Venezuela: la maledizione dalla manna

Venezuela Before Chávez: Anatomy of an Economic Collapse by Ricardo Hausmann, Francisco R. Rodríguez

Il Venezuela vive un prevedibile brutto momento cominciato con Chavéz e proseguito con Maduro. Per questo povero paese il conto alla rovescia sembra cominciato.

Ma per comprenderle meglio questa sorte bisogna fare un po’ di storia con uno sguardo che spazi almeno per un secolo.

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Venezuela, un XX secolo sull’ottovolante: dalle stalle alle stelle andata e ritorno…

… The twentieth century saw the transformation of Venezuela from one of the poorest to one of the richest economies in Latin America. Between 1900 and 1920, per capita GDP had grown at a rate of barely 1.8 percent; between 1920 and 1948, it grew at 6.8 percent per annum. By 1958, per capita GDP was 4.8 times what it would have been had Venezuela had the average growth rate of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru (calculations based on Maddison 2001)…

Negli anni settanta era il paese più ricco dell’ America latina e uno dei 20 più ricchi al mondo. Più ricco della Grecia, della Spagna, di Israele.

Poi, il declino…

… In the 1970s, the Venezuelan economy did an about-face. Per capita non-oil GDP declined by a cumulative 18.64 percent between 1978 and 2001….

La maledizione della manna

… Venezuela’s development failure has made it a common illustration of the “resource curse”—the hypothesis that natural resources can be harmful for a country’s development prospects. Indeed, Venezuela is one of the examples Sachs and Warner (1999, 2) use to explain the idea that resource-abundant economies have lower growth…

Ipotesi più problematiche sulle cause: le diseguaglianze hanno inciso? Qualcuno pensa di sì…

… Easterly (2001, 264), for example, cites the Venezuelan decline in GDP in support of the idea that inequality is harmful for growth…

E le mancate riforme di mercato? Qualcuno pensa di sì…

… Becker (1996), in contrast, has argued that the same growth performance actually shows that economic freedom is essential for growth…

Ma non sembra che le mancate riforme di mercato spieghino tutto…

… Many existing explanations do not pass these tests. For example, Venezuela’s failure to grow is often attributed to its lack of progress in carrying out free-market reforms during the eighties and nineties. While Venezuela is indisputably far from a stellar reformer, existing data do not support the hypothesis that it is substantially different from many other countries in the region in this respect (at least until 1999). According to Eduardo Lora’s (2001) index of economic reform, the Venezuelan economy by 1999 was more free market–oriented than were the economies of Mexico and Uruguay, and its speed of reform (in terms of proportional improvement in the index) was actually the median for the region between 1985 and 1999…

Anche l’ipotesi “rent seeking” non è d’aiuto: ce n’era molto pure ai tempi d’oro…

… Alternatively, consider the hypothesis that Venezuela’s growth problems are due to the exacerbated rent-seeking that was generated by the concentration of high-resource rents in the hands of the state. If this explanation is correct, then how do we account for the fact that Venezuela was the region’s fastest-growing economy between 1920 and 1970, a period during which the role of oil was dominant and fiscal oil revenues were significantly higher than during the nineties?…

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Giudicare un paese dai confronti internazionali è fuorviante, meglio vederlo da vicino nello specifico per coglierne le reali dinamiche…

… there has been a growing awareness of the limitations of cross-country economic data to help us understand why some countries are rich and others poor (Rodrik 2005). Internationally comparable country-level data are necessarily limited in their scope and depth… … They call their method “growth diagnostics”…

Le classiche domande da porsi vanno personalizzate in base al contesto…

… The essence of those methods is that instead of asking whether a policy such as trade protectionism is good for growth—a question that simply lacks a well-defined answer in a complex world—it asks more general questions such as: Does the effect depend on other variables? Is it at least not harmful for growth? Does the “average” country benefit or lose out from trade protection?…

Perché l’economia venezuelana è collassata?

Probabilmente perché costruita in modo ingessato intorno al petrolio…

… Venezuela’s growth performance can be accounted for as the consequence of three forces. One is declining oil production. The second is declining non-oil productivity. The third is the incapacity of the economy to move resources into alternative industries as a response to the decline in oil rents that has occurred since the seventies…

Alternative impraticabili…

… why Venezuela found it so difficult to develop an alternative export industry, in contrast to other countries that suffered declines in their traditional exports….

Troppa uniformità, poca diversità

… the specialized inputs, knowledge, and institutions necessary to produce oil efficiently are not very valuable for the production of other goods…

Ma perché è collassata anche l’economia del petrolio? Meglio chiedere a uno specialista…

… Osmel Manzano’s piece “Venezuela after a Century of Oil Exploitation” tackles the issue of accounting for the oil sector’s performance…

L’estrazione è calata: troppa e immotivata paura di esaurimento delle risorse…

… The key question here is why a country that boasts massive amounts of oil reserves decides not to take advantage of them and instead to maintain limits on production. Manzano argues that this policy was framed in an era in which oil was believed to be near exhaustion… These principles may have made sense in the sixties, but they were no longer reasonable after new exploration revealed that the country had indeed quite massive amounts of reserves, while changes in consumption patterns and greater efficiency of extraction techniques led to the oil glut of the eighties and nineties…

Perché una produttività tanto bassa fuori dal settore petrolifero?

Forse perché questi settori sono stati trascurati dalla macchina pubblica e dagli investimenti pubblici. Si sono occupati della questione José Pineda e Francisco Rodríguez…

… They find that the contribution of public investment to productivity growth in the Venezuelan manufacturing sector is substantial: according to their estimates, non-oil per capita GDP would be 37 percent higher than its present value had the government not allowed the stock of public capital to decline after 1983. This explanation suggests that the misallocation of public expenditures is a substantial contributor to the Venezuelan economic collapse…

Pesano anche le distorsioni di un mercato del lavoro troppo regolamentato…

… While minimum wages, firing restrictions, and mandated nonwage benefits often have a reasonable justification in terms of the provision of social insurance, they can also generate substantial distortions to the reallocation of labor across firms. In countries with a large unregulated economy, these can generate considerable incentives to shift to the informal sector. Indeed, between 1990 and 2001 Venezuela was the country with the highest growth rate in informal sector employment in Latin America (Bermúdez 2004). Omar Bello and Adriana Bermúdez’s chapter, “The Incidence of Labor Market Reforms on Employment in the Venezuelan Manufacturing Sector, 1995–2001,” attempts to estimate the cost of these increased regulations using the same panel of manufacturing firms…

Pesa un  mercato finanziario mai rimesso in ordine dopo i primi crack…

… In “Understanding Economic Growth in Venezuela, 1970–2005: The Real Effects of a Financial Collapse,” Matías Braun looks at another possible suspect for the collapse in aggregate productivity. Between 1989 and 1996, Venezuela suffered a series of deep credit crunches from which it never fully recovered. Therefore, even though the size of Venezuela’s banking sector was consistent with what one would expect for the country’s level of income up to the 1980s, by the mid-2000s the sector was between four to six times smaller than one would expect…

Fin qui alcune cause autentiche della crisi per Chavéz.

Ora alcune cause finte.

Poco capitale umano? No…

… Daniel Ortega and Lant Pritchett’s “Much Higher Schooling, Much Lower Wages: Human Capital and Economic Collapse in Venezuela.” This chapter looks at the hypothesis that lack of schooling may be a contributor to the collapse. The authors’ answer is a resounding “no.” Venezuela’s growth in schooling capital was substantially higher than the median country and even faster than the median East Asian country!…

Troppa diseguaglianza? No…

… A second “no” comes from Samuel Freije’s study “Income Distribution and Redistribution in Venezuela.” The increasing relevance of distributive conflict in Venezuela has fueled speculation that the growth in poverty and inequality is at the root of the implosion of Venezuela’s political system. Freije finds that while Venezuelan inequality has increased, its increase is consistent with what one would expect given the collapse in capital accumulation and the growth in informalization. Further, Venezuela in the 1970s was a relatively equal economy by Latin American standards, so it is difficult to tell a story in which inequality is a causal determinant of the collapse…

Troppa austerity? No…

… In contrast to much conventional wisdom, Moreno and Shelton contest that Venezuela actually carried out significant fiscal adjustments after the onset of the debt crisis… the post-1983 response was actually quite reasonable. Falling oil revenues were met with efforts to raise new sources of revenue and cut expenditures… Poor fiscal policy may be a consequence instead of a cause of the collapse…

Troppa immigrazione?

Diciamo piuttosto troppo poca immigrazione di qualità

… Dan Levy and Dean Yang’s “Competing for Jobs or Creating Jobs? The Impact of Immigration on Native-Born Unemployment in Venezuela, 1980–2003,” which looks at how changes in immigration patterns have affected patterns of job creation in Venezuela… a contrast between Colombian immigration, which tends to raise Venezuelan unemployment, and European immigration, which does not… European immigrants generate considerable positive externalities that offset their direct effects on labor supply and wages. It also suggests that the reversal in European migration that occurred because of the growth collapse could have generated a feedback loop in which the initial collapse caused the loss of a vibrant immigrant community and its spillover…

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La crisi economica si è ben presto trasformata in un deterioramento istituzionale…

… The Venezuelan collapse was not only economic. Up until the 1990s, Venezuela boasted a stable democratic political system that was commonly viewed as an example to follow by other developing middle-income countries…

Chavéz: un regalino della crisi…

… Knowing that a severe episode of growth collapse preceded Chávez is perhaps enough to understand why this change occurred: most political scientists agree with Przeworski and colleagues (2000) that severe economic crises jeopardize not just the incumbents, but also the very continuity of democratic regimes in non-rich countries…

Come descrivere il chavismo? Disaccordi…

… personalistic, popular, populist, pro-poor, revolutionary, participatory, socialist, Castroite, fascist, competitive authoritarian, soft authoritarian, third-world-oriented, hybrid, statist, polarizing, oil-addicted, Caesaristic, counterhegemonic…

Consideriamolo come un’alleanza tra il radicalismo di sinistra e i militari

… chavismo consists not simply of a “civilian–military alliance,” to quote the man himself (Chávez, Harnecker, and Boudin 2005, 81), but an alliance of radical–leftistcivilians and the military…

Democrazia o tirannia? Zona grigia…

… it was clear that chavismo, as a political regime, occupied a “gray zone” between democracy and authoritarianism (Coppedge 2003; McCoy 2004)…

Un precedente? Forse la Cuba di Fulgencio Batista

… There is no question that leftist–military ruling alliances are not new in Latin America (Remmer 1991), dating back to Cuba in the 1930s, when a young sergeant, Fulgencio Batista, sought to dominate Cuban politics by courting radical leftist civilians (first, student leaders, and then communists)…

Negli anni novanta la risposta sudamericana alla crisi fu l’apertura al mercato

… In the early 1990s, the common response to the economic woes of the region was the emergence of market-oriented administrations… introducing more economic liberalization rather than less..

Nel nuovo millennio accade l’esatto contrario.

Quale intuizione ha favorito Chavéz?

Ortodossia: ha incluso gli esclusi

… Most of the scholarship seeking to explain chavismo argues that the previous regime, the “Fourth Republic” or the “Punto Fijo regime,” suffered from excessively exclusionary politics: political institutions became too rigid to give entry to new, smaller, nondominant political forces, which led to accumulated resentment… The old regime benefited two parties, AD and COPEI, and no one else. According to this view, chavismo was, at its core, a movement designed to break down institutional barriers…

In realtà, gli esclusi dalla vita politica non erano affatto tali. Parliamo di formazioni politiche ben oliate per irrompere sulla scena…

… I seek to modify the view of pre-existing institutional rigidity and closure. While some institutions did remain closed and even ossified, the most important story is how many other political institutions actually offered shelter to a number of nondominant forces, which I will call small opposition forces (SOFs)… It was this degree of institutional sheltering, together with two decades of growth collapse, that explains why leftist SOFs grew in numbers large enough to sustain a new ruling coalition and learned to work with the military to a degree that had few parallels in the region…

La rivoluzione chavista ha fatto leva su lamentele della popolazione e su molto opportunismo di molti insider…

… rise of the left in Latin America in the 2000s is the result of both gripes (i.e., complaints about the socioeconomic status quo) and institutional opportunities…

Le lamentele erano corrette ma non quella relativa alla presunta esclusione dalla scena politica di talune forze…

… I agree with scholars on Venezuela, who almost unanimously argue that citizens by the late 1990s had ample reasons to vote for an anti–status quo option, but I disagree with those who underplay the institutional openings of the Punto Fijo era…

I due problemi di Chavéz…

… Chávez has had to deal with two different sources of tensions within his initial coalition: (1) the defection of moderate leftists, and (2) divisions within the military….

Come li risolse? Ecco le sue quattro armi:

1. ampliamento della spesa pubblica e distribuzione contentini,

2. polarizzazione della politica: o con me o contro di me,

3. trattamento della corruzione: duro con gli altri, distratto con i suoi,

4. discriminazioni sul lavoro: assunzioni mirate.

 

 

 

 

 

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