Tuesday, March 12, 2019

O debate sobre a "teoria monetária moderna"

O que acho que percebi sobre a "teoria monetária moderna" - na melhor das hipótese, é apenas uma variante da economia mainstream (nomeadamente keynesiana) com outro nome, e fazendo as contas ao contrário (imprimir moeda para financiar a despesa pública e cobrar impostos para controlar a inflação), mas provavelmente dando o mesmo resultado; na pior é uma receita para uma hiperinflação de estilo sul-americano.

A discussão que tem havido sobre o assunto:

Reverse-engineering the MMT model, por Nick Rowe (2011/04/15), 8 anos antes da discussão começar mas pode ser considerado um membro honorário da conversa

Nonsense economics: the rise of modern monetary theory, por Jonathan Portes (2019/01/30)

The Wealthy Are Victims of Their Own Propaganda, por Stephanie Kelton (2019/02/01)

Why the left and Labour really do need to adopt the core ideas of modern monetary theory, por Richard Murphy (2019/02/02)

Modern monetary theory in a nutshell, por Richard Murphy (2019/02/06)

Misunderstanding MMT, por Jo Michell (2019/02/06)

What’s Wrong With Functional Finance? (Wonkish), por Paul Krugman (2019/02/12)

Modern Monetary Theory Is Not a Recipe for Doom, por Stephanie Kelton (2019/02/21)

Modern Monetary Theory Isn’t Helping, por Doug Henwood (2019/02/21)

Uma terceira via para a Venezuela

A Call for Clear Heads on Venezuela: How To Criticize Maduro While Opposing U.S. Regime Change, por Alejandro Velasco:

Amid crippling sanctions and threats of military intervention in Venezuela, many have put forward two options: support regime change or support the government of Nicolás Maduro. But this is a false choice. Instead, the U.S. Left can follow the lead of the popular, working-class sectors in Venezuela who have long maintained a complicated relationship to the chavista government. These movements show that criticism of the government—leftist in name but increasingly prone to corruption and repression—doesn’t mean support for the right-wing U.S.-backed opposition. In fact, healthy critique has been necessary to advance the socialist project. (...)

Yet popular support for chavismo was never uncomplicated or automatic. Anyone who has spent more than passing time with residents of Venezuela’s sprawling urban barrios can confirm that stinging criticism of the government has long been common. In chavismo’s early years, popular sectors inspired by Chávez’s rhetoric of empowerment demanded follow-through in the form of greater control over state resources, often taking to the streets against state institutions and officials deemed weakly committed to the kind of radical change Chavez increasingly promised. At other times they took to the polls, helping hand Chávez his only electoral defeat in 2007 in a failed constitutional reform that sought to concentrate rather than delegate power. (...)

Even if the record of U.S. involvement in the region were not sufficiently sordid to sound alarms, the fact that war hawks such as Marco Rubio, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams are helming U.S. policy on Venezuela should confirm that democracy, human rights and humanitarianism are no priority. Military options would prove catastrophic in the short term, as even some opposition sectors begrudgingly admit. They would also scuttle any effort to generate stability in the medium term, laying the grounds for a puppet regime with little credibility beyond its backers domestically and abroad.

But rejecting U.S. intervention must also mean rejecting Nicolás Maduro—lifting up critical popular-sector voices and refusing to feed into discourse that paints him as democratically legitimate, or a true leftist. Not as an empty gesture to “fairness,” but because Maduro’s government has long proven an obstacle to social justice in Venezuela. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Desfechos para o Brexit

Brexit: Where do we go from here?, no Flip Chart Fairy Tales (via The Brexit Blog):

O que realmente se passa com a eletricidade venezuelana?

Uma sucessão de posts no Twitter por Anatoly Kurmanaev, condensados aqui:

I went to the heart of Venezuela’s transmission system in Guarico to try to find out what’s going on with the grid. Here’s why partial blackouts are unfortunately likely to persist for a while. I sincerely hope I’m wrong. (...)

San Geronimo B is not working because it’s not getting sufficient (if any) current from Guri. That’s the scariest part. It provides evidence that the government is far from successfully restarting its turbines.

What caused the Guri failure? Corpoelec union leader Ali Briceño said it was brush fire under the 765 KV trunkline which caused a surge in the system and caused Guri to shut down. There are no skilled operators left there to restart it. (...)

Briceno’s theory is “possible but not probably,” said one of the people who built that trunkline. Fire would’ve had to occur in a relatively small stretch, between Guri & the first 765 KV substation, Malena, for that to happen. (...)

Most people I talked to say the problem had to occur inside Guri’s turbines themselves. And that’s a scary thought. If they are damaged, they will be very hard to replace or repair. No money or skilled people.

One Corpoelec manager said after the blackout a Guri operator told him “the turbines are failing,” before hanging up. He hasn’t been able to reach anyone there since. Sebin is a constant menace.

And without Guri, it’s Mad Max.

The government’s failure to present a coherent explanation is only raising my fears that something really bad has happened.
Eu confesso que li a thread toda e fiquei sem perceber o que era exatamente esse "Guri" que tinha falhado e cujo falhança fazia que a sub-estação San Gerónimo B também não funcionasse (imaginei que fosse alguma central elétrica com turbinas), mas indo ao Google rapaidamente percebi que é uma central hidroelétrica (imagino que isso fosse conhecimento comum para qualquer pessoa interessada em assuntos venezuelanos e por isso Kurmanaev não achou necessário explicar).

Ainda sobre isso, Venezuela's electrical collapse, por James Bosworth:
The electrical outage in Venezuela is almost certainly caused by a lack of maintenance and personnel. The system has been on the verge of collapse for years. The fact this collapse didn’t happen sooner says something about the resilience of certain legacy systems and the ingenuity of a few brilliant workers who sometimes duct taped stuff together to keep it running. (...)

That final point about communications has become absolutely critical to the ongoing political clash. Guaido’s people have lost much of their capabilities to coordinate protests and actions across the country. Maduro has lost his ability to communicate with security forces and the security forces are limited in how they can communicate with each other. The lack of communications increases the potential for mistakes on all sides.. (...)

The failures of the electrical system and all the cross-connected CI systems points at some major challenges for the next Venezuelan government. Maduro’s people may get a temporary fix in place in the coming days, but the fragility and lack of resilience in the system has been laid bare. This is a problem that requires billions in investment, from the turbines at Guri to the generators at hospitals, not a simple fix of a transmission line.

Faced with a full electrical system collapse, the country should try to leapfrog technology and get solar and battery backup systems into microgrids around the country to build something much less centralized and more resilient. That may seem like magical thinking today given the multiple overlapping tragedies that are occurring right this moment, but this is a big problem that needs big and ambitious solutions.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Elizabeth Warren propõe "partir" gigantes da internet

Senator Elizabeth Warren Announces Plan To Break Up Amazon, Google And Facebook (Huffpost):

In Friday’s post, Warren breaks her proposal down into “two major steps.” The first would be passing legislation that designates tech platforms with annual revenues surpassing $25 billion as utilities that “would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform.”

“Amazon Marketplace, Google’s ad exchange, and Google Search would be platform utilities under this law,” she writes. “Therefore, Amazon Marketplace and Basics, and Google’s ad exchange and businesses on the exchange would be split apart. Google Search would have to be spun off as well.”

Additionally, Warren proposes disallowing these so-called “platform utilities” from sharing data with third parties.

The second major proposal of Warren’s plan would be appointing regulators dedicated to using current rules to “unwind anti-competitive mergers,” like those between Amazon and Whole Foods, Facebook and Instagram. “Unwinding these mergers will promote healthy competition in the market ― which will put pressure on big tech companies to be more responsive to user concerns, including about privacy,” she said.
Quando li só o título, pareceu-me dificil partir "gigantes" em ramos que têm grandes economias de escala e/ou de rede - nomeadamente o Facebook, cuja utilidade para cada um dos participantes consiste exatamente em haver muitos outros participantes no Facebook; mas lendo tudo vejo que a ideia é sobretudo combater a concentração vertical (a mesma empresa possuir muitos negócios), não tanto a concentração horizontal (uma empresa dominar um dado negócio).

E também sobre isso, um artigo que li há dias em The American Conservative, The Death of the Internet, por Jonathan Tepper:
Although the architecture of the internet is still decentralized, the ecosystem of the World Wide Web is not. A few giant companies have near-monopolistic control of traffic, personal data, commerce, and the flow of information.

If you had to choose a date for when the internet died, it would be in the year 2014. Before then, traffic to websites came from many sources, and the web was a lively ecosystem. But beginning in 2014, more than half of all traffic began coming from just two sources: Facebook and Google. Today, over 70 percent of traffic is dominated by those two platforms.
[Isto não deve ser muito frequente - linkar uma proposta da Elisabeth Warren e um artigo de The American Conservative no mesmo post]

Friday, March 01, 2019

Qual a função de um RBI?

Universal Basic Income: Preliminary Results from the Finnish Experiment, por Timothy Taylor:

The big selling points for a universal basic income are simplicity and work incentives. The simplicity arises because with a universal basic income, there are no qualifications to satisfy or forms to fill out. People just receive it, regardless of factors like income levels or whether they have a job. There are not bureaucratic costs of determining eligibility, and no stigma of applying for such benefits or in receiving them.

The gains for work incentives arise because many programs aimed at helping the poor have a built-in feature that as you earn more on the job, you receive less in government assistance. From one standpoint, this seems logical and fair. But economists have been quick to point out that if someone loses a dollar of government benefits every time they gain a dollar from working, the implicit tax rate is 100%. When there are a number of different programs aimed at the working poor, all phasing out on their own individual schedules as income rises, the result can be that low-income people face very high implicit tax rates--evenin some situations close to 100%. But a universal basic income does not decline or phase out as someone earns more income.
Um paradoxo do RBI (sobre o qual provavelmente ainda irei escrever mais qualquer coisa) é que, apesar de uma das suas vantagens ser exatamente ser menos desincentivizador do trabalho que quase todos os outros mecanismo de proteção social, grande parte da discussão  sobre ele (tanto da parte de oponentes como de defensores) é feita assumindo que a grande peculiaridade do RBI seja permitir viver sem trabalhar (seja da parte dos defensores que o propõem como uma solução para um suposto problema de desemprego tecnológico, seja da parte dos criticos - um deles, a respeito do aparente fracasso do pseudo-RBI finlandês em aumentar o incentivo a procurar trabalho, até escrevia que "as leis da economia funcionam", o que é um perfeito disparate: as "leis da economia" diriam que uma pessoa que receberá um subsídio de X quer arranje ou não emprego tem mais incentivo do que uma que apenas receberá um subsídio de X enquanto não arranjar emprego; se alguma coisa, o suposto falhanço do RBI finlandês demonstrará os limites ao mundo da economia neoclássica, e talvez sobretudo das teorias que dizem que o desemprego é causado por os desempregados não andarem a sério em busca de emprego).

Mas como já disse noutros sitios, suspeito que o problema é que muita gente associa RBI, não tanto a "subsidio igual para toda a gente, sejam ricos ou miseráveis" mas sim a ""subsídio suficiente para se conseguir viver sem outras fontes de rendimento" (já li pessoas a dizerem que um subsidio universal pequenino é um RSI e não um verdadeiro RBI, e também outras pessoas a dizerem que um subsidio - elevado - para as pessoas de menos rendimentos que existe na Arábia Saudita é um RBI)..

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Adeus, Pantufa

quase 10 anos, estava-te a treinar na caça aos ratos; hoje foste-te embora.

Os perigos de invadir a Venezuela

With U.S. military action, Venezuela could become the Libya of the Caribbean, por Francisco Toro, no Washington Post:

As a result, vast swaths of Venezuela are controlled not by President Nicolás Maduro’s government but by a baffling proliferation of armed nonstate actors that include powerful prison gangs, Colombian guerrillas from the ELN or from splinter groups of the disbanded FARC, various ideologically infused “colectivos” — in effect, paramilitary groups subscribing to a vaguely Marxist ideology and allied with the government. These groups make a handsome living from any number of illegal activities: trafficking cocaine, illegal gold mining, extortion, human trafficking, smuggling — you name it. (...)

And yet, if the United States does go on the offensive, it’s clear it’s the Venezuelan military they’ll target first. Dysfunctional as it is, the armed forces have fixed installations — radar positions, air force bases, barracks — that could be targeted by a cruise-missile-guidance system.

The paramilitary gangs who actually control the territory, for their part, operate from civilian quarters. No U.S. military plan would be able to target them, even if it set out to do that. (...)

Actual U.S. military action to destroy the Venezuelan military would be a catastrophe. It would remove the one actor that might eventually be able to regain control over the country and deliver it instead into the hands of a wild variety of criminal gangs. Libya in the Caribbean.
[Via Outside the Beltway]

Monday, February 25, 2019

Há muitos ativistas de esquerda a viver em casa dos pais?

Há dias, numa discussão no Facebook regressou à vida a notícia de 2017 de que 92% dos ativistas de esquerda detidos em manifestações em Berlim viviam em casa dos pais. Já na altura a veracidade desses números foi muito posta em causa - ver, por exemplo, estes comentários no Marginal Revolution ("That figure is almost certainly due to bad data. In Germany, you are legally required to register your new place of residence with the municipal authorities when you move, but in practice this requirement is not enforced. For ideological reasons, people on the radical left are unlikely to comply with it (other people, who move often - e.g. students - may not comply with it out of laziness). Since all of them were registered as children with their parents (for schooling, etc.), they will simply remain registered there as long as they don't report their new place of residence to the authorities.") ou este artigo no Tagesspiegel, um jornal que até penso ser bastante para a direita (o artigo está em alemão, e mesmo passando pelo Google Translate não se percebe quase nada, mas parece que a maioria dos casos afinal são pessoas em que não se conseguiu apurar onde moravam, e esses 92% serão 92% da minoria em que se sabe onde moram).

No entanto, talvez seja interessante ver se na realidade "ativistas de esquerda" são mais, menos ou igualmente dados a viver com os pais em comparação com a população em geral (o meu primeiro instinto foi assumir "menos", partindo do principio que pessoas de direita terão mais aquela mentalidade de só sair de casa dos pais quando se casam, mas depois lembrei-me que por outro lado provavelmente também se casam mais); não faço a mínima ideia de como ver isso para a Alemanha (a origem da conversa) ou para Portugal, mas nos EUA temos sempre o GSS, portanto vamos lá.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Posts que quase por acaso reli esta manhã

Esta manhã, como estava a ver se encontrava um link antigo, ao fazer uma busca aqui no blogue acabei por reler alguns posts antigos que tinha escrito - dois foram estes: A saída do "Fórum Manifesto" do BE (sobre a saída da Ana Drago e mais uns quantos do BE)  e  Aliança PS/BE? (neste o relevante não é post em si, totalmente desatualizado, mas sobretudo a pergunta nos comentários feita pela "Tárique", sobre «o que é que a facção "revolucionária" ainda anda a fazer atrelada ao bloco.»). Quando ao fim da tarde fui ao facebook e vi as notícias, lembrei-me dos posts que tinha estado a ler mesmo de manhã.

[Post publicado no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]

Sobre greves, fundos de greve, etc.

Em defesa do direito à greve dos Enfermeiros, de Jonas Van Vossole (Praxis Magazine):

Que a direita ataque o direito à greve, é natural; faz parte da sua matriz ideológica e do seu interesse de classe. Que o centro político, quando está no poder, ataque o direito à greve; já nos acostumá-mos. Isso faz parte da sua manutenção no poder na gestão da economia capitalista. Mas que a esquerda, e as lideranças sindicais, ataquem os direitos básicos da luta dos trabalhadores, isso já me assustou. (...)

Comecemos pela questão dos fundos de greve e a sua transparência. Na Bélgica todos os sindicatos têm fundos de greve. Os fundos são utilizados para financiar a luta social, as greves e as manifestações. Os fundos de greve cobram as perdas de salários e eventuais custos de transporte e alimentação para manifestações nacionais.