Friday, May 16, 2008

Fiscal policy efficiency in Latin America (I)

According to Latin America economic outlook 2008,tax and transfers reduce inequality by 15 Gini points in OECD countries while in Latin America, it reduces the equivalent of just 2 gini points. On the other side, fiscal induced reduction in inequality is eight time smaller in Latin America than in Europe. These are some of the key ideas mentioned recently in an article signed by Javier Santiso and Pablo Zoido, in the magazine The Globalist.(April 2008)-
To give a better insight of the issue let considers some additional statistics, ( ,Pablo Oregon 2008) Buenos Aires with 14 millions of inhabitants has 365000 public employees , whereas New York wit almost 20 million of inhabitants has 270000 public employees .Argentina as a whole has 1,5 million of public employees, Chile has 185000 public employees . Google (our boss in this blog),does not need more than 11000 to run such a giant internet services provider.
The efficiency of fiscal policy ,is undermined because of the level of rent it needs to collect ,just to support those who have captured the state for their own purposes. Thus, Brazil with a tax burden of 37% as a share of GDP, has currently a public sector which is increasing at a faster speed than ever ( more than a thousand a month) . Therefore very much of those taxes, are not designed to solve social problems, but to finance the new bureaucracy which has nothing to do with the effectiveness of any policy design. In fact Mexico with a tax burden of 15% as a share o GDP, has the same low level as Brazil in some key social indicators. It follows that perhaps half of tax collection in Brazil, is just to finance bureaucracy.
Tax collection is not the only variable on the equation to solve poverty and inequality. It is also important the efficiency of social programs which requires to be better focused ,but also better complement by a staff capable of doing their jobs with low transaction cost (it means low bureaucracy level).The state has become so relevant to provide public employment, that it has distorted its real meaning , which is to support those who are in danger of being left behind, not to providing them exclusively with assistance, but with the proper tools to overcome their constraints with creativity, imagination, self assurance.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Labor day: Time for a reflection (II)

Between the years 1990 -2000, wages increased faster in high skilled occupations, than low skilled occupations. Therefore there is a widening gap between those two labour skill segment with further implications, such as increasing inequality, higher pressure on educational system to improve its ability to respond to labour market requirements, and social tensions between the winners and losers of globalization .-
On the other hand, free trade agreements make capital good, relatively cheaper than labour services, inducing both capital-labour substitution, and deepening the higher skilled labour demand. New technologies are knowledge intensive.
Thus, a side effect of these free trade agreement should a higher productivity level, but higher risk of greater inequality if the proper policies to improve labour skills are not implemented . More so, if we take into account the fact that low wage economies do not necessarily mean a threat to high wage economy ,precisely because the productivity gap associated to skill differential, therefore it is not easy to correct the wage imbalance throughout global market forces.-
A complementary approach ,could be to focus the attention upon the services sector ,and its job creation prospect, assuming that its skill requirement are not too high, compared to the capital intensive sector. In both western Europe and North America, the services sector has experienced the most robust growth ,both in terms of value added and employment. Between 1991 and 2003,for every 1% percentage point of growth in the services sector, employment increased by 0,57% in North America and 0,67% (Global Policy forum, KILM report 2005),in Europe ,which reinforce the labour intensive technology used in services activities, or at least the complementary nature of labour and services activities.-
Women are improving its share of labour participation, getting close to that one of men, although this does not mean women can get to the same jobs - equal wage, mechanism .There is still a wage gap between men and women, which might not be solve in the short run. However, new technologies available will make its way to reduce that gap, as it allows women to compensate time spend at home, using her own firms internal networks support ,to keep the paced with her jobs.-

Friday, May 02, 2008

Labour day : Time for a reflection (I)

What is the meaning of labour day , in the XXI century?: Well, perhaps May the 1st, means much more today than it has been usual to think about . Globalization has been mainly driven by capital accumulation, which seek lower cost to get higher capital return. The economic foundation of the globalization process is quite clear ,as it is the fact that the necessary complementary labour skills have also changed. More and better qualified skill, are necessary to get a better share of global income growth. The problem is that these skills do not increase at the same pace, to improve labour share, as it does capital productivity in production process. On the other side, lower skills, imply lower labour productivity and lower wage.
The overall picture looks worrisome. The Global Policy Forum and its key indicators of the labour market (KILM- 2005) says that :“half the world´s workers still do not earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the U$$ 2 a day poverty line”. Besides the report says for million of workers, new jobs often provide barely enough income to lift them above poverty line, or are far below any adequate measure of satisfying and productive work. In fact ,almost 50% of global employment (1,38 billion people),down from 57% in 1994 ,live on less than U$$2 a day. This means that although employment might increase, the quality of those new jobs is far below the acceptable. Low productivity Women and men, are working long and hard, for very little because their only alternative is to have no income at all (KILM report 2005).-
Employment and economic growth relationship, has also changed to reflect what it looks like to be, the capital intensive nature of globalization. For every percentage point of additional GDP growth, total global employment has grown by only 0,30 percentage point between 1999 and 2003,a drop from 0,38 percentage points between 1995 -1999. Moreover between 1990-2000,wages increased globally faster in high skilled occupations, than in low-skilled occupations . Therefore the challenge of our time, is to solve the productivity gap, which arise among others reasons, because lack of good education, centralized state which creates a culture based on social assistance, rather than individual effort, which deteriorates the key potential for growth, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.-