Global finance, combining offshore banking and universal banks to drive a broader globalization process, has transformed the modus operandi of the world economy. This requires a new “meta-economic” framework in which short-term portfolio-investment flows are treated as the dominant phenomenon they have become. Organized by global finance, these layered bi-directional flows between center and periphery manage a tension between financial concentration and monetary fragmentation. The resulting imbalances express the asymmetries built into that tension and render the exchange rate a more strategic policy variable than ever.
JEL Classification: F32; F33; F44.
The financialization of the Brazilian economy is often criticized as being responsible of the slowdown of capital accumulation in this country. Indeed, very high interest rates are maintained in order to finance the public debt, and this fosters capitalists to get more Treasury bonds rather than to invest in the productive area. Nevertheless, the evolution of the profit rate in this area also explains the particular relation existing between capitalists, finance and productive investment, as Marx showed it more than a century ago.
JEL Classification: E11; E22; N16.
This paper examines the structuralist tradition in economics, emphasizing the role that structures play in the economic growth of developing countries. Since the subject at hand is evidently too large to cover in a single article, an emphasis has been brought to bear upon the macroeconomic elements of such a tradition, while also exploring its methodological aspects. It begins by analysing some general aspects of structuralism in economics (its evolution and origins) associated with ECLAC thought, in this instance focusing on the dynamics of the center-periphery relationship. Thereafter, the macroeconomic structuralism derived from the works of Taylor (1983, 1991) is presented, followed by a presentation of neo-structuralism. Centred on the concept of systemic competitiveness, this approach defines a strategy to achieve the high road of globalization, understood here as an inevitable process in spite of its engagement being dependent on the policies adopted. The conclusions show the genuine contributions of this tradition to economic theory.
JEL Classification: B22; F43; O12.
Textbook theory ignores capital flows: trade determines exchange rates and specialisation. Approaches taking the effects of capital movements adequately into account are needed, and a new theory of economic policy including measures to protect the real economy from external volatility. Equilibrating textbook mechanisms cannot work unless trade-caused surpluses and deficits set exchange rates. To allow orthodox trade theory to work one must hinder capital flows from destroying its very basis, which the IMF and wrong regulatory decisions have done, penalising production and trade. A new, real economy based theory is proposed, a Neoclassical agenda of controlling capital flows and speculation.
JEL Classification: F11; F13; F32; F40; G15.
A blueprint for reform
If emerging markets are to achieve their objective of joining the ranks of industrialized, developed countries, they must use their economic and political influence to support radical change in the international financial system. This working paper recommends John Maynard Keynes’s “clearing union” as a blueprint for reform of the international financial architecture that could address emerging market grievances more effectively than current approaches. Keynes’s proposal for the postwar international system sought to remedy some of the same problems currently facing emerging market economies. It was based on the idea that financial stability was predicated on a balance between imports and exports over time, with any divergence from balance providing automatic financing of the debit countries by the creditor countries via a global clearinghouse or settlement system for trade and payments on current account. This eliminated national currency payments for imports and exports; countries received credits or debits in a notional unit of account fixed to national currency. Since the unit of account could not be traded, bought, or sold, it would not be an international reserve currency. The credits with the clearinghouse could only be used to offset debits by buying imports, and if not used for this purpose they would eventually be extinguished; hence the burden of adjustment would be shared equally—credit generated by surpluses would have to be used to buy imports from the countries with debit balances. Emerging market economies could improve upon current schemes for regionally governed financial institutions by using this proposal as a template for the creation of regional clearing unions using a notional unit of account.
JEL Classification: E42; E52; F12; N44.
Many economists show certain nonconformity relative to the excessive mathematical formalization of economics. This stems from dissatisfaction with the old debate about the lack of correspondence between mainstream theoretical models and reality. Although we do not propose to settle this debate here, this article seeks to associate the mismatch of mathematized models with the reality of the adoption of the hypothetical-deductive method as reproduced by general equilibrium. We begin by defining the main benefits of the mathematization of economics. Secondly, we address traditional criticism leveled against it. We then focus on more recent criticism from Gillies (2005) and Bresser-Pereira (2008). Finally, we attempt to associate the reproduction of the hypothetical-deductive method with a metatheoretical process triggered by Debreu’s general equilibrium theory. In this respect, we appropriate the ideas of Weintraub (2002), Punzo (1991), and mainly Woo (1986) to support our hypothesis.
JEL Classification: B40; B41.
This article analyses the relationship between state policies and economy in Argentina 1991-2001. In 1991 the currency board regime named ‘convertibility’ was implemented, within the framework of important neoliberal reforms introduced by the State. These neoliberal reforms facilitated capitalist restructuring, characterized by a leap in productivity, investment and profits. Likewise, these reforms generated imbalances which, along with the changes in the world market conditions from 1998, led to the deepest crisis in Argentina’s history. The inefficiency of state neoliberal policies in managing the crisis, based on fiscal adjustment to guarantee the continuity of external financing, led to an economic depression and a financial crash, sparking a mass rebellion and the end of convertibility.
JEL Classification: N16.
In August 2010 Brazil decided to limit foreign direct investments (FDIs) in land, and attracted the attention of politicians as much as the fears of businessmen. However, few months before, in September 2009, it had concluded a trilateral agreement with Japan and Mozambique to implement agribusiness and contract farming on an area of ten million hectares in the Mozambican region of Nacala. In light of that, the paper analyses the apparent duality of the Brazilian politics, and concludes that, exactly like in the case of the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, it is not a matter of pathology, but a voluntarily induced double personality which is strategic in positioning Brazil at the core of the global capitalist system.
JEL classification: F02.
It is argued in this paper that it’s possible to speak of a ‘tradition’ in the field of social and economic philosophy uniting the works of J.S.Mill, Alfred Marshall and John Maynard Keynes. This ‘tradition’ can be characterized by the following concepts: (a) by the rejection of the acquisitive values of capitalism; (b) by the ideia that capitalism would be incapable of spontaneously solving the problems of distribution of wealth and poverty; (c) by the idea that, for the sake of the preservation of liberty, diversity and economic efficiency, individual initiative should be free to act wherever it engenders good results, but that the State should intervene whenever the free initiative fails, acting in the good of collectivity; (d) by the belief that it would be possible to make capitalism significantly better by the way of small and gradual changes.
JEL Classification: B12; B13.