quinta-feira, dezembro 29, 2005

05) Origens economicas da democracia e da ditadura (Book sumary)

Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Economic and Political Origins
Daron Acemoglu (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and James A. Robinson (Harvard University, Massachusetts)
Hardback (ISBN-10: 0521855268 | ISBN-13: 9780521855266); Published December 2005 540 pages, $35.00.

What forces lead to democracy's creation? Why does it sometimes consolidate only to collapse at other times? Written by two of the foremost authorities on this subject in the world, this volume develops a framework for analyzing the creation and consolidation of democracy. It revolutionizes scholarship on the factors underlying government and popular movements toward democracy or dictatorship. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that different social groups prefer different political institutions because of the way they allocate political power and resources. Their book, the subject of a four-day seminar at Harvard's Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences, was also the basis for the Walras-Bowley lecture at the joint meetings of the European Economic Association and Econometric Society in 2003 and is the winner of the John Bates Clark Medal.

(para visualizar em pdf, vá a este link: http://assets.cambridge.org/052185/5268/toc/0521855268_toc.pdf)

Part I. Questions and Answers:
1. Paths of political development:
1. Britain;
2. Argentina;
3. Singapore;
4. South Africa,
5. The agenda;

2. Our argument:
1. Democracy vs. nondemocracy;
2. Building blocks of our approach;
3. Towards our basic story;
4. Our theory of democratization;
5. Democratic consolidation;
6. Determinants of democracy;
7. Political identities and the nature of conflict;
8. Democracy in a picture;
9. Overview of the book;

3. What do we know about democracy?:
1. Measuring democracy;
2. Patterns of democracy;
3. Democracy, inequality and redistribution;
4. Crises and democracy;
5. Social unrest and democratization;
6. The literature;
7. Our contribution;

Part II. Modelling Politics:
4. Democratic politics:
1. Introduction;
2. Aggregating individual preferences;
3. Single-peaked preferences and the median voter theorem;
4. Our workhorse models;
5. Democracy and political equality;
6. Conclusion;

5. Nondemocratic politics:
1. Introduction;
2. Power and constraints in nondemocratic politics;
3. Modeling preferences and constraints in nondemocracies;
4. Commitment problems;
5. A simple game of promises;
6. A dynamic model;
7. Incentive compatible promises;
8. Conclusion;

Part III. The Creation and Consolidation of Democracy:
6. Democratization:
1. Introduction;
2. The role of political institutions;
3. Preferences over political institutions;
4. Political power and institutions;
5. A ‘static’ model of democratization;
6. Democratization or repression?
7. A dynamic model of democratization;
8. Subgame perfect equilibria;
9. Alternative political identities;
10. Targeted transfers;
11. Power of the elite in democracy; 1
2. Ideological preferences over regimes;
13. Democratization in pictures;
14. Equilibrium revolutions;
15. Conclusion;

7. Coups and consolidation:
1. Introduction;
2. Incentives for coups;
3. A static model of coups;
4. A dynamic model of the creation and consolidation of democracy;
5. Alternative political identities;
6. Targeted transfers;
7. Power in democracy and coups;
8. Consolidation in a picture;
9. Defensive coups;
10. Conclusion;

Part IV. Putting the Models to Work:
8. The role of the middle class:
1. Introduction;
2. The three-class model;
3. Emergence of partial democracy;
4. From partial to full democracy;
5. Repression: the middle class as a buffer;
6. Repression: soft-liners vs. hard-liners;
7. The role of the middle class in consolidating democracy;
8. Conclusion;

9 Economic structure and democracy:
1. Introduction;
2. Economic structure and income distribution;
3. Political conflict;
4. Capital, land and the transition to democracy;
5. Financial integration;
6. Increased political integration;
7. Alternative assumptions about the nature of international trade;
8. Conclusion;

Part V. Conclusion and The Future of Democracy:
11. Conclusion and the future of democracy:
1. Paths of political development revisited;
2. Extension and areas for future research;
3. The future of democracy;

Part VI. Appendix:
12. Appendix to chapter 4: the distribution of power in democracy:
1. Introduction;
2. Probabilistic voting models;
3. Lobbying;
4. Partisan politics and political capture.


"This path-breaking book is among the most ambitious, innovative, sweeping, and rigorous scholarly efforts in comparative political economy and political development. It offers a broad, substantial new account of the creation and consolidation of democracy. Why is the franchise extended? How do elites make reform believable and avoid expropriation? Why do revolutions nevertheless occur? Why do new democracies sometimes collapse into coups and repression? When is repression abandoned? Backed by a unified analytic model, historical insight, and extensive statistical analysis, the authors' case is compelling." James E. Alt, Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government, Harvard University

"This tour de force combines brilliant theoretical imagination and historical breadth to shine new light on issues that have long been central in social science. The book cannot be ignored by anybody wanting to link political and economic development. Its range is truly impressive. The same logical framework offers plausible predictions about revolution, repression, democratization, and coups. The book refreshingly includes as much Latin American experience as European experience, and as much Asian as North American. The authors offer new intellectual life to economics, political science, sociology, and history. Game theory gains a wider audience by being repeatedly applied to major historical issues for which commitment is indeed a key mechanism. Economists and political scientists gain more common ground on their political economy frontier.

Sociologists are given a new template about class interactions in the political sphere, one that suggests both new tests and new ideas. And comparative historians, while fleeing from active involvement in game theory, have a new set of conjectures to support or be provoked by." Peter Lindert, University of California, Davis

"Acemoglu and Robinson have developed a coherent and flexible analytical framework that brings together many aspects of the comparative political economy of democratization and democratic consolidation. Beyond being an excellent work of synthesis, this framework also leads to insights that will pave the way for further theoretical and empirical investigation. The combination of theory and historical application make this a first-rate book for teaching, as well as a major research contribution." Thomas Romer, Princeton University

"This book is an immense achievement. Acemoglu and Robinson at once extend the frontiers of both economics and political science; they provide a new way of understanding why some countries are rich and some are poor; and they reinterpret the last 500 years of history." Barry Weingast, Stanford University

""A vast body of research in social science on the development of democracy offers detailed accounts of specific country events but few general lessons. Acemoglu and Robinson breathe new life into this field. Relying on a sequence of formal but parsimonious game-theoretic models and on penetrating historical analysis, they provide a common understanding of the diverse country histories observed during the last two centuries" - Torsten Persson, Director Institute for International Economics Studies, Stockholm University

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quarta-feira, dezembro 21, 2005

04) Bancos centrais nos EUA e na GB (Book review)

John H. Wood, _A History of Central Banking in Great Britain and the
United States_. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. xv + 424
pp. $90 (cloth), ISBN: 0-521-85013-4.

Central banks in Great Britain and the United States arose early in the financial revolution. The Bank of England was created in 1694 while the first Banks of the United States appeared in 1791–1811 and 1816–36, and were followed by the Independent Treasury, 1846–1914. These institutions, together with the Suffolk Bank and the New York Clearing House, exercised important central banking function before the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Significant monetary changes in the lives of these British and American institutions are examined within a framework that deals with the knowledge and behavior of central bankers and their interactions with economists and politicians. Central Bankers’ behavior has shown considerable continuity in the influence of incentives and their interest in the stability of the financial markets.

• Only recent financial history title comparing the US Federal Reserve Systemand the Bank of England in depth
• Author has been writing on the topic for over 35 years and is well known
• Writing is clear, accessible, engaging

1. Understanding monetary policy;
2. An introduction to central bankers;
3. Making a central bank: I. Surviving;
4. Making a central bank: II. Looking for a rule;
5. Making a central bank: III. Ends and means;
6. Central banking in the United States, 1790–1914;
7. Before the crash: the origins and early years of the Federal Reserve;
8. The fall and rise of the Federal Reserve, 1929–51;
9. Central banking in the United States after the Great Depression, 1951–71;
10. The Bank of England after 1914;
11. Rules vs. authorities;
12. Permanent suspension;
13. Back to the beginning? New contracts for new companies.

Reviewed for EH.NET by Angela Redish, Department of Economics,
University of British Columbia.

In 1694 a group of merchants agreed to lend the English government
£1.2 million in exchange for a charter to create a note-issuing bank,
the Bank of England. Two hundred and twenty years later, in response
to private sector rather than public sector concerns (notably the
panic of 1907), the United States created the Federal Reserve Bank.
Focusing on the UK and the United States, this book studies the
transition from a seventeenth-century world free of central bankers,
through the financial excitements of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and
twentieth centuries to the sedate world of central banking in the
late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The focus is on the
interplay between bankers and politicians and on the evolution of an
in-between species, the 'central bankers.'

As the author, John Wood (Department of Economics, Wake Forest
University), notes it is a propitious time to write such a book.
Central banks are operating in a period of calm, and are widely seen
as so successful that they are boring. In both the U.S. and the UK,
the twentieth century posed extreme challenges for central banking:
financing two world wars, facing the shocks of the Great Depression,
and then learning how to operate in a fiat money world after the end
of the Bretton Woods period. Since the early 1990s, there has been
widespread agreement on the appropriate targets of monetary policy --
price stability and financial stability -- and, perhaps with the
exception of how to respond to "irrational exuberance" in asset
markets, central banking has become a technocratic business of
forecasting future demand so as to set interest rates at an
appropriate level to engender price stability.

How independent should a central bank be in a democratic country? The
book takes us through the ups and downs of independence. Today many
central banks, including the Bank of England and the Fed, have
operational independence but are subject at some horizon to state
control, but the degree of independence has fluctuated. At its
origins the Bank of England was private, and the fiscal needs of the
government gave the Bank considerable power, but by 1833, after years
of stable public finances, the government could "afford the luxury of
an independent central bank" (p.72). (Interestingly, Wood's evidence
of independence is the introduction of a requirement for the
publication of the Bank's accounts which would make explicit any
changing indebtedness of the government.). In the 1920s, the Bank of
England was dominant in the decision that Britain would resume
convertibility of the pound at the old par, despite the deflation
that this would require, but after World War II, it was the
politicians and Treasury officials that determined interest rates as
well as exchange rate policy. In the second half of the twentieth
century the Bank considered itself as merely the "central banking arm
of a centralized macroeconomic executive" (p. 386), but then, after
decades of erratic monetary policy, the Bank was given its
independence in 1998.

The independence of the Federal Reserve System is even more tortuous
to describe because of its diffuse structure, itself a reflection of
the desire to create a bankers' bank _and_ a government bank. The Fed
is composed of twelve regional banks plus the Board of Governors
located in Washington, and tensions between bankers and the
government were frequently played out between the Board and the
regional (especially New York) Feds. Again the degree of independence
fluctuated: the disagreements between the Board and the New York Fed
in the late 1920s are well known; in 1935, the system was reorganized
giving more power to the Board, and after World War II the Fed was
essentially subservient to Treasury desires for low interest rates.
The Fed's reassertion of its independence in early 1951 -- a showdown
between President Truman and Chairman Eccles -- is a story that
should be required reading for all students of monetary policy (pp.
226-38). Yet triumph was temporary, and in the 1960s and 70s monetary
policy became an issue in election campaigns. Most recently, at
Senate confirmation hearings in November, President Bush's nominee
for Chairman of the Board of Governors, Ben Bernanke, stated that: "I
will be strictly independent of all political influences and will be
guided solely by the Federal Reserve's mandate from Congress and by
the public interest."

The history of central banking is told against a backdrop of the
development of monetary theory and the evolving understanding of how
monetary systems and banks operate. The discussion of the real bills
doctrine, of 'operation twist,' of the use of moral suasion and
credit controls, of monetarism, and of price and wage controls takes
the reader through the, usually painful, learning that central
bankers have undergone. The author uses extensive quotations from
memoirs and minutes so that the reader can see the decision-making
process in the raw.

Now to cavils: There is an inherent organizational tension in telling
two stories chronologically in parallel. The author chooses to begin
with three chapters on the history of the Bank of England to 1914,
then three chapters on the origins of the Federal Reserve and its
history to the 1960s, then a chapter taking the Bank of England from
1914 to 1980, followed by three chapters that combine analysis of
contemporary monetary theory and the history of monetary policy in
both countries over the last 25 years. I'm not sure there is a better
way, but I found some of the transitions awkward. I suspect earlier
readers also did, as there are a large number of signposts for the
reader, which help, but still further prevent a seamless flow.

Finally a minor gripe: There are very useful summaries of events and
_dramatis personae_ at the beginning of each chapter, but some
curious choices are made. Beginning in 1951 the President of the
Council of Economic Advisors is listed, but nowhere are the New York
Fed Presidents listed; Governors of the Bank of England are not
listed until 1914; G. William Miller, Fed Chairman in 1978-79 is not
on any list. The lists would have been more useful as a reference if
they had been presented as comprehensive appendices to the whole book.

No individual event retraced here is new, but by bringing the pieces
together and focusing on the evolution of central bankers this book
enables the reader to see the forest rather than the trees, and
appreciate one of the successes of economics. This book will be a
useful resource for both economic historians and monetary economists
looking for a broad overview of the evolution of Anglo-American
central banking and monetary theory.

Angela Redish's publications include _Bimetallism: An Economic and
Social History_ (2000) and (with Michael Bordo) "Is Deflation
Depressing? Evidence from the Classical Gold Standard" in Burdekin
and Siklos, editors, _Deflation: Current and Historical Perspectives_

Copyright (c) 2005 by EH.Net. All rights reserved. This work may be
copied for non-profit educational uses if proper credit is given to
the author and the list. For other permission, please contact the
EH.Net Administrator (administrator@eh.net; Telephone: 513-529-2229).
Published by EH.Net (December 2005). All EH.Net reviews are archived
at http://www.eh.net/BookReview.

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ONE: Understanding Central Bankers and Monetary Policy

Our monetary system is unprecedented. After decades of instability, central bankers, governments, and economists have reached a consensus that the appropriate role of a central bank in the prevailing fiat-money regime includes: (1) the clear assignment of the responsibility for inflation to the central bank; (2) agreement that inflation should be low and stable; (3) rejection of price controls as a means of controlling inflation; and (4) acceptance of whatever degree of fluctuation is required in interest rates to achieve the inflation objective. This is at once more ambitious and more modest (realistic) than earlier systems. The gold standard was a way to price stability in the long run, and Keynesian monetary and fiscal policies aspired to multiple (if inconsistent) price and quantity goals.

The system is not accidental. This book traces its development through successive interactions of central bankers, economic ideas, and governments, all affected in greater or lesser degrees by the experiences of earlier systems. There are several excellent histories of central banking for particular periods.1 However, this is the first attempt to tie the threads across three centuries within a unified framework that is made up not only of monetary theory but of the situations of central bankers in the financial markets. The story is told from the standpoints of central bankers in two countries, from the establishments of the Bank of England in 1694 and the Bank of the United States in 1791, although similar policy regimes in Europe and elsewhere suggest that it has wider applicability (which will be examined in the last chapter).

The focus on central bankers has several advantages for understanding the monetary system. Their position at the center provides a unique perspective on the progress of events, and their responsibility for day-to-day policy gives their exchanges with governments insight into policy in practice. The views of policymakers as revealed in the statements of Governors Whitmore, Harman, and Palmer before parliamentary inquiries in 1810, 1832, and 1848 are not found elsewhere; nor are Governor Hankey’s quarrel with the Economist’s Walter Bagehot, Governor Lidderdale’s reactions to the Crisis of 1890, Governor Norman’s defenses of resumption in the 1920s, the resistance of Governors Cobbold and Cromer to government pressures in the 1950s and 1960s, or Governor George’s exposition of the new consensus in 1998.2 The institutions of American monetary policy have been more changeable, but Nicholas Biddle’s defense against Andrew Jackson’s war on the Second Bank of the United States and the explanations of Treasury monetary policies by Secretaries Guthrie, Sherman, and Shaw and of Federal Reserve policies by Governors Strong, Harrison, Eccles, Martin, Maisel, Burns, Volcker, and Greenspan are equally valuable. Heads of Federal Reserve Banks were called governors before the Banking Act of 1935 (for example, New York’s Benjamin Strong and George Harrison); they were called presidents thereafter.

Finally, their common situation in the financial markets provides a strong element of continuity to the development of central banks. We will see how central bankers’ concern for financial stability has become reconciled with monetary policy. Technology has developed, but the fundamental characters of money and the credit markets, as well as of reputation and speculation, persist. Central bankers’ earliest and longest experiences were within the framework of the gold standard, but their intellectual positions have been similar under paper standards.

Instead of treating monetary episodes as distinct, I examine policy as a sequence of actions by durable groups with shared experiences and environments. In the 18th century, the Bank of England – the model central bank (although its directors had to be told at the end of the century that this is what they had become) – focused on profits and survival, the latter requiring the payment of gold on demand for its notes. The long 19th century – until 1914 – saw the progress of the Bank’s acceptance of a wider responsibility for financial stability, although convertibility remained in ascendance. The United States had no institution that could be called a central bank – except two short-lived Banks of the United States between 1791 and 1836 – before the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Nevertheless, the federal Treasury Department, central money markets, and clearinghouses performed central banking functions that were governed by the same ideas that prevailed across the Atlantic, that is, profits for private institutions and seigniorage for the government, subject to currency convertibility and with attention to financial stability.

Central bankers failed to cope with the disruptions of World War I and the Great Depression of the 1930s and tended to make matters worse as the old system collapsed. Monetary theory and practice since that time have to a large extent been quests for an adequate replacement of the pre-1914 system. The dollar-exchange system that was agreed at Bretton Woods in 1944 to achieve the solidity of the gold standard without its rigidity proved inconsistent with concurrent monetary stimulations, and its breakdown in the 1970s presaged an agonizing period of accelerating inflation and unemployment.

The anti-inflationary monetarist policies associated with Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher may be understood as reactions to inflations that had failed to bring the promised benefits, and monetary debates since 1979 have led to the consensus just described. Commitments to the new policy were legalized in the Bank of England Act of 1998 and, less formally in the United States, by the statement of Chairmen Volcker that “price stability . . . is to be treasured and enshrined as the prime policy priority; that objective is inextricably part of a broader concern about the basic stability of the financial and economic system” and that of Chairman Greenspan, who stipulates, “Monetary policy basically is a single tool and you can only implement one goal consistently.”3

Nonetheless, we must pay attention to Greenspan’s warnings of “irrational exuberance in the stock market,” as well as his worries of a shift in bankers’ attitudes toward risk during the 1998 Asian financial crisis: “If there was a dime to turn on,” they did, he said. A “fear-induced psychological response is provoking a sudden rush to liquidity that poses a threat to world economic growth. . . . When human beings are confronted with uncertainty . . . they disengage.” Comparing investors to a pedestrian crossing the street, he observed, “When . . . you’re uncertain as to whether a car is coming, you stop.”4

Economists have been critical of central bankers’ attention to the financial markets at the expense of their macroeconomic responsibilities. Allan Meltzer was in the tradition of David Ricardo when he told a congressional committee in 1964 that the Federal Reserve’s “knowledge of the monetary process is woefully inadequate, . . . dominated by extremely short-run week-to-week, day-to-day, or hour-to-hour events in the money and credit markets. [T]heir viewpoint is frequently that of a banker rather than that of a regulating authority for the monetary system and the economy.”5

Notwithstanding these criticisms, we will learn how central bankers’ understanding of their role in monetary policy has grown. The stage for the intellectual gap between the two groups is set in Chapter 2, which examines the Bank of England’s denial of the Bullion Committee’s charge of economy-wide effects of what the Bank saw as normal lending practices. Its rejection of the risks and responsibilities of managing the currency was the occasion of Ricardo’s censure that opens the book. We will encounter more instances of this difference in viewpoint, but jumping ahead to 1998, we see that the conflict between the career central bankers and economists on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was similar to that between the Bank and the economists on the 1810 Bullion Committee.

According to the Monetary Policy Committee’s minutes, although the staff’s economic model recommended a rise in the Bank’s interest rate, Bank careerists favored “delaying any rise in interest rates, even if a rise were necessary.”6 They referred to “unusually large” near-term uncertainties and did not “feel very confident about the outlook and it would not necessarily be right to draw policy conclusions mechanically from the [staff’s] projection. In these circumstances there was a case for delay so as to allow judgment to be made later in the light of more information.” If the downturn proved sharper than expected, an increase in interest rates might have a severe negative effect on output, “and would have to be quickly reversed. Such a reversal could impair confidence in the economy” and create “confusion about monetary policy. . . . There was thus a strong case for waiting to get a clearer impression of the extent of the slowdown in the economy before taking policy action.”7

This thinking was like that of the Bank directors in 1819, who protested Ricardo’s money rule as “fraught with very great uncertainty and risk” in which “discretionary power is to be taken away from the Bank,” and might, because of the impossibility of deciding “beforehand what shall be the course of events,” impose “an unrelenting continuance of pecuniary pressures upon the commercial world of which it is impossible for them either to foresee or estimate the consequences.”

The 1998 Committee’s academic economists opposed this position by arguing that “policy should reflect the latest news and that uncertainty in itself was no reason for delay.” They believed that to delay decisions to reduce the risks of reversal was “irrational.” “So long as any policy reversals could be properly explained by new developments or improved analysis of the outlook, they need not create confusion about policy. . . . [T]he desire to minimise the risk of policy reversals was likely to mean that interest rate changes would, on average, be made too late.” The tie vote was broken by Governor George in favor of waiting.

Economists have found it “difficult to rationalize” central bankers’ concern for smooth interest rates and short-term stability in the financial markets.8 Nonetheless, they must take it into account. Central bankers cannot help behaving like bankers at least part of the time. Rules are incomplete, and if economists hope to explain and influence the conduct of monetary policy, they need to try to understand central bankers on their own ground. Central bankers are informed parties to the new consensus, but monetary policy results from the interplay of central bankers’ pragmatism with economists’ ideas and the wishes of governments.

The latter – the ultimate authority – cannot be ignored. The freedoms that central banks have been given can be taken away. Past government attitudes toward central banks have depended on their need for them. The end of war (and government pressure for cheap finance) brought an increase in the Bank of England’s independence in 1833 similar to that given in 1998. President Jackson’s veto of the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States in 1832 was influenced by the approaching end of the national debt. Senator Thomas Hart Benton declared, “The war made the Bank; peace will unmake it.”9

The greater independence of the Federal Reserve after the collapse of the Soviet Union might have reflected the government’s diminished need for finance as much as the public’s revulsion to inflation and disillusionment with the Phillips Curve. By the same token, the deficits arising from the War on Terror will bring pressure for monetization. In any case, monetary policy is at bottom a political decision.

Legislatures have also paid attention to central banks in peacetime, especially during the periods of price instability following wars, during the Great Depression, and in the 1970s. Monetary standards are decided by governments. The creation of the International Monetary Fund in 1944 and its rejection by President Nixon in 1971 were not unusual in the minimal roles played by the central bank. Wartime suspensions, devaluations, gold standard acts, and the creation of the Federal Reserve were political decisions. The task of central bankers even at the height of “independence” is the daily conduct of policy within the framework set by government.

Governments have taken direct control of monetary policy when they lost confidence in central banks. Their institutional shells remained, but monetary control was transferred in the early 1930s to the Treasury in both countries. The Federal Reserve regained control in 1951 when public opinion and Congress determined that the president had abused his monetary powers, a victory that had to be won again in 1979. The Bank of England, although possessing advisory influence, did not approach its former powers until the 1990s.

The last chapter surveys the present and speculates about the future of central banking. The current consensus rests on an understanding, developed over many years of hard experience, of what monetary policy can do. Central bankers apparently understand their assignment, although history shows that they also take the financial markets and political pressures seriously. Nevertheless, if we accept the goal of low inflation in free markets, with the understanding that this is the best that monetary policy can do, central bankers will be able to adjust to unusual events in ways that substantially deliver the goal while smoothing the financial markets – such as when the Federal Reserve supplied liquidity after the 1987 stock market crash, during the run-up to the millennium, and after 9/11, and also when it tries to soften the impact of monetary policy on the money markets by improving its transparency.10

TWO: An Introduction to Central Bankers

Do you consider the amount of Bank of England notes during the last year to have borne nearly the same proportion to the occasions of the public as in former times? – The same proportion exactly.

When you represent the quantity of Bank of England notes to be now only proportionate, as heretofore, to the occasions of the public, do you take into consideration the increased price of all articles and the consequent increase of the amount of payments; and do you assume that the quantity of notes ought to be increased in proportion to that increase of the amount of payments? – The Bank never force a note into circulation, and there will not remain a note in circulation more than the immediate wants of the public require; for no banker, I presume, will keep a larger stock of [the Bank’s] notes by him than his immediate payments require, as he can at all times procure them . . .

[Question repeated] – I have taken into consideration not only the increased price of all articles, but the increased demands upon us from other causes.

Minutes of Evidence, Bullion Committee, testimony of Governor John Whitmore, Bank of England, March 6, 1810

So went the opening exchange between the House of Commons’ Select Committee on the High Price of Gold (Bullion Committee), with Francis Horner in the Chair, and the Bank of England, represented by Governor Whitmore. This testimony played an important part in the beginnings of modern monetary theory and the intellectual discovery of central banking. Economists contended that the latter – monetary policy – properly derives from the former, while the central bankers resisted. The events surrounding the inflation that led to Parliament’s enquiry are presented in the first section in this chapter, followed by a review of the

Background: People and Events
1793: Beginning of the French Wars; financial panic.
1797: Suspension of convertibility.
1799: Income tax introduced.
1805: Austerlitz and Trafalgar; Napoleon supreme on land, England at sea.
1808: Wellington's Peninsular campaign begins.
1810: Bullion Committee; resolutions voted on, May 1811.
1812: Napoleon invades Russia.
1814: Napoleon abdicates, retires to Elba; Congress of Vienna.
1815: Waterloo.

Chancellor of
Prime Minister the Exchequer Political Parties
1783 William Pitt Pitt These were Tory
1801 Henry Addington Addington  governments,
1804 Pitt Pitt with the King’s support,
1806 Lord Grenville Lord Henry Petty between the Whig
1807 Duke of Portland Spencer Perceval dominance under the first
1809 Perceval Perceval two Georges and its
1812 Earl of Liverpool Nicholas Vansittart  resurgence in the 1830s.
Note: Short-lived ministries omitted.

Committee’s proceedings. Its members stressed in a modern way the effects of an unrestrained central bank on inflation through money creation. In an equally modern way, the Bank’s representatives denied responsibility and pointed to other causes.

The third section puts the debate into a longer term perspective by means of the best contemporary analyses of central banks. Henry Thornton explained in Smithian terms that there was much to be gained from a private central bank acting in the enlightened pursuit of its interests. Alexander Hamilton’s discussion indicates that similar forces and ideas were at work on the other side of the Atlantic, and prefaces the appearance of American central banking in Chapter 6. The last section reviews the Bank directors’ second thoughts about their responsibilities after a change in political circumstances.

War, Inflation, Suspension, and More Inflation, 1793–1810

The Bullion Committee was appointed on a motion by Horner on February 1, 1810, after two years of accelerating inflation, an adverse balance of trade, and a falling exchange rate. Horner, Henry Thornton, and others, although by no means the majority of the House of Commons, attributed these events to an excess of lending by the Bank of England made possible by the suspension in 1797 of its obligation, even its freedom, to redeem its notes for gold. War brought a growing public deficit as the government was slow to find revenue to match its increased spending. The Bank had complained of the government’s pressure for funds since 1794. That pressure slackened in 1795 and 1796, but the restoration of gold convertibility in France and uncertainty of British intentions sparked a decline in the Bank’s gold reserve from £6 million in February 1795 to £1 million in February 1797. When the drain was turned to panic by rumors of a French invasion and the Bank informed Chancellor of the Exchequer (and Prime Minister) William Pitt that its situation was desperate, he called a Council of State, which declared on February 26

that it is indispensably necessary for the public service that the Directors of the Bank of England should forbear issuing any cash in payment until the sense of Parliament can be taken on that subject and the proper measures adopted thereupon for maintaining the means of circulation and supporting the public and commercial credit of the kingdom at this important juncture.1

The order was confirmed by the Bank Restriction Act, passed on May 3, effective until June 24, and kept in force by continuing acts until 1821. Although the Act referred only to the Bank of England, other banks took the opportunity to refuse redemption of their notes, and before the end of the war the number of country banks had tripled.2 The public acquiesced, and the country’s monetary base was transformed from gold to Bank of England notes.

Later estimates (there were no contemporary price indices) indicated average inflation of about 3 percent per annum between 1797 and 1810.3 The Bank’s note and deposit liabilities grew about 6 percent per annum and the value of its notes at Hamburg, the exchange most often quoted, fell at an average rate of 2 percent.4

domingo, dezembro 18, 2005

03) Desenvolvimento sustentavel: um conceito ambiguo

Apresento abaixo um texto que vai no sentido contrário aos que pregam, um pouco de forma recorrente, o novo mantra da agenda internacional: o desenvolvimento sustentável. Não que eu partilhe todos os argumentos do autor, um pesquisador do think tank libertário de Washington, Cato Institute. Mas sempre acho que unanimidades muito disseminadas precisam ser submetidas ao teste da realidade, e isso parece ocorrer com o conceito em questão.
Como diz Jerry Taylor, o conceito é sobretudo inócuo: afinal de contas, quem seria a favor do "desenvolvimento insustentável"? Esclareço que o paper foi preparado na fase anterior à cupula sobre desenvolvimento sustentável de Johannesburgo, ocorrida em 2002, mas o debate ainda continua válido.

A seguir, o sumário executivo do texto em questão, em inglês. Para os que lêem nessa língua recomendo a leitura do estudo em sua íntegra, disponível neste link: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa449.pdf

Sustainable Development: A Dubious Solution in Search of a Problem
by Jerry Taylor
Executive Summary

From August 26 through September 4, 2002, approximately 100 heads of state and 60,000 delegates will gather in Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend a "World Summit on Sustainable Development." The conference—convened on the 10th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and expected to be the largest U.N. summit in history— will explore domestic and international policy options to promote the hottest environmental buzzwords to enter the public policy debate in decades.
The concept seems innocuous enough. After all, who would favor "unsustainable development"? A careful review of the data, however, finds that resources are becoming more—not less—abundant with time and that the world is in fact on a quite sustainable path at present.
Moreover, the fundamental premise of the idea—that economic growth, if left unconstrained and unmanaged by the state, threatens unnecessary harm to the environment and may prove ephemeral—is dubious. First, if economic growth were to be slowed or stopped—and sustainable development is essentially concerned with putting boundaries around economic growth—it would be impossible to improve environmental conditions around the world. Second, the bias toward central planning on the part of those endorsing the concept of sustainable development will serve only to make environmental protection more expensive; hence, society would be able to "purchase" less of it. Finally, strict pursuit of sustainable development, as many environmentalists mean it, would do violence to the welfare of future generations.
The current Western system of free markets, property rights, and the rule of law is in fact the best hope for environmentally sustainable development.
Jerry Taylor is director of natural resource studies at the Cato Institute.

quinta-feira, dezembro 15, 2005

02) Os grandes problemas internacionais de 2006

Recentemente fui solicitado por um jornalista do Paraná a dar minha opinião sobre qual seria o grande tema internacional em 2006.
Muito rapidamente disse que isso depende da perspectiva a partir da qual se considera a questão mais relevante da agenda internacional corrente.
Abaixo transcrevo a questão colocada pelo jornalista e na seqüência minha resposta.

On 13/12/2005, at 21:54, josé rocher wrote:
Nome: josé rocher
Cidade: curitiba
Estado: paraná
Email: xxxxxx@gazetadopovo.com.br
Assunto: Parceria

Mensagem: eu sou repórter da Gazeta do Povo (Curitiba) e selecionei nossas
principais fontes para uma matéria especial de final de ano.
Precisamos apenas que indique um grande tema que, em sua opinião, deve
ser discutido pela comunidade internacional em 2006... Algo que pode ter
ficado esquecido durante os últimos anos e/ou que se revele
indispensável para que se resolvam os problemas contemporâneos
(desigualdade, pobreza, fome, mortalidade infantil)...
Qual o seu tema para 2006?
Por quê?
Como prefere ser citado (profissão, formação, origem)?
José Rocher,
41 3321 5444/5535
Muito obrigado!

From: Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Date: 13 de dezembro de 2005 23h37min48s GMT-02:00
To: josé rocher
Subject: Re: Formulario do SITE Paulo Roberto de Almeida: Parceria

Meu caro José Rocher,
Os grandes problemas do mundo em 2006 são varios, dependendo de onde voce olha.
Comunidade internacional como um todo nao existe, existem apenas paises, ou grupos de paises mais ou menos influentes, capazes de moldar a agenda internacional.

Desse ponto de vista, o tema mais relevante para os EUA em 2006, inegavelmente o ator mais importante no cenario internacional, será o da segurança (isto é, luta anti-terrorista) e o de encontrar uma saida honrosa no Iraque. Adicionalmente, eles continuarão preocupados com os que eles chamam de "estados vilões", e ai voce tem alguns pequenos, como Cuba ou Coreia do Norte, outros medios, estilo Siria, e alguns maiores, como Iran. A China constitui um caso a parte, que os EUA nao sabem bem como tratar, se como parceiro economico ou desafiante estrategico e possivel inimigo futuro, o que relamente é uma pena, pois se trata do segundo ator mais importante na atualidade, pelo menos em termos estrategicos. Esse seriam os temas dos EUA em 2006.

Se voce parte do ponto de vista de pequenos paises africanos, o tema mais relevante continuará a ser a luta contra a miséria, na qual a Aids assume papel dramaticamente dominante. Em toda a Africa, o desafio será o de manter um padrão de vida que se deteriora a cada ano. Trata-se, portanto, de uma agenda do desenvolvimento, e em alguns casos até de State building ou de Nation building, como reconstruir estados e sociedades falidos de todos os pontos de vista (o que vale tambem para o Haiti). Estamos falando aqui de luta pela sobrevivencia, de um lado, e de luta contra a corrupcao, de outro.
Como voce vê sao dois extremos muito marcados.

Para um pais como o Brasil, os temas relevantes sao os da manutencao de uma taxa de crescimento razoavel, o que tem sido ajudado pelo sistema internacional, num cenario de crescimento sustentado em varios paises e de liquidez abundante. Nao temos conseguido aproveitar essas chances, nao por hostilidade do meio ambiente internacional, mas por nossa propria incapacidade interna de favorecer um processo de crescimento sustentado. A maior parte dos nossos problemas, e portanto o tema dominante em 2006, não tem origem externa, sendo propriamente "made in Brazil".

Mas, se voce quiser um tema nessa agenda internacional, eu citaria a continuidade das negociacoes comerciais multilaterais e alguns processos regionais (aqui no ambito sul-americano, uma vez que a Alca foi descartada deliberadamente pelo proprio Brasil, junto com Venezuela e Argentina).

Pode me citar como diplomata e professor universitario...
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

01) Minha biblioteca

Existe uma estranha geografia em minha cabeça, que se refere a um mundo em torno de mim, um mundo físico, palpável, mas de significados infinitos. Essa estranha geografia surgiu do meu hábito de viver trancada num escritório cheio de livros. Esses livros dispostos numa serena ordem um ao lado do outro representam a minha mente como um mapa a um país. Se fecho os olhos, as prateleiras de livros se acendem dentro de minha cabeça, como se minha cabeça fosse também um aposento forrado de estantes de livros em que cada um deles é uma porta para um mundo diferente. Todos são logicamente posicionados, de acordo com um sistema funcional.

Se me recordo de um desses livros, meu olhar vai diretamente ao lugar em que se encontra. Raras vezes algum se perde, mas quando isso acontece caio numa espécie de desespero. Algumas vezes basta olhar a lombada de um deles para receber sua influência, como uma secreta ligação, feito as ondas do mar em relação à Lua.

Às vezes sinto um apelo irresistível, como se um deles me chamasse, e seja em que momento for, levanto da cadeira, retiro o livro da estante e o folheio, para ouvir o que tem a dizer. Esses livros determinam meus sentimentos, meus pensamentos, meu entendimento do mundo. Eles são o mapa de minha alma. Cada um deles representa uma região, um lugar onde estive, e onde ainda estou.

Há entre eles, claro, os livros escritos por mim, mesmo os traduzidos em outras línguas. Ficam separados numa das prateleiras, rabiscados desde a primeira página onde se encontram as palavras manuscritas: “meu exemplar de trabalho”. A leitura sistemática e assídua que realizei nestes últimos anos, sendo grande parte sobre livros de história ou história literária, dotou minha mente de uma desconfortável consciência histórica. Assim, tenho sempre a sensação de que nada me pertence, de que nenhuma palavra que escrevi é minha, de que não sou autora de meus próprios trabalhos, mas apenas um elo na construção literária da humanidade, uma pequena e frágil conexão entre um e outro tempo, massacrada pelas circunstâncias históricas.

Todos esses livros são para mim seres vivos, que sorriem, choram, zombam, ensinam, atraiçoam, respiram. Há cerca de vinte anos vivo por eles dominada. Quando criança tive uma pequena biblioteca, da qual me lembro de apenas alguns títulos. Ao sair da casa de meus pais, aos dezessete anos, ela ficou em meu quarto, e se perdeu. Tive depois disso apenas uma biblioteca que se foi ampliando com o tempo. A cada vez que eu me mudava de casa, levava caixotes repletos de livros.

A cada mudança eram mais e maiores caixotes. Houve um momento em que a minha coleção de livros passou a ser realmente uma biblioteca, quando precisei criar uma ordem, a fim de que pudesse encontrar os volumes. Isso aconteceu cerda de quatro anos antes de eu publicar o meu primeiro romance, quando eu morava numa mansarda cujas janelas se abriam para uma paisagem de telhados, quando aprendi a conhecer o mundo dos telhados, povoado de gatos, estrelas e a Lua, além de alguns animais repugnantes, como lagartixas ou algum camundongo perdido.
A mansarda tinha apenas dois ambientes: um escritório, uma cozinha-armário e um jirau que servia de quarto formavam o primeiro ambiente; o outro era apenas um desproporcionalmente grande banheiro onde cabiam máquina de lavar e de secar roupas. O escritório tinha apenas uma das paredes coberta de livros, organizados por gêneros, como romance e conto, poesia, ensaio, livros de referência. Eu tinha uma vida austera e comprava livros com parcimônia.

Cada livro que passava a fazer parte de minha biblioteca tinha um significado para mim, havia sofrido uma espécie de prova e se integrado à minha estrutura pessoal. Eu os sentia todos ligados a mim por fios invisíveis. Sair de perto deles era uma espécie de rompimento, e eu me sentia perdida. Passei a gostar de permanecer apenas ali perto deles, uma espécie de prisioneira voluntária, conformada, até mesmo feliz.

Em seguida me mudei para um lugar maior, onde o escritório todo em madeira era voltado para um jardim – também apareciam gatos, estrelas, a Lua, ratos e lagartixas, além de caracóis, lesmas, vorazes lagartas verdes que acabaram se tornando minhas amigas, minhocas, joaninhas, uma infinidade de bichos moradores ou visitantes – e três paredes de estantes abrigavam uma quantidade bem maior de livros.
Lembro-me de minha atividade ao mesmo tempo frenética e monótona, subindo de descendo degraus, tirando e devolvendo livros, abrindo e fechando páginas, guardando, registrando na mente cada lugar, cada palavra, cada frase que se tornava importante para mim. Na época eu ainda dispunha de espaço, estava numa situação financeira um pouco melhor e tinha uma incontível ganância em adquirir livros, que se amontoavam na minha cabeceira esperando a vez de serem lidos até merecerem entrar no recinto sagrado de meu escritório. Eu buscava não apenas livros novos, quer dizer, ainda não lidos por mim, como tentava recuperar os que havia lido na adolescência ou mesmo na idade adulta e que estavam perdidos, fisicamente. Ainda tinha a ilusão de que poderia guardar comigo todos os livros do mundo.

Hoje vivo num escritório mais amplo, branco, com janelas de vidro rasgando uma das paredes de um a outro lado, por onde se avistam a cidade do Rio de Janeiro, o mar, as ilhas Cagarras, Palmas, Redonda etc., o céu, estrelas, a Lua. Em vez de gatos ou insetos vejo pássaros ou surpreendentes balões dirigíveis, ou helicópteros, ou aviões. A biblioteca que me circunda é imensamente maior do que as anteriores, apesar de meu rigor na entrada e permanência dos volumes. Os meus livros convivem pacificamente com os livros de meu marido.
É uma casa onde os livros são o centro de tudo. Há livros na sala, no quarto, na cozinha, no corredor, nos quartos das crianças, claro, no quarto da empregada (minha assessora especial diz que na próxima vida voltará como escritora), livros no banheiro. Os livros, como as pessoas, têm seu destino. Penso sempre no que acontecerá com esses livros, depois de minha morte, se é que algum dia eu vá morrer, sempre tenho a esperança de assistir à descoberta da fonte de imortalidade. Meu filho não terá interesse por eles? Quem sabe algum neto. Alguém os comprará a quilo para serem vendidos num sebo? Talvez eu possa doá-los a uma instituição, ou a pessoas amadas, como fez um amigo meu que morreu muito jovem e sua morte anunciada permitiu que ele fizesse um testamento distribuindo sua biblioteca.

Graças a ele, tenho edições antigas de Proust, Updike, Milan Kundera ou Guimarães Rosa.

Ana Miranda
revista Caros Amigos (em algum momento de 1998)

Ana Miranda nasceu em 1951 em Fortaleza, Ceará. Parte de sua infância e juventude passou em Brasília (1959/1969) morando no Rio de Janeiro desde então. Sua vida literária teve início em 1978 com a publicação de um livro de poesias. Seu primeiro romance, "Boca do Inferno", foi publicado em 1989, obra que já foi traduzida nos Estados Unidos, Inglaterra, França, Alemanha, Itália, Espanha, Suécia e Holanda, entre outros países. Recebeu o Prêmio Jabuti de Revelação em 1990. Escreve roteiros cinematográficos, ensaios e resenhas críticas para jornais e revistas, além de realizar palestras em universidades e outras instituições.

quarta-feira, dezembro 14, 2005

00) Apresentaçao

Uma vez que me dizem que no cyberspace, ao contrário do que acontece no mundo da economia real, existe, sim, almoço grátis, e que o número de blogs que você pode ter é praticamente infinito, a custo quase zero (não computado o tempo dedicado a este infernal instrumento de comunicação), pretendo dedicar este novo blog a textos diversos, e nele colocar tanto material de minha lavra como produções de terceiros.
O objetivo é esse mesmo: o de disseminar de modo relativamente fácil um série de textos que de outra forma ficariam "escondidos" em algum site qualquer, o meu próprio ou de outros. No blog eles também ficam escondidos, mas como é mais fácil de acessar e alimentar este tipo de ferramenta do que um site "normal", ele apresenta todas as características de flexibilidade e maneabilidade para me permitir ir "depositando" uma série de materiais que podem apresentar interesse para o mundo acadêmico ou mesmo para alguma atividade profissional.
Espero que ele seja útil a todos aqueles que buscam algum texto de interesse, a começar por mim mesmo.
Como o índice do próprio Blog é limitado a dez "postagens", pretendo elaborar um índice cronológico e deixá-lo à disposição dos interessados em posição de destaque (ou quem sabe até, quando isso se fizer necessário, em um novo blog, só de índices remissivos). Afinal de contas, ao contrário da economia real, os blogs constituem, até aqui, "almoço grátis"...