000 ocupados de media registrados durante el último año. Pero si el mal tiempo resulta ser un factor determinante en regiones como la de Nueva York o Chicago, la esperanza de los analistas es que en los próximos meses se pueda superar ese nivel sin problemas.
El Libro Beige de la Reserva Federal, que da detalles sobre la marcha de la economía en las 12 regiones del sistema del banco central, certificó el miércoles que la expansión continúa. Pero como señaló la presidenta Janet Yellen la semana pasada en el Senado, es difícil discernir en este momento el impacto de las nevadas y de las bajas temperaturas en las últimas estadísticas.
La próxima reunión de la Fed se celebra en menos de dos semanas. Será la primera presidida por Yellen, que públicamente ha dicho que quiere seguir con el plan de retirada de estímulos. Si se certifica que el mal tiempo es la causa principal de los débiles datos publicados, entonces será un problema temporal y podría proceder a un nuevo recorte en el programa de compra de deuda.
El mal tiempo, en principio, no debería ser un obstáculo para que las empresas que necesitan mano de obra contraten. Sí lo es para el consumo, donde se observan además cambios en los hábitos de gasto. Staples, la mayor cadena en el negocio de artículos de oficina, anuncia el cierre de 225 locales, el 12% de los que opera. También RadioShack, que se desprende de 1.100 tiendas, el 20%.
Los datos en el sector del comercio están siendo pobres y estos ajustes siguen a los anunciados por grandes almacenes como Macy´s y JCPenny, lo que se traducirá en decenas de miles de despidos. El dato de empleo de febrero muestra la pérdida de 4.000 empleos. El mal tiempo puede ser un factor que explica las caídas en las ventas, junto a la lenta recuperación económica, pero también se atribuye al empuje del comercio electrónico.
Volviendo al indicador, el total de parados en EE UU ronda los 10,5 millones de personas, de los que 3.8 millones son de larga duración. Son 1,6 millones menos que hace un año. Desde entonces, la tasa de desempleo bajó un punto porcentual. El paro juvenil afecta al 21,4%. La tasa de participación en febrero fue del 63%, mientras que se contabiliza en 7,2 millones los empleados que trabajan involuntariamente a tiempo parcial y en 2,3 millones las que están apartados del mercado laboral.
El paro, como insistió Yellen, es un dato clave pero no el único que sigue en su análisis. Y no todos son negativos. El índice de actividad industrial repuntó en febrero a 53,2 puntos. Todo lo que está por encima de los 50 puntos se considera expansión. La lectura que se hizo es que sin el efecto del mal tiempo podría haber sido incluso mejor y se espera una aceleración en primavera. El dato de empleo mejor de lo esperado elevó los tipos en los bonas a 10 años al 2,8%.
La Reserva Federal está comprando deuda pública e hipotecaria por valor de 65.000 millones de dólares mensuales, tras dos recortes de 10.000 millones en diciembre y enero pasados. El análisis del banco central es que el empleo mejora gradualmente, aunque no tan rápido como le gustaría. Wall Street no se descarta una pausa, pero lo más probable es que proceda a otro recorte.

domingo, 23 de febrero de 2014

Latinoamerica y la Politica Monetaria de la Reserva Federal

Las turbulencias que sufren los mercados emergentes han golpeado a Latinoamérica con mucha menor severidad que a otras regiones, como Turquía o Rusia, pero lo cierto es que los inversores empiezan a buscar alternativas de rentabilidad a la región.
“Latinoamérica es uno de los grandes damnificados por la volatilidad de los mercados”, aseguraba esta semana José Ramón Perea, economista del Centro de Desarrollo de la OCDE, durante la presentación del informe de perspectivas del organismo sobre la región en Madrid. “Y uno de los que más salidas de fondos registran, tanto en deuda como en cartera, cada semana. Están saliendo unos 14.000 millones de dólares a la semana de la región frente a los 9.000 millones que se registraron el pasado mes de mayo” [cuando la Reserva Federal explicitó por primera vez su intención de empezar a revertir la política monetaria ultra expansiva], señalaba Perea. El dato es en términos brutos.
Así lo confirma el Instituto de Finanzas Internacionales (IIF), que agrupa a los principales bancos privados del mundo y monitorea de cerca la evolución de los flujos de capital. En su último informe sobre la evolución de la inversión hacia los países emergentes, Latinoamérica es la única región que ve revisada a la baja las previsiones de entrada de capitales tanto en 2013 como en 2014, frente al aumento que se prevé para las economías emergentes de Asia, Europa y el continente africano.
De hecho, las bolsas de México y Perú se encuentran entre las que peor comportamiento han registrado en el último mes entre los emergentes; cuatro de las seis divisas que más valor han perdido en ese tiempo son latinoamericanas, con el peso argentino a la cabeza con un 20%; y los diferenciales de la deuda de la región respecto al bono estadounidense han vuelto a aumentar en este mes, frente a la estabilización de la deuda de los países de Asia emergente, como recuerdan los analistas de Capital Economics.
En términos netos, el IIF prevé que la inversión extranjera en la región se estabilice en 2014 y 2015 en torno al 5% del PIB pero establece una clara diferencia entre los países que conforman el Mercosur —Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay y Venezuela— y los que acaban de sellar la denominada Alianza del Pacífico —México, Colombia, Perú y Chile—. “Unas políticas prudentes, fundamentos sólidos y una mejora de las perspectivas exportadoras harán de los países de la Alianza del Pacífico, con mucha probabilidad, los principales receptores de inversión extranjera en la región”, sostiene el IIF en su informe. “Por el contrario, Argentina y Venezuela seguirán sufriendo la presión externa al hilo de la preocupación de los inversores por su marco político desequilibrado y su debilitada posición en reservas”, subraya. La inclusión de Brasil entre los países más vulnerables a la actual coyuntura no es tan claramente compartida por otros analistas.
Aunque los inversores establezcan ahora diferencias entre quienes han hecho los deberes y quienes no, las razones de ese menor atractivo inversor son comunes a todos los países: la reducción en el volumen comercial, la moderación de los precios de las materias primas y la incertidumbre en las condiciones financieras y monetarias globales. Todo ello, a su vez, consecuencia de consecuencia del débil crecimiento económico de la zona euro, del menor dinamismo de la economía china y del impacto de un eventual endurecimiento de la política monetaria de los Estados Unidos, como recuerda la OCDE en su informe.
Para Enrique Alberola, coordinador de Asuntos Internacionales del Banco de España, este proceso forma parte de la normalización que afronta la política monetaria ultraexpansiva puesta en marcha por las principales economías desarrolladas para hacer frente a la crisis financiera. “América Latina fue la región que más se benefició de la recuperación relativa de los flujos de capitales hacia los países emergentes y ahora esos flujos se han reducido en todo el mundo. Pese a eso, las economías de la región no se están viendo limitadas en su acceso a la financiación, aunque sí tienen que pagar precios más caros”, admitía. Un factor que, sin duda, añade dificultades al control del déficit por cuenta corriente y del déficit fiscal y que explica, en parte, decisiones como la adoptada esta semana por el gobierno de Brasil de reducir recorte de los gastos del presupuesto por 44.000 millones de reales (unos 13.500 millones de euros). “El objetivo es la consolidación fiscal, que contribuirá a reducir la inflación y hacer viable un crecimiento sostenido del país”, explicaba el ministro de Hacienda, Guido Mantega.
La brecha regional que se observa en la inversión extranjera también seguirá aumentando en términos económicos. Según Juan Ruiz, economista jefe para América Latina de BBVA, Los países de la Alianza del Pacífico registrarán un crecimiento en torno al 4% este año frente a algo menos del 2% en el caso de las economías del Mercosur. En conjunto, la región se aproximará este año, según la OCDE, a sus tasas de crecimiento potencial, del 3%, “un nivel claramente insuficiente para resolver los problemas de equidad que tiene la región”, apuntaba Perea.De hecho, Alberola arrojaba dudas sobre el escenario macroeconómico que afronta la región al señalar que el crecimiento potencial de la región puede haber visto afectado al alza por el precio de las materias primas, lo que supondría que ahora que esos precios se moderan “Lo que se ha producido sobre todo es una pérdida de lustre en la región que en contraste ha sido ganado por las economías avanzadas”, sostiene el director del Banco de España.

“Hay que impulsar las reformas 2.0, las que promueven el crecimiento, no solo las que lo permiten como en el pasado”, señalaba Ruiz. Porque la región presenta un problema evidente de productividad, por un lado, y de baja recaudación fiscal, por otro. “Mientras la brecha de productividad frente a los países desarrollados se ha reducido en Asia, en la mayoría de los países latinoamericanos ha aumentado en los últimos años. Es uno de los retos principales que afronta la región”, admite Mario Pezzini, director del Centro de Desarrollo de la OCDE. Toca ponerse las pilas.

Economia.elpais.com/economia/2014/02/21/actualidad/1393013595_432522.html

sábado, 15 de febrero de 2014

FED tapering and its impact in emerging markets

Interesting analysis of Andres Velasco on the impact of FED tapering and emerging markets. 


SANTIAGO – Last spring, US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke made a small announcement that had big consequences. The mere possibility that the Fed might reduce its purchases of long-term assets – the so-called “taper” – sent market interest rates in the United States soaring and currencies in countries like Brazil, Turkey, and India plummeting. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphUnexpected backtracking by the Fed in September gave markets a reprieve. But now investors are again asking what will happen in emerging markets if and when the big bad taper wolf shows up. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphAs always with economists, there are two schools of thought. Optimists claim that most emerging economies are well prepared to withstand the shock, because their dollar debts are lower than in the past, while their fiscal positions are much stronger. Pessimists claim that in the absence of well developed local financial markets and a global lender of last resort, emerging economies remain vulnerable to a sudden stop in capital flows. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThere is merit to both views, but one must dig a little deeper to see why. To say that emerging markets’ financial and fiscal positions are stronger raises the economist’s traditional question: Compared to what? CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphIf the base of comparison is the eve of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis (which later spread as far as Moscow and Buenos Aires), it is clear that, in most countries, vulnerabilities have lessened. Countries like Colombia, Mexico, and South Africa have managed to issue international debt in their own currencies, partly overcoming the burden of what some economists had called “original sin” – that is, an environment in which most countries must issue debt denominated in, say, dollars. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphOther countries, like Brazil, have extended the maturity profile of their public debt, and are therefore less vulnerable to rollover risk. And commodity producers have indeed been more fiscally prudent over the last decade than they were during earlier commodity booms. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphBut if the base of comparison is 2007, just before the global financial crisis, a somewhat different picture emerges. The much-needed counter-cyclical fiscal packages of 2009 overstayed their welcome in several countries, resulting in larger public-debt burdens. And the substantial capital inflows since 2010 have caused sharp asset-price increases and swift credit expansion in countries ranging from Chile to Malaysia. So what could happen when those flows are reversed? CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphTo answer that question, one needs to assess the plausible channels through which an external financial shock is transmitted to an emerging economy. In my view, there are three important transmission mechanisms. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThe first is the exchange rate – more precisely, a fall in the currency’s inflation-adjusted value. In developed countries with floating exchange rates, a drop in foreign lending can be expansionary if currency depreciation stimulates exports. But in emerging economies with substantial dollar debts – whether private or public – devaluation raises the cost of outstanding debt (when measured in domestic currency) and can wreak havoc with balance sheets and creditworthiness. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphWhile emerging markets have reduced their dollar debts, they have not done so sufficiently to reassure markets. During the May-June quasi-panic that followed Bernanke’s statement, it was countries with large external deficits (making them the most obvious candidates for real depreciation) – for example, India, South Africa, and Turkey – that suffered the sharpest selloffs. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThe second plausible transmission mechanism is asset prices. For example, capital inflows have boosted demand for local land and driven up its price. Land holdings can, in turn, be used as collateral, stimulating further credit flows and triggering successive rounds of asset-price appreciation. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphWhen capital flows stop, this entire process unwinds, inflicting much pain. The drop in the price of land (and of other assets) impairs their role as collateral, causing domestic credit flows to suffer. Companies – especially smaller ones – that cannot even get working capital are sure to cut back on employment and investment. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphHong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, and China are four countries where land and real-estate prices have risen sharply in recent years. How much will those economies suffer when the music stops? CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThe third transmission channel is public debt. The direct impact is obvious: a government that cannot borrow will have to cut spending or raise taxes, with contractionary consequences. But the indirect impact can be nastier. If a well functioning government-debt market is needed to ensure financial stability in developed countries, it is even more important in emerging countries. Banks, for example, hold large stocks of government bonds. A sharp drop in those bonds’ value will surely affect banks’ ability to lend to the private sector. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphAll of these mechanisms have one thing in common: they operate through financial markets and can cause a credit crunch. Such crunches, history shows, are an omnipresent feature of the aftermath of sudden stops in capital flows. And when credit is scarce, recoveries are inevitably slow. CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphOf course, all such worries would be dispelled if the International Monetary Fund or some other entity would serve as a fast and effective global lender of last resort. But that will not happen for many years to come. In the meantime, several emerging economies will remain places from which you wish you could emerge in an emergency. Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/andres-velasco-on-emerging-economies--continuing-vulnerability-to-a-capital-flow-reversal#ozuw1hFuyRAjwYvw.99

lunes, 10 de febrero de 2014

Inequality, environment and demographics: the challanges of the next decades

Interesting lecture of Christine Lagarde on the challenges of next decades in a global context. Good evening. It is a great honor to be invited to deliver this year’s Dimbleby Lecture, and I would like to thank the BBC and the Dimbleby family for so kindly inviting me—and especially David Dimbleby for his warm words of introduction. This evening, I would like to talk about the future. Before looking ahead, however, I would like to look back—for the clues to the future can often be read from the tea leaves of the past. I invite you to cast your minds back to the early months of 1914, exactly a century ago. Much of the world had enjoyed long years of peace, and giant leaps in scientific and technological innovation had led to path-breaking advances in living standards and communications. There were few barriers to trade, travel, or the movement of capital. The future was full of potential. Yet, 1914 was the gateway to thirty years of disaster—marked by two world wars and the Great Depression. It was the year when everything started to go wrong. What happened? What happened was that the birth of the modern industrial society brought about massive dislocation. The world was rife with tension—rivalry between nations, upsetting the traditional balance of power, and inequality between the haves and have-nots, whether in the form of colonialism or the sunken prospects of the uneducated working classes. By 1914, these imbalances had toppled over into outright conflict. In the years to follow, nationalist and ideological thinking led to an unprecedented denigration of human dignity. Technology, instead of uplifting the human spirit, was deployed for destruction and terror. Early attempts at international cooperation, such as the League of Nations, fell flat. By the end of the Second World War, large parts of the world lay in ruins. I now invite you to consider a second turning point—1944. In the summer of that year, the eminent economist, John Maynard Keynes, and a delegation of British officials, embarked on a fateful journey across the Atlantic. The crossing was risky—the world was still at war and enemy ships still prowled the waters. Keynes himself was in poor health. But he had an appointment with destiny—and he was not going to miss it. The destination was the small town of Bretton Woods in the hills of New Hampshire, in the northeastern United States. His purpose was to meet with his counterparts from other countries. Their plan was nothing less than the reconstruction of the global economic order. The 44 nations gathering at Bretton Woods were determined to set a new course—based on mutual trust and cooperation, on the principle that peace and prosperity flow from the font of cooperation, on the belief that the broad global interest trumps narrow self-interest. This was the original multilateral moment—70 years ago. It gave birth to the United Nations, the World Bank, and the IMF—the institution that I am proud to lead. The world we inherited was forged by these visionary gentlemen—Lord Keynes and his generation. They raised the phoenix of peace and prosperity from the ashes of anguish and antagonism. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Because of their work, we have seen unprecedented economic and financial stability over the past seven decades. We have seen diseases eradicated, conflict diminished, child mortality reduced, life expectancy increased, and hundreds of millions lifted out of poverty. Today, however, we are coming out of the Great Recession, the worst economic crisis—and the great test—of our generation. Thanks to their legacy of multilateralism—international cooperation—we did not slip into another Great Depression that would have brought misery across the world yet again. We all passed the test—rejecting protectionism, reaffirming cooperation. Yet there will be many more tests ahead. We are living through a time every bit as momentous as that faced by our forefathers a century ago. Once again, the global economy is changing beyond recognition, as we move from the industrial age to the hyperconnected digital age. Once again, we will be defined by how we respond to these changes. As we look ahead toward mid-century, toward the world that our children and grandchildren will inherit from us, we need to ask the question: what kind of world do we want that to be—and how can we achieve it? As Shakespeare says in Julius Caesar: “On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” This evening, I would like to talk about two broad currents that will dominate the coming decades—increasing tensions in global interconnections and in economic sustainability. I would then like to make a proposal that builds on the past and is fit for the future: a strengthened framework for international cooperation. In short, a new multilateralism for the 21st century. Tensions in global interconnections I will start with the first major current—tensions in global interconnections, between a world that is simultaneously coming closer together and drifting further apart. By “coming together”, I mean the breakneck pattern of integration and interconnectedness that defines our time. It is really the modern counterpart of what our ancestors went through in the fateful years leading up to 1914. Just look at the great linking of the global economy over the past few decades. For one thing, world trade has grown exponentially. We are now in a world of integrated supply chains, where more than half of total manufactured imports, and more than 70 percent of total service imports, are intermediate goods or services. A typical manufacturing company today uses inputs from more than 35 different contractors across the world. Financial links between countries have also grown sharply. In the two decades before the crisis in 2008, international bank lending—as a share of world GDP—rose by 250 percent. And we should expect this to rise further in the future, as more and more countries dive into the financial nexus of the global economy. We are also living through a communications revolution. It has produced a starburst of interconnections, with information traveling at lightning speed from limitless points of origin. The world has become a hum of interconnected voices and a hive of interlinked lives. Today, 3 billion people are connected to each other on the internet. Three million emails are sent each second. There are almost as many mobile devices as people on the planet, and the “mobile mindset” is deeply embedded in all regions of the world. In fact, the highest rates of mobile penetration are in Africa and Asia. Back in 1953, when people tuned into the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, their experience was mediated essentially by one voice—the masterful Richard Dimbleby, whom we honor today. In contrast, when Prince George arrived last summer, his birth was heralded by more than 25,000 tweets a minute! With such a dizzying pace of change, we can sympathize with Violet Crawley, Downton Abbey’s countess, who wondered whether the telephone was “an instrument of communication or torture!” This brave new world—this hyperconnected world—offers immense hope and promise. Stronger trade and financial connections can bring tangible benefits to millions of people—through higher growth and greater convergence of living standards. The dream of eliminating extreme poverty is within our reach. The communications revolution too can be a potent force for good. It can empower people, unleash creativity, and spur change. Think about how twitter messages helped to galvanize the participants in the Arab Spring, or how social media carrying the message of Malala in Pakistan pricked the conscience of the entire world. It is not all bright skies, however. When linkages are deep and dense, they become hard to disentangle. In such an interwoven labyrinth, even the tiniest tensions can be amplified, echoing and reverberating across the world—often in an instant, often with unpredictable twists and turns. The channels that bring convergence can also bring contagion. Because of this, the global economy can become even more prone to instability. If not managed well, financial integration can make crises more frequent and more damaging. Consider, for example, where and how the recent global financial crisis began—in the mortgage markets of suburban America—and spread all around the world. The communications revolution too has a dark side. It can sow discord, instill factionalism, and spread confusion. Instead of an online forum for ideas and expression, we could have a virtual mob or a global platform to promote intolerance or hatred. Instead of a beautiful symphony, we could have an ugly cacophony. So the key challenge for us in all this will be to magnify the good and diminish the bad. If managing the great “coming together” were not difficult enough, it will be further complicated by the other current that I mentioned: the tendency for the world to grow further apart, even as it draws closer together. This is a paradox. What do I mean? I mean the diffusion of power across the world—toward more diverse geographical regions and more diverse global stakeholders. Unlike with integration, our forefathers experienced nothing like this. It is a defining feature of our hyperconnected age. One of the major megatrends of our time is the shift in global power from west to east, and from north to south—from a few to a handful, to a myriad. Fifty years ago, the emerging markets and developing economies accounted for about a quarter of world GDP. Today, it is half, and rising rapidly—very likely to two-thirds within the next decade. The diffusion of power also goes beyond country relationships, extending to a whole host of networks and institutions that inhabit the fabric of global society. Think about the rising nexus of non-government organizations, which can use the communications revolution to extend their reach and amplify the voice of civil society. In just 20 years, the number of these groups associated with the United Nations rose from 700 to nearly 4000. Think about the growing power of multinational corporations, who now control two-thirds of world trade. According to some research, 12 multinational corporations now sit among the world’s top 100 economic bodies in terms of sheer size. Think about powerful cities—31 of them are also on that list of the top 100. And they continue to grow. By 2030, about 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. Think also about the rising aspirations of citizens who feel increasingly part, yet not quite adjusted to, our interconnected “global village”. By 2030, the global middle class could top 5 billion, up from 2 billion today. These people will inevitably demand higher living standards, as well as greater freedom, dignity, and justice. Why should they settle for less? This will be a more diverse world of increasing demands and more dispersed power. In such a world, it could be much harder to get things done, to reach consensus on issues of global importance. The risk is of a world that is more integrated—economically, financially, and technologically—but more fragmented in terms of power, influence, and decision-making. This can lead to more indecision, impasse, and insecurity—the temptations of extremism—and it requires new solutions. Tensions in economic sustainability We will also need solutions for the second broad current that will dominate the next few decades—tensions in economic sustainability, between staying strong and slowing down. Of course, the immediate priority for growth is to get beyond the financial crisis, which began six years ago and is still with us, as the markets remind us these days. This requires a sustained and coordinated effort to deal with problems that still linger—a legacy of high private and public debt, weak banking systems, and structural impediments to competitiveness and growth—which have left us with unacceptably high levels of unemployment. You are used to the IMF talking about these issues, I know. Tonight, however, I want to set these issues in the context of longer-term impediments. Three in particular—demographic shifts, environmental degradation, and income inequality. As with global interconnections, some of these problems would look familiar to our ancestors—rising inequality, for example. But others are new and novel—such as pressures on the environment. Demographics Let me start with demographics. Over the next three decades, the world’s population will get much larger and much older. In 30 years time, there will be about two billion more people on the planet, including three quarters of a billion people over the age of 65. By 2020, for the first time ever, there will be more old people over 65 than children under 5. The geographical distribution will also change—young populations in regions like Africa and South Asia will increase sharply, while Europe, China, and Japan will age and shrink. In the coming decades, we expect India to surpass China, and Nigeria to surpass the United States, in terms of population. And both China and India will start aging in the near future. This can create problems on both ends of the demographic spectrum—for youthful countries and for graying countries. Right now, the young countries are seeing a “youth bulge”, with almost three billion people—half the global population—under 25. This could prove a boon or a bane, a demographic dividend or a demographic time bomb. A youthful population is certainly fertile ground for innovation, dynamism, and creativity. Yet everything will depend on generating enough jobs to satisfy the aspirations of the rising generation. This calls for a single-minded focus on improving education—and, in particular, on the potentially massive effects of technological change on employment. Looking ahead, factors such as the internet revolution, the rise of smart machines, and the increasing high-tech component of products will have dramatic implications for jobs and the way we work. Yet governments are not thinking about this in a sufficiently strategic or proactive way. Aging countries will have different problems, of course. They will face slowing growth precisely at a time when they need to take care of a retiring generation—people who have contributed to society and expect, as part of the social contract, to be provided with decent social services as they move into their twilight years. This too can create tensions. Migration from young to old countries might help to release some pressure at both ends. Yet it could also inflame tensions—the brain drain could sap productive potential from source countries and a sudden influx of people could erode social cohesion in host countries and fuel nationalism. Yes, migration can help, but it must be managed well. Environmental degradation So demographics is one potential long-term obstacle. A second is environmental degradation, the newest and greatest challenge of our era. We all know what is at stake here. More people with more prosperity will stretch our natural environment to the limit. We can expect growing pressure points around water, food, and energy scarcity as the century progresses. By 2030, almost half of the world’s population will live in regions of high water stress or shortage. Hovering over all of this is the merciless march of climate change. Because of humanity’s hubris, the natural environment, which we need to sustain us, is instead turning against us. Make no mistake, it is the world’s most vulnerable people who will suffer most from the convulsions of climate. For example, some estimates suggest that forty percent of the land now used to grow maize in sub-Saharan Africa will no longer be able to support that crop by the 2030s. This will have hugely disruptive implications for African livelihoods and lives. A few years back, Prince Charles gave this very Dimbleby lecture. He used the occasion to make an impassioned plea to respect the natural law of ecological sustainability. “In failing the earth,” he said, “we are failing humanity”. The bad news is that we are getting perilously close to the tipping point. The good news is that it is not too late to turn the tide—even with rising seas. Overcoming climate change is obviously a gigantic project with a multitude of moving parts. I would just like to mention one component of it—making sure that people pay for the damage they cause. Why is this aspect—getting the prices right—so important? Because it will help to reduce the harm today and spur investment in the low-carbon technologies of tomorrow. Phasing out energy subsidies and getting energy prices right must also be part of the solution. Think about it: we are subsidizing the very behavior that is destroying our planet, and on an enormous scale. Both direct subsidies and the loss of tax revenue from fossil fuels ate up almost $2 trillion in 2011—this is about the same as the total GDP of countries like Italy or Russia! The worst part is that these subsidies mostly benefit the relatively affluent, not the poor. Reducing subsidies and properly taxing energy use can be a win-win prospect for people and for the planet. Income inequality Demographics and degradation of the environment are two major long-term trends—disparity of income is the third. This is really an old issue that has come to the fore once again. We are all keenly aware that income inequality has been rising in most countries. Seven out of ten people in the world today live in countries where inequality has increased over the past three decades. Some of the numbers are stunning—according to Oxfam, the richest 85 people in the world own the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population. In the US, inequality is back to where it was before the Great Depression, and the richest 1 percent captured 95 percent of all income gains since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent got poorer. In India, the net worth of the billionaire community increased twelvefold in 15 years, enough to eliminate absolute poverty in this country twice over. With facts like these, it is not surprising that inequality is increasingly on the global community’s radar screen. It is not surprising that everyone from the Confederation of British Industry to Pope Francis is speaking out about it—because it can tear the precious fabric that holds our society together. Let me be frank: in the past, economists have underestimated the importance of inequality. They have focused on economic growth, on the size of the pie rather than its distribution. Today, we are more keenly aware of the damage done by inequality. Put simply, a severely skewed income distribution harms the pace and sustainability of growth over the longer term. It leads to an economy of exclusion, and a wasteland of discarded potential. It is easy to diagnose the problem, but far more difficult to solve it. From our work at the IMF, we know that the fiscal system can help to reduce inequality through careful design of tax and spending policies. Think about making taxation more progressive, improving access to health and education, and putting in place effective and targeted social programs. Yet these policies are hard to design and—because they create winners and losers—they create resistance and require courage. Nevertheless, we need to get to grips with it, and make sure that “inclusion” is given as much weight as “growth” in the design of policies. Yes, we need inclusive growth. More inclusion and opportunity in the economic life also means less cronyism and corruption. This must also rise to the top of the policy agenda. There is one more dimension of inequality that I wish to discuss here—one that is close to my heart. If we talk about inclusion in economic life, we must surely talk about gender. As we know too well, girls and women are still not allowed to fulfill their potential—not just in the developing world, but in rich countries too. The International Labor Organization estimates that 865 million women around the world are being held back. They face discrimination at birth, on the school bench, in the board room. They face reticence of the marketplace—and of the mind. And yet, the economic facts of life are crystal clear. By not letting women contribute, we end up with lower living standards for everyone. If women participated in the labor force to the same extent as men, the boost to per capita incomes could be huge—27 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, 23 percent in South Asia, 17 percent in Latin America, 15 percent in East Asia, 14 percent in Europe and Central Asia. We simply cannot afford to throw away these gains. “Daring the difference”, as I call it—enabling women to participate on an equal footing with men—can be a global economic game changer. We must let women succeed: for ourselves and for all the little girls—and boys—of the future. It will be their world—let us give it to them. A Multilateralism for a New Era I have talked tonight about the main pressure points that will dominate the global economy in the years to come—the tension between coming together and drifting apart; and the tension between staying strong and slowing down. I have talked about pressures that would have seemed familiar a century ago, and some that are entirely new. Now, how do we manage these pressure points? Where are the solutions? Overcoming the first tension really boils down to a simple question: do we cooperate as a global family or do we confront each other across the trenches of insularity? Are we friends or are we foes? Overcoming the second tension requires us to face common threats that are not bound by borders. Do we face adversity together, or do we build yet more borders and Maginot Lines that will be mere illusionary protections? The response to both tensions is therefore the same: a renewed commitment to international cooperation; to putting global interest above self-interest; to multilateralism. As Martin Luther King once said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This is really an old lesson for a new era. At such a momentous time as this, we need to choose the ethos of 1944 over 1914. We need to rekindle the Bretton Woods spirit that has served us so well. That does not mean, however, that we need to go back to the drawing board. Thanks to the inheritance of history, we have specific, working, forms of cooperation at hand. Again, think about the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization—and of course the IMF. We might call these concrete—or “hard”—forms of global governance. We also have a number of “soft” instruments, such as the G20 at one end and networks of non-government organizations at the other. These entities have no formal mandates or legal powers of enforcement, but they do have value. They can move quickly and they can wedge open the doors of dialogue. And, as Winston Churchill famously said, “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”! We have seen the power of multilateralism in action, both “hard” and “soft”. For an example of soft cooperation, we need look no further than right here in London five years ago, when the G20 countries rallied to turn back the tide of crisis, and made sure the world did not slip into a second Great Depression. As for more concrete forms, I invite you to consider the historic role played by the IMF down through the years—helping Europe after the war, the new nations of Africa and Asia after independence, the former eastern bloc after the Iron Curtain fell, and Latin America and Asia after crippling crisis. During the current crisis, we made 154 new lending commitments, disbursed $182 billion to countries in need, and provided technical assistance to 90 percent of our member nations. And we have 188 of them. The beauty of the new multilateralism is that it can build on the old—but go further. The existing instruments of cooperation have proven extremely successful over the past decades, and they must be preserved and protected. That means that institutions like the IMF must be brought fully up to date, and made fully representative of the changing dynamics of the global economy. We are working on that. More broadly, the new multilateralism must be made more inclusive—encompassing not only the emerging powers across the globe, but also the expanding networks and coalitions that are now deeply embedded in the fabric of the global economy. The new multilateralism must have the capacity to listen and respond to those new voices. The new multilateralism also needs to be agile, making sure that soft and hard forms of collaboration complement rather than compete with each other. It needs to promote a long-term perspective and a global mentality, and be decisive in the short term—to overcome the temptation toward insularity and muddling through. Fundamentally, it needs to instill a broader sense of social responsibility on the part of all players in the modern global economy. It needs to instill the values of a global civil market economy—a global “guild hall”, as it were. What might this mean in practice? It clearly means many things, starting with all global stakeholders taking collective responsibility for managing the complex channels of the hyperconnected world. For a start, that means a renewed commitment to openness, and to the mutual benefits of trade and foreign investment. It also requires collective responsibility for managing an international monetary system that has traveled light years since the old Bretton Woods system. The collective responsibility would translate into all monetary institutions cooperating closely—mindful of the potential impact of their policies on others. In turn, that means we need a financial system for the 21st century. What do I mean by that? I mean a financial system that serves the productive economy rather than its own purposes, where jurisdictions only seek their own advantage provided that the greater global good prevails and with a regulatory structure that is global in reach. I mean financial oversight that is effective in clamping down on excess while making sure that credit gets to where it is most needed. I also mean a financial structure in which industry takes co-responsibility for the integrity of the system as a whole, where culture is taken as seriously as capital, and where the ethos is to serve rather than rule the real economy. This has special resonance right here in the City of London. As a financial center with global reach, it must be a financial center with global responsibility. And with all due respect and admiration, that goes beyond hiring a Canadian to head the Bank of England! We also need the new 21st century multilateralism to get to grips with big ticket items like climate change and inequality. On these issues, no country can stand alone. Combating climate change will require the concerted resolve of all stakeholders working together—governments, cities, corporations, civil society, and even private citizens. Countries also need to come together to address inequality. As but one example, if countries compete for business by lowering taxes on corporate income, this could make inequality worse. Overall, the kind of 21st century cooperation I am thinking of will not come easy. It might get even harder as time passes, when the curtains fall on this crisis, when complacency sets in--even as the seeds of the next crisis perhaps are being planted. Yet given the currents that will dominate the coming decades, do we really have a choice? A new multilateralism is non-negotiable. Conclusion On that note, let me end by going back again to the beginning—to Keynes and that famous tryst with destiny. Referring to that great multilateral moment, he noted that “if we can so continue, this nightmare, in which most of us here present have spent too much of our lives, will be over. The brotherhood of man will have become more than a phrase.” History proved Keynes right. Our forefathers vanquished the demons of the past, bequeathing to us a better world—and our generation was the main beneficiary. We are where we are today because of the foundation laid by the generation before us. Now it is our turn—to pave the way for the next generation. Are we up to the challenge? Our future depends on the answer to that question. Thank you very much. IMF COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT Public Affairs Media Relations E-mail: publicaffairs@imf.org E-mail: media@imf.org Fax: 202-623-6220 Phone: 202-623-7100

martes, 28 de enero de 2014

Europa y la recuperacion economica

A medida que Europa se recupera de su crisis, los países más afectados como España e Italia están tratando de reducir sus deudas y, al mismo tiempo, de elevar la competitividad de sus economías en el exterior. El problema es que es difícil hacer ambas cosas a la vez y la débil inflación de la zona euro complica aún más la doble tarea. Mientras la élite económica del mundo recibió con beneplácito las noticias de la recuperación global durante la cumbre de Davos realizada la semana pasada, las heridas de la zona euro probablemente demorarán su tiempo en sanar e incluso podrían reabrirse. ¿Por qué? Hasta que comenzó la crisis, los países "periféricos" de la zona euro, principalmente los del sur de Europa, tenían una inflación más alta que el "núcleo" de la región, es decir las economías alrededor de Alemania. Los productos de estos países periféricos se encarecieron demasiado, lo que a menudo produjo grandes déficits comerciales financiados desde el exterior. Sin monedas nacionales que devaluar, los países de la periferia necesitan bajar los precios y los salarios en relación al núcleo europeo para recuperar su competitividad. La inflación tendría que estar por debajo del promedio europeo durante años. Sin embargo, recortar la deuda es más sencillo para las familias, empresas y países si sus ingresos nominales, los cuales suben con la inflación y el crecimiento de la economía, se expanden. La solvencia, y la resistencia a futuras crisis financieras, depende de reducir la deuda como proporción del Producto Interno Bruto. Eso significa que entre más caiga la inflación en Europa, mayor será la tensión entre mejorar la solvencia y elevar la competitividad. Bruegel, un centro de estudios sin afiliación política de Bruselas, calcula que España e Italia pueden reducir su deuda pública en relación al PIB en los próximos años si sus economías crecen, se ajustan a sus presupuestos y la inflación de la zona euro se ubica cerca de 2%, la meta del Banco Central Europeo. Pero si la inflación del bloque es de apenas 1%, entonces la necesidad de abaratar los costos en relación a Alemania llevaría a la inflación en Italia y España a cerca de cero. En ese caso, un PIB nominal más bajo hace que las deudas se vean más graves. La deuda de España podría llegar a 120% del PIB, mientras que la de Italia superaría el 140%, estima Bruegel. La inflación anual de la zona euro ha caído por debajo de 1%. La inflación española es casi inexistente y la de Italia está ba-jando. Incluso Alemania, que necesita que la inflación esté bien por encima de 2% en el escenario optimista de Bruegel, está por debajo de la meta. El escenario más pesimista está cerca de volverse una realidad. "Mi temor es que resulte muy difícil para estos países alcanzar las metas duales de sostenibilidad de deuda pública y una mejora duradera en la competitividad", dice Zsolt Darvas, académico de Bruegel. Si los precios caen, Grecia muestra un escenario de lo que podría suceder: la deflación está causando estragos en la solvencia del país, empujando su relación deuda-PIB a niveles cada vez más altos, pese a sus medidas draconianas de austeridad. Aunque Italia y España no están lidiando con deflación, incluso una inflación muy baja podría crear un círculo vicioso. Esta conlleva a más austeridad para estabilizar la deuda, lo que resta velocidad a la recuperación. Si los ingresos nominales decep-cionan, los hogares y negocios tienen que gastar más de su dinero para reducir sus deudas, dejando a las personas con menos para consumir o invertir. Este problema es parte de un conjunto de razones, incluyendo los altos costos de endeudamiento para los países de la periferia, la austeridad fiscal, sofocantes regulaciones y la ausencia de una demanda de productos a lo largo del continente, por las cuales la recuperación de la zona euro probablemente será a paso de tortuga. Una reducción de deuda demasiado lenta también deja vulnerables a las economías en problemas a posibles brotes de turbulencia financiera global. Las deudas externas netas del gobierno y del sector privado de España, que sumadas representan cerca de 95% del PIB, necesitan ser refinanciadas continuamente. "La amenaza es que cualquier trastorno en los mercados financieros, como una interrupción repentina de la disposición de los [inversionistas] extranjeros a comprar deuda española, causaría el caos", dice Huw Pill, economista jefe para Europa de Goldman Sachs. La historia es similar para buena parte de la periferia europea. "Esta deuda pende como una espada de Damocles sobre Europa", señala Pill. La mayoría de los países de la periferia ya han recuperado cierta competitividad. Pero aún tienen camino por recorrer ya que necesitan acumular grandes superávits comerciales para obtener dinero con el cual pagar sus deudas. La compresión de precios y salarios que requieren hace que las deudas existentes sean una mayor carga en todos los niveles de la economía. Por ejemplo, los trabajadores españoles que acepten un recorte salarial para aumentar la competitividad de su empresa pasarán aún más problemas para pagar su hipoteca. El BCE podría intensificar sus esfuerzos para elevar la inflación en toda Europa, imprimiendo dinero y comprando activos financieros a gran escala. Pero el banco central no quiere desatar la ira de Alemania, que cree que el estímulo monetario es nocivo para la estabilidad financiera. Alemania podría ayudar al darle un impulso a la inversión y los salarios. Una mayor demanda e inflación en el núcleo aliviaría el balance interno de la zona euro y, al reducir el superávit alemán, también debilitaría la tasa de cambio del euro, ayudando a la competitividad de la periferia. No obstante, Alemania ha dejado en claro que el sur de Europa tendrá que solucionar los desequilibrios de la zona euro por su cuenta, con poca ayuda del núcleo para compensar el repliegue de la periferia y los recortes de salario. Europa probablemente seguirá adelante como pueda, como siempre, dice Darvas. Pero sin una inflación más alta, "será un proceso mucho más largo y doloroso".