lunes, octubre 26, 2015

Frases para la Historia

El presidente Ollanta Humala aseguró hoy (en la inauguración de una carretera en Huánuco, octubre 25, 2015) que su gobierno se ha distanciado del “viejo poder de los poderes económicos”, que –a su juicio– se reelegía con cada nuevo mandatario que llegaba a Palacio de Gobierno.
"Este es un gobierno diferente. Hemos roto con el viejo poder de los poderes económicos [...] Se los dije a los de arriba: voy a gobernar para los de abajo…..”. (…) agregó que está cumpliendo sus promesas electorales. “Si no les gusta a los de arriba, piña. [Esto] es lo que ofrecí y es lo que estoy haciendo (…). “(…) pero aún hay poderes económicos duros que no se sienten cómodos con nosotros, hubieran querido que gobiernen otros para seguir manteniendo al Perú tal cual lo mantuvieron durante décadas”, concluyó Humala.
¡Qué tal cinismo!
¿O no? O ¿será que cuando uno accede al poder pierde la perspectiva? Como yo nunca he gozado de poder alguno (ni en mi casa), no logro entender La Gran Transformación que sucede en la mente de los gobernantes y que les permite decir –sin chistar ni sonrojarse- la barbaridad citada arriba, que seguramente ha pasado desapercibida.
Otra hipótesis: ¿consideraba Humala que quienes lo escuchaban (en algún pueblo al culantro del mundo) eran unos pobres diablos, analfabetos, minusválidos e ignorantes que esperaba lo aplaudirían a rabiar con esas frasecitas de soldado de plomo? Seguramente que sí.
Pobre país el nuestro. Y vayamos pensando en la campaña electoral: ¡Soñemos siquiera con las maravillas que nos ofrecerán!

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domingo, octubre 11, 2015

¿Eliminar el Premio Nobel de Economía?


Como todos los años, el día de mañana se dará(n) a conocer el (los) nombre (s) del (los) economista(s) al (los) que se ha decidido honrar con el Premio Nobel en Economía. 

Y justo hoy me di con la sorpresa de la propuesta de un politólogo sueco que sostiene la necesidad de suspender la preciada medalla (ver texto anexo). Se trata de Bo Rothstein, profesor del Departamento de Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Gotemburgo y que, además, es miembro de la Academia Sueca de Ciencias, que es la que otorga los Premios Nobel (no así el de Economía que lo decide el Banco Central Sueco).

Se puede coincidir con él en la conclusión, pero por razones muy distintas. Su argumento central es que la forma como se enseña y lo que se enseña en las Facultades de Economía de todo el mundo, predispone al graduando –una vez que ejerce la profesión-  a la corrupción, señalando las múltiples y conocidas consecuencias que ello tiene. En la medida en que se estudia economía, dice el autor, convierte a las personas en “Homo Oeconomicus”, por una docencia dirigida a “enfatizar el comportamiento egoísta”. Hipótesis que efectivamente ha sido confirmada por la Economía Experimental. Pero de ahí concluir que porque la mayoría de economistas que en sus análisis suponen que los agentes económicos son egoístas, no se convierten en corruptos. No me queda claro cómo se puede saltar del egoísmo (que se asume en teoría) a la corrupción (en la práctica). En el mejor de los casos podría argumentarse que hay alguna correlación entre egoísmo y corrupción, pero nunca causalidad entre aquel y ésta. Más cerca a la corrupción estaría un agente económico que es codicioso.

A ese respecto, sin duda, hay casos célebres de corrupción en torno a economistas de primer nivel y reconocimiento. Uno de los más conocidos es el relacionado con la crisis rusa y, más recientemente, aquellos cuyas propuestas condujeron a la Gran Recesión estadounidense (véase el video: “Inside Job” y comentarios: www.jurgenschuldt.com/2011/04/la-verdad-de-la-crisis-inside-job.html).

Personalmente, de ser el caso, yo diría que se suspenda el Premio para los economistas hasta que la Ciencia Económica haya madurado a niveles comparables a la Medicina o Biología (que llegue al de la Física sería mucho pedir y tampoco sería deseable). O, para no exagerar, debería otorgarse cada tres o cuatro años, cuando realmente se tenga una breve lista de candidatos de gran valía, por más difícil que sería determinar lo que ello significa y qué requisitos debe cumplir.

Hoy en día debe ser difícil escoger entre tantos competidores, que ni de lejos se aproximan a economistas “fundantes”, tales como Samuelson o Friedman, entre otros tantos. Parece que son cada vez menos... gracias a los rendimientos decrecientes al factor y a escala que están afectando a la ciencia económica, a diferencia de los rendimientos crecientes que aún caracterizan a las demás ciencias. En todo caso, como también en relación al premio de Literatura, siempre será muy debatible porqué o porqué no recibieron el Premio unos u otros.

Yendo más allá, creo qué sería más valioso que cambien el nombre del Premio y lo conviertan en Premio Nobel de las Ciencias Sociales, algo que sería más interesante y justo. Al margen: ¿por qué se dejan de lado a los filósofos y a los historiadores? ¿No son todas estas disciplinas de gran valor en función al espíritu de Alfred Nobel? 
Regresando a la Tierra: Veremos quiénes se lo llevan mañana. Estoy convencido que nadie conoce a esos economistas... ¿lo que sería un buen signo? Lo sabremos en unas horas.

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ANEXO:

Key member of Swedish Academy of Sciences calls for immediate suspension of the “Nobel Prize for Economics”

*Comentario introductorio de Edward Fullbrook (fundador y director ejecutivo de la “World Economic Association”):

Bo Rothstein, an important member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, has today in Sweden’s most widely read newspaper called for an immediate declaration of a moratorium on the awarding of Sveriges Riksbank Prize for Economics in the name of Nobel and the Nobel Foundation.

Rothstein’s article argues that today with increasing success, economics as commonly taught in universities and endorsed by most winners of the economics prize promotes corruption in societies around the world.  Therefore he concludes that the Nobel Foundation’s awarding the economics prize is “in direct conflict with what Alfred Nobel decreed in his will.”

“I will,” writes Rothstein, “therefore now take the initiative in this matter.”

Below is a Google-translation of Rothstein’s article.  If someone can provide us with a better translation, we will post it (J.S.: en efecto, es necesaria una mejor traducción, ya que hay partes del texto que no se llegan a entender claramente).

*Texto de Bo Rothstein: The Prize in contravention of the spirit of Nobel’s will

Can contribute to increased corruption. Multiple independent research shows that those who study economics are more prone to corruption. And the behavior seems to be an effect of education. A price that risk contribute to increased corruption in the world is in conflict with the spirit of Nobel’s will, writes political science professor Bo Rothstein.   
Recent research has shown that corruption is a broader social problem than previously considered case. When comparing countries, finds research negative effects of corruption on almost every measure of human welfare such as infant mortality , economic prosperity , life expectancy, the number of children living in poverty , access to clean water , the number of women who die in childbirth , willingness to fix environmental problems and more. Corruption has also recently been shown to be an important explanation for both the civil war between the states.

Furthermore, the corruption also have strong links with more subjective measures such as the extent to which people consider themselves satisfied with their life, consider themselves to be happy and to what extent they believe they can generally rely on other people. Although measurements of the degree of corruption in various countries are associated with certain difficulties can well appreciate that more than seventy percent of the world population lives in countries with dysfunctional social institutions. This means that in itself is not lack of capital, skills or natural resources is the main problem but precisely corruption in public institutions.

There is of course no modern societies that are free of corruption, such a thing would be as utopian as a society free from crime. However, it is important to point out that widespread corruption is by no means something that only exists in developing countries. Several analyzes of, for example, Greece and Italy’s economic problems, pointing out precisely corruption as a root cause. There are also analyzes indicate that financial market collapse in 2008 can be explained in terms of corruption. As well as the level of crime, the degree of corruption among different communities. Societies that have comparatively low corruption usually most measures, to be countries in northwestern Europe as well as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Compared with neighboring countries cope Botswana, Chile and Estonia well.

The causes of corruption are manifold, but a surprising result is that the population in countries with severe corruption is by no means internalize this behavior as part of their culture. On the contrary, they take in general strongly reject such behavior, and they also realize that corruption is difficult damaging their communities. The reason that they participate in this business is that they do not perceive that they have no real choice. The goods hardly be the only one in the village who do not pay the doctor under the table to get medical care for their children. It is probably not only useless but also dangerous to try to be the only honest police of a Mexican police force. Corruption is, in other words a so-called “frequency problem” in the sense that if one believes that the “all others” involved in this shady business so most either had to join or you see it as futile to resist.

A question then is where these ideas about “what everyone else is doing” comes from. The evidence suggests that these are generated by the political and economic elite of society occurs. If they are known to engage in all sorts of irregularities spreads this quickly downwards in the community. The German proverb “fish rots from the head down” seems to fit. The ethics of management for companies and public institutions shows up plays a big role and therefore the ethical dimension in the training of these groups is of great importance.

One problem in this regard is that there are interesting differences when one examines the perceptions of these ethical problems that the different university programs generate. Multiple independent research shows that those who study economics are more prone to corruption than those studying other subjects. This first appeared in a number of so-called experimental studies that put the students in various hypothetical situations. These have recently been supplemented by a study done on real data by René Ruske (published in the journal Kyklos 2015) as compared to members of Congress in the United States. His study shows that those members who have a degree in economics has had twice the risk of having been involved in corruption compared to those without this training. Reason for these results seems to be that there is an ideological element in business studies that emphasize the importance of selfish behavior – the notion of a so-called “homo economicus”. The experimental research additionally shows that this dysfunctional behavior is not just something the students bring to the program, but it is often an effect of what they learn.

These results are troubling because the economist training both as comprehensive and well often leads to high positions in society. It is also problematic in light of Sweden distributes one of the world’s most prestigious scientific awards in the subject, namely the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, in everyday speech the Nobel Prize in economics. The price was not found in Alfred Nobel’s original testament of 1895 but were added by a donation from Sweden Riksbank in 1968. Responsible party for the dividend is the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The price has been controversial partly because it was felt that economics is not a science of the same magnitude as for example physics and chemistry, partly because they considered it politicized as it is often distributed to economists who preached market liberalism choice. The first critical point, I consider incorrect but the other may have some justification for it. The problem I raise here is, however, of a much higher order. If it turns out that university education in economics, as it usually seems to occur, leading to increased tolerance to corruption is in the light of the above research findings very seriously. The Prize will then be in direct contravention of Alfred Nobel’s will, which stipulated that prices would be awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have the greatest benefit on mankind.” A price that risk contribute to increased corruption in the world is of course the opposite.

As a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, I will therefore now take the initiative in this matter should be urgently investigated. It turns out that these results have resistance must Sciences, whether to be true to its own ideals, quit his dedication to select the prize winners. The overall picture of research results provide arguably suggest that until such an investigation is completed, a moratorium should be declared on the price, that is, it should not be distributed. Nobel Foundation, which is responsible for the award ceremony, should also consider whether you really should concern itself with a price the effects of which can be in direct conflict with what Alfred Nobel decreed in his will.

Bo Rothstein, Professor of Political Science at the Universities of Gothenburg and Oxford.

Traducido del periódico: Dagens nyheter, 11 October 2015

FUENTE: https://rwer.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/key-member-of-swedish-academy-of-sciences-calls-for-immediate-suspension-of-the-nobel-prize-for-economics/

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P.d.:
Bueno, a propósito de lo escrito anoche, poco antes de conocerse al premiado este año (Angus Deaton de Princeton), apareció el siguiente artículo, muy en la línea de lo arriba señalado:

The Nobel prize in economics is a disgrace. Dump it!

October 12, 2015        

from Lars Syll (https://rwer.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/the-nobel-prize-in-economics-is-a-disgrace-dump-it-2/).

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, usually -incorrectly- referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, is an award for outstanding contributions to the field of economics. The Prize in Economics was established and endowed by Sweden’s central bank Sveriges Riksbank in 1968 on the occasion of the bank’s 300th anniversary.The first award was given in 1969. The award this year is presented in Stockholm at a ceremony tomorrow.


Out of the 75 laureates that have been awarded “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel,” 28 have been affiliated to The University of Chicago — that is 37 %. Of all laureates, 80% have been from the US (by birth or by naturalisation). Only 7% of the laureates have come from outside North America or Western Europe. Only 1 woman has got the prize. The world is really a small place when it comes to economics …Looking at whom the prize is given to, says quite a lot about what kind of prize this is. But looking at whom the prize isnot given to, says perhaps even more.



The great Romanian-American mathematical statistician and economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1906-1994) argued in his epochal The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (1971) that the economy was actually a giant thermodynamic system in which entropy increases inexorably and our material basis disappears. If we choose to continue to produce with the techniques we have developed, then our society and earth will disappear faster than if we introduce small-scale production, resource-saving technologies and limited consumption.


Following Georgescu-Roegen, ecological economists have argued that industrial society inevitably leads to increased environmental pollution, energy crisis and an unsustainable growth.



Georgescu-Roegen and ecological economics have turned against the neoclassical theory’s obsession with purely monetary factors. The monetary reductionism easily makes you ignore other factors having a bearing on human interaction with the environment.

I wonder if this isn’t the crux of the matter. To assert such a thing really is to swear in the neoclassical establishment church and nullifies any chances of getting the prestigious prize.

Twenty years ago, after a radio debate with one of the members of the prize committee, I asked why Georgescu-Roegen hadn’t got the prize. The answer was – mirabile dictu – that he “never founded a school.” I was surprised, to say the least, and wondered if he possibly had heard of the environmental movement. Well, he had — but it was “the wrong kind of school”! Can it be stated much clearer than this what it’s all about? If you haven’t worked within the mainstream neoclassical paradigm — then you are more or less excluded a priori from being eligible for the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel!



Two years ago — making an extraordinarily successful forecast — I told Swedish media the prize committee would show how in tune with the times it was and award the prize to Eugene Fama. Why? Well — I argued — he’s a Chicago economist and a champion of rational expectations and efficient markets. And nowadays freshwater economists seem to be the next to the only ones eligible for the prize. And, of course, an economist who has described the notion that finance theory was at fault as “a fantasy” and argued that “financial markets and financial institutions were casualties rather than causes of the recession” had to appeal to a prize committee with a history of awarding theories and economists totally lacking any real world relevance.

Well, my forecast turned out to be right — the Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2013 to Eugene Fame. The prize committee really did show how in tune with the times it was …

I love to be right of course, but otherwise this is only saddening and shows what a joke this prize is, when someone like Fama can get it. Maybe I’m not showing proper “respect” for Fama’s “important steps forward”, but, really, how could one after reading the following interview with Nobel laureate Fama?

Many people would argue that, in this case, the inefficiency was primarily in the credit markets, not the stock market—that there was a credit bubble that inflated and ultimately burst.



Eugene Fama: I don’t even know what that means. People who get credit have to get it from somewhere. Does a credit bubble mean that people save too much during that period? I don’t know what a credit bubble means. I don’t even know what a bubble means. These words have become popular. I don’t think they have any meaning.



I guess most people would define a bubble as an extended period during which asset prices depart quite significantly from economic fundamentals.



Eugene Fama: That’s what I would think it is, but that means that somebody must have made a lot of money betting on that, if you could identify it. It’s easy to say prices went down, it must have been a bubble, after the fact. I think most bubbles are twenty-twenty hindsight. Now after the fact you always find people who said before the fact that prices are too high. People are always saying that prices are too high. When they turn out to be right, we anoint them. When they turn out to be wrong, we ignore them. They are typically right and wrong about half the time.



Are you saying that bubbles can’t exist?



Eugene Fama: They have to be predictable phenomena. I don’t think any of this was particularly predictable.






So, without any respect whatsoever, I say once again — Dump the prize!



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PARA CONOCERLO MEJOR... UNA PRIMERA ENTREVISTA DEL FINANCIAL TIMES:


October 12, 2015 6:15 pm

Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton shares 3 big ideas


Ferdinando Giugliano, Economics Correspondent


Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 Nobel prize for economics

Angus Deaton has won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics for a string of landmark findings on the study of consumption, which have shaped policy and academic studies across the world.

From global inequality to foreign aid, the 69-year old Scottish academic has displayed little hesitation in wading into sensitive debates that are linked to his 45-years-long research agenda.

Hours after receiving the news of his award, Mr Deaton shared with the Financial Times his sometimes controversial views on three of his biggest topics.



Inequality

From the rise of leftwing populists such as Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, to the unlikely popular success of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st century , inequality has become one of the defining issues of this decade.

Mr Deaton agrees it is important, but also has a more nuanced view than some of his colleagues who have also studied economic disparities.

“Inequality is an enormously complicated thing, that is both good and bad,” he says.

The Princeton academic believes that excess inequality can produce some negative side effects, ranging from the demise of public services to the erosion of democracy. But at the same time, inequalities can also be a product of success, for example when they are the result of successful entrepreneurship.

“Success breeds inequality, and you don’t want to choke off success,” he adds.

He is also sceptical of measures such as very high income tax rates as an antidote to growing disparities.

“We already have redistributive policies in place,” he says. “Putting, say, an 85 per cent income tax rate is unlikely to bring in much revenue.”



Foreign aid

Development economics has been dominated by a controversy over the effectiveness of foreign aid, with some, including William Easterly, an academic at New York University, arguing that it may do more harm than good.

Mr Deaton acknowledges that aid can be extremely useful, for example when it helps to fund hospitals and cure children who would otherwise die.

“That’s got to be a good thing,” he says.

However, much in the spirit of Mr Easterly, he too believes that excessive foreign aid can have unintended consequences, in that it can lead to corruption and create social tensions between the ruling elites and the public.

Building on his 2013 book, The Great Escape, he puts forward two concrete ideas. The first is to cap the amount of foreign aid going to each country to, say, 50 per cent of its revenues.

The second is to push forward a “global public goods agenda”, which ensures that more aid money is spent on addressing longstanding problems such as mortal diseases, even if this means funding more research in the rich world.

“I am in favour of giving money not just in Africa, but for Africa,” Mr Deaton says, echoing his fellow academic Jagdish Bhagwati.



Poverty measurement

This month, the World Bank revised the official poverty line, pushing it up from $1.25 per day to $1.90. Mr Deaton, a longstanding critic of the poverty line, thought this was an improvement, but remained sceptical.

“Focusing on the number of people who are below the line is like chasing an unicorn through the woods,” he told the FT. “I am not sure it is wise for the World Bank to commit itself so much to this project”.

He thinks there is a lot more to poverty than just cash and cites India as an example of a country that has grown substantially in terms of per capita income but where education and health outcomes can often be dismal.

“I very much follow the thinking of Amartya Sen, though I am probably more interested than him in the issue of measurement” he says, citing the Harvard economist and fellow Nobel laureate who has argued that one should move beyond money to understand changes in wellbeing.

“There is more than just measuring income, though of course one can measure other things.”

He also criticised the 17 “sustainable development goals”, a set of targets and initiatives to reduce poverty promoted by the UN that world leaders committed themselves to last month. “I am not a great fan, there is no way to measure them. A lot of it is just people trying to make themselves feel better.”



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