Archive for julho \31\UTC 2008

O uso da Internet no mundo

julho 31, 2008

Mais uma de hoje do blog do Prof. Mark Perry!

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World Internet Usage Stats

 

The chart above (click to enlarge) is from Internet World Stats, showing the latest Internet usage data. Some interesting, though maybe not surprising, findings:

1. North America has the highest Internet penetration rate in the world of 73.6%, 1.5x the 48.1%penetration rate of Europe.

2. Africa has the lowest Internet penetration rate in the world: 5.3%.

3. The Middle East has the highest percentage growth in Internet usage from 2000 to 2008: 1,177%.

4. Asia has the highest number of Internet users.

5. There are now almost 1.5 billion Internet users worldwide.

Onde estão os catastrofistas? (10)

julho 31, 2008

Mais uma vez, gostaríamos de ouvir a opinião daqueles que previram que a economia dos EUA iria entrar num buraco pior do que aquele que aconteceu nos anos 30 do século passado.

Eis aqui (abaixo) mais evidências (do blog do Prof. Mark Perry) de que a economia americana vem apresentando resiliência (em parte em função do vigor de seu setor exportador, baseado num câmbio desvalorizado).

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NO RECESSION

 

WASHINGTONThe U.S. economy doubled its speed in the spring, driven by higher exports, falling imports, and rising spending by consumers given tax rebates meant to neutralize the housing slump. Gross domestic product rose at a seasonally adjusted 1.9% annual rate April through June, the Commerce Department said Thursday in the first estimate of second-quarter GDP (see chart above, recessions shaded).

Dignity of office

julho 30, 2008

Encontrei um post muito engraçado no blog do Prof. Paul Krugman.  Ele diz que “por alguma razão, pensando sobre a cena política presente, eu me vi lembrando disto” (somente o primeiro minuto).

Vejam o filme a que ele se refere (no primeiro minuto apenas, mas o restante também é hilariante!)

A Grande Questão (nos EUA) é também a nossa (só que com outro sinal)!

julho 30, 2008

A “Grande Questão”, tal como apontada pelo articulista de The New York Times de ontem (reproduzida abaixo) é o skills slowdown (queda nas capacidades) do povo americano.  Esta é também nossa Grande Questão (só que a nossa é de não alcance de capacidades; ou seja enquanto a deles está caindo, a nossa nem subiu ainda!).

Lá eu sei como eles superam isto. Aqui, tenho minhas dúvidas!

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The Biggest Issue

By DAVID BROOKS
Published: July 29, 2008

Why did the United States become the leading economic power of the 20th century? The best short answer is that a ferocious belief that people have the power to transform their own lives gave Americans an unparalleled commitment to education, hard work and economic freedom.

Between 1870 and 1950, the average American’s level of education rose by 0.8 years per decade. In 1890, the average adult had completed about 8 years of schooling. By 1900, the average American had 8.8 years. By 1910, it was 9.6 years, and by 1960, it was nearly 14 years.

As Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz describe in their book, “The Race Between Education and Technology,” America’s educational progress was amazingly steady over those decades, and the U.S. opened up a gigantic global lead. Educational levels were rising across the industrialized world, but the U.S. had at least a 35-year advantage on most of Europe. In 1950, no European country enrolled 30 percent of its older teens in full-time secondary school. In the U.S., 70 percent of older teens were in school.

America’s edge boosted productivity and growth. But the happy era ended around 1970 when America’s educational progress slowed to a crawl. Between 1975 and 1990, educational attainments stagnated completely. Since then, progress has been modest. America’s lead over its economic rivals has been entirely forfeited, with many nations surging ahead in school attainment.

This threatens the country’s long-term prospects. It also widens the gap between rich and poor. Goldin and Katz describe a race between technology and education. The pace of technological change has been surprisingly steady. In periods when educational progress outpaces this change, inequality narrows. The market is flooded with skilled workers, so their wages rise modestly. In periods, like the current one, when educational progress lags behind technological change, inequality widens. The relatively few skilled workers command higher prices, while the many unskilled ones have little bargaining power.

The meticulous research of Goldin and Katz is complemented by a report from James Heckman of the University of Chicago. Using his own research, Heckman also concludes that high school graduation rates peaked in the U.S. in the late 1960s, at about 80 percent. Since then they have declined.

In “Schools, Skills and Synapses,” Heckman probes the sources of that decline. It’s not falling school quality, he argues. Nor is it primarily a shortage of funding or rising college tuition costs. Instead, Heckman directs attention at family environments, which have deteriorated over the past 40 years.

Heckman points out that big gaps in educational attainment are present at age 5. Some children are bathed in an atmosphere that promotes human capital development and, increasingly, more are not. By 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy, who will complete high school and college and who won’t.

I.Q. matters, but Heckman points to equally important traits that start and then build from those early years: motivation levels, emotional stability, self-control and sociability. He uses common sense to intuit what these traits are, but on this subject economists have a lot to learn from developmental psychologists.

I point to these two research projects because the skills slowdown is the biggest issue facing the country. Rising gas prices are bound to dominate the election because voters are slapped in the face with them every time they visit the pump. But this slow-moving problem, more than any other, will shape the destiny of the nation.

Second, there is a big debate under way over the sources of middle-class economic anxiety. Some populists emphasize the destructive forces of globalization, outsourcing and predatory capitalism. These people say we need radical labor market reforms to give the working class a chance. But the populists are going to have to grapple with the Goldin, Katz and Heckman research, which powerfully buttresses the arguments of those who emphasize human capital policies. It’s not globalization or immigration or computers per se that widen inequality. It’s the skills gap. Boosting educational attainment at the bottom is more promising than trying to reorganize the global economy.

Third, it’s worth noting that both sides of this debate exist within the Democratic Party. The G.O.P. is largely irrelevant. If you look at Barack Obama’s education proposals — especially his emphasis on early childhood — you see that they flow naturally and persuasively from this research. (It probably helps that Obama and Heckman are nearly neighbors in Chicago). McCain’s policies seem largely oblivious to these findings. There’s some vague talk about school choice, but Republicans are inept when talking about human capital policies.

America rose because it got more out of its own people than other nations. That stopped in 1970. Now, other issues grab headlines and campaign attention. But this tectonic plate is still relentlessly and menacingly shifting beneath our feet.

O Comércio Exterior tem salvado os EUA da recessão

julho 29, 2008

Onde estão os catastrofistas?  Eis aqui mais uma evidência de que o mundo não vai acabar!

E ela vem de um dos mais respeitados economistas americanos, C. Fred Bergsten. Vejam o que ele escreveu recentemente no Financial Times!

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Trade Has Saved America from Recession

by C. Fred Bergsten, Peterson Institute

Op-ed in the Financial Times
June 30, 2008

© Financial Times

 

The global economy has clearly decoupled from the United States, and world growth remains close to 4 percent in spite of the absence of any increases in domestic US demand. Continued expansion abroad, especially in the emerging market economies, has in fact cushioned the slowdown and so far prevented recession in the United States. Hence we are also experiencing the first episode in history of reverse coupling, in which the rest of the world pulls the United States forward rather than the opposite.

Presidential candidates and members of Congress who believe that the United States is losing from globalization should take note of…export-led growth and its creation of excellent new jobs….

The most striking feature of the current global economic situation is that the United States is the only major country that is seriously contemplating recession and that has adopted aggressive expansionary policies to combat that risk. Most other countries are more worried about inflation than slower growth. Many are experiencing reduced growth, to be sure, but part of their slowing is a natural cyclical reaction to four years of near-record global expansion, at more than 4½ percent from 2004 to 2007, and the need to focus on price stability. The additional losses because of the housing and credit crises in the United States amount only to a couple of tenths of 1 percent in most areas, including Europe and Japan. It will reach a full percentage point or more only in the fastest growers such as China, where expansion will remain near 10 percent. Many of these cuts are in fact welcome as their central banks are tightening monetary policy rather than easing it.

Global growth is thus still likely to approach 4 percent in both 2008 and 2009 in spite of the sharp slowdown in its largest single economy. The emerging market economies, which now account for half of world output calculated at purchasing power parity exchange rates by the International Monetary Fund, are still expanding at 6–7 percent. Even the nearest neighbors of the United States—Canada and Mexico—are nowhere near recession and have altered their policies much less forcefully. In spite of the international transmission of substantial financial as well as real economic shocks from the United States, the traditional relationship where “the world catches cold when the United States sneezes” no longer holds.

The second striking feature is the reverse coupling of the global economy. Over the past two quarters, the United States has recorded positive growth at an annual rate of 0.8 percent (in spite of the pronouncements of many observers that recession had already set in). Its “net exports of goods and services,” the gross domestic product equivalent of the current account balance, have strengthened at an annual rate of almost 1 percent of GDP during that period. Hence the totality of recent US expansion has been provided by the strengthening of its trade balance. Domestic demand has been falling, but the United States has been saved from recession by the rest of the world.

The improved US trade performance of the past two years is due partly to the substantial, if lagged, restoration of the country’s price competitiveness as the dollar declined by a trade-weighted average of 25–30 percent since early 2002, reversing most of its excessive run-up during the previous seven years that produced unsustainable current account deficits exceeding 6 percent of GDP. Equally important, however, is the continued robust growth of the world economy. Every percentage point by which the rest of the world expands domestic demand faster than internal growth in the United States produces gains of about $50 billion (€32 billion, £25 billion) for the US external balance. Weighted by US exports, foreign growth exceeded US growth by about 2 percentage points in 2007 and will do so by an average of about 1.5 points this year and next as decoupling persists. Taken together, these currency and comparative growth factors have already improved the real US trade balance, and hence GDP, by almost $150 billion since 2006, with gains of another $150 billion or so likely through 2009. (The nominal US trade and current account deficits will not improve as much because of the sharp rise in the price of oil imports.)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s new Economic Outlook projects that more than 80 percent of all US growth in 2008–09 will derive from continued strengthening of its external position. Exports have been climbing at an annual rate of about 8 percent, at least six times as fast as imports. Unless domestic demand takes an unexpected further fall in the quarters ahead, reverse coupling of the global economy will thus have prevented the US recession that was so widely predicted and feared. Presidential candidates and members of Congress who believe that the United States is losing from globalization should take note of this export-led growth and its creation of excellent new jobs, and recognize the folly of backing away from international trade at a time when it is providing critical gains for their country.

These international macroeconomic developments also provide another telling indication of the shifts in global economic power. As noted, the emerging market economies make up about half the world economy, so their growth of 6–7 percent assures reasonably strong world output increases even if there were no expansion at all in the rich countries. China alone accounts for 10 percent of the global total, so its annual expansion of 10 percent generates a full percentage point of world growth all by itself. The steadily rising diversification of global economic leadership is paying huge dividends to all its participants, most dramatically during this episode to the United States as export-led growth saves it from at least the worst ravages of its housing bubble and associated policy errors.

World Economic Outlook Update (do FMI)

julho 29, 2008

O Fundo Monetário Internacional-FMI, antes muito temido no Brasil, e que foi incapaz de antecipar o agravamento da crise internacional desde setembro de 2007, está com um novo update do seu World Economic Outlook.

Os interessados podem acessar o seguinte site: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2008/update/02/index.htm.

Resumo da ópera: Diminuição do ritmo global e subida da inflação!  Ou seja, No News!

Nova Economia Institucional: Um Livro-Guia

julho 29, 2008

“Você confia nas Instituições? Você confia no Congresso Nacional?  Você acredita que o Superior Tribunal Federal toma decisões imparcialmente? Você crê que o Banco Central do Brasil toma decisões com independência?

Pois bem, todas estas questões estão relacionadas ao que na disciplina de Economia nós denominamos de Economia Institucional, ou seja, a área da Ciência Econômica que estuda sobre como as instituições afetam o desempenho da Economia.”

Esta é a introdução ao nosso artigo desta semana no blog Acerto de Contas, que você pode acessar aqui!

Teorias do Comércio Exterior

julho 28, 2008

“Nos anos 1980s a Teoria do Comércio Exterior introduziu a questão da heterogeneidade intra-indústria resultante de diferenciação de produtos e de competição monopolística.  A heterogeneidade nestes estudos não foi projetada, no entanto, para explicar assimetrias entre firmas (empresas), em termos de produtividade ou tamanho.  Não porque não fosse conhecido à época que as firmas diferem nestas dimensões, mas porque o objetivo era explicar grandes volumes de comércio entre países com composições de fatores similares e grandes volumes de comércio intra-indústria.  Por esta razão, diferenças em produtividade e tamanho não foram consideradas como sendo importantes.”

Esta é a introdução à newsletter da Creativante desta semana, que você pode acessar aqui!

Microsoft: qual estratégia web?

julho 27, 2008

Depois de falhar em tentar um acordo com Yahoo, o mercado tenta saber qual é o próximo passo da Microsoft em sua estratégia on-line.

Vejam o que traz a Businessweek desta semana!

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Microsoft: What Web Strategy?

The software giant left some analysts wanting more detail on plans to turn around its limping online operations after failing to acquire Yahoo !

Microsoft (MSFT) has all but shut the door on the prospect of resuming talks to buy all or part of Yahoo! (YHOO). Speaking at the company’s annual meeting for analysts on July 24, Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said a Yahoo deal at this point “essentially makes no sense.”

If Yahoo is no longer the remedy for Microsoft’s ailing online operations, what is? The software giant spent part of the day trying to persuade analysts that it’s got something better in mind. Yet with Wall Street growing increasingly impatient to see results from its online operations, Microsoft gave only a glimpse into what to expect in terms of ongoing spending and returns. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said the company plans to continue spending 5% to 10% of operating income, a modest amount relative to the potential returns, he argued. And those returns could hit 20% to 40% if Microsoft is successful, Liddell said, though he didn’t disclose a time frame for when that might happen.

Microsoft also pulled back the curtain on plans to provide Web search tools to users of Facebook, and to place search-related ads on pages of the social network by the end of 2008. The Redmond (Wash.) company last year paid $240 million for a tiny, 1.6% stake in Facebook, a swiftly growing Web site that boasts some 90 million registered users. Deepening ties with Facebook is probably a smart move.

The Google Gap Widens

Still, some Wall Street analysts came away from the meeting wishing Microsoft had said more. “My expectations were low and they exceeded my expectations, but they didn’t give me everything I wanted,” Sanford C. Bernstein (AB) analyst Charles Di Bona said. “It would have been nice to have been more concrete about what was game-changing.”

That’s important because now Microsoft is losing the game, despite spending billions over more than a decade only to rack up huge losses. The operating loss in Microsoft’s online-services business more than doubled, to $1.23 billion, in fiscal 2008, from $617 million a year earlier. Meantime, Google (GOOG) has taken the lion’s share of revenue in the business and continues to lengthen its lead.

Ballmer stressed that the market is still young. “This is a transformation which is in its infancy,” Ballmer said. “I know it may feel some days like it’s all over. The story has been written. But, if you look at it today, the bulk of advertising and marketing in the world, the lion’s share, is offline, not online.”

Yahoo: “Declining Asset”

The company surprised investors a week earlier when it announced $300 million in new spending (BusinessWeek.com, 18/07/2008) on its online business. Ballmer said Microsoft needs to spend in order to position itself to succeed. “We’re going to have to ante up in a significant way to even be in this game,” he said.

Another bombshell came on July 23, when Microsoft said Kevin Johnson, the executive responsible for the online division and one of the biggest proponents of a Yahoo deal, is leaving (BusinessWeek.com, 7/24/08). The company plans to reorganize the division run by Johnson and split the online operations from those that handle Microsoft’s flagship operating system, Windows. 

Much of Microsoft’s new spending will go for research and development to further improve its Web search engine and advertising technology. Microsoft will boost its marketing efforts to draw users to its Net offerings. And it will plow more money into expensive infrastructure technology to offer ever more services online.

Little attention, it seems, will be devoted to pursuing Yahoo. Liddell called Yahoo a “declining asset” that’s no longer worth the $33 a share in cash and stock that Microsoft was once willing to pay. And while Microsoft has been interested in buying just Yahoo’s Web search business, those operations too are slipping in the behemoth’s eyes. “About the time that Yahoo thinks it makes sense to agree to our search deal is about the time it makes no sense to us,” Liddell said. “But we’ll see.”

Ballmer was only a little less definitive. The companies aren’t talking right now, he said. “Does that mean nobody will ever talk with anybody again? I suspect the answer to that is no,” Ballmer said.

A Brighter Vista?

Company executives also discussed the challenges of Windows Vista. The operating system, launched in January 2007, has been panned by many reviewers for not working well with other software applications and hardware devices. At the same time, Apple’s (AAPL) Mac computers have gained share, in part through a clever marketing campaign that highlights Vista’s many problems. Microsoft Senior Vice-President Bill Veghte acknowledged that some consumers “are predisposed to think about it in a negative way.”

But Microsoft believes that’s an opportunity as well. The company has sold 180 million copies of the operating system. And a survey it commissioned found that 89% of users are satisfied or very satisfied with Vista and that 83% would recommend it to others. “That’s our opportunity: perception versus reality,” Veghte said. “That’s a conversation that we’ve got to go have with our customers.” Microsoft will soon launch a new advertising campaign aimed at convincing consumers that Vista is a lot better than they might think.

And now that it’s walking away from Yahoo, Microsoft needs to persuade the public that it’s got a viable online strategy, too.

Greene is BusinessWeek‘s Seattle bureau chief.

 

Onde estão os catastrofistas? (9)

julho 27, 2008

Continuando a série “Onde estão os catastrofistas?”, ou seja, a procura daqueles lá fora e aqui (principalmente algumas estrelas que comentam nos jornais econômicos do sudeste) dentro que previram o caos econômico mundial a partir da crise do mercado imobliário americano, reproduzo abaixo um artigo de um dos mais destacados comentaristas econômicos dos EUA, publicado no site www.realclearpolitics.com.

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The Depression Specter

By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON — The specter of depression stalks America. You hear the word repeatedly. Are we in a depression? If not, are we headed for one? The answer to the first is “no”; and the answer to the second is “almost certainly not.” The use of “depression” to describe the economy is a case of rhetorical overkill that speaks volumes about today’s widespread pessimism and anxiety. A short history lesson shows why.

The Great Depression of the 1930s — the last time the term rightly applied — was industrial capitalism’s worst calamity. U.S. unemployment peaked at 25 percent in 1933; it averaged 18 percent for the decade. From 1929 to 1933, 40 percent of U.S. banks failed. People lost deposits; businesses and consumers lost access to credit. Over the same period, wholesale prices dropped a third, driving farmers and firms into bankruptcy. Farm foreclosures, shantytowns (called “Hoovervilles,” after the president) and bread lines followed.

This was a social, as well as an economic, breakdown. Our present situation bears no resemblance to this. In June, unemployment was 5.5 percent, slightly below the average since 1960 of 5.8 percent. It’s true that banks and investment banks — Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia — have suffered large losses. But on the whole, the banking system seems fairly strong. Although profits in the first quarter of 2008 were down 46 percent from 2007, they totaled $19 billion even after $37 billion set aside for loan loss reserves. Overall corporate profits are still running at a near-record annual rate of $1.5 trillion.

As yet, the present economic slowdown does not even approach the harshest post-World War II slump. The back-to-back recessions of 1980 and 1981-82 (as dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research) constituted, for most people, one prolonged downturn. Unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent in late 1982. In 1981 and 1982, housing starts were down almost 50 percent from their 1978 peak. From 1979 to 1982, the economy stagnated; output lurched down, then up and then down. There had been nothing like that since the 1930s.

“Depression” is a term of art. It has no precise definition. Economic historian Barry Eichengreen of the University of California at Berkeley notes that in the 19th century the word connoted extended periods of declining prices: for example, between the 1870s and the mid-1890s. People associated falling prices with bad times, because in good times, prices tended to be stable. Falling prices meant either too many sellers or too few buyers. After World War II, the term depression lapsed into disuse, because economic downturns became milder and rarely involved general deflation (price declines). “Recession” ascended as the term of preference.

The paradoxical thing about today’s economy is its strength. No kidding. Consider all the hand grenades lobbed at it. Higher oil prices. The housing implosion. Large layoffs in affected industries: autos, airlines, construction, mortgage banking. The “credit squeeze” triggered by losses on “subprime” mortgages. Despite all that, the economy hasn’t collapsed. It’s merely weakened. Output in the first quarter of 2008 was actually 2.5 percent higher than a year earlier.

To be sure, there are parallels with the Great Depression. People fear what they don’t understand or expect. In the early 1930s, no one really knew why the economy had deteriorated so rapidly. Similarly, much of today’s bad news was generally unpredicted: the higher oil prices; the losses on subprime mortgages; the collateral damage to financial markets; the sharp run-up of food prices.

People fear what’s next. They worry whether complex financial markets and a globalized economy are unstable. These are legitimate anxieties. Economist Nouriel Roubini of New York University believes additional losses at banks and investment banks are being disguised by lax accounting practices. If so, things might get worse.

Still, parallels are limited. With hindsight, economic historians ascribe the Great Depression to a passive Federal Reserve, which didn’t stop bank panics and allowed a dramatic drop in the money supply to worsen deflation. Today, no one can accuse Ben Bernanke’s Fed of being passive. It has sharply cut interest rates and, with the Treasury Department, performed repeated acts of artificial respiration on financial markets (rescuing Bear Stearns and, recently, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Indeed, some observers — including me — wonder whether the Fed’s aggressive policies to avoid an economic downturn might unwisely sanction higher inflation.

We are relearning an old lesson: The business cycle isn’t dead. Prosperity’s pleasures breed complacency and inspire mistakes that, in time, boomerang on financial markets, job creation and production. Just as expansions ultimately tend to self-destruct, so downswings tend to generate self-correcting forces. People pay down debts; pent-up demand develops; surviving companies expand. The Great Depression was an exception. The present economy would have to get much, much, much worse before it warranted the same appraisal.


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