Archive for 31 de março de 2011

Provocative “Declaration of independence”

março 31, 2011

O post abaixo foi publicado ontem no jornal Chicago Tribune (  Se a sugestão que ele faz tivesse sido feita por um político, já teria dado muito problema. Como foi feita por um professor de Economia, talvez não cause muito impacto.

Se nós, brasileiros, fôssemos observar a sugestão que o professor dá, e  passássemos a propor ao mundo sugestões semelhantes, creio que num futuro breve teremos muito mais problemas no nosso já conflituoso comércio internacional!


Declaration of independence

By Allen R. SandersonMarch 30, 2011

My fellow Americans,

For too long, the United States of America has been at the mercy of foreign interests — and nations in faraway lands that are often at odds with our core values — when it comes to the production of perhaps the vital resource that drives our economy. We remain far too dependent on this imported commodity that could, in the time of emergency or international political crisis, be denied to us and thus cripple our productivity and reduce us to quivering masses of migraines in a matter of hours. The time for change is now.

I speak, of course, of our complete dependence on coffee that we are importing mainly from Brazil and Colombia. It’s time to wean ourselves from this harmful addiction. My “Coffee Independence” proposal is the key first step.

We may constitute only 5 percent of the world’s population, but we consume fully a third of the planet’s coffee. This nation runs off coffee, most all of it from a sketchy continent. Should we be cut off by one of these sources, for our caffeine fix we’d be forced to drink Coca-Cola for breakfast as well as 10 other times a day.

Our most recent census figures reveal that Detroit lost 25 percent of its population from 2000 to 2010, including those who moved from the city as a result of continuing dismal performances by the Lions and Pistons. And the great state of Michigan as a whole lost population and faces one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Thus my administration will propose that we begin immediately to invest in this city and state and turn them into the coffee capital of North America. It will create jobs, jobs, jobs; stimulate economic development; and put Michigan back on the map. After all, it was a beer that made Milwaukee famous, and cows that turned Wisconsin into America’s Dairyland. Why not think of Michigan when you think of mocha?

Going without our morning venti half-caf latte and afternoon frappuccino grande will take some time to get used to, of course. As will building the hothouse infrastructure, turning seedlings into hearty trees; and fully implementing our “Cash for Coffee” stimulus program. And until those beans can be picked by American workers who are paid a living wage, have great health care benefits, 40l(k)s and union representation, this will call for shared sacrifice.

To complement this initiative, I will also propose to Congress that we invest in Florida orange juice production, Nicorette gum and California wines, all 100 percent American products. (And we can thus reduce Brazil to a nation known only for its Carnival, bikini waxes and getting suckered into hosting the 2016 Olympic Games.)

Once fully implemented, we will then turn our full attention to growing cocoa in New Hampshire, a state that figures prominently in the 2012 primaries, instead of importing our secondary caffeine and fat additions — chocolate — from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. After that we will move on the idiom — “For all the tea in China” — and have farmers in another early primary state, Iowa, convert some of their corn (aka ethanol) acreage to tea, thus stopping the flow of American dollars to China and India.

And then for the final phase, I am fully prepared to give new meaning to the term “Banana Republic.”


Any president, past, present and future

Allen R. Sanderson teaches economics at the University of Chicago.


About That Striking Graph from John Taylor

março 31, 2011

Há alguns dias o economista John Taylor publicou um um gráfico que chamou muita atenção: os dados das participações dos gastos no PIB mostram que a mais efetiva maneira de reduzir desemprego é aumentar o investimento como percentagem do PIB!

Mas o que muitos apontaram foi: por que ele só compilou dados a partir dos anos 1990?  Vejam a discussão abaixo (que foi tirada do blog do Prof. Mark Thoma: que tem tudo a ver com a forma de fazer Ciência Econômica!


About That Striking Graph from John Taylor

Since I posted this graph, I should post the follow-up from Justin Wolfers:

How to Spot Advocacy Science: John Taylor Edition, by Justin Wolfers: Sometimes you see the perfect piece of evidence. The scatter plot that is just so. The data line up perfectly. And then you realize, perhaps they’re just too perfect. What you are seeing is advocacy, dressed up as science. Here’s an example, provided by John Taylor (via Greg Mankiw):

Taylor’s conclusion: the data on spending shares show that the most effective way to reduce unemployment is to raise investment as a share of GDP. But why begin the scatter plot in 1990? There’s no good reason. In fact, most folks typically download the entire history of available macro data. So let’s see what happens if we extend it back to, say, 1970:

Hmm… What conclusions should we draw about this relationship? And now why do you think Taylor began his sample in 1990?

Actually, we should use all the available data. The chart below goes back to 1948, when these series—in their current form—began:

Now what’s your conclusion?

Here’s Mankiw’s assessment of Taylor’s claim: There’s no doubt that the strength of the correlation is impressive.

But when you look beyond the cherry-picked sample, the correlation is a decidedly unimpressive -0.14.

Here’s my conclusion: On balance, times in which the investment share is higher, are slightly more likely to be good times. But I’m not sure why. Is it—as Taylor asserts—that high investment shares create good times? Or is it that good times encourage investment? Or is it a third factor—perhaps in good times the government doesn’t need to prime the fiscal pump, and so the investment share is higher? Or is it something else?

Be wary of economists wielding short samples.

Paul Krugman on Taylor:

What’s Behind Low Investment?, by Paul Krugman: This post by John Taylor is getting a lot of attention, because it does show a striking correlation between investment and unemployment

But when Taylor leaps from that correlation to saying that what we need for economic recovery is to “lighten up on the anti-business sentiment coming out of Washington,” I wonder what is going on in his head.

I mean, Taylor presents another graph, showing a plunge in fixed investment since 2006:


But that’s overall fixed investment. Let’s decompose it:


It’s mostly the housing bust! Yes, business investment is low — but no lower than you might expect given the depressed state of the economy. In fact, business investment is roughly the same percentage of GDP now that it was at the same stage of the much milder 2001 recession.

What the data actually say is that we had a catastrophic housing bust and consumer pullback, and that businesses have, predictably, cut back on investment in the face of excess capacity. The rest is just politically motivated mythology.

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