Vol. 34 No. 1 (2014): Jan-Mar / 2014

Vol. 34 No. 1 (2014)

Jan-Mar / 2014
Published January 1, 2014


On high interest rates in Brazil
Francisco Lafaiete Lopes
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

This article examines the question of why interest rates are so high in Brazil as compared to the international average. It looks at theoretical arguments based on excessive government deficits, structural lack of private savings, inflation bias, excessive investment demand and fear of floating. An informal look at the evidence does not strongly corroborate any of these arguments. Hence a wise central bank should consider "testing" the market to make sure it is not dealing with an extreme equilibrium configuration or a long standing disequilibrium.

JEL Classification: E43; F41; O11.

Minsky on “Big Government”
Daniel de Santana Vasconcelos
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

This paper objective is to assess, in light of the main works of Minsky, his view and analysis of what he called the “Big Government” as that huge institution which, in parallels with the “Big Bank” was capable of ensuring stability in the capitalist system and regulate its inherently unstable financial system in mid-20th century. In this work, we analyze how Minsky proposes an active role for the government in a complex economic system flawed by financial instability. 

JEL Classification: E02; E12; E62; H63.

State, power block and capitalist accumulation: a theoretical approach
Eduardo Costa Pinto, Paulo Balanco
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

This article aims to elaborate a theory, based on Poulantzas, about the role of the state in a capitalist economy through a relational perspective that perceives the state as a field and a strategic process for the disputes of class fractions within the power bloc. In order to do so, it exposes the relation between state and accumulation at an abstract-formal level, emphasising the limitations of studies that use only this dimension. Next, it analyzes the role of the power bloc in mediating between the abstract and concrete levels of the state, observing that public policies are elaborated as a result of the clashes within the power bloc. Finally, it promotes a discussion on the external constraints (international system) that are affected and affect the state and, consequently, the dynamics of the power bloc. 

JEL Classification: P10; P16.

Consolidated democracy and size of the State
Felipe Scudeler Salto
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

Common sense suggests that the more consolidated democracies and advanced economies tend to be more efficient and produce smaller states. What is observed in practice, however, is a positive correlation between "democratic consolidation" and "tax burden" (as a proxy for "size of government"). This finding, while not expressing any causal relationship between the two variables, is an evidence that a more republican and democratic State, as defined in Bresser-Pereira, must be able to provide, effectively and efficiently, broader public services with better quality. This is, in consolidated democracies, the State should not be small.

JEL Classification: H10; H11; O43.

Global coordination: weighted voting
Jan-Erik Lane
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

In order to halt the depletion of global ecological capital, a number of different kinds of meetings between governments of countries in the world has been scheduled. The need for global coordination of environmental policies has become ever more obvious, supported by more and more evidence of the running down of ecological capital. But there are no formal or binding arrangements in sight, as global environmental coordination suffers from high transaction costs (qualitative voting). The CO2 equivalent emissions, resulting in global warming, are driven by the unstoppable economic expansion in the global market economy, employing mainly fossil fuel generated energy, although at the same time lifting sharply the GDP per capita of several emerging countries. Only global environmental coordination on the successful model of the World Band and the IMF (quantitative voting) can stem the rising emissions numbers and stop further environmental degradation. However, the system of weighted voting in the WB and the IMF must be reformed by reducing the excessive voting power disparities, for instance by reducing all member country votes by the cube root expression.

JEL Classification: Q32.

Public management, policy capacity, innovation and development
Erkki Karo, Rainer Kattel
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

In this paper we discuss the question of what factors in development policy create specific forms of policy capacity and under what circumstances development-oriented complementarities or mismatches between the public and private sectors emerge. We argue that specific forms of policy capacity emerge from three interlinked policy choices, each fundamentally evolutionary in nature: policy choices on understanding the nature and sources of technical change and innovation; on the ways of financing economic growth, in particular technical change; and on the nature of public management to deliver and implement both previous sets of policy choices. Thus, policy capacity is not so much a continuum of abilities (from less to more), but rather a variety of modes of making policy that originate from co-evolutionary processes in capitalist development. To illustrate, we briefly reflect upon how the East Asian developmental states of the 1960s-1980s and Eastern European transition policies since the 1990s led to almost opposite institutional systems for financing, designing and managing development strategies, and how this led, through co-evolutionary processes, to different forms of policy capacity. 

JEL Classification: O25; P110: P160; P520.

Industrial policy and economic development: a review of the contemporary debate.
Daniel Arruda Coronel, André Filipe Zago de Azevedo, Antônio Carvalho Campos
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

Industrial policy and economic development: a review of the contemporary debate. This paper discusses the importance of the industrial policy for the Brazilian economic development. It presents the theoretical foundations and the main international experiences about this theme. Besides it examines the main industrial policies adopted in Brazil, especially in recent years. Based on this discussion, it is possible to note that despite the criticisms against this policy, they were widely used by many developed countries in the past and also played an important role, contributing to increase the industrial growth in Brazil. However, the recent Brazilian industrial policies were not so efficient, especially when compared with those adopted during most of the XX century. 

JEL Classification: L16; O14.

Industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa and import substitution policy
Ana Paula F. Mendes, Mário Augusto Bertella, Rudolph F. A. P. Teixeira
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

This article aims to contribute to the understanding of the process of import substitution in Sub-Saharan Africa. The process of industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa occurred in two phases: a first step, even very early during the colonial regime began around the 1920s and ended in the late forties; a second phase of industrialization began in the late fifties and gained momentum in the sixties, when import substitution was implemented more widely. Although these countries were the last to embark on the strategy of import substitution, they followed the same steps of Latin American countries, and as the structural domestic and external constraints were too strong, the failure of the policy of import substitution arrived early and the negative impact on these economies had a greater magnitude. 

JEL Classification: N67; O14; O25.

Chinese industrial policy as determinant of its going global strategy
Gilmar Masiero, Diego Bonaldo Coelho
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

China has experienced not only high rates of economic growth as well as an unprecedented competitive international ion since the turn of the century. This process was not guided solely by market forces or influenced by government intervention in the economy. Although much has been argued that China’s “going global” strategy is rooted in state action, and especially its policy of exchange rate depreciation and trade policy incentives for exports and investments abroad, we argue that the major determinant of this strategy, which established the basic conditions for industrial competitiveness, was its industrial policy. The focus of this article is on the changes in China’s industrial structure, emphasizing that Chinese industrial policy is a central determinant of its international ion strategy.

JEL Classification: O21; O25.

Políticas productivas y competitividad industrial. El caso de Argentina y Brasil
Marta Bekerman, Gonzalo Dalmasso
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

This article aims, on the one hand, to analyze the increase of productive asymmetries between Argentina and Brazil that have been evidencing during the last two decades, and are currently reveled in the structural trade deficit of industrial products that affects Argentina in the bilateral relationship. On the other hand, it intends to contribute to understanding the roots of these asymmetries based on the differences in the public policies implemented by both countries during the period extending from the implementation of the MERCOSUR, in the early 90's, until 2008. The focus is set on the technological pattern of industrial production and trade structures, considering a non neutral impact over the long term development.

JEL Classification: O14.