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Sergio Cesaratto SuperArgentina 13

2 2012

Il vostro blogger tornato da un piccolo paese Caraibico dove ha impartito un corso (e si cos fortunatamente evitato un po della Siberia climatica oltre che politica che impera in Europa). Nella seconda met di marzo parteciper a un convegno organizzato a Buenos Aires da alcuni economisti eterodossi (simpatizzanti Sraffiani!) membri del governo. Ci saranno un paio di discussioni pepate con alcuni fra i pi importanti economisti eterodossi che mi coinvolgono sui temi di quale sia la pi promettente teoria non-ortodossa della crescita economica, e sulla analisi economica delle pensioni. Ho ricevuto alcune note assai informali sulleconomia argentina e su cosa si discute l. Come si pu vedere la discussione assai pi interessante di quella che si svolge in Italia, e non un caso che sia il governo a organizzare il convegno (a un certo punto ci hanno chiesto urgentemente il CV perch la Cristina Kirchner, che come sapete un mito da quelle parti, li voleva conoscere). E cos veniamo a sapere che l i politici discutono del supermultiplier sraffiano (del mio fraterno amico Franklin Serrano dellUniversit Federale di Rio de Janeiro) mentre da noi, a sinistra, non si sa neppure cosa sia il moltiplicatore keynesiano. Purtroppo in Italia la sinistra ama poco gli economisti dal solido background analitico, preferisce il pensiero debole (la qualit misurata a numero di volte in cui si usa il termineneoliberismo, come dice il mio amico Alberto Bagnai). Sicch alcuni di noi finiscono per essere pi noti nella sinistra Latino-Americana che nel proprio paese (il caso di Massimo Pivetti eclatante). Nemo profeta in patria? E a questi riguardo aggiungo due righe inviate a Francesco Indovina che in una mail perorava la causa de Il manifesto:
"Caro Francesco, la mia esperienza con Il manifesto (non parlo di quella antica col gruppo o col PdUP) di un gruppo di giornalisti piuttosto auto-referenziale che ha bruciato anni fa una collaborazione e una ricerca organica sui temi economici con gli economisti di sinistra pi qualificati, per disinteresse, simpatie, o quant'altro (forse la superficialit tipica della sinistra italiana). Con questo ha bruciato la possibilit di mantenere un profilo alto su temi centrali per la sinistra. Questo dimostra come il giornale abbia fallito, mi sembra, nel costituire un punto di riferimento per il dibattito politico nella sinistra (come lo Il foglio , a destra, per capirci). Forse un gruppo di intellettuali dovrebbe rilevare testata e tradizione - che indipendente, a mio avviso, dai giornalisti - spocchiosi assai quando si ha a che fare con loro, mentre uno si immaginerebbe che vadano a braccetto con gli studiosi in una simbiosi continua (lo faranno, ma con chi gli pare a loro e non certo col meglio, per ci che mi riguarda, degli economisti di sinistra che non hanno mai cercato). Che il giornale chiuda mi dispiace, ma soprattutto per un paio di amici (non giornalisti) il cui sostentamento dipende o dipendeva dal giornale. Purtroppo l'appello di Parlato (figura di cui ho ovviamente il rispetto immenso che gli si deve) a inviare critiche e suggerimenti mi pare non solo too little or too late, ma anche non credibile. Se hai elementi che vanno in direzione diversa, ti prego di farmeli sapere. Il mondo con Il manifesto vivo e vitale sarebbe chiaramente un pochino migliore. Permettetemi infine di segnalarvi l'articolo del CdS sugli acquisti di armamenti da parte della Grecia, presenti e passati, un Leopard a chi indovina a favore di chi?

Super-Cristina1. The current Argentine government is much like Peron's government during the 1940s and 1950s. We are trying to industrialize the country, through infant industry protection, while at the same time controlling the improvements in relative productivity, and trying to facilitate credit to the industrial sector (trying to imitate what Japan and South Korea did a while back). But it's all very hard. Large corporations constantly attempt to knock down the government, be it through large cash outflows, or massive media attacks (strong laws have been recently approved to counteract these forces). Import substitution has already been tried in Argentina during 1945-1970, and it failed largely due to these type of attacks,

which in the end are usually promoted by England and the USA. So the government this time is trying to take extra care not to fall in those traps once again. In the meantime, while GDP growth has be excellent during the last decade (averaging around 8 percent), inflation has been quite high (around 25-30% during the last few years, and expected to be around 25% in 2012). Official government statistics have come under attack due to this, because according to the government the rate of inflation is under 10%, something which most people do not witness in their every day purchases. Why do we have so much inflation? How do we fight it back without harming GDP growth rate? What is the right way to measure growth and inflation? How do we improve our relative productivity? How much credit is the right amount of credit? What credit is the right kind of credit? What are the correct nominal and real exchange rates? And in the middle of such storm, how do we shrink income inequality and decrease poverty? How can we do all of this while increasing the real wage? The usual interesting questions, but let me spice it up: Argentina is very low on oil and gas reserves. Investment in the area has been very low during the last decade. Large oil firms such as YPFSA object to the existing price controls as a detriment to their investment projects. The government argues that they lie, since they are making lots of money still ,and even then they refuse to invest, hiding many oil fields which they know exist, just to get a forced increase in the price of oil and gas. Their plan according to the government is to destabilize the economy. Having in mind our development goal, what is the right price of oil and energy? Are oil companies right? Should they get the international oil and gas price? What should the government realistically do? And how could PDVSA help, be it that we are speaking of the fourth largest oil firm in the world, with the largest oil reserves in the world, and a socialist oil firm indeed (or at least trying to be socialist). YPFSA used to be Argentina's state oil company, before it was privatized during the 1990s. Now it belongs to Repsol, mostly. Should YPFSA be nationalized once again? Why?" 2. There are four main issues I think: First, most of our industrial exports are cars. But we don't produce many of the inputs which go into cars, so mostly we import the already produced parts, and we assemble them here. For example, we buy most of our parts from Brazil, assemble them, and then we sell them back to Brazil. An important tip: our trade balance with Brazil is, and has almost always been, highly negative. We buy much more from them that what they buy from us. Second, due to the former, we have become highly Brazil dependent. Given our past history with Brazil: Since the earliest times, 200 or 300 years ago, Brazil has been an English satellite, which the English have used to undermine Argentina's economy. For example: Uruguay, Bolivia, and Paraguay used to be part of Argentina, and they were segregated thanks to the combined efforts of England and Brazil. These type of relationships exist all the way up to the present, (even though they are hidden of course). So it might not be the best idea to become so dependent on Brazil's demand. Is it a good idea to become so car dependent? Is that a good development strategy? How do we choose which industries to develop? Which is the best way to develop them, to make sure that our protection efforts do not translate in parasite local entrepreneurs which take the extra profit without the necessary investment to become competitive at an international level? Third, during the last few years capacity utilization has been very high. How much? Well it depends on how we measure it, but official measures range from 80 to 90%. Due to the high rate of inflation, costs have increased a lot, shrinking the temporary advantage that the local industry gained during the 2002 currency devaluation (and some further more stable micro-

devaluations which took place throughout the last decade). Many are now speaking of several exchange rates as a policy instrument: basically, giving a favourable exchange rate in those sectors we intend to develop, and the entire contrary in those things we intent to shrink (consumer imports?). In the present we have many protective tariffs, which have grown during the last few years (mainly to include almost every good which could be produced down here). Guillermo Moreno, Argentina's secretary of commerce, has been the knight who fiercely protects the local industry (you can google him). Fourth, we have a positive trade balance thanks to our primary sector. Our industrial sector has a negative trade balance, and the primary sector is the only one which has a positive trade balance. Our main primary good is soy. This makes us very dependent on things like rain and China. For example: right now we are in the middle of a dry season, and much of the produce will go to waste unless it starts to rain soon (hopefully, the new invention called "solid rain" will help us on this in the future, you can google it). Why don't we have a good irrigation structure, like Israel? Because landlords spend the rent they get from the land in new apartments in Buenos Aires and Miami, instead of investing it on an irrigation system (this by the way, has skyrocketed the price of real estate, to the point were it is very hard for workers to buy their own place. Most people rent a place, or live with their family). The government right now is taxing primary producers with an export tax (around 35%) to try and capture some of the rent. This export tax has been the reason of a large debate back in 2008-2009, which almost knocked down the current administration (the right wing opposition attempted to use these events take control of the country). Luckily they failed. In response to that the government created a Ministry of Agriculture, which in the present tries to apply local measures, understanding the position of every producer (since there is a wide variety of them: large, small, landowners, landless producers, fertile areas, infertile areas, etc etc). And in the middle of all this, Cargil is always present (Cargill in Argentina has been distinguished as the leading agribusiness exporter in the country). Why are they still around taking most of the gains? Do they benefit or do they harm the country? How can we solve the issue of the evil "grain merchants"? As a side note: many politicians in the government are toying a lot with the idea of the sraffian "super multiplier". They are quite convinced it works.