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Showing posts from December, 2015

Political Aspects of Unemployment: Brazil’s Neoliberal U-Turn

New paper by Franklin Serrano and Luiz Eduardo Melin. From the abstract:
Throughout the world, the reversion of fortune suffered by the Brazilian
economy since reaching its zenith as recently as 2010 has confounded shrewd commentators, seasoned analysts and market players alike. As 2015 unfolded, ominous projections (“An Economy on the Brink”, “Brazil’s Economy Falters” “Worse May Be To Come”) were no less widespread than expressions of bewilderment (“Whatever Happened to Brazil”, “Brazilian Waxing and Waning”, “Brazil’s Scandalous Boom to Bust Story”), and, more recently, of alarm (“Goldman Sachs Says Brazil Has Plunged Into ‘An Outright Depression’”) concerning the fate of the South American BRIC country.  Despite profuse official protestations to the contrary, however, Brazil’s afflictions turn out to be of its own making, as it so often proves to be the case. Looking at the set of clearly laid-out policy choices made by the Brazilian government – and the almost as clearly spelled-…

The strange and misunderstood reasons for the Brazilian crisis

Almost done for the year. So do not expect many posts before the end of the ASSA conference (January 5). But as I promised, here are some brief thoughts on the Brazilian crisis.

Brazil is a mess. The economy is collapsing, with an estimated decline of about 3.5% in GDP this year (perhaps worse), and inflation has accelerated, to two digit levels, way above what used to be the upper limit of the inflation target band. Worse, politically the country is paralyzed, with an impeachment process in course with a very uncertain outcome.

The conventional view is sort of split on why this happened. Some suggest that it was the slowdown of the international economy, and the decline in commodity prices, that forced Brazil to adjust (for example, that would be Simon Romero's story in the NYTimes, if you add corruption to the mix; more on that below). The alternative is more explicit about the negative effects of the Workers' Party (PT in Portuguese) policies, suggesting that they reduced …

The World in 2016 at the Rick Smith Show

Neoliberalism Resurgent: What to Expect in Argentina after Macri’s Victory*

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No need for a helicopter
The election of businessman Mauricio Macri to the presidency in Argentina signals a rightward turn in the country and, perhaps, in South America more generally. Macri, the candidate of the right-wing Compromiso para el cambio (Commitment to Change) party, defeated Buenos Aires province governor Daniel Scioli (the Peronist party candidate) in November’s runoff election, by less than 3% of the vote.

Macri is the wealthy scion an Italian immigrant family that made its money on the basis of government contracts. He went on to work for the family business and later, defying his father’s wishes, became president of the most popular professional soccer club in the country, Boca Juniors. In 2007, he won election as mayor of the capital city, Buenos Aires—the springboard for his eventual election to the presidency.

This is a momentous change in Argentina’s history, since it is the first time that a right-wing party has won the presidency by electoral means. In the pas…

Employment report and FOMC decision on the Rick Smith Show

Interest rates will go up (almost certain now)

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Not a conventional rate
Janet L. Yellen said in her speech at the Economic Club of Washington that rates are going to increase. Perhaps there will be no unanimous decision by the FOMC, but gradual increases should start in December. It must be noted that she did say that: "we cannot yet... declare that the labor market has reached full employment." She is also concerned with the weakness of the global economy, and, hence, of US exports. The forecast in a nutshell:
"I anticipate continued economic growth at a moderate pace that will be sufficient to generate additional increases in employment, further reductions in the remaining margins of labor market slack, and a rise in inflation to our 2 percent objective." And that means that:
"As you know, there has been considerable focus on the first increase in the federal funds rate after nearly seven years in which that rate has been at its effective lower bound. We have tried to be as clear as possible about the con…

What to expect in Argentina (in Spanish)

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My talk in Argentina last week about what to expect after the right wing electoral victory. In Spanish without subtitles.

My brother and Revista Circus made it possible.