Vol. 30 No. 1 (2010): jan-Mar / 2010

Vol. 30 No. 1 (2010)

jan-Mar / 2010
Published January 1, 2010


The 2008 financial crisis and neoclassical economics
Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

The 2008 global financial crisis was the consequence of the process of financialization, or the creation of massive fictitious financial wealth, that began in the 1980s, and of the hegemony of a reactionary ideology, namely, neoliberalism, based on self-regulated and efficient markets. Although capitalism is intrinsically unstable, the lessons from the stock-market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s were transformed into theories and institutions or regulations that led to the “30 glorious years of capitalism” (1948–77) and that could have avoided a financial crisis as profound as the present one. It did not because a coalition of rentiers and “financists” achieved hegemony and, while deregulating the existing financial operations, refused to regulate the financial innovations that made these markets even more risky. Neoclassical economics played the role of a meta-ideology as it legitimized, mathematically and “scientifically”, neoliberal ideology and deregulation. From this crisis a new capitalism will emerge, though its character is difficult to predict. It will not be financialized but the tendencies present in the 30 glorious years toward global and knowledge-based capitalism, where professionals will have more say than rentier capitalists, as well as the tendency to improve democracy by making it more social and participative, will be resumed.

JEL Classification: E30; P1.

Economic science and scientific explanation models
Leda Maria Paulani
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

 Economics was born under the sign of methodological vagueness. The first author who tried to solve the question (John Stuart Mill) asserted that it is a kind of knowledge that uses the abstract (direct deductive) method but also that it is an exception because for all other phenomena in the field of moral science the correct method is the inverse deductive or historical method. On the other side, functionalist explanations that are condemned by the scientific precepts of economics are present in the science since its beginning with Adam Smith. Economics went ahead without worriment about these methodological issues but this indefiniteness has never gone off stage. Since the start of XXI century new facts are emerging. Developments in Psychology are giving a new breath to Friedman’s point of view and seem to fortify the mainstream (Rogebert e Nordberg, 2005), whereas unfolding in complexity science promises to throw it down and put in its place another kind of explanation borrowed from Biology (Beinhocker, 2006). All this stimulates to retake the question. We do this here, under a critical vision, taking the taxonomy of scientific explanations framed by modern positivism.

JEL Classification: B14; B40; B41.

The State and the economy in South Korea: from the developmentist state to the Asian crisis and later recovery.
Alexandre Queiroz Guimarães
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

The article focuses on the institutions of South Korean capitalism and on the interactions between the state and the economy. The economic model in South Korea was characterized by a very interventionist state, which played a very active role in the process of industrialization. However, South Korea suffered a severe crisis in 1997, attributed by many authors to the distortions inherent to strong state intervention. The article shows that the crisis was a result of the combination between internal economic fragilities and a rapid process of financial deregulation, which undermined the states capacity of control. The crisis, nevertheless, does not disqualify the role of the national institutions in the very successful process of industrialization. Despite the reforms, the Korean capitalism conserves much of the previous model of business organization and industrial relations. The state continues strong and played active role in the process of economic reforms. There are, nevertheless, doubts about the impacts of the reforms and the new configuration of Korean capitalism. They will depend on the current transformations in world economy and in the East Asian countries.

JEL Classification: P16; P52; O53; N40; N45.

Interest rate, exchange rate and the system of inflation target in Brazil
Franklin Serrano
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

 In the consensus view of the Brazilian system of inflation targeting, the core of inflation is due to demand shocks; the rate of interest is set to control demand; and some variation in the exchange rate happens as “collateral damage”. In this note we argue that in reality core inflation comes from cost push; the interest rate affects the exchange rate; changes in the exchange rate affect costs and prices; it is the effect of interest rates on demand that is the “collateral damage” and that the long run anchor of the system is low average real wage rigidity.

JEL Classification: E31; E43; E11.

A note on inflation targeting and economic growth in Brazil
Gilberto Libânio
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

This paper analyzes the relation between monetary policy and economic performance in Brazil during the period 1999-2006. In particular, it discusses the growth effects of the inflation targeting regime through its effects on aggregate demand. It is argued that monetary policy under IT reacts in a procyclical and asymmetric way to fluctuations in economic activity (too ‘tight’ during recessions, not so ‘loose’ during expansions). Such pattern may generate a downward bias in aggregate demand, with negative real effects on output growth and employment. Our results suggest that monetary policy has been procyclical and asymmetrical in Brazil under inflation targeting. The main economic policy implication of this study is that central banks should consider more seriously the real effects of monetary policy on output and employment.

JEL Classification: E52; E58.

Uncertainties, monetary policy and financial stability: challenges on inflation targeting
Gabriel Caldas Montes
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

This work aims at presenting the challenges that inflation targeting central banks may face since uncertainties represent a harmful element for the effectiveness of monetary policy, and since financial instabilities may disturb the transmission mechanisms – in particular, the expectation channel – and thus the economic stability. Financial stability must not be considered as a simple goal of monetary policy, but a precondition for central banks operate their policies and reach the goals of inflation and output stability. The work identifies different sources of uncertainties that surround central banks’ decisions; and approaches the role that inflation targeting central banks should play according to some basic principles that can serve as useful guides for central banks to help them achieve successful outcomes in their conduct of monetary policy.

JEL classification: E52; E58; E61.

The effect of industrial policies on the electronic sector in Brazil The effect of industrial policies on the electronic sector in Brazil
Jorge Chami Batista
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

Brazil’s reputation in vertical industrial policies is dreadful. The electronics industry case is a good example. As measured by the performance of Brazil’s exports vis-à-vis that of a group of emerging economies, the result of these policies was a total disaster. Had not been for the inadequacy of Brazil’s industrial policies for this sector, exports of manufactures could have been between 36% and 46% higher than they actually were. Brazil’s cumulated losses from 1984, when foreign microcomputer firms were prohibited to operate in the country, are estimated to be from 3.6 to 4.6 the country’s manufactures export revenue in 2005.

JEL Classification: F14; F17; L52; L6; L63.

The survival of small companies in the capitalist development.
Oswaldo Guerra, Francisco Teixeira
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

The role of small companies in capitalist development has raised, throughout the years, the analytical curiosity of economists and other social scientists. In spite of the enormous disadvantages that they possess in competing with big capital, there are innumerable reasons for their survival. The empirical evidence is clear in attesting the importance of small companies in terms of GDP share and job creation and, at the same time, their difficulties for surviving. This paper presents a theoretical revision, departing from Marx, Marshall, Steindl and Schumpeter up to some contemporary authors, concerning the role of the small companies in capitalist development, emphasizing the reasons and the difficulties for its survival.

JEL Classification: O10.

The effect of reelection intention on public health expenditures An analysis based on reputation models
Lucas M. Novaes, Enlinson Mattos
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

The political model of reputational-building argues that if the incumbent politician aspires to be reassigned, he/she must act in the voters’ interest to obtain their approval and consequently their votes. Considering that voters are sensitive to public health expenditures, we check how reputational incentives shift municipal spending patterns in electoral years. The empirical tests for 3004 Brazilian municipalities show an increase of health expenditures in those cities in which incumbents are trying to maintain their jobs. In addition, we find an increment in health expenditures where mayors forfeit their chance of being reelected to the benefit of a party mate.

JEL Classification: D72; H51; H72; I18.

Central Bank transparency: an analysis of the Brazilian case.
Helder Ferreira de Mendonça, Adriana Inhudes
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

Nowadays there is a tendency among central banks of increasing transparency in the conduction of the monetary policy. After the adoption of inflation targeting in Brazil there was an increase in the communication of the Central Bank of Brazil with the public. This paper makes a brief review of the recent theoretical and empirical literature concerning this subject. Furthermore, an analysis due to the transparency in the conduction of Brazilian monetary policy on important macroeconomic variables is made. The findings denote that an increase in transparency improves the behavior of several macroeconomic variables.

JEL classification: E52, E43.