Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A tax on capital inflows in Brazil

Brazil just announced a 2% tax on foreign investment in equity and fixed income. While some market "experts" may be talking about credibility once again, this is good news because it will help to increase Brazil's policy space. It is not clear, however, whether it will stop the appreciation of the real or not...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Carceles en la República Dominicana

Esta es la primera vez que escribo en español en este blog y lo hago para felicitar a algunos amigos dominicanos que, liderados por Fray Aristides Jimenez Richardson, tanto han trabajado por mejorar la situación carcelaria en la República Dominicana. Los avances son cada vez más clars, como queda reflejado en este artículo, con mejor habitabilidad, un mayor acento en educación y mayor respeto a los derechos humanos. Muchas veces nos cuesta reconocer los avances institucionales que tiene lugar en países como la República Dominicana, pero concentrarnos en los éxitos puede darnos muchas pistas para repensar el resto de la economía.

Why blogs can be useful in academia?

Chris Blattman, a successful blogger and development political economist, explains why blogging can be useful. I don't always agree with his ideas (in particular, he has an unjustified attraction for quantitative research in political economy), but have learnt a lot from his ideas. I just cannot succeed as much as he does in presenting my ideas in this blog and, especially, distributing around!

Private equity firms

The New York Times just published a great news documentary on private equity firms. It illustrates the asymetries in the US between companies in the financial sector (which make billions through deals) and a majority of workers who suffer from those deals. Many questions come out of this:

a. Are primary equity firms any better or worse than public companies?

b. How extended is equity firms among different varieties of capitalism?

c. What are the lessons for Latin America? Will a US-style financial sector be any better or worse than the current one dominated by family conglomerates?

d. Will the recent financial crisis change anything?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Progressives may be losing the battle

At the beginning, I thought that the financial crisis would open the door for new policy debates and a new "progressive consensus". More expansionary macro-policies and the debate on the health reform in the US would open the door for a return to a social-democratic understanding of distributional rules. It turns out that I could not be more wrong!!!! In the next few days, we have seen:

a. A return to bonuses in Wall Street ($700,000 per Goldman employee!) with no apologies for it.

b. An accent on stability and prudence after the crisis (somehow we can imagine who is paying for it).

On top of that, a column in today FT defends the need to let the consumer make decisions in the health sector.

Have we lost a historical opportunity to change things?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

According to a Republican political science is not a science at all

Senator Colborn does not think that research on political science (and one would think on other sciences as well) should be funded. This includes research on citizenship and democracy in developing countries and electoral participation. What can I say?