Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reviewing the end of the decade

As long as we get close to the next decade it is time to evaluate this one. This decade has been a mixed one. Extraordinary events on the economics ,social, politics, technological and environment side , has made it a unique period of innovation, progress but also the natural stress arising because of passing from one stage to another . Let take a closer look to some of these variables:

a.-Economics: Although it seems that the financial crisis of September 2008 screwed up everything, the average global GDP growth for this decade , will be above expectations (4,5%).On the other side, the emerging economies with average GDP growth of 6,6 %, are leading the path of global expansion. At a pace of 143 people per minute adding up to the world population, keeping Global GDP growth is an imperative. Thus, the main challenge for the next decade will be to focus globally on growth .-

b.- Environment: The Copenhagen conference will barely meet the expectations .In fact, it might be possible to have a failure on reaching an accord deeply rooted on protecting the environment. The implication of this failure will not be trivial ,because it will mean that there is no a serious global framework to cope with the effect of dioxide emission and climate change.

c.- Technology . Who thought at the beginning of this decade that we will witness the marvellous of either I Pod or , Blackberry , as a new line of development on global communication?. Who thought about the chance of a competitor for Yahoo?. Goggle arose as a light star, to become a global giant adding its new resources up to revolutionary transformation on global communication to make the world just one global village , just as the global TV started to do in the eighties .What about Facebook or twitter ?. The human creativity does not stop, and the years 2000 will be remembered because of a genuine expression of that.-

d.- Stress. Although the signals of progress are clear enough to count on them as a fact. For different reasons ,fear has become a daily feeling for many people around the world .It looks like the further we move ahead on the technological front ,the more we move backward when it comes to enjoy what we have accomplished .Thus, it seems obvious that the next stage on global development, will be more complex than expected.

However, the world is already flat, which means that everything goes on faster than before, it spreads quicker than before, but it should last less than before, as long as a new event arise because of human creativity. The learning abilities should apply as a guarantee for such a characteristics, innovation and knowledge should make the difference in the next decade ,the one which is close to begin.-

Friday, December 04, 2009

Economists and ideology: Lesson 2008

On september the 6th, the 2009 Nobel laureate in economics Paul Krugman, wrote on his column ( about two different economist groups. Those from the west (freshwaters),and those from the east (Saltywaters) .Both groups , have in common only the basic framework which the economics science is build upon: This is the economy is more often than expected out of its long run trend , and the problem is how to get it back again.-
One group (freshwater)felt self confident about the strength of their argument. Gerad Depreu (1983) ,had demostrated the mathematical foundations of free market economy,in such way that gave liberalism, not only a scientific foundation but also a superiority status .Besides , F von Hayek stated that social desorder is appropiate for a liberal project and its spontaneus order , and M Friedman,had stresed the consequences of inflation ,mainly its negative impact on the economic activity,all of these three big gave strong theoretical support to this approach :The government is part of the problem, instead of the solution” . Market are capable of self regulation, and they do not need any thing more than the proper incentives to get the maximum efficiency.-
The other group (saltywater), think that economics concern more with politics than efficiency.It deals more , with the process than the outcome (short run bias) ,such that it is not possible to avoid governmenet intervention to cope with natural disestabilization forces, arising from the nature of private markets .Keynes is the main inspiration for this approach,deeply rooted on the financial crisis of 1929-1933,and how Governmenet at that time might have solved the crisis, which by the way, it did not..-
So, as long as economists fixed their position, (market agaisnt the Government action), they lose the perspective to focus on the problem which economics deals with, and as a result they were unable to think about how to prevent the consequences of the financial bubble .(version 08).-
Prominent economists believed that prestige and reputacion by itself, would be enough to constraint bank manager risk taking behaviour .However bank managers, did not care too much about those issues, and the whole argument proved to be a failure.
Did the economy really fail to anticipate the global financial crash of 2008? .The fact of the matter, is that economics had instruments to anticipated the financial crash, but they were not considered to be good enough, as long as they were against the conventional wisdom , concerning efficient outcomes based on rational behaviour.Thus, the real failure was on the economist beliefs concerning markets performance, rather than a lacks of instruments. It was like a phisician who confusing symptons with the disease, trust more in a painkiller than in his own ability to judge by himself, the nature of the problem to be solved .Therefore , economics as a science , is in better shape after the crisis.-
N Roubini, and others economist, all said at some time where the global economy was headed to.Ideology ignored them. Therefore , the big failure has been on idelogies . Economics which did not learn from politics failed . We hope it will the last.-

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brazil : What is new about its prospect as a global partner?

In the sixties (1968) ,Brazil was among the top ten world economies. It was an industrial power based on public policies designed to support industrialization . Unfortunately, that experience ended up with inflation, fiscal deficit and higher poverty. Brazil missed that opportunity but the seeds were already on the field for the following years. Infrastructure, technology (Brazil has developed its own technology capabilities), Human capital based on immigrants (Japanese, Korean and other groups) supply the energy needed.
After the shocks of the seventies ;Brazil went into the economic contraction like most of the world economies did because of oil prices increases, However, Brazil started out the process of substituting oil to become less energy dependent .They developed ethanol and alcohol as an alternative source of energy, such these days they do not depend that much of foreign oil.
It seems that it is not by chance that Brazil is already on track to be what a lot of economic experts, expected them to be. The most important Latin America economy as a global partner . Thus, its economy progress and stability, has allow them to become member of the so called BRIC group, which includes aside form Brazil, Russia, India and China.-
After the oil shocks of the seventies, and both the political constraint and inflationary experiences of the eighties, in the early nineties Brazil, started off a second generation reforms which handed out public companies to private owners , throughout privatization programs . Improved its macroeconomic institutions with autonomous Central bank, and better fiscal policy design has allow its economy to be ready for the next step, such as to be a global partner.
So, it is not a recent event which has lead Brazil to its current status, but a long way with rights and wrongs . Actually is the main exponent of the so called soft power in Latin America .Everyone respect Brazil even they do little to get so, except for the fact that they work based on pragmatism. The best example about has been President Lula economic policies, which have worked out a framework friendly with markets, but keen with social needs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Entrepreneurships: the new way to cope with global opportunities.

The month of November will be full of activities around the world concerning entrepreneurship .Between November 16th and 22nd, there will be events world wide to discuss the nature ,implications ,and prospect of entrepreneurship.
What is the meaning of entrepreneurships?. In a nutshell, means an attitude toward opportunities arising both from internal and external markets forces. The internal market forces, deal with the environment within firms which might be plenty of opportunities to take action on, but no all of its human capital is ready to do so because they lack the will to go for it. Some examples: Computer network, allows everyone to get access to data and information ,in such amount sufficient enough to build up an internal service platform(birthday greetings ,firm commemorations, data analysis for innovation applied on management and productive process, share value added services center ,customer services ) which might influence decisively the job performance, both in terms of social interactions and results. The only requirement to go along with it, is to have a the willingness to go for the difference .
In other words, it is required intrapreneurship , which is different from entrepreneurship, because the latter deals with the external markets opportunities, while the former deal with the internal markets. Business needs intrapreneurship , more than just employees doing he same all the time , trapped in the routine of changing nothing, to get over with the standard of value added which actually apply to the allocation of resources .
Entrepreneurships , is also important because it deals with the way people within a community, face the chance of doing something better and different, with the same resources available for everyone, but which otherwise would be wasted or unproductive. Even more, it would allow to create wealth.
At the core of entrepreneurship is to solve business problems with an approach based more on individual strength, than other based on external support or luck. Entrepreneurs stories are all based on the ability to pursue what others are not willing to go for, not necessarily because they do not want to, but mostly because they do not believe in. Strength ,faith, willingness , attitude are all mixed on both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. These input are the source of innovation, change and wealth creation.-
Behind great ideas there have been the seed of entrepreneurship. Burger King, Mc Donald, Amazon, CNN, Apple, Facebook, Twiter even our boss Google, are all the outcome of geniality mixed with passion, focus and tenacity to get what these entrepreneurs really believed in .-
Chile is also working on this subject .Just in November there will be 7 events related to entrepreneurship ,from north to south. In the end of the nineties, there were in Chile more than 1 million of entrepreneurs ,which outpaced the rate of entrepreneurship as a proportion of total population, of countries like Japan. Thus, entrepreneurship has become the input to mobilize energy toward a global scale of wealth creation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Climate change threat : A requirement for a more efficient use of resources.

The whole world is looking for better answers to climate change. Copenhagen will be at the core of the matter next December , when the industrial and emerging economies will start to work at it. Let make a short introduction to the state of the art.
Although it seems an urgent issue ,which suggest that nobody care about it, the climate change discussion has made a decisive progress in the last couple of years, such that is not a back stage (secondary importance) problem anymore, but it is a front page problem which need to be addressed firmly. Thus, beyond the Kyoto protocol and its results, it has gotten the attention of key leaders. The Catholic Church and the Pope Benedict XVI, has made a call just a couple of year ago, for better protection of environment .This was a breakthrough step, given the fact that the religious beliefs do not have a clear focus on environment ,and the way the human specie deal with what it might be considered the God Property. The Nobel committee ,also said a word in 2008 , with Mr Al Gore as the laureate with the Nobel Piece Prize recognition.
Besides, world political leaders, The United Nations, the global news media, Non government organization, even celebrities from different fields, are all engaged in this challenge of controlling the pace which human specie make its way toward economic progress, keeping the delicate balance with nature and the environment.-
It follows that this BLOG ACTION DAY, should not be a day of sorrow, but a day of hope and expectations. Something is changing, and we should realized the scope of that change . Therefore , the next step is to identify the primary issues which come along to define priorities in this age of environment constraint.
On top of the list, it is the new concept of efficiency. From the economic point of view ,efficiency deals with minimize the monetary cost involved in the process of transforming input into output. With the environment considered to be a “free good”,(it means no price was needed to get that resource ) ,it was not include in such calculations. In fact, most of the countries measure of GDP increases, without considering the impact of such increase in the environment ,which at this moment might be negative. Thus ,this new concept of efficiency must be applied to every transforming action, into the whole productive chain. Actually, the main activities adding up pollution and dioxide emissions are :Electricity companies (23%),Industry ( 16,8%),Transport (14,0%),Agriculture (12,5%), Resources Exploitation(11,3%), Residential consumption (10,3%),Garbage (3,4%),others ( 10%). Almost 78% of dioxide emissions come from productive activities, not efficient enough in its productive process. It follows that Electricity which is in the first place, has become the priority for new sources of efficiency. So, let concentrates on that. There are already some interesting approach, like the “Smart grid electricity” source of energy power , which has been developed by Siemens ( , promoted at the “Meeting trade show” in Europe from October 6 ,up to October the 8 , in Barcelona .
We all face the challenge of getting the attention on environment issues, but also it is the time for focusing on productive sectors called to improve their efficiency standards. This is the challenge in the coming years.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Politics and global economy

Following Paul Johnson, Politics and politicians became important after WW II, because there were important issues to solve peacefully among different partners. The negotiation table was the new scenario, to solve what the battle field left unsolved. These days, the global financial crisis and its impact , is the equivalent to the economic battle field , and also there are important issues unsolved which requires a rather politic approach. Some of these issues are global financial regulation ,CEO compensation payments, Management models concerning risk taking , rating agencies performance and the like. None of these topics, concern to just one economy, it concern to the global economy .
The global economy is more risk averse, than each of the economy it includes. In other words , the real problem concerning global economy performance are not the one related to the real economy (trade), because the current link between consumption and production make unthinkable the option of protectionism , but the current instantaneous financial capital links is what has becomes a more pressing issue. A recent IMF report indicates that the transmission speed of the September 2008 financial crisis, was higher than past experiences because of these links. Therefore the new issue to solve, deals with the kind of financial regulation feasible to apply to a global scale, than what to do about cheaper imports .Why is it so?. Physical Capital mobility make protectionism a short lived option. Governments might set either quotas or taxes, but it can not set physical barriers to new investments coming in . Whereas unregulated financial flows might deteriorate the foundations of consumption and production links when exchange rates react to such a flows. Both Depreciations and appreciations are not risk free for each individual economy. In fact, These flows might be the main source of output variability in the global economy , as long as it might affects strongly the real side of each of the economy it includes .
Thus, while some analysts might have thought that the importance of politicians was decreasing , politicians and politics are back again on the world economic stage. The G-20 is a very good example of this came back .It replaced the traditional G-8, because there is a new world allocation of economic influence. The emerging economies have gotten its place in the global economy , because after all are among the main loser when it comes to capital flows and its effect on the domestic economy.
An interesting point deals with the fact that it is not just any kind of politics. Voters, which after all are the employers of politicians, have already said in some countries which way they prefer to go through in terms of policies focus . It might be strange but in some of these cases (Germany),they have preferred a conservative pragmatic market based approach ,instead of a more liberal stated based approach .How is this possible? . First of all, right and left politics do not mean the same as they did just a few years ago(1990). Services have replaced manufacturing, and the new manufacturing is based on automatic process and robotics, which require more skilled labour force. Low skills workers, do not have chances to support redistribution policies, because they have been replaced by machines and robots. Thus ,the traditional left, has lost its core message. The new workers are more aware about their tax payment, and therefore more conservative with taxes allocations, because they earn higher incomes or expect to get so in the short run. Is this a trend? It might be so, although each economy has its own social and productive structure. However, Brazil and Chile are in Latin America at least, good examples of this change about the new focus concerning political orientation .Pragmatism is the path for this new era of politicians.-

Friday, September 18, 2009

From recessions to recovery:Some notes (II)

The role of macroeconomic policy , is key to have a strong impact on the economic recovery . According to the IMF paper ,(WP/09/183, august 2009), a 1% of GDP increase in fiscal deficit imply a 0,12% increase in the post recession GDP rebound. On the other side, expansionary Monetary policy is also a powerful tool in industrial countries ,for economic recovery. In fact ,a 10% increase in the growth rate of real money stock , is associated with 0,35% increase in GDP growth. Adding up both effects, GDP growth in industrial economies , should start to reflect the impact of these recent expansionary fiscal and monetary policy.
Exchange rate policy is also relevant to define the recovery profile. Those countries with flexible exchange rate , experience a recovery growth more than a percentage point higher than those with fixed exchange rate .This was also the case after the Asian economic crisis in 1997.The flexible exchange rate ,allows for relative prices to adjust itself while the recession take place, such that while the non tradable sector fall the tradable sector expands , compensating for the decrease in domestic activity ,without making it further significant
Concerning structural policies, effective labor market rigidities( abiding by the enforcement of the labor law), have a negative effect on economy recovery, as long as it acts like a constraint to the adjustment between non tradable to tradable sectors goods , delaying the transfer from the unemployed to employed status, while the tradable sector creates new jobs opportunities.-
All of the previous notes, lead us to the following conclusion:
a.- Macroeconomic policies differences , influences the path of economic recovery among different countries. In the 2008 financial crisis, a decisive level of coordination which guided the implementation of both expansionary fiscal and monetary policy ,will make possible to have a low level of growth divergence between industrialized countries ,concerning the pace of recovery, although it is still plausible to have a “F” shaped recovery anyway. Some countries in Europe (Spain and Italy)are behind schedule for economic recovery.
b.- The mix between monetary and fiscal expansion, creates the challenges of the so called “exit strategy” ,which depend heavily upon monetary policy skills to avoid inflationary pressures, given the political nature of fiscal policy. However, as long as the fiscal expansion impact on growth is stronger and persistent, than the impact of expansionary monetary policy , it might be possible to neutralize the risk of the so called “W” shaped recovery(math in the first paragraph , seems to support this hypothesis).Therefore, while the monetary policy becomes more restrictive, the lasting impact of fiscal policy, might be a compensatory force keeping the momentum for economic growth .-
c.- Thus, the economic recovery which is already under way, it might turn out to be persistent although not homogeneously a strong one across the board, at least in the beginning of such a process, to get momentum later on (2010).

Friday, September 04, 2009

From recessions to recovery: Some notes (I)

A recent IMF paper (WP/09/183) , “International evidence on recovery from recessions”, (august 09)written by V. Cerra, U. Panizza and S. Saxena, analyzes the evidence concerning the main characteristics arising from past recoveries ,with data spanning 1960 to 2005 .
The first notion to take into account ,is that not all recoveries have the same profile although at fist glance, it might look so. It is important to make the distinction between recoveries arising from real shocks from that ones arising from financial shocks. In the former case the recovery looks stronger, while in the later case the recovery looks sluggish and weak which make more vulnerable . .
These differences , arises from the fact that the financial sector is at the core of the transmission mechanism of financial resources from savers to investors, such that when the banking system works well , they (investors) can undertake their investment project as planned ,otherwise when the banking system is in trouble ,they face unexpected delay to do so , therefore reducing output expansion because of lower investment level .
A real shock instead(For example, a decrease in exports due to a falling external demand ), deals with an adjustment process concerning expenditures ,which must go down according to the new lower income level, while the financial sector is healthy and ready to support the new expansion cycle, which will start up as soon as there are new sources of external demand .This was the case , after the Asian economies crisis (1997), for those economies which had the capabilities to shift exports from one falling market, to other with some potential making the case for stronger recoveries because of both: this managerial skills ,but also because its fundamental (financial sector) were also strong.
The other side of the analysis, deal with the effectiveness of the instrument applied since the economic activity start to go into negative territory, along with the level of openness to world market . Thus, Fiscal policy is less effective in open economies than it is for closed economies, therefore economic recovery is weaker in open economies than what it is closed economies. On this regard, and to be fair with fiscal policy countercyclical capabilities, it is important to take into account the Income elasticity of demand for export as well. If the income elasticity is high, a substantial drop in external demand will impact strongly on export ,affecting the path of tradable goods contribution to the recovery, making more difficult to compensate for the decrease in domestic demand .The opposite applies for closed economies .In this case by definition, the impact of countercyclical fiscal policy goes fully to the sector (domestic demand) which matter for economic activity.-
The available data suggest that the current recovery will have different characteristics, and it will hardly be a fast recovery. The economic recovery profile, looks to be at a slow pace in industrialized countries , while in emerging economies the recovery might be at a faster pace than their global counterparts.-

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The shipping industry:The other side of the global financial crisis

While the global economy was booming ,the world trade flows by sea ,were unstoppable ,so it was with the shipping industry including both containers cargo ( 500 million containers were transported in 20008 throughout the world), and ship building ( the cargo capacity increased from 4 millions TEU in the year 2000, to 12,5 today. Source, august 11,2009) ).
All of the sudden ,the world demand for transporting goods by sea has fallen sharply ,and a new story has begun. What are going to be the consequences for global shipping industry?.
Actually, container shipping has declined world wide by 15,7% , the tariff has gone down from U$$27 ,64 to U$$5,32 for container ship per dollar /day , and for every container, shipping firms are losing roughly U$$ 300.At the same time, new ships has been designed to cope with a higher expected demand for container transport. Current ships with 363 feet long, are capable to transport 11400 containers, almost double the current rate of capacity use . Singapore and Hong Kong, have become the place for empty ships which are waiting for the good times to come back soon.
What Onassis would have done with a crisis like this one?.The first approach is to take it like an opportunity, to consolidate market positions specially for big shipping industry player to take control of all of those smaller companies , which are not in the position to make it over .The Chilean shipping company CSAV, was helped by such an arrangement .On this regard, the expected outcome will be a contraction on the level of supply , which means that fewer firms, will take control of all of those smaller ones unable to survive the crisis. Thus ,the future shipping industry structure will be characterized, by a higher level of concentration. Whether it will be within the range of the H-H (Herfindal - Hirschman index) index, considered as moderated concentration or not, is another matter.
As long as this concentration goes on, the implications for long term shipping tariff(beyond the year 2012) might be an increase above previous level ,once the recovery is fully underway ,as the oligopoly forces drive prices up .
Should government step in into this industry, as it did with the banking industry ?.There are substantial differences between this two casualties form the global financial crisis.While the global banking industry was on the edge of collapse , the shipping industry as a whole ,seems to be far form such an outcome. Some firms, specially those with unrealistic expectations about the global economy growth capabilities, which borrowed beyond the reasonable business standard, will be hit hard. However, the business manual suggest that the solution in such a cases goes with cost reductions, productivity increase and , more efficiency which are pretty accessible throughout rationalization process. This is what bigger firm will do in the process of taking over smaller shipping firms. In this scenario , and aside from strategic consideration, (after all Chinese shipping industry will be among the winners) , Government intervention would be negative, as long as it might look like as an arbitrary intervention into the market adjustment to a new equilibrium. In terms of the banking industry, this new equilibrium meant the new great depression 2.0.-

Friday, August 07, 2009

The path of global economy recovery: Some preliminary thoughts

While the economy is moving throughout the second half of 2009, it looks highly probably that sooner than later this year , the NBER will call for the end of the USA economy recession(chart Nº 2. Source ) . Based on recent data (exports recovery, slight decrease in unemployment compensations claims , profit level in some key sectors, revival of the financial sector, prices expected performance ) the USA economy should already be close to the bottom up point .
Given the fact that the recovery is at sight ,there are some question which markets are worry about: The path of the recovery.-
Let try to go deeper into what it might be that path, to foresee its strength and weakness.
a.- It seems that at least in the beginning of the recovery, employment/output elasticity will be low .Thus, although output will start to move to positive territory, in the second half of this year, employment will follow but with some lag . Later on, probably within the first half of the year 2010, employment gains will start to be stronger and sustainable.-
b.- It will not be a consumer driven recovery, therefore it will be a recovery , with a weak start although with a stronger pace in the months after . Investment and firms will take the lead, as long as global economy will demand capital equipment , necessary to sustain the next cycle of global economy expansion. Besides, Banks with higher risk aversion than before , will be more selective to build up theirs portfolio, which will works against consumers considered riskier at this moment .
c.- Foreign demand (chart Nº 3) rather than domestic demand will the engine main of this recovery .This does not mean that domestic demand will stay away for quite a while but , the pace of its own recovery will be slower, manly due to the weak labor market conditions which affect the expectation of the stability of income levels, and the level of private debt which consumer must take care of, before starting again to go shopping .-
d.- The inflationary expectations (chart Nº1)and the Central Bank exit strategy, will have a key role to shape the strength of the recovery. It might be the case that, the next recession although milder than the current one , might be waiting just around the corner. However, the pace of inflation ( ) do not seems to be a threat , therefore there is room for a smooth exit strategy .-
e.- The Developing Asia area (China and India) growing at 5,5% this year and 7% next year ( , July 2009 forecast) , will keep the pace of global economy recovery such as not to lose momentum.-

Friday, July 24, 2009

The new stars on the global economy :The BRIC group

With 40% of world population, and 25% of world GDP, the BRIC group is increasingly considered as the key new economic global partner. The BRIC group , which includes Brazil, Russia, India and China, has arrived to the world stage apparently to works with a different approach , specially concerning the currency for international operations. They do not fully trust the dollar, as the only reference for international finance, so they believe a new world order must arise with more currencies available.-
A key issue about the BRIC group, is related to the fact that they to do not seem to be homogeneous enough as it would necessary to count them as a strong partner .Let check this out a bit further:
a.- Geographically distant from one another, it might affects its sense of identity and common purpose for their leadership. Asian countries share history and cultural values, which makes them prone to work together more actively than with “foreign” .-
b.- Politically ranging from democracy to Political State kind of regime, their leaders are accountable by different audiences and institutions .For instance Brazil has a free press ,with no restriction whatsoever to the news media ability to check what government is doing, which imply higher transaction cost than its partner, when it comes to make political decisions.
c.- Institutionally , the BRIC group also have a mixture ranging from a strong State like China and Russia, to a less centralized State in India, whereas in Brazil the State is returning to a more complementary fashion with the private sector. The rule of law also differ, setting undesirable conditions for trusting them a reliable partners.
Thus, although it looks like the global economy will be organized on the basis of important blocs,(USA ,European Union and Asia), the adding up factors (population and GDP)might not be sufficient condition to consolidate such BRIC structure, like it is the APEC which is also an adding up organization (all of them are on the pacific grim). As long as there is connecting points, the BRIC group will represent the new world economy reality, specially decisive for global economy recovery. However, there is still a long way before such an interesting group become a global partner on its own .
The real importance of BRIC, will probably deal with its role of fulfilling expectations of those countries which are left behind on global affairs , because of the relevance of its new political voice status, to speak out at global stage and international organizations. In fact, the G8 might not longer be what it was, excluding for future meeting the BRIC .
Further advances will depend upon this BRIC group to creates its own structure either to solve differences ,whether they appears on key issues, or to make decisions.-

Friday, July 10, 2009

Capital flows and emerging economies recovery

Private Capital flows is a key variable, to support the economic growth of countries which can not count on domestic financial resources, due to the weakness of domestic capital markets to increase saving. However, these flows are both risk averse and with high sensitivity to any wrong doing on domestic economic policy matters, such that emerging economies actually have to cope with two crisis at the same time: Then one already under way ,and the other caused by the sudden stop of capital flows.
World banks reports indicates that while in the year 2007 the capital flows to emerging economies was USS 1,2 trillion, the year 2008 declined to USS 700 billion and this year it is expected to be USS 300 billion. Thus in less than two year the capital flow have decreased by a margin of four. Accordingly the rates of economic growth went down from 8,1 in the year 2007, to 5,9 in the year 2008, to 1,2 in the year 2009. Whether China and India are excluded, these countries´ growth is expected to be in the negative territory falling (-1,6%).-
These slower pace of economic growth mean that job losses increases, trade flows decrease ,and investment prospect are no better to improve expectations. Thus, the question is when these flows are going to be restored to its previous level?. The answer depend upon the chance of having a more robust global financial system, in the coming months. As long as the financial system remains fragile, the private capital flows will stay at low levels.
But there is a second question which is :Can Foreign Government aid be an effective replacement for those capital flows ?.In other words, is it possible to apply a kind of Global expansionary fiscal policy, to cope with the losses of growth in emerging economies due to lack of private financing?. Let analyze some scenarios to get an approximation to the answer :
a.- Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions. However, a crucial issue is the effectiveness of these actions ,which depend in most of the cases upon the well design and proper focus of the policy prescription. However, in emerging economies, the problem is not only the proper focus ,but the structural economic conditions, ( weak institutions), which can make the whole issue of effectiveness a lot more complicated.-
b.- Whether experience is a proper guide to decide, there is strong evidence concerning the negative impact of Government aid to Emerging economies. Government recipient, has become the main cause for poverty, the main poverty producer and so the main poverty exporter. How come such a dramatic outcome could happen?. Foreign Government aid, has become in many countries a source of corruption when bureaucracy is in charge of managing those financial resources .At each level of bureaucracy , every one take a fee ,such that at the end of the process there is no financial resources left out ,to cope with the objective which justified it.-
c.- Emerging economies should take this global financial crisis as an opportunity , to undertake those reform which has been postpone in the past, specially those aimed at improving the quality and strength of its domestic financial sector and capital market, modernize its state management model ,to make it suitable to cope with the risk standard of private capital flows, and improve the domestic conditions for international trade. It is this combination of better incentives for both capital flows and trade, which really will help more the emerging economies to get back on the growth path soon.-

Friday, June 26, 2009

Unemployment:The weakiest side of the expected economic recovery

While the financial markets wonder about the shape the economic recovery would look like, it seems to be a fact that employment will be behind the fundamentals. To get a better approach to the problem, let assume some scenarios for the expected economic recovery:
a.- From a “L” shaped recession ,to a kind of “F” shaped recovery. It is unlikely that the whole industrialized world and the emerging economies, will get their economies back on truck at the same speed .There will be differences because global economy have an heterogeneity economic framework, rather than an homogeneous one.
In fact, The European union policy framework was not designed to cope with recessions, but to keep low inflation level based on fiscal discipline. Thus ,its response to the current financial crisis was strongly influenced by it, as an institutional constraint. Quite on the contrary to the others economies, and the text book recipe, of no constraint to fight recessions, the Europe Union had to cope with a very strong one .The implications of this constraint ?: it will settle down the pace of the economic recovery in the industrialized world which will be slower ,and it will make its own recession longer. Thus, It seems probably that there will be two levels for the economic recovery. One on top (the USA , the emerging economies , and east Asia ) higher, than the other on the bottom (European Union, and Japan).(Data: IMF and World Bank)
b.- Unemployment will stay high for a longer period than otherwise , because manufacture production drops (15% in industrial countries and 10% in developing world ,excluding China , since august 2008) ,will be hard to get back quickly, while capital flows become more scarce,(pushing down investment) and hard to be available for cash flow firms requirements . All of these means higher uncertainty for better job creation rates. Besides , people already expect to be unemployed longer than previously thought , so they prefer to drop out from the labour force until labour conditions improves. Thus , current unemployment, do not reflect the real magnitude of the fall in the job creation rates , such that when it starts again to be positive , more than expected people will suddenly arise asking for those initially scarce jobs available ,adding up additional pressures to the level unemployment ,even with the recovery under way.-
On the other hand , in industrial economies most of employment is concentrated on services sector, which follow production. Following new orders for higher production , it arises the role of logistics and support services(transportation, banking , insurance, data network management, legal requirement ,and the like). Therefore, the expansionary fiscal policy , although capable to sustain job creation, it will be unable to cope completely with the kind of more specialized jobs which characterized services in the private sector, so it will be hard to get a total neutralization of job losses.-
c.- The output gap will not be enough to get the whole information about the real conditions for the economic recovery, as long as the financial conditions for borrowing and lending do not improve. Thus , the financial gap arising from the expected demand for cash flow, and the supply of it available , somehow it makes the potential output not far away from the current output , leaving without productive prospect ,a lot more than the available resources.-

Friday, June 12, 2009

Commodity price increases: A threat to global economy recovery?

While Oil prices have increased by 75% since February 2009, wheat and others agricultural products , have increased by 25% as well .Thus the question about whether it is a trend for higher future prices, signalling a better chance of robust economic recovery , or it is the result of the speculative forces about these goods, as long as they might be used as financial assets, deserves to be considered . Either way, it is a factor which might complicate the prospect for economic recovery. In almost all recent economic downturn, commodities prices have decreased.-
The fact that input prices increases add cost pressures upon the production process, firms have no other alternative than to pass over such cost pressures to prices. But in a scenario of global economic contraction, such option is not feasible to be applied without risking further deterioration on consumer confidence and consumption, because of a deterioration in their purchasing power .
As the economy get closer to its stabilization point, the next step concern not only about the health of banking system , but also about the way Central Banks will get back all the money they have added into the economy to prevent inflation. Just in case those commodity prices , goes along to even higher level ,inflationary pressures might force Central banks to act sooner than expected, risking to abort the economic recovery or at least to make it weaker.
Thus , there is the chance that the expected economic recovery might be either further delayed or deliberately weakened , because of inflationary expectations which Central bank should cope with, implementing the necessary corrective policy action, which means reversing the expansionary mood following September 2008.Markets expectations about it, reflects already in the long term interest rate which are starting to increase.
This situation imply a new challenge for policy makers. The magnitude of fiscal expansion, means that sooner or later it will be important for those countries which have followed that path ,to consider the way to finance it .Thus , tax increases are also on the sight once the recovery is well on its way toward a more stable output path.-
It seems that it will not easy to move the economy forward, while it faces simultaneously supply side pressures, tax increases at sight, and inflationary expectations on the rise. All of these has led to anticipate that even with a recovery in process, unemployment rates will stay high for a longer period than expected .-
How to cope with all of these forces?. Whether the problem so far has been to shape better expectations, once this expectations improves , the key variable will be Central Bank credibility to keep inflationary expectations ,under control. With over capacity still available, supply side pressures would have for the moment a ceiling .Therefore an important proportion of those prices increases, might be due to speculative reasons. Tax increases are well ahead of schedule, as long as economic growth will also improve the tax payment and collection . The proper timing to take the right economic policy decisions, will become crucial in the months ahead.-

Friday, May 29, 2009

Latin America and the current global economic crisis

Latin America economies and its policy makers , are like the rest of the world trying to figuring out the way to minimize the losses arising from the current global financial crisis .Some countries are in a better institutional shape than others. According to a recent “Stress time competitiveness index “, the top of the list about this test, includes Denmanrk (which scores the maximum 100), Singapur (96,4) and Qatar(87,93) . Latin America economies scored heterogeneously on a three segment scale :The first segment includes :Chile,(67,79) Brazil (55,05), and Perú ( 44,39) .The second segment includes :Colombia (35,41)and Mexico(30,75), and the last segment includes Venezuela (0,0)and Argentina(0,04). Besides the competitiveness index 2009 results for Latin America economies , are concentrated in two groups : the one within places 21 and 40 :Brazil (40), Chile(25) and Peru(37) which has just signed a Free trade agreement with China, and the ones within places 41 to 57 which includes Mexico(46); Colombia(51) , Argentina(55) and Venezuela(57).-
There is an obvious relationships between the two measures. The Latin America economies best suited for coping with the effects of the crisis, are the one better qualified in terms of its competitiveness index. It follows that competitiveness as a goal for economic policy, pay off when it comes to confront severe fluctuations in global economies, like the current one underway ,because it means not only better tools and capabilities to overcome its effect, but a lower impact on welfare level than otherwise as well.
The welfare level, decrease during economic crisis because unemployment rise therefore income fall, and at the same time , firms have both human and financial capital losses which decrease investment . As a result, resources must be reallocated to a different and more efficient uses ,which imply a transaction cost because it take time to identify those new uses. The more flexible markets are ,the lower this adjustment (transaction cost ) and the faster the economy gets back its recovery path. Similarly, robust institutions and proper economic policy ,support a better prospect for economic recovery.
However in the current situation financial the weakness of banking system , make the whole process more complex. It is not only to get back on track the real sector , but also the financial sector as well , to make possible the economic recovery.
Thus ,those countries in a better shape, have better chances to adapt themselves quickly to this new environment , reducing the expected welfare losses and moving faster to he starting line for recovery.-
The traditional approach of both expansive fiscal and monetary policy, has been followed by all of this economies. However ,the impact will differ among them because of different scope , different structural conditions(mentioned above),and different amounts involved. Latin America economies even in a better shape than in the past (the eighties ) to solve this crisis ,will hardly avoid an economic contraction for this year. Some estimation (LAEC) expects a GDP contraction of more than .-0,3%, while others international institutions expect -1,5% or so for this year, given the further deterioration of mexican economy.Thus, no matter the implementation of policy prescription and good competitiveness , it is unlikely for Latin America economies to get positive economic growth this year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The meaning of economic crisis and free market economies

Part of the discussion about the current economic crisis ,is still based on upon who to blame for it. But the important issue goes beyond the one to keep accountable, it deals with the nature of free markets economies. Some Classical economists ,used to blame the capitalist accumulation behavior as a key source for business fluctuations and economic crisis, as long as it was based on credit expansion and its implications for higher interest rates. This has been known as the Austrian economic school of thought .On the other side, Keynes blamed the firm behavior which was production – instead of inventory driven. Thus, as soon as the market demand fell below expectations, firms were afraid to get higher than desired inventories ,therefore they decided to decrease production and unemployment increased.
The differences between both approaches, were in the implications. While in the first approach, crisis meant capitalism collapse and its substitution by a different economic model, in the second approach, government was called to save capitalism throughout active intervention in the economy ,using fiscal policy. It is obvious that in both cases ,the result is far from controversy. In fact ,it has been the controversy of more than a century.
What about the facts?: Private decisions deal with risk, which means uncertainty with a reasonable probability of control. In other words, it is in the roots of private firms and market economy ,the chance of failure .Individuals have within their DNA, even since fecundation , the seed for risky behavior .We learn either to walk, or to speak taking risks. There is no other way to understand human kind progress, without a comprehensive approach about risky decisions made by humans. The problem is that we usually do no count that much the number of success, as we do with the numbers of failures . Just to give a current example, the robot machine actually trapped in Mars ,is part of the risk of getting a better knowledge about that planet , the same way as it was the tragedy of the Challenger. But above all, every step backward ignite a stronger step forward. The free market economy is not different from that pattern.-
Markets seeks risk as the natural path for efficiency. The risk level, is a filter for a better (the best)use of scarce resources. Of course, it should be important to have a limit for those risk which becomes systemic ones , like those connected to the financial sector. However, no matter that limit, and technology progress free market economy, will always stay on the edge of risky options .
Thus, the policy option it is not to avoid risk, throughout heavy regulation ,but to prevent its consequences before it get beyond the maximum tolerance level. Institutions, become relevant to deal with the range of that tolerance as well, and proper policy instrument complement them.
So, who is to blame for the current crisis?. The blame for this crisis is also accountable for the greatest success of human kind. We all should learn there is no way that within a freedom framework, we can avoid the risk of failure. But that risk is worthy ,if we still can count on the second chance to fix it. Thus freedom justify itself , just because it mean an additional opportunity to try what it make the difference between wealth and poverty, between right and wrong.-

Friday, May 01, 2009

Central Bank role and the current global economic crisis (II)

An interesting paper “Financial Stability frameworks and the role of Central Banks: Lesson from the crisis” . Erlend W Nier IMF, april 2009 (Wp/09/70),explores quite accurately the implications for Central Banks about including the financial stability parameter within its policy reaction function.
So far, it is usual for Central Banks to consider within its policy reaction function ,only real parameters, leaving aside those which are connected with the financial side. Thus it might be the case that Central Banks actions ,goes in the opposite direction with financial innovation requirements . For this matter, whether Central Banks are going to be involved as the Lender of last resort(LOLR),it seems appropiate to improve its financial oversight of financial institutions, based on four considerations:
· Assessing solvency: Central Banks will be call to lend when the markets credit´s channels are not working because of long run uncertainty. The only way to get such a knowledge ,is throughout permanent supervision.-
· Gauging systemic impact: Access to supervisory information, allow Central Banks to have the ability for balancing the systemic impact that institutions under financial stress, might have.-
· Moral hazard arising from the safety net: Financial institutions might feel secure enough to go beyond the boundaries of long run systemic risk ,the market take into consideration. Thus ,there are strong incentives for moral hazard ,that the Central Bank is interest to regulate keeping close supervision about prudential liquidity levels.-
· Potential loss of credibility. Central Banks faces potential credibility cost from any mistakes handling the crisis. Thus It is not a “free lunch” path for Central Banks ,to go deeper on the financial root of such crisis. The risk of Failure, would impose high transaction cost for getting its message across to shape future market expectations. Therefore ,it is not only on Central Bank interest but ,on market interest as well, to have a better supervision and regulatory framework on systemically important institutions, for Central Bank to work on a prevention based approach.
It follows ,that Central Bank support for financial innovation goes hand by hand with a better and more active prudential regulation framework to the path such financial innovation might take. More so, when the Central Bank includes in its policy reaction function, the ratio of private debt/ GDP ,to decide to increase or not interest rate. As long as it has a better assessment of financial markets conditions, the better the quality of its judgment to decide the magnitude of interest rate changes, designed not just to get back prices stability , but also to protect financial innovation going on as an essential variable for long run economy growth .
Like any economic policy option, there are benefits and cost associated with this Central Bank closer to financial market .The main benefit ,comes from the lower output variability arising from stable financial conditions , and its lasting impact on welfare and efficiency. What about the cost ?. That is for another article.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Central Banks and current global economic crisis (I)

While the discussion about the current global economy crisis goes on, there are tough evaluations about the implications of Central Bank decisions concerning interest rate, in the previous years (2001-2005). In particular, the effect of a longer than necessary easy monetary policy, applied in the USA economy after 2001, and how it ignited the housing bubble. On this regards some annalist have suggested that Central Bank approach to economy policy, is driven in such way , that regardless of macro economic conditions, this institution seek to support the next bubble, rather than its traditional stand on inflation growth and employment.-
On the other side , the tools available for Central Banks might also be under scrutiny to prevent future crisis. The connection between price stability and financial stability, has not been addressed to the full extent of its significance for economic policy decisions. The normative macroeconomic and rules for policy making (Taylor Rule), is just one side of the problem, as long as it also matters the missing variables from that equation ,specially in the case of financial variables such as the ratio of private debt to GDP. To consider this parameter it would mean that as long as inflation ,and gdp above long run trend justify higher interest rate , so it would when the private debt / GDP ratio, increase above long run trend . An adjustment in interest rate, is necessary to prevent falling into the area of higher systemic risk . In this case ,given all other variables , this deviation from long run trends, might justify an increase in interest rate early that real fundamentals might suggest, preventing the bubble to go out of control.
The question about the responsibility of Central Bank (The Federal Reserve) in the housing bubble will not be easily settle down either. However, it is important to keep in mind that price stability is not disconnected from real variables performances, such as productivity level. Let assume that there is no housing bubbles, because people has the proper information to anticipate rationally the final outcome of such a bubble. Thus, if productivity increase , it means that any demand pressure on prices, is counterbalanced by supply factors, allowing for better price performance within the Central bank target than otherwise. In fact, the productivity level in the USA economy between 2000 and 2008 averaged 2,5 %, such that it was possible to have low interest rate longer than expected .Inflation started to be an higher risk beyond the mid of the year 2000 , not just for demand factor but because of supply shock .(food prices and oil prices increase).-
On this regard , it might be plausible that when Central Bank (USA), started to raise interest rate at a stronger pace(2005- 2006), it was not that much late to do so, as long as inflationary level is concern , because productivity was increasing. Given the way the Taylor rule is defined ,which excludes financial variables, then the key problem might be about the proper specification of the rule.In other word ,it was a misspecification of the tool which mislead Central bank not to raise interest rate stronlgy before when private debt was probably moving above its long run trend. -

Friday, April 03, 2009

Innovation and current economic crisis (II)

Schumpeter said ,behind every economic crisis ,there is also historical forces explaining them , such that a better understanding of its causes, requires models more complex than those based on a partial equilibrium , which do not includes qualitative variables . Thus, in the current situation, of global economic crisis , the historical factor it might be related to the anticipated transition from the post industrial economies, to the global economy. Alvin Toffler ,Lester Thurow Robert Reich ,Guy Sorman,Paul Krugman , explained quite well where the post industrial economy was moving to. However perhaps the missing point (as far as I can recall) ,was the fact that the risk tolerance were different ,as the global economy replaced the post industrial economy order. Therefore a key difference between them ,aside from the market size, and the regulations requirement , is the risk preferences underlying market decisions . While post industrial economies had an higher risk propensity, global economy has a lower risk propensity. Just to mention three areas where these differences stand quite clear, and has moved the global economy away from its initial equlibrium :
a.- Environment protection .The post industrial economy did not give too much attention to the Kyoto protocol, and others call for better environment polices, quite the opposite to the importance that global warming has on the global economy agenda a new arrangement for global environment protection.-
b.- Automobile industry technological profile. The collapse of traditional automobile industry, goes side by side with the old standard for environment protection, as a constraint for technological purposes. As the constraint has changed at the global scale, so it changed the technological profile, which the Big three were not sufficiently prepared for.-
c.- Global Financial flows. The current global economic crisis is the result of a perverse mix of variables, policies and events ,but it has a single element behind : The preference for risky behaviour ,essential to the traditional post industrial economy, which is the path the western industrialized economies, chose to make its way to the era of economic prosperity in the XX century. There was not constraint on energy sources, human capital resources ,raw material resources, and environment resources. The global economy which means the virtuous mix of different economic policies, to support global markets, take unregulated financial flows , as a threat for growth rather than a blessing . The argument that such flows act like a filter for bad domestic polices design, goes against empirical evidence since the late nineties ,which shows that bad economic policies effects, might stay quite a while with unregulated financial flows, without preventing its correction .-
Aside form these historical factors ,there are industrial variables related to business decisions to innovate production process , within the framework of the so called “creative destruction” ,which imply a downward shift in the production fucntion. Economic cycles are related to specific development on the industry , such that when a new technology is applied ,it destroy the old one; and it allow the arising of a new cycle. initiating the next cycle. The implication for policy makers, goes on the side of not interfering these process ,but supporting them with polices aimed at keeping the right incentives working within a flexible framework.-

Friday, March 20, 2009

Innovation and global economic crisis(I)

Schumpeter made a case connecting economic cycles, with the optimizing nature of industry behaviour .Behind every economic crisis , or any period of economic progress, lies the dynamic of industry specially when it has lost its equilibrium path, which it happens with the end of an innovation cycle .How is it possible for an industry to miss the equilibrium path, and as a consequence to get the whole economy into a depression ?.
Within the four stages of economic cycles, economic contraction, depression, recovery and expansion ,there are different forces which should be considered on its own, somehow independent from one another. In other words, what it is relevant to explain an economic contraction, it might not be so to explain the economic recovery due to the cyclical life span of innovation.-
Industrial revolution, railways disposal , availability of steel and electricity, the assembly line , and information age , all represent innovation cycles throughout economic history , associated with an economic contraction . Industry must adapt to the new situation which is costly and time consuming. Thus, to be out of the equilibrium path for an industry ,means to be outdated with the new developments and it represent the adjustment cost to the impact of the innovation.-
The traditional automobile industry collapse, is a good example of these fluctuations due to the innovation cycle .Therefore, a key question which apply to the current global economic crisis is : To what extent , this crisis has the seeds of a new age of global economic expansion?. The answer to this question is not a trivial one, because it deals with the tools used to overcome this crisis . If they are not efficient enough, it will not be an efficient way to get out of this global economic adjustment, as long as it might abort those seeds before they come out to the light of prosperity.-

Friday, March 06, 2009

. Fiscal stimulus package: How effective can it be? (II)

Every country has different economic cycle pattern, which influences the economic tools to apply .New available macroeconomic models, integrate both fiscal and monetary policy, to evaluate the impact of a joint interaction to get the economy back on the stable growth path once a shock occurs, either from demand or supply side. On this regard, it appears a new element due to the volatility trade off. Thus, Lower output volatility imply higher inflation volatility. It follows that current fiscal policy packages which are mainly aimed at stabilizing output, imply the risk of higher inflationary pressures on the long term.-
Therefore ,Long run considerations , can not be ruled out within the framework of fiscal policy packages design when it comes to get over with such a shock .How significant can fiscal policy be to improve Productivity and competitiveness, is a good measure of those long run considerations included into the process. Short run impact of Fiscal policy, is stronger with infrastructure as long it deals with capital expenditures which has a strong multiplier effect. Building bridges, railroads and high way maintenance ,are positive for employment and growth . However, it is also feasible that within the public administration some conflicts might appears, due to the conflicting interest between managers with political ambitions, and government with political pressures on the rise about increasing unemployment levels affecting the channel of expenditure flows.
On the other side, Economics and politics can go along side by side quite well , when growth is the engine for financing redistribution, but when the economy get into recession , the redistribution demands increase and politics fall apart from economy. This imply a lesser degree of effectiveness of fiscal policy impact on growth ,as long as uncertainty because of political variables, become higher in such a situation . It might the case that the economy recovers despite fiscal policy packages, and not because of them.-
Monetary and fiscal policy coordination is specially relevant, when there is a higher risk of heavy losses on welfare levels, due to the magnitude of the economic contraction. This coordination, means a more efficient policy framework ,and a better controlled impact upon real variables. Strong fiscal policy reaction to an excess of revenue, induces a softer stand for monetary policy , (output and employment can keep stable ,and volatility is low),whereas a weak fiscal policy reaction to an excess of expenditure, imply a stronger monetary policy reaction(output and employment become unstable, and volatility is high). The issue deals with the trade off between output growth and price stability. A different matters arise when it comes to recession, when both instrument must be targeted simultaneously to lift up growth expectations and employment. More so, when monetary policy is trapped in a kind of liquidity trap which requires a strong financial policy to get the most from all the instrument applied .In a recent article, R Barro, (Wall Street Journal),analyzing the current situation of the US economy, suggest that the chance of getting the US economy into a severe depression is 20% .It follows that the combination of these policies in the US economy , have been able the get a 80% probability of avoiding depression, making possible an economic early recovery in the second half of this year, and a stronger one on the year 2010. Probably a better financial policy, would make that probability(to get away from depression) higher, and the prospect for economic recovery already at sight.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fiscal stimulus package:How effective can it be ? (I)

These days of economic crisis, Governments have become the only source of expenditures. Consumers and firms alike, are evaluating its future prospects based on their markets behavior expectations , concerning employment, production and inventory respectively. Government looks like it is above those concerns, because it does not face such a constraint for its actions , other than politics one .From time to time ,it get the evaluation of voters. Thus ,it becomes more a matter of political judgment , the way Government should behave in time of crisis .Economic theory provide the necessary tools to understand the economic implication of this political judgment ,which by no means solve the issue of effectiveness of government expenditure.
Keynesian macroeconomics worked out these model of political foundation for Government expenditures, with the multiplier concept which refers to the expected effect that an increase in government expenditures would have on aggregate output. Free of transaction cost and inefficiencies , such expenditures would increase product by a certain magnitude depending on the level of saving. At its basic approach ,it refers to consumer saving . The lower the consumer saving ,the higher the impact of government expenditures. Based on this approach ,most of Governments world wide, have implemented fiscal stimulus package to overcome the current global economic recession with different characteristics and magnitudes as a percentages of GDP. Just to have a perspective ,with the parenthesis indicating the magnitude as a percentage of GDP, the list of stimulus package start with China (15% ),USA (5,8%),Italy (4,3%),Germany (3,1%), Chile (2,8%),Canada (2,0%),Japan(2,0%).(Source
An important issue deals with the effectiveness of Government expenditure ,and the requirements for a strong impact on aggregate demand. Leaving aside for the moment ,the transaction cost (bureaucracy),and the issue which it deals with conflict arising between manager and the public organization owner(government ),concerning the implementation of the program, we focus on the design variables:
1.- While an economic crisis goes along, at the bottom of it, income goes down so it does consumption and , because of precautionary behavior saving goes up, therefore the impact of government expenditure, might be less than expected. It also follows that tax cuts are helpful, while it goes quickly to the markets expenditure flows.
2.- From a short run perspective ,Infrastructure expenditure are on top on the list, because it goes direct to markets expenditures flows. On the long run perspective , education and health care expenditure programs, have a positive effect on productivity ,helping to keep under control future inflationary pressures.
3.- The timing upon which government expenditure is implemented do matter. On this regards, either, It goes ahead of the market or, it goes behind of the markets. The most effective Government expenditure programs, are the ones on the first group ,because it acts before the precautionary behavior takes a stronger stand among consumers and firms. Therefore, It is not just about the magnitude of resources involved.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Beyond Davos 2009:The rescue of Global economy

It has been an usual comment these days, about that Davos gathering, did not provided answers to the current global economy crisis. However, what it started as an academic forum ,can not all of the sudden become a platform for economic policy implementation. Taking a broader view , Davos probably helped to pave the way building consensus, for what it is the next meeting on April this year, which it should be really aimed at provide some responses from finance ministers working on solutions since last December the 20th.
What is it the point?.The current global economy crisis seems close to be out of control, as far as global economy policy respond is concern, Governments and monetary authority becomes frustrated with Banks behavior reluctant to lend when risk aversion is very high, no matter that some positive signals( although weak ones)of economic recovery, can develop toward the end of the fourth quarter, as long as all tools are focused in the right target at the right time. Besides, expectations, confidence and trust from markets and consumers, go hand in hand with economic policy implementation which imposes the need for strong leadership. However ,as others analysts have already emphasized, for this outcome to happen, it is key to have clear what the relevant variables are, and what the nature of this crisis is about .
1.-The scheme of ”do something approach”, does not mean to do randomly anything . Whether the goal is to get this economy recession shorter, before it becomes a more severe depression, policy action must be specifically focus on those target with the higher and faster impact on the economy prospect for recovery. -
2.-This time ,it is a matter of global economy recovery, which means coordination must be a plus, when it comes to implement policy responds. It is not just about the US economy, given the fact that there is stronger interconnection between economies, and there is reluctance from American consumers point of view, to be the ones to lead the recovery.-
3.- Most of the focus seems to be orientated toward the demand side of the equation. Well, policy makers can not leave the supply side on the second place. This means, that the focus should be on solving first the financial weakness of banks(the whole financial system) which still have in its balance sheets bad toxic assets, thus affecting their ability to go out to lend to those who can be ready to respond to new business opportunities , arising from demand variables. The nature and core of this crisis, is still a financial one.
4.- The faster the financial sector become the engine it is used to be, the better the chances to have a positive impact from the demand side stimulus package, therefore the higher the probability to have an economic recovery sooner . Right now the financial side of the equation , is at the least of its power, if not it is still off.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The microeconomics of politics

It has been said by different news media ,how important were new sources of communication and information technology during the 2008 Presidential election in the US. Cell phones, e; mails, black berry, Blogs , You tube ,and web pages all of a sudden, has become discovered by politicians who need to get closer to voters ,but very often they fall short of keeping it just like an unfulfilled promise . A recent opinion research done by the ONG ( ,evaluates the increasing importance of these news source of communication and information technology in elections in Latin America. Four presidential elections held in Latin America in the year 2006, were analyzed and compared with the elections held in Spain, concerning the influence of information technology, and the results were obvious indication that these new sources are replacing traditional ways , or at least they complement them.
The following table( , shows the higher share these different and new source of communication ,have on the preferences of both voters and politicians to get closer to one another:

Traditional means like TV ,decrease from 66% to 58% of preferences, radio and news paper stay stable instead. When it come to evaluate the real value for Presidential campaigns of these new
sources, E;mail and web pages got the first place, blogs and messages services ,came to a second place.-
Is this a new trend ?. Microeconomics might help us a little to find some answers because it is all about the allocation of time and time is a scarce resource .The indirect cost (time value),and the direct cost (Income value), becomes the unique constraint upon which consumers must get the optimum input combination to maximize utility . Both Time constraint and income constraint, becomes the limitation to take into account, when it comes to understand consumer behaviour . So it happens with politicians behaviour, which are the equivalent of producers , or the supply side of services, who must get in touch with theirs customer (consumers) preferences (Promises demand), throughout a “production process” (basically campaign Promises),which requires inputs and technology production, subject to the time-income constraint consumer use for maximization purposes . It might also be the other way around, such as the supply (both original and smart politicians),creates its own demand. (The Say law applied to politics),but it does not make any difference about the nature of the problem to deal with. Politicians like consumers ,are both short of time . Therefore, they will prefer technological means which save time, and besides it allow them to get closer than otherwise because that is part of the business they are in. Thus, it is also about emotional intelligence ,on a broader scale but simultaneously based on the one on one connection , which politicians can not live without ,either to get elected, and to get good evaluation on opinion polls as well . It follows that the new paradigm goes like this: The closer people feel their leaders , the better they evaluates them.-