Archive for agosto \29\UTC 2008

Um discurso que mexeu

agosto 29, 2008

Foi com este título que a nova revista The Economist classificou o discurso de ontem do Senador Barack Obama na convenção do Partido Democrata dos EUA, como aceitação da candidatura ao cargo de Presidente dos EUA.

Eis aqui, na integra, a matéria de The Economist.

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The Democrats

A stirring speech

Aug 29th 2008 | DENVER
From Economist.com

A strong speech from Barack Obama caps the Democratic convention

REPUBLICANS had needled Barack Obama for accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in an enormous sports stadium. But their efforts to dampen the mood failed to spoil a grand party. As veteran political hands say, remember the visual. The 70,000 adoring flag-waving supporters will be seen on news bulletins again and again. Whether Mr Obama was presumptuous or not, undecided voters will see a man who can inspire like no politician in recent American history.

His speech on Thursday August 28th laid no new principles. But many Americans were tuning in for the first time. And he sharpened some of the themes he has developed over the past year. To the charge that he is elitist, a “celebrity”, he once again told the story of an immigrant father and growing up with his single mother. To the notion that he is self-obsessed, he said “this election has never been about me. It is about you.” He began to describe, to those who have heard that “change” was an empty slogan, exactly what it meant in policy. He said he would make cuts for 95% of working families, invest in alternative power like wind and solar, focus once again on Afghanistan, and more. The crowd lapped it up.

But most importantly, he attacked John McCain without ever seeming nasty. Noting that McCain had voted with George Bush 90% of the time, he said “I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a 10% chance on change.” And he declared confidently that he looks forward to tangling with Mr McCain on foreign policy: “The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans, Republicans and Democrats, have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.” He managed to be sharp in his criticism while refusing to question Mr McCain’s motives or patriotism. Returning to the theme of the 2004 speech that made him famous he got his biggest cheer of the night for saying that America’s troops “have not served a red America or a blue America – they have served the United States of America.”

The big finale capped a convention that began as a mixed bag. The first night was a soft-focus look at his wife Michelle, and a tribute to Ted Kennedy, an old lion of the party gravely ill with cancer. But little was said about Mr McCain and the election ahead. The next night, Hillary Clinton put her shoulder to Mr Obama’s wheel, finally and fully, burying the fear that the party would remain divided.

But despite her made-for-television line—“No way. No how. No McCain”—it was only the next, third night when speakers truly sought blood from Mr McCain. John Kerry belied his 2004 incarnation as a wooden presidential candidate, to give a fiery speech contrasting “Senator McCain”, often a maverick against his party, and “candidate McCain”, who has come round to toeing his party’s line on taxes, immigration and energy policy. Bill Clinton, who courted controversy again and again in the primaries for his unedited thoughts on Mr Obama, similarly fell into line with a rousing speech. And finally Joe Biden, Mr Obama’s recently chosen running mate, addressed foreign-policy experience, saying again and again, on Iraq, Afghanistan and other crucial decisions, “John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.”

With the conventions, the trench-warfare phase of the campaign begins. There are no new policies or promises, and there is little left to learn about either man. Instead the battle is now about organisation and discipline, not just of the two candidates (who can be in only one place at a time) but the phalanxes of supporters who will try to drive their message through. The Democrats made a decent go of it this week. And now it is over to the Republicans in St Paul.

Anúncios

Projeções para 2010

agosto 28, 2008

Não costumo fazer isso, mas depois que li a matéria de Barack Obama, e de seu assessor econômico (Professor Austan Goolsbee) na revista Technology Review, passei a acreditar mais ainda em algo que venho matutando na cabeça há algum tempo.

Para mim o Século XXI para o Brasil vai começar em 2010!  Por quê?  A primeira razão concreta que posso dar é que o último Presidente do Brasil do Século XX foi (será) Lula. Lula, com sua política de resgate do social como sua bandeira principal, epitomizou a tentativa de superação das mazelas de todo século XX, coisa que FHC (o efetivo último Presidente do século passado) apenas começou.  Sendo assim, ao acabar-se o mandato de Lula em 2010, estará sendo dado um desfecho àquele século marcado pela industrialização do Brasil, e emergirá, de maneira mais transparente, a nossa nova sociedade pós-industrial.

A segunda razão é que em 2010 nós teremos uma eleição (fenômeno em que, segundo a Ciência Econômica, nós fazemos nossas principais escolhas coletivas) em que a Televisão (um produto que é cria da etapa industrial do século XX) não será a mídia (no amplo senso) principal a exercer o papel de “locus” da racionalidade comunicativa (de Jurgen Habermas) da sociedade brasileira.  A Internet (ou WEB-World Wide Web, como preferirem), com seus Geeks (nova classe social da era pós-industrial) tomará este lugar!

A terceira, e última, razão é que a partir de 2010, nós iremos começar a superar o que chamo de “nossa atual síndrome macunaíma” (ou seja, de falta de uma identidade mais nítida), onde veremos mais esforços e mais políticos representando mais interesses globais e de uma sociedade mais aberta e que se globaliza, do que interesses ditos nacionais, mas que na realidade representam o atraso e interesses de grupos encastelados no Estado.

Tudo isso só será possível, não esquecendo, porque a economia brasileira estará mais sólida e mais preparada para fazer grandes transições que são necessárias para entrarmos definitivamente no Século XXI!

Austan Goolsbee: o Professor de Economia de Chicago que faz a cabeça de Barack Obama

agosto 28, 2008

 Professor Austan Goolsbee

Quem foi que disse que a galera de Tecnologia não discute Política (com P maiúsculo)?  Aqui está a prova.  A revista Technology Review, do MIT, traz uma longa matéria, na sua edição de setembro/outubro, sobre Barack Obama e sobre seu principal assessor econômico: o Professor de Economia da University of Chicago Austan Goolsbee.

Vejam a matéria abaixo!

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The Fourth of July is just days away, and on the Loop’s crowded streets and plazas, outside the downtown campus of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, the city swelters. Upstairs, in an air-conditioned office, Austan Goolsbee is recounting how he was transformed from an economics professor into the senior economic advisor to a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Goolsbee must pick his words more carefully now, but it’s no great strain for him to tell a good story. The two men met in 2004, after Barack Obama became the Democratic contender for junior U.S. senator from Illinois and the Republicans fielded the perennial candidate Alan Keyes. Though Keyes’s Christian Dominionist views on government and society have long made him unelectable, the Democrats wanted to ensure that Obama could demolish the opposition’s economic platform. So his campaign contacted Goolsbee, whom Obama knew by reputation, from his own years teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago, as an expert on much that was cutting-edge in economics.

Keyes’s economic plan was to abolish the income tax and replace it with a national sales tax that exempted all housing, food, and transportation purchases as well as the spending of the poor and elderly. What would the sales tax have been for unexempted goods, I ask, if the U.S. government’s operating revenues were to be maintained? About 70 percent, Goolsbee replies, laughing. During 2004, the Obama campaign grew accustomed to calling on Goolsbee’s expertise. The candidate exchanged e-mails with the professor. Still, they had no face-to-face contact. The two finally met in October, during the second debate between Obama and Keyes, at the ABC studio in Chicago.

“I hung in this room outside with Michelle, who was cool,” Goolsbee recalls. Finally, informed that the candidate was ready to receive him, he knocked on the door. “Obama opened the door, looked at me in bafflement, and said, ‘Who are you?’ I said, I’m Professor Goolsbee. Obama said, ‘You can’t be.'” He’d been expecting an older tweed-jacketed academic, not–as Goolsbee claims Obama phrased it–another skinny, tall, youthful, geeky guy with big ears and a funny name.

Goolsbee, now 39, graduated from Yale in 1991, earned his doctorate from MIT in 1995, and in slightly more than a decade has built a remarkably broad résumé, which includes membership in the Panel of Economic Advisors to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, columns in the New York Times and Slate, a Fulbright scholarship, and even a stint hosting a television show, History’s Business, on the History Channel. As Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University and the author of the popular blog Marginal Revolution, says: “Austan Goolsbee is smart.”

Generations of the best and the brightest have come and gone in Washington, DC, usually without effecting significant changes. In this, Goolsbee may or may not turn out to be exceptional. Nevertheless, he is something different in a presidential campaign: he is part of a generation of economists who have focused on the Internet, network effects, behavioral economics, and neuro­economics. Whether Obama wins or loses, this is the first time a U.S. presidential candidate has had a chief economic advisor whose outlook and skills are those of a 21st-century economist.

Moreover, if Obama does win, 2008 will be a watershed election in American political history for reasons unrelated to the new presi­dent’s skin color. For decades, the resident of the White House has been closely associated with the South or Southwest. Now, someone from the intellectual milieu associated with the University of Chicago is a plausible candidate. Along with Goolsbee and other members of this intellectual movement–including Chicago Business School professor Richard Thaler, a founder of behavioral economics, and Cass Sunstein, a former professor at Chicago’s law school–Obama subscribes to a distinctive set of economic theories developed at the university, and to a corresponding set of policy prescriptions. These people are Chicagoans, who–to paraphrase a native son–go at things in their own way, on the basis of first to knock, first admitted. If Obama reaches the White House, they will not be shy about implementing those prescriptions.

Best Behavior
Twenty-first-century economics is preoccupied with technology, both as a force for change and as a source of insights about economic behavior. But Goolsbee admits he didn’t initially grasp the transformative power of one new technology. “When I was at MIT, they had a beta test of Mosaic, the first popular browser,” he says. “I remember looking at it, and there was a weather map or something. Now, in fairness to me, there weren’t any websites then. But I remember saying, ‘This is stupid–what’s the point?’ Now, of course, it’s obvious. But at the time they all but handed me the World Wide Web and I was like, ‘Aw, who cares?'”

He soon caught on, however. “When the Internet first appeared, this heated debate developed among economists,” he recalls. “One side said the Internet will make it easier for companies to price-­discriminate, and it’ll be fabulously profitable. The other side argued that the Internet will be the great equalizer–it’ll make markets close to perfectly competitive and people much more price-sensitive, and profits will be highly constrained. I’m probably the leading guy associated with that second position. Arguably, I got lucky, but what I wrote basically turned out to be correct.”

Goolsbee’s writings on this subject started bringing him “calls from all over the place, from policy makers and businesspeople–online merchants, particularly.” In the late 1990s, he published some highly influential papers that evaluated the depressive effects of taxation on Internet commerce. Finally, having been an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business since the age of 25, Goolsbee (who was born in Waco, TX, and grew up in California) gained tenure at 32.

Today’s University of Chicago economists are quite unlike the free-market-fundamentalist followers of Milton Friedman who made the university famous in the last century. When Goolsbee and I return from lunch through the school’s lobby, we pass displays of books and magazines promoting the faculty’s research. Much of it resembles the stuff popularized by Steven Levitt’s 2005 best-seller Freakonomics. Levitt, another University of Chicago economist who received his PhD from MIT, subtitled his book A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything; in it, he applies contemporary economic analysis to subjects ignored by previous generations of economists–subjects like the poor earnings of inner-city crack dealers. Similarly, the school’s publication Chicago GSB Magazine presents studies examining such questions as why many African-Americans, averaging a fraction of the financial worth of their white counterparts, invest more heavily in bling. In the context of the University of Chicago, Levitt, far from being a rogue economist, reflects a general rejection of some of the tenets of neoclassical economics.

According to neoclassical theory, individuals and groups act according to what economists call the rules of maximizing behavior–that is, individuals always act rationally to increase their own personal advantage, and firms always act to maximize profits. Neoclassical economics has notorious logical difficulties. It presupposes that individuals possess the necessary information to make choices, without explaining how they acquire that information; and it assumes that people know their preferences sufficiently well to be good maximizers, yet it never accounts for how, when a new technology or other novelty appears, they discover those preferences in the first place. To address these shortcomings, economists like Levitt, Thaler, and Goolsbee have increasingly taken two general approaches that are broadly complementary.

First, they have turned to the empirical study of specific behaviors among restricted populations, because in such microeconomic contexts the data tend to be easily obtainable and to yield striking discoveries. Second, economists have imported insights from behavioral psychology and neuroscience.

There was one other best-selling book on display as we passed–Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. (Thaler is director of the Center for Decision Research at Chicago’s business school. Though without a formal title in Obama’s campaign, he consults regularly with Goolsbee. “My main role has been to harass Austan, who has an office down the hall from mine,” he has said.) Nudge is an introduction to behavioral economics, which since the 1970s has accumulated a substantial body of lore. Often, it has developed such insights with the help of neuroeconomics, which uses technologies like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to capture the neural mechanics of decision making. At Nudge’s beginning, Thaler and Sunstein provide readers with a big, easy metaphor: your brain, they write, is divided between your automatic system (your inner Homer Simpson) and your reflective system (your Mr. Spock).

What does all this have to do with Barack Obama? Much of Goolsbee’s writing is more technical than Freakonomics and Nudge, and his own research focuses on taxation, the Internet, and network effects; but in his policy prescriptions he’s very much of the new Chicago school of economics. When our tendencies to make irrational decisions are understood, the Chicago econo­mists argue, we can design “choice architectures” (Thaler and Sunstein’s phrase) so that people default to better choices about matters like investment or taxation. Hence Obama’s proposal that companies offering 401(k) retirement accounts should enroll their workers automatically, making participation the default option and opting out a conscious choice. Thus, too, Goolsbee’s plan to simplify income tax filing for that majority of Americans who take only the standard deduction: under Goolsbee’s scheme, the IRS would send all those taxpayers a return with the relevant information, so that signing the prepared form would become the default choice–saving taxpayers 225 million hours and $2 billion in preparation fees.

America as Hospital
In March it seemed as if Obama might throw Goolsbee under the bus. A furor erupted over a leaked memo, written by a Canadian official, telling his superiors that in a February 8 meeting at Canada’s Chicago consulate, Goolsbee had given reassurances that the harsh rhetoric his candidate had voiced about the North American Free Trade Agreement while campaigning in Ohio–where many blame NAFTA for job losses–was only that. In the memo’s words, Goolsbee explained that Obama’s protectionist stance on the campaign trail was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.” Unfortunately, one of the Obama campaign’s first mass mailings had shown a padlocked factory gate with the words “Only Barack Obama consistently opposed NAFTA.” Although Goolsbee retained his title of senior economic advisor, he adopted (or was required to adopt) a lower profile.

With Hillary Clinton’s quest for the nomination defeated, Goolsbee is, once again, prominent in Obama’s run for the presi­dency. Still, the question remains: many American voters wish the U.S. industrial economy of the 1950s and ’60s could be restored, and with it the sweet deal unskilled workers enjoyed. Politicians fail to pander at their peril, and globalization is often held at fault for economic insecurity. But is it?

“Economic research hasn’t pointed at globalization as the main culprit,” Goolsbee says. For example, he explains, Chinese and American manufacturing barely overlap: the total of all imports into the U.S. amounts to only 16.7 percent of American GDP, and imports from China amount to just 2.2 percent. “In fact, the losers to China have been nations like Mexico,” he says; likewise, if Americans stopped buying cheap toys from China, the manufacturing jobs would return to nations like Mexico, not the U.S. Goolsbee adds, “Trade has helped the economy grow. Simultaneously, a sizable number of Americans haven’t shared in that bounty, and if we don’t pay attention to their concerns, all the political favor for open markets will dry up.”

Rather than globalization, Goolsbee believes, “the change in the demand for skills and use of technology” has reduced average Americans’ economic security. Then is the problem an unwillingness to change and acquire new skills–a kind of laziness? “Since as far as hours worked, people here are working more than in any other major economy, that’s really not the issue,” he says. “Americans are no lazier than any other people. It’s been the long-standing trend that the U.S. economy has been much more focused on areas involving high human capital.” At the same time it’s mistaken, he insists, to fear some automated dystopia “where everybody below the 50th percentile loses their jobs,” because in a growing economy, a range of skills will always be needed. “When productivity increases in any given segment of an economy, wages rise there, and this spills over into relatively unskilled workers’ pay. Picture a hospital, where there are high-skilled doctors, high-tech machinery needing experts to run it, middle-skilled nurse practitioners, and low-skilled people working in the cafeteria.”

However, he continues, the trends of recent times have been disturbing: “The inequality and stagnation of incomes for 75 to 85 percent of ordinary Americans is a massive problem.” Without income mobility and more investment in education, America could become a permanently stratified society. “Hence, the central issue confronted by Obama’s economic program is, How do we address the squeeze on ordinary Americans? Because the barriers could become impermeable.”

Creative Destruction
“In 1910,” Goolsbee says, “if someone could have gone back and told people then how many phone lines would exist today in the U.S., they’d have responded that that was physically impossible, because every American would need to be a telephone exchange operator. That few switchboard operators exist today, nevertheless, isn’t a sign that all those people are unemployed. The labor economist Alan Krueger at Princeton has studied what share of the highest-paying occupations are occupation codes that didn’t exist in the 1980 census. The figure is very substantial. There’s always job churn.” Continual job destruction and creation, Goolsbee insists, is healthy.

Where might future jobs come from, though? “There’s a joke within economics that 40 years from now every economist will be a health-care economist, because if you simply extrapolate from the current trend, the whole economy will be health care.” While we currently think of health care as a cost of business, Goolsbee continues, he can imagine it becoming a central driver of the economy. “Firstly, these are great engines of growth. Secondly, they make us healthy–and what’s better than that? Spending on medical research and science, by any crass economic calculation, has a massive payoff, because if you put any value on life–for instance, if you’ve medicine that keeps people alive for an extra two years–the implicit value of that is great. I could easily see some emerging combination of medical science, biotechnology, and computing as the foundation of much of our economic growth going forward.”

Goolsbee pauses, then says: “That’s why the last eight years’ degradation of the budgets for science and its general politicization are so upsetting. The government’s commitment to investment in advanced training of our own people has plummeted, so now something like two-thirds of those gaining science and engineering PhDs here aren’t U.S. citizens. For many years America led globally in the percentage of 25-year-olds with college degrees. Now the U.S. is 31 in the world–right behind Bulgaria and right above Costa Rica. The problem for countries with skill levels between Bulgaria and Costa Rica is that 20 years from now they’ll also have income levels between those countries.”

Mark Williams is a contributing editor to Technology Review.

Novas projeções sobre a economia americana

agosto 27, 2008

Contra o catastrofismo, análise econômica! É o que nos informa o post de hoje (abaixo) em que o Prof. Mark Perry aponta pesquisa de economistas da University of Michigan-UM projetando mais emprego (e não recessão) para os anos de 2009  e 2010!

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UM Predicts Job Boom: 3.5m New Jobs in 2009-10

 

In their annual summer forecast of the U.S. economy, University of Michigan economists say that three factors have helped our economy stave off a full-blown recession: 1) strong and timely action by the Federal Reserve to prevent financial collapse, 2) temporary tax breaks for households and businesses, and 3) strong demand for our products abroad.

The U-M economists predict annualized increases in real GDP growth of 2.6% in the first half of 2009, 3.3% in the second half and 3.6% during 2010. This translates into an increase of 900,000 payroll jobs during 2009 and 2.6 million jobs during 2010, after a loss of 700,000 jobs this year. Even so, the unemployment rate will increase next year to an average of 6.3%, but will fall to 5.6% by the end of 2010.

Along with the creation of 3.5 million jobs, rising GDP and slowing consumer price inflation over the next two years, the U.S. economy will show some signs of improvement in the housing market, oil prices and vehicle sales.

Entrevista com Vint Cerf, um dos pais da Internet

agosto 26, 2008

Eis aqui uma interessante entrevista feita pela Accenture, empresa internacional de consultoria, com Vint Cerf (hoje no Google), um dos pais da Internet!

Catching the Next Wave of Innovation
 

Empurrão: Melhorando Decisões sobre Saúde, Riqueza, e Felicidade

agosto 25, 2008

Eis aqui um livro interessante e que explica, de maneira prática, as principais contribuições da Economia Comportamental.  Trata-se do livro Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Empurrão: Melhorando Decisões sobre Saúde, Riqueza, e Felicidade), dos Professores Richard Thaler e Cass Sunstein, à venda na Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Nudge-Improving-Decisions-Health-Happiness/dp/product-description/0300122233).

Abaixo segue uma entrevista esclarecedora que a Amazon.com faz com os autores.

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Questions for Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein  

 

Amazon.com: What do you mean by “nudge” and why do people sometimes need to be nudged?

Thaler and Sunstein: By a nudge we mean anything that influences our choices. A school cafeteria might try to nudge kids toward good diets by putting the healthiest foods at front. We think that it’s time for institutions, including government, to become much more user-friendly by enlisting the science of choice to make life easier for people and by gentling nudging them in directions that will make their lives better.

Amazon.com: What are some of the situations where nudges can make a difference?

Thaler and Sunstein: Well, to name just a few: better investments for everyone, more savings for retirement, less obesity, more charitable giving, a cleaner planet, and an improved educational system. We could easily make people both wealthier and healthier by devising friendlier choice environments, or architectures.

Amazon.com: Can you describe a nudge that is now being used successfully?

Thaler and Sunstein: One example is the Save More Tomorrow program. Firms offer employees who are not saving very much the option of joining a program in which their saving rates are automatically increased whenever the employee gets a raise. This plan has more than tripled saving rates in some firms, and is now offered by thousands of employers.

Amazon.com: What is “choice architecture” and how does it affect the average person’s daily life?

Thaler and Sunstein: Choice architecture is the context in which you make your choice. Suppose you go into a cafeteria. What do you see first, the salad bar or the burger and fries stand? Where’s the chocolate cake? Where’s the fruit? These features influence what you will choose to eat, so the person who decides how to display the food is the choice architect of the cafeteria. All of our choices are similarly influenced by choice architects. The architecture includes rules deciding what happens if you do nothing; what’s said and what isn’t said; what you see and what you don’t. Doctors, employers, credit card companies, banks, and even parents are choice architects.

We show that by carefully designing the choice architecture, we can make dramatic improvements in the decisions people make, without forcing anyone to do anything. For example, we can help people save more and invest better in their retirement plans, make better choices when picking a mortgage, save on their utility bills, and improve the environment simultaneously. Good choice architecture can even improve the process of getting a divorce–or (a happier thought) getting married in the first place!

Amazon.com: You are very adamant about allowing people to have choice, even though they may make bad ones. But if we know what’s best for people, why just nudge? Why not push and shove?

Thaler and Sunstein: Those who are in position to shape our decisions can overreach or make mistakes, and freedom of choice is a safeguard to that. One of our goals in writing this book is to show that it is possible to help people make better choices and retain or even expand freedom. If people have their own ideas about what to eat and drink, and how to invest their money, they should be allowed to do so.

Amazon.com: You point out that most people spend more time picking out a new TV or audio device than they do choosing their health plan or retirement investment strategy? Why do most people go into what you describe as “auto-pilot mode” even when it comes to making important long-term decisions?

Thaler and Sunstein: There are three factors at work. First, people procrastinate, especially when a decision is hard. And having too many choices can create an information overload. Research shows that in many situations people will just delay making a choice altogether if they can (say by not joining their 401(k) plan), or will just take the easy way out by selecting the default option, or the one that is being suggested by a pushy salesman.

Second, our world has gotten a lot more complicated. Thirty years ago most mortgages were of the 30-year fixed-rate variety making them easy to compare. Now mortgages come in dozens of varieties, and even finance professors can have trouble figuring out which one is best. Since the cost of figuring out which one is best is so hard, an unscrupulous mortgage broker can easily push unsophisticated borrowers into taking a bad deal.

Third, although one might think that high stakes would make people pay more attention, instead it can just make people tense. In such situations some people react by curling into a ball and thinking, well, err, I’ll do something else instead, like stare at the television or think about baseball. So, much of our lives is lived on auto-pilot, just because weighing complicated decisions is not so easy, and sometimes not so fun. Nudges can help ensure that even when we’re on auto-pilot, or unwilling to make a hard choice, the deck is stacked in our favor.

Amazon.com: Are we humans just poorly adapted for making sound judgments in an increasingly fast-paced and complex world? What can we do to position ourselves better?

Thaler and Sunstein: The human brain is amazing, but it evolved for specific purposes, such as avoiding predators and finding food. Those purposes do not include choosing good credit card plans, reducing harmful pollution, avoiding fatty foods, and planning for a decade or so from now. Fortunately, a few nudges can help a lot. A few small hints: Sign up for automatic payment plans so you don’t pay late fees. Stop using your credit cards until you can pay them off on time every month. Make sure you’re enrolled in a 401(k) plan. A final hint: Read Nudge.

Um breve Curso sobre Economia Comportamental

agosto 25, 2008

Eis aqui um curso (sobre Economia Comportamental) que se distingue não por quem o ministra (que por acaso são feras da Economia), mas por quem o atende: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/thaler_sendhil08/thaler_sendhil08.html.

O Setor de Serviços e o seu Comércio Internacional

agosto 25, 2008

“O comércio internacional e o investimento em serviços são uma crescentemente importante parte do comércio global. Avanços nas tecnologias de informação e comunicação-TICs têm expandido o escopo dos serviços que podem ser comercializados além fronteiras. Muitos países agora permitem investimento estrangeiro em mercados competitivos recentemente privatizados para infraestrutura-chave em serviços, tais como energia, telecomunicações, e transporte.  Mais e mais pessoas estão viajando ao estrangeiro para consumir turismo, educação e serviços médicos, e para ofertar serviços que vão desde construção ao desenvolvimento de software. De fato, os serviços são os componentes que mais rapidamente estão crescendo na economia global, e o comércio e o investimento direto estrangeiro-IDE em serviços têm crescido mais rápido que o de bens ao longo da última década e meia.”

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

O consenso global sobre comércio internacional é revelador

agosto 25, 2008

Professor Larry Summers, da Harvard University, colocou sua preocupada visão em sua coluna de ontem no jornal Financial Times.  Os candidatos à Presidência dos EUA têm um grande desafio pela frente!

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The global consensus on trade is unravelling

By Lawrence Summers

Published: August 24 2008 18:20 | Last updated: August 24 2008 18:20

With two wars still continuing and violence in Georgia dominating the foreign policy debate; and with the financial crisis and economic insecurity for families dominating the domestic debate, US international economic policy is receiving less attention in this presidential election year than usual. The limited attention it has received has focused on concerns about specific trade agreements, not broader questions of international strategy. That is unfortunate. The next administration faces the prospect of having to make the most consequential international economic policy choices in a generation at a time when the confidence of governments in free markets is being increasingly questioned.

The current distribution of regional economic power is unlike anything that was predicted even a decade ago. The rise of the developing world, its growing share in global output and far greater share of global growth, is perhaps a quantitative but not a qualitative surprise. The qualitative surprise is this: with almost all the industrial world in or near recession, much of the momentum in the global economy is coming from countries with authoritarian governments that are pursuing economic strategies directed towards wealth accumulation and building up geopolitical strength rather than improving living standards for their populations. China, where household consumption has now fallen below 40 per cent of its gross domestic product – which must be some kind of peacetime record – is the most extreme example. Similar tendencies, however, can be seen in other parts of Asia, Russia and other oil exporting countries.

Even before the slowdown in the industrial world, a striking feature of the global economy was the substantial net flow of capital from the emerging periphery to the industrial centre. Rising oil prices have geopolitical as well as economic consequences. The run-up in oil prices over the past year has generated more than $10bn (€6.8bn, £5.4bn) a week in extra revenues for Opec members. Asian export powers and oil exporters have enjoyed a vast accumulation of wealth, adding about $1,000bn a year in assets.

These shifts have affected almost every global economic issue. The pressure created by the investment of these surpluses was one of the big factors driving the excesses that preceded our financial problems. Concern about the flow of imports from countries that have pursued a strategy of export-led growth is a big reason for the protectionist backlash now being seen in the industrialised world. It is now recognised that meaningful efforts to address climate change require a framework that induces China and other emerging markets to co-operate.

It has become a cliché to suggest that the world’s institutional approaches to economic co-operation need overhauling to take into account the rising economic clout of emerging markets and the decline in dominance of the group of seven leading industrialised nations (G7). This is correct. The steps taken so far – the initiation of the G-20 during the 1990s and the adjustments of voting shares in international financial institutions – are valuable if insufficient.

But the problems are much deeper than the question of who sits around the negotiating tables. For all the disagreements over the past decades, there has been a shared premise behind international economic policy discussions – the goal of increased economic integration, the spread of market institutions and more rapid growth for all nations. While companies may compete, the premise has been that nations co-operate to build a stronger economy in the interests of all.

It is no longer clear that this premise remains valid. Nations are increasingly preoccupied with their relative economic standing, not the living standards of citizens. Issues of strategic leverage and vulnerability now play a bigger role in economic policy discussions.

At the same time, it is unclear which underlying driver of global growth will replace the one in place for the past decade – the US as importer of last resort. Global growth has depended on US growth, which has depended on the US consumer; and the US consumer has depended on rising asset values first of stocks and more recently of real estate. With falling house prices and a challenged financial system, US consumer spending is falling. The US is no longer in a position to be a net source of demand for the rest of the world. Indeed, with the drop in value of the dollar, US growth – which had been focused on imports and which had enabled the export-led growth of other countries – is a thing of the past. Already, Europe and Japan are in or are very close to being in recession.

The current global policy debate is a cacophony. It is all very well to advocate increased US saving and a cut in the US current account deficit but the process for bringing it about will mean less US demand for foreign products. That will put pressure on jobs and output growth in other countries if no countervailing measures are put in place. Conversely, the return of a stronger dollar without other policy changes will raise US demand for exports but at the price of cutting demand for domestically produced goods and compounding the recession.

These problems will be with us for some time. They may not be at the top of anyone’s agenda right now. But the success of the next administration could depend on its ability to engage with a wider range of global economic stakeholders, on a broader agenda, at a time when disagreements are increasing not just about means but also about ultimate ends.

The writer is the Charles W. Eliot professor at Harvard University and managing director of D.E. Shaw & Co

Kevin Kelly prevendo os próximos 5.000 dias da web

agosto 23, 2008

Eis aqui um TED Talk interessante e que foi publicado em julho deste ano. Trata-se de Kevin Kelly. 

Ele tem sido o editor de Whole Earth Review, editor executivo da revista WIRED, fundador de entidades visionárias sem fins lucrativos, e escritor.  Ele é admirado por suas perspectivas em tecnologia e a relevância dela para a história, biologia e religião.


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