Archive for ‘In English’

06. veljače 2012

7 lekcija o tranziciji iz komunizma

autora/ice cronomy

Andrei Shleifer za piše o sedam stvari koji je naučio o tranziciji iz komunizma.

Twenty years ago, communist countries began their shift towards capitalism. What do we know now that we didn’t know then? Harvard’s Andrei Shleifer, the Russian-born, American-trained economist, provides his answers and their relevance for contemporary policymakers.

Recently, I was asked by the organisers of the IIASA conference1 to mark the 20th anniversary of the beginning of economic reforms in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union to comment on the lessons of transition. The assignment presumably refers to the things that I learned – as an economist – that are different from what I believed initially. Such a recollection free from hindsight bias is challenging, but I tried. This list might be useful to future reformers, although there are not so many communist countries left. Some of the issues are however relevant not just for communist countries; the problems of heavily statist economies are similar. So here is my top-seven list.

First, in all countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, economic activity shrunk at the beginning of transition, in some very sharply.  In many countries, economic decline started earlier, but still continued. In Russia, the steepness and the length of the decline (almost a decade) was a big surprise. Countries with the biggest trade shocks (such as Poland and Czechoslovakia) experienced the mildest declines. To be sure, the true declines were considerably milder than what was officially recorded – unofficial economies expanded, communist countries exaggerated their GDPs, defence cuts, and so on – but this does not take away from the basic fact that declines occurred and were surprising. These declines contradicted at least the simple economic theory that a move to free prices should immediately improve resource allocation. The main lesson of this experience is for reformers not to count on an immediate return to growth. Economic transformation takes time.

Second, the decline was not permanent. Following these declines, recovery and rapid growth occurred nearly everywhere. Over 20 years, living standards in most transition countries have increased substantially for most people, although the official GDP numbers show much milder improvements and are inconsistent with just about any direct measure of the quality of life (again raising questions about communist GDP calculations). As predicted, capitalism worked and living standards improved enormously. One must say, however, that for a time things looked glum. So lesson learned: have faith – capitalism really does work.

Third, the declines in output nowhere led to populist revolts – as many economists had feared. Surely reform governments were thrown out in some countries, but not by populists. Instead of populism, politics in many countries came to be dominated by new economic elites, the so-called oligarchs, who combined wealth with substantial political influence. From the perspective of 1992, this came as a huge surprise. Ironically, in some countries in Eastern Europe populism appeared 20 years after transition started, after huge improvements in living standards were absolutely obvious. Indeed, people in all transition countries were unhappy with transition: they were unhappy even in countries with rapidly improving quality of life (and this itself is another surprise and major puzzle – something for future reformers to keep in mind). But the lesson is clear: a reformer should fear not populism but capture of politics by the new elites.

Fourth, economists and reformers overstated both their ability to sequence reforms, and the importance of particular tactical choices, eg, in privatisation. In retrospect, many of the theories that animated the discussion of reform – whether institutions should be built first, whether companies should be prepared for privatisation by the government, whether voucher privatisation or mutual fund privatisation is better, whether case by case privatisations might work – look quaint. Reformers nearly everywhere, including in Russia, had a vastly overstated sense of control. Politics and competence frequently intervened and dictated to a large extent most of the tactical choices. Still, most countries, despite different choices, ended up with largely similar outcomes (notable and sad exceptions are Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan). In various forms, all had privatisation and macroeconomic stabilisation as well as legal and institutional reform to support a market economy. Lesson learned: do not over-plan the move to markets, but, more importantly, do not delay in the hope of having a tidier reform later.

Fifth, economists have greatly exaggerated the benefits of incentives by themselves, without changes in people. Economic theory of socialism has put way too much weight on incentives, and way too little on human capital. Winners in the communist system turned out not to be so good in a market economy. Transition to markets is accomplished by new people, not by old people with better incentives. I realised this and wrote about it in the mid-1990s, but the lesson both in firms and in politics in profound: you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, even with incentives.

Sixth, it is important not to overestimate the long-run consequences of macroeconomic crises and even debt defaults. Russia experienced a major crisis in 1997–98, which some extremely knowledgeable observers said would set it back by 20 years, yet it began growing rapidly in 1999–2000. Similar stories apply elsewhere, from East Asia to Argentina. Debt restructurings do not necessarily make permanent scars. This experience bears a profound lesson for reformers, who are always intimidated by the international financial community: do not panic about crises; they blow over fast.

Seventh, it is much easier to forecast economic than political evolution. Although nearly all transition countries have eventually converged to some form of capitalism, there has been a broader range of political experiences, from full democracies, to primitive dictatorships, to just about everything in between. There appears a strong geographic pattern in this, with countries further West, especially those involved with the European Union, becoming clearly democratic, and countries further East remaining generally more authoritarian. For countries in the middle, including Russia and Ukraine, the political paths over the 20 years have wiggled around. Lesson learned: middle-income countries eventually slouch toward democracy, but not nearly in as direct or consistent a way as they move toward capitalism.

1 The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, based in Austria.

03. siječnja 2010

Tajna ekonomskog zanata

autora/ice cronomy

Malo šaljivo, ali tako vrlo istinito.

Secrets of the Economist’s Trade: First, Purchase a Piggy Bank

Academic economists gather in Atlanta this weekend for their annual meetings, always held the first weekend after New Year’s Day. That’s not only because it coincides with holidays at most universities. A post-holiday lull in business travel also puts hotel rates near the lowest point of the year.

Economists are often cheapskates.

The economists make cities bid against each other to hold their convention, and don’t care so much about beaches, golf courses or other frills.

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17. lipnja 2009

“Shocking news from overseas”

autora/ice cronomy

Evo na odmoru koje “šokantne vijesti” i gdje ih ja čujem. Pitanje: da li je Vlada subvenciranja proizvodnju ovih traperica?

Colbert Report – Croatia’s Biggest Jeans World Record

Kliknite na link za 2min video. WordPress je “napredan” pa ne dopušta flash video direktno.

29. ožujka 2009

Kao naručeno o privatizaciji-nacionalizaciji banaka

autora/ice cronomy

bank-nationPošto dugujem komentar o privatizaciji/nacionaliziciji banka vezano za Škegrov nastup u Nu2, ne želim ovdje dužiti previše, samo ukazati na kratki članak u NYT ekonomskog kolumnista David Leonharda koji odlično sumira vrste i motive nacionalizacije banaka. Vrlo je lako nenamjerno pobrkati prave razloge i ciljeve nacionalizacije banaka te ono što se zbiva u jednoj zemlji iskoristiti za političke ciljeve u drugoj. To je ono što se dogodilo u Nu2 sa Škegrom i Stankovićem i oko čega je bilo najžustrije rasprave.


There are really two different kinds of nationalization. The first draws on a belief that the government can run large enterprises more justly and efficiently than self-interested capitalists can. This is the nationalization of Lenin, Chávez and Mitterrand, and its record is pretty dismal. France’s economy staggered through the 1980s, as government-run banks backed political pet projects that didn’t work out.

The second version of nationalization is the one that today’s advocates point to. It is a temporary takeover born out of crisis. Sweden pursued this kind of strategy in the early 1990s to clean up its banking system. Even the United States has nationalized banks on occasion, including IndyMac Bank last year.

04. ožujka 2009

EU, Ukrajina, Koreja

autora/ice cronomy

EU je odbila Istočnu Europu

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03. ožujka 2009

“Vidjevši kako se ekonomska znanost primjenjuje, promjenilo je kako vidim svijet”

autora/ice cronomy

Kao posljedica krize i jedan od eksternih benefita barem za akademsku ekonomiju je porast interesa i studenata za ekonomske predmete. Ne, vjerojatno ne u Hrvatskoj, ali preko bare jest. U Hrvatskoj ćemo još morati čekati na takvu “renesansu”.  Audio reportaža sa NPRa.

Undergrad Economics Sees Popularity Surge

15. siječnja 2009

Bernanke ukratko o “svemu”

autora/ice cronomy

Bernanke u 20 minuta odgovara na pitanja na LSE. Razumljivo je ako imate lagane predrasude da je priča jednog centralnog bankara dosadna, ali dobar dio ovih 20 minuta nije. Malo se priča o Adam Smithu, tržištu, neshvaćanje javnosti benefita i snage tržišta i ekonomistima koju su uvijek iznenađeni time. Spominje se Keynesianstvo i Austrijanstvo na početku, Keynesovi “životinjski duhovi (ćudi)” na kraju. Bernanke ne vidi krizu kapitalizma, ali vidi problem sa nedovoljnom kapitaliziranošću i lošim menadžmentom. Dobra doza smijeha i zafrkancije. Više nego zanimljivo bi bilo vidjeti Rohatinskog u ovakvoj situaciji gdje mu se nasumice redaju pitanja publike kojih 30tak minuta.

Jedina zamjerka Bernankeu ovdje je korištenje presnažne riječi pohlepe kod opisa Smitha, što će zlodusi ili jednostavno neupućena javnost izvrnuti u dogmatska i moralna zveketanja. Adam Smith nije nikada pobrkao zalaganje za osobni interes i sebičnost, pohlepu i tome slično.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Bernanke“, posted with vodpod
17. studenoga 2008

O Potresima u Kontekstu – Harry Markowitz

autora/ice cronomy

Ovo je više za finance guys, ali svi koji makar prate svjetske i domaće financije ili se misle baviti investicijama trebali bi znati tko je Harry Markowitz. Tako, donji članak daje uvod u Markowitza i njegove jednostave ali britke komentare o uzorcima financijske krize. Nobelovac iz ekonomije 1990. i profesor na UCSanDiego, Markowitz je otac teorije portfelja čije se osnovne ideje – investicije koje nemaju međusobnu korelaciju smanjuju rizik, tj. mogu ga svesti na nulu, te je stoga diversifikacija poželjna – danas uzimaju zdravo za gotovo. To nije uvijek bilo tako. (Bold istaknuto je moje.)

Ukratko o njegovom Nobelu.

Još Markowitz komentara o sadašnjoj krizi.

Neki njegovi radovi.

Nasuprot Markowitzu i teoriji portfelja stoji Nasim Taleb. Prije koji dan gostovao je na Bloombergovom popularnom On The Economy talk-show i nazvao teoriju portfelja bedastoćom (što ne iznenađujue) i pozvao na odbacivanje i diskreditiranje investicijskih teorija i metoda Nobelovaca Merton i Scholesa kao i Markowitza, kroz oduzimanje profesorskih pozicija, ne zapošljavanja MBA studenata koji su prošli teoriju portfelja itd… Svakako poslušajte podcast! (mp3) (Bloomberg on the Economy je uostalom obavezno slušanje za sve u ekonomiji i financijama.)

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26. listopada 2008

O Potresima u Kontekstu – Charles W. Calomiris

autora/ice cronomy

Profesor na Columbia Sveučilištu i autor knjige U.S. Bank Deregulation in Historical Perspective (kratke recenzije ovdje i ovdje), uzvraća u WSJ omiljenim popularnim objašnjenjima da je kriza plod deregulacije. Ta objašnjenja su zapravo politikantske prirode, a dolaze posebice kako je izborna godina sa ljevice. Machiavelli daje razlog za to. No dovoljno su jaka da odjekuju i u Hrvatskoj, gdje javnost zna povijest američkog bankarstva koliko ja jahati na slonu. (priznajem da ne znam) Puno je jednostavnije izmisliti jednostavno objašnjenje nego mukotrpno studirati sadašnje i povijesne događaje kako bi dobili ispravnu sliku realnosti.

Calomiris pita koja je to točno deregulacija uzrok današnje financijske krize? Većina na ljevici odmah skoči na 1999. (vidi prošli post), no taj deregulativni Act je vjerojatno pomogao više nego bilo koja regulacija u ovoj krizi. Da bi neka određena deregulacija bila jedini uzrok današnje financijske oluje, morali bi vjerovati da se sistem urušio zbog jednog jedinog faktora; jedne greške u sistemu. Korijeni krize su u mnogim područjima – monetarna politika kao gorivo, državno uplitanje u tržište nekretnina, ali naravno i privatne greške. Calomiris ukazuje i na iskrivljene poticaje umjerenju rizika i prudencijalne mjere Basel Komiteta. Ne zaboravimo da su par godina unazad hedge fondovi bili u centru pažnje kao mamutni neregulirani brodovi novca i rizika, a danas predstavljaju mnogo manji rizik od financijskih institucija sa stogodišnjom tradicijom. Proći će neko vrijeme da bi se uspostavio puni, ispravni konsenzus o tome što se dogodilo. Iako će sigurno usljediti privremena ear sa više novih regulativa (nekih dobrih ali i loših), “Deregulacija je kriva za sve” jednostavno nije taj konsenzus. Potrebno ga je uspostaviti jer jedino tako se može dizajnirati kvalitetna reforma kako bi se izbjegla ista situacija ponovo. Uz to, trebalo bi imati na umu da postoji razlika između državnig aktivizma i (de)regulacije.

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26. listopada 2008

Tko to baulja u magli

autora/ice cronomy

Pretpostavio sam da ću najbedastiji komentar o trenutnoj krizi pronaći u hrvatskim medijima (nekim). Inoslav Bešker iz Jutarnjeg prije tjedan dana (prenjeto sa original boldiranim):

Glavni uzrok krize je nedostatak efikasne demokratske kontrole nad kapitalom u Sjedinjenim Državama, što je omogućilo da se stvori financijski mjehur od sapunice (koji je puknuo na kreditiranju stambene izgradnje). Na prenapuhan mjehur se upozoravalo godinama, ali u Bijeloj kući je bio nesposoban, nekvalificiran Predsjednik, koji nije znao niti odabrati kvalificirane savjetnike, nasljednik republikanskih administracija koje su, počam od Reagana, slijedeći Friedmanove modele, demontirale i one oskudne modele regulacije koje je uveo Franklin D. Roosevelt nakon pogubne krize 1929.

Nema boljeg i lakšeg nego spomenuti i boldati Reagana, Friedmana, Busha i deregulaciju te tako kvalitetno, ispravno i vrlo precizno ukazati na pravi uzrok krize. Tko bi živ mogao sumnjati, pogotovo u hrvatskoj javnosti koja je tako dobro upoznata sa američkom financijskom povijesti, da ovo nije točno kad su spomenuti svi “usual suspects”. Zlikovci i nesposobnjakovići američke desnice su krivi.

[Bill v. Barack on Banks]

Osim šta je najveća deregulacija bankarskog sektora došla za vrijeme Demokratskog predsjednika Clintona. 1999. Clinton sa mnogim istaknutim Demokratima u Kongresu – među njima i Obamin VP kandidat Joe Biden – potpisao je Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act kojim su “demontirani” djelovi “oskudne” FDR-ove Glass-Steagall regulacije iz 1933., ponajviše razdvajanje komercijalnog od investicijskog bankarstva. Ako je deregulacija kriva za sve ovo, zašto se kod nas prelazi preko ovog?? Barack Obama je skoro svakodnevno krivio deregulaciju iz 1999. jer je jedan od autora, Phil Gramm, McCainov savjetnik. Sve dok se nisu “sporazumili” da je i Biden glasao za nju i nakon što ga je sam Bill Clinton ‘podučio’ braneći akt iz ’99. Onda je meta napada postao a tko drugi nego Bush. Vjerojatno se kod nas to zataškava jer nije djelo uobičajenih zlikovaca desnice, pa da se povera hrvatska javnost ne zbuni neprijaznim istinama.

A nema se oko čega zbuniti. Svi financijski instrumenti koji su danas u središtu pozornosti nemaju nikakve veze sa deregulacijom i svi su bili dostupni bankama za trgovanje prije ’99. Upravo ta “deregulacija” je jedna od najdobrodošlijih u ovim burnim vremenima jer je omogućila spajanje BearStearnsa sa JPMorganom, Merrila sa Bank of America komercijalnom bankom. Ali ne morate vjerovati meni, sam Clinton to kaže. Krajem Rujna, a Beškerov komentar je došao tri tjedna poslje, Clinton je dao intervju za BusinessWeek i iznjeo svoje mišljenje o tom/svom deregulativnom potezu. Ne samo da ne krivi sam sebe (iznenađujuće!) već ni republikanca Phil Gramma.

MB – Mr. President, in 1999 you signed a bill essentially rolling back Glass-Steagall and deregulating banking. In light of what has gone on, do you regret that decision?

Clinton – No, because it wasn’t a complete deregulation at all. We still have heavy regulations and insurance on bank deposits, requirements on banks for capital and for disclosure. I thought at the time that it might lead to more stable investments and a reduced pressure on Wall Street to produce quarterly profits that were always bigger than the previous quarter. But I have really thought about this a lot. I don’t see that signing that bill had anything to do with the current crisis. Indeed, one of the things that has helped stabilize the current situation as much as it has is the purchase of Merrill Lynch (MER) by Bank of America (BAC), which was much smoother than it would have been if I hadn’t signed that bill.

MB – Did he (Phil Gramm) sell you a bill of goods?
Clinton – Not on this bill I don’t think he did. You know, Phil Gramm and I disagreed on a lot of things, but he can’t possibly be wrong about everything. On the Glass-Steagall thing, like I said, if you could demonstrate to me that it was a mistake, I’d be glad to look at the evidence. But I can’t blame [the Republicans]. This wasn’t something they forced me into. I really believed that given the level of oversight of banks and their ability to have more patient capital, if you made it possible for [commercial banks] to go into the investment banking business as Continental European investment banks could always do, that it might give us a more stable source of long-term investment.

(BTW Još ne razumijem bit onog videa o Bibliji?)
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