quinta-feira, 20 de novembro de 2014

Papa condena Mercado de Alimentos. Mas São Pedro não vendia Peixe?


A transformação de alimentos em produto de mercado é tão antiga quanto a formação das primeiras cidades. O homem quando parou para produzir deixou de ser nômade, criou cidades e se multiplicou. Hoje em dia temos apenas uma aceleração do processo em que um fazendeiro médio de Mato Grosso negocia sua produção na Bolsa de Chicago pela internet, sem conhecer o comprador.

Mas o Papa Francisco resolveu condenar o uso de alimentos como commodity. Ele não explicou como então deve ser feito, dever-se-ia distribuir a produção de graça? E como iríamos pagar pelo trabalho dos agricultores?

Aliás, entre os apóstolos tivemos vendedores de commodities agrícolas. Dos 12 apóstolos de Cristo pelo menos 4 eram pescadores, incluindo o primeiro Papa, São Pedro. Será que São Pedro passou a dar peixes de graça quando se tornou discípúlo? Não creio, nada no evangelho fala sobre isso (graças a Deus). Cristo não condenou nem o cobrador de impostos (São Mateus).

Até gente do meio artístico acostumado a cantar para conseguir dinheiro para combater a fome, já entendeu que a melhor forma de acabar com a fome é trabalhando. Então, o importante é dá condições para a produção e não acabar com a produção e a venda.

Nunca pensei que diria isto para um Papa, mas: Papa Francisco dê uma olhada para o que diz Bono Vox, líder do grupo de rock U2.

Finalmente, a doutrina que surge da Encíclica Rerum Novarum (Distributismo) pede mais produção, mais propriedade para todos e não menos.

Ainda bem, que nós católicos sabemos que o Papa só é infalível quando fala ex-cathedra e não em discursos para ONU ou mesmo em Encíclicas.



quarta-feira, 19 de novembro de 2014

O Imposto Islâmico sobre o que sobrou dos Cristãos na Síria


O Alcorão determina que os infiéis devem ser mortos ou submetidos aos líderes muçulmanos, pagando um imposto chamado jizya (também conhecido como imposto da Sharia). Ver verso 9:29 do Alcorão, que diz (na versão em inglês):

Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

Pode-se ler também versos 9:5 ou 8:39, que estabelece a guerra contra os infiéis.

Quem são os infiéis? Todos que não seguem o Islã. Daí cabe de judeus e cristãos até mesmo alguns muçulmanos considerados por outros muçulmanos como infiéis, como xiitas em terras sunitas e vice-versa.

Eu costumo falar mais disso no meu outro blog Thyself, O Lord. Mas hoje o assunto aparece aqui pois qualquer imposto tem relação estreita com a economia (política fiscal). Apesar do jizya ter um impacto bem mais profundo do que o apenas econômico.

O site da Agência Fides diz hoje que o que restou dos cristãos em Raqqa na Síria está sendo obrigado a pagar o jizia para morar lá. Vejamos o que diz o site:

ASIA/SYRIA - 25 Christian families still in Raqqa. Obligation to pay a "protection tax"


Raqqa (Agenzia Fides) – In Raqqa, the city of northern Syria which has become a stronghold of the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) since 2014, counts only 23 Christian families of the 1500 who lived there before the beginning of the Syrian conflict. The violence of Islamist fanaticism strikes down on this small community made up of Armenian Christians, who were unable to leave the city for lack of resources or because of age and health reasons with the methodical aspect of the administrative and bureaucratic practices: they have recently been informed about the parameters of the jizya, the "protection tax" they will have to pay from 16 November if they do not want to be expelled and dispossessed of their homes and that amounts to the equivalent of $ 535. The information reported by the Christians in Raqqa, was released by the Arab site, ankawa.com. In all likelihood Christian families, impoverished by the war, will not be able to pay the tax and will have to leave their homes.

The jizya tax had to be paid, until the nineteenth century, by every non-Muslim subject to the Islamic authorities as a clause of the "pact" which guaranteed them protection from external aggression and freedom of worship. In Raqqa the jihadists of Is - who took total control of the city in early 2014, after having met with other Islamist anti-Assad factions - have turned the main Armenian church in offices for the management of Islamic affairs and the promotion of sharia. In the stronghold city the militia of the Islamic State have already expropriated the property of the Christians fled, and they also organized symbolic actions, such as the burning of Bibles and Christian books. The kidnapping of the Jesuit Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio is attributed to the jihadist faction of IS. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 15/11/2014)


terça-feira, 18 de novembro de 2014

Os Laços Terroristas entre Irã e China


A Reuters divulga hoje reportagem exclusiva que mostra que o Irã está usando bancos chineses para repassar dinheiro para empresas do grupo Quds, que realiza operações terroristas pelo mundo.

É o velho uso de empresas fantasmas para transferir dinheiro para operações escusas, neste caso terrorismo.Vejamos parte do que diz a Reuters:

Exclusive: Iran uses China bank to transfer funds to Quds-linked companies – report

There is no trace of Shenzhen Lanhao Days Electronic Technology Co Ltd at its listed address in the beige and pink-tiled "Fragrant Villa" apartment complex in this southern Chinese city. The building's managers say they’ve never heard of it.

    But a Western intelligence report reviewed by Reuters says Shenzhen Lanhao is one of several companies in China that receives money from Iran through a Chinese bank. Such transfers help to finance international operations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' elite Quds Force, the report said. 

    The Quds provides arms, aid and training for pro-Iranian militant groups in the Middle East, such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Shi'ite Muslim militias in Iraq. They have also armed and trained government forces in Syria's civil war in violation of a U.N. arms embargo, U.S. and European officials say.

    Washington designated the Quds a supporter of terrorism in 2007. The European Union sanctioned them in 2011.

    The report said that the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) holds accounts with the Bank of Kunlun Co Ltd, a China National Petroleum Corp unit. Quds-controlled Iranian companies, including one called Bamdad Capital Development Co, initiate transfers from these accounts to either Chinese entities directly controlled by the Quds or to Chinese entities owed money by the Quds, such as Shenzhen Lanhao.

    "The money transfers from accounts held by the CBI with Bank Kunlun are initiated by the Quds Force and transferred to Chinese companies connected to the Quds Force in order to meet its financial needs," the seven-page report said. Reuters could not independently verify the claims in the report.

    The suspected movement of Iranian funds linked to the Quds Force through a Chinese bank and Chinese companies is a reminder of the difficulty of enforcing sanctions on Iran at a time when the United States and other world powers hope to clinch a nuclear deal with Tehran by Nov. 24.

      BEIJING PICKED KUNLUN

    The exact amount of money the Quds could have received from the Kunlun channel is unclear. But the sums flowing from the Iranian central bank to Kunlun over the past year have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the report said.

    As Western sanctions tightened on Iran in 2012, Beijing picked Kunlun as its main bank to process billions of dollars in oil payments to Iran, shielding other banks from penalties. Kunlun had assets of 246.5 billion yuan ($40 billion) at the end of 2013, according to its annual report.

    Officials at Kunlun did not respond to Reuters requests for comment, nor did CNPC, China's biggest oil and gas company.

    The Chinese government said China's trade relations with Iran and other countries do not violate international laws.

    "China maintains normal trade relations with relevant countries, including Iran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement in response to queries from Reuters. "This does not violate any international law or (U.N.) Security Council resolution, and does not harm the interests of other countries or the international community."

    Iran’s U.N. mission declined to comment.

    Reuters viewed a payment transfer order from 2014 showing Bamdad requesting Iran's central bank transfer 1.45 million euros ($1.81 million) from an account at Kunlun to Shenzhen Lanhao for a payment "related to purchasing metals." While it was unclear how and whether the Quds Force received any funds through the transaction, it appeared to show the movement of funds as described in the report

sexta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2014

Vídeos: Administração Obama acha que o Povo Americano é "Estúpido Demais"


A "lei assinatura" do Governo Obama, aquela lei que será lembrada destacadamente como do Obama, assim considerada pelo próprio Obama, é a lei do novo sistema de saúde do país, conhecida como Obamacare. E esta lei foi aprovada sem que se conhecesse tudo que está escrito nela. Depois de aprovada o Obamacare se tornou um estorvo para o partido de Obama. Nas últimas eleições parlamentares, que deu as duas casas do Congresso para a oposição, todos os opositores foram eleitos com a promessa de acabar com o Obamacare.

Agora, aparecem vídeos de um dos "arquitetos" da lei, professor do MIT, que revela que administração Obama usou a falta de transparência e uso de linguagem deturpada para que o público americano apoiasse a aprovação do Obamacare, porque, segundo Gruber, a lei continha coisas que o povo não apoiaria porque "é estúpido demais".

Quando apareceu o primeiro vídeo em que Gruber diz que o povo americano era estúpido demais, Gruber pediu desculpas, mas depois apareceram mais dois vídeos que ele diz a mesma coisa.

Vejam dois vídeos abaixo sobre isso:








Vejam agora parte de um texto do site The Hill sobre o assunto (para quem não sabe GOP significa Partido Republicano, partido de oposição a Obama, e ammo é redução para munição):

Voter stupidity remark gives GOP new ammo on ObamaCare


Comments about voter stupidity made by an ally of the Obama administration are turning into conservatives’ newest weapon against the president’s healthcare law.
A series of unearthed videos of ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber insulting U.S. voters while saying a “lack of transparency” helped Congress pass the healthcare law are attracting serious attention on the right just as Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate.
The newly discovered remarks — revealed so far in three videos circulated by conservative media — add fuel to the GOP’s claim that Democrats were deliberately obscuring pieces of the law to assure its passage.
Add a wave of interest from Republican lawmakers and increasing scrutiny from the mainstream media, and you have the latest flashpoint in the abiding partisan war over ObamaCare, just ahead of the start of the law’s second enrollment periodon Saturday.
Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also helped craft that state’s healthcare reform law, said Tuesday that he regrets saying ObamaCare passed because of the “stupidity of the American voter.”
Republicans have long charged that the healthcare reform bill was pushed through without public scrutiny. A gaffe from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2010 added to this impression.
“We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi argues the remark was taken out of context and that she was referring to the uncertainty about what legislation would emerge from the Senate. But the comment still echoes in conservative rhetoric four years later.
On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he was “sure” that Gruber would be brought to Congress to testify.
The release of Gruber comments occurs just as the Obama administration takes pains to lower expectations ahead of its second sign-up period, hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s crisis.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Tuesday that she’s hoping for 9.1 million enrollees for 2015, markedly less than the 13 million projected by the Congressional Budget Office.
Democrats’ drubbing in the midterm elections, meanwhile, has taken focus off better news for ObamaCare and put it back on how Republicans hope to dismantle the law next year.
On MSNBC Tuesday morning, former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean acknowledged that Gruber's comments have stung the party, though he downplayed the professor’s role in the law’s passage.
“He's a consultant, not the architect [of] ObamaCare,” Dean said, adding: “I’m not excusing the language — it’s terrible.”

quinta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2014

As Moedas do Terror. Quem Financia o Estado Islâmico?


Foi anunciado esta semana que o grupo terrorista islâmico, Estado Islâmico, que domina região entre Síria e Iraque e traz muita destruição, decapitações, e até crucificações de cristãos, irá produzir sua prórpia moeda.

O nome da moeda, como não podia deixar de ser, será dinar, moeda usada no século 7, logo após a morte de Maomé, pelo califa Uthman, que foi o terceiro califa, casado com duas filhas de Maomé e que morreu assassinado, como três dos quatro primeiros califas.

Diferente das outras moedas chamadas dinar atualmente, as moedas dinar do Esatdo Islâmico serão de ouro e prata.  Como um grupo terrorista consegue ter condições de ter recursos suficientes para lançar moedas de ouro e prata?

O jornal Daily Mail responde: contrabando de petróleo, pagamentos de resgate por sequestros e financiamento de ricos doadores pelo mundo.

Aqui vai parte do texto do jornal Daily Mail:

Now ISIS wants to introduce its own currency: Plans to bring back solid gold and silver dinar coins announced in Iraqi mosques


By EMMA GLANFIELD


ISIS wants to introduce its own currency and plans to bring back solid gold and silver dinar coins, it has emerged.

The Middle East terror group apparently wants to introduce its own Islamic currency as part of its attempts to solidify its makeshift caliphate.

The currency known as the dinar, which once consisted purely of gold and silver coins, is today used by a variety of countries, but the coins are created from different materials to the originals.

However, the jihadi group is understood to be planning to return to the original gold and silver coins, which were first introduced during the Caliphate of Uthman in 634 CE.

The original Islamic dinar was a gold coin which was the weight of gold equivalent to 4.3 grams. Its silver counterpart, known as the Islamic dirham, was a silver coin equal in weight to 3 grams of silver.

It is believed the terror outfit wants to use the independent currency in areas it controls as part of its war on the West. 

The currency, which could be introduced within the next few weeks, will involve changing from regular dinars and Lira to golden dinars and silver dirhams.

Last month, it emerged that ISIS, which also goes by the name Islamic State, is raking in money at a remarkable rate - earning about $1million a day from black market oil sales alone.

The group extracts oil from territory captured across Syria and Iraq, and sells it to smugglers.

David Cohen, who leads the Treasury Department's effort to undermine the Islamic State's finances, said the extremists also get several million dollars a month from wealthy donors, extortion rackets and other criminal activities, such as robbing banks.

In addition, he said the group has taken in at least $20million in ransom payments this year from kidnappings.



(Agradeço o texto do Daily Mail ao site Weasel Zippers)

quarta-feira, 12 de novembro de 2014

Vídeo: Como saber se Alguém está Mentindo pelas Palavras.


Hoje, leio na Agência Estado declarações da Dilma Rousseff sobre a carta de demissão da ex-ministra Marta Suplicy. Na carta, Marta Suplicy ataca o governo pedindo que a política econômica tenha mais credibilidade.

Dilma diz que sabia da carta antes e que Marta "não teve atitude incorreta".

A Dilma é conhecida pela sua absoluta falta de capacidade de articular qualquer raciocínio, mas juntar todos negativos (não e incorreta) em uma frase tão pequena me fez lembrar de um vídeo sobre mentiras que vi recentemente.

Vejam abaixo o vídeo abaixo, detalho em seguida o que diz o vídeo.





O vídeo coloca que os aparelhos para detectar mentiras podem ser burlados com treino, mas há alguns sinais de linguagem que podem sinalizar que a pessoa está mentindo. Isto é, a ciência da comunicação pode fornecer pistas sobre se a pessoa está mentindo, e são mais difíceis de serem evitadas com treino, porque nossa consciência controla apenas 5% de nosso comportamento.

Criar um mentira exige esforço mental e uso de outro padrão linguístico.

Quem mente tende a:

1) (pouquíssima referência a si mesmo) - Não falar de si mesmo, tende a se colocar na posição~çao de terceira pessoa.

2) (uso de linguagem negativa) - Quem mente usa mais termos negativos. Daí que a Dilma me fez lembrar do vídeo.

3) (explicação simples) Quem mente tende a apresentar uma justificação simples, uma vez que mentir exige um grande esforço mental. Usa o exemplo de Clinton.

4) (uso de frases longas com diversos adjetivos e termos desnecessários) - Quem mente tende a usar frases longas e complexas, colocando palavras desnecessárias. Vídeo usa os exemplos de Nixon,  do ciclista Lance Armstrong que mentiu sobre o uso de anabolizantes e depois admitiu o uso (o vídeo compara a linguagem de Armstrong nas duas ocasiões) e do ex-senador John Edwards que negou a paternidade de um filho de sua amante e depois admitiu (há também comparação do discurso nas duas ocasiões).


terça-feira, 11 de novembro de 2014

A Guerra de Obama contra Donas de Casa e seus Filhos.


Recentemente, Obama condenou as mulheres que abandonam suas profissões para cuidar dos filhos. Ele acha que é imperativo que as mulheres valorizem mais a profissão.

Este é o pensamento do presidente americano que mais apoiou o aborto na história do pais, chegando a defender que crianças que sobrevivam de aborto sejam deixadas a própria sorte sem socorro médico para morrer de inanição (eu costumo falar mais disso no meu outro blog Thyself, O Lord).

Quem paga pela sugestão de Obama são os filhos, que ficam jogados logo nos primeiros meses de vida em creches, escolinhas ou sendo cuidados por vizinhas, avós, babás, sendo ensinadas pela televisão. Eu vejo o desespero de muitas mulheres com isso. Por exemplo, na padria que compro pão, muitas trabalhadoras já me disseram como deixam os filhos para saírem de casa para trabalhar bem cedo.

Mas uma mãe, chamada Susanna Spencer, resolveu responder a Obama, em um texto excelente, que mostra as dificuldades de escolher entre carreira e filhos e o que é mais importante.

Ela conta sua história, no ótimo site Truth and Charity. Vejam o texto de Susanna abaixo.

Working Vs. Staying At Home: The Decisions American Women Face

There was an outrage on Facebook last Saturday about President Obama’s statement about stay at home parents:
 “Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”
In context, he was talking about having tax payer funded preschool so as to allow parents to not have to choose between a job and having children. And while perhaps he did not mean to reject entirely the idea that parents should stay at home with their children, he pretty clearly stated that he thinks that working is the best choice for everyone.
I understand that when a parent makes the choice to leave a career and stay at home with children, she is making a life-long financial sacrifice. She is losing the chance for career advancement. But the choice between a career and staying home is much more complicated than the issue of money.
I personally began to think about the choice between stay at home parenting and having a competitive career when I was in high school. A young woman thinking about college, adulthood, and discerning religious life considers all the possibilities. At my highly competitive, all girls Catholic high school, the issue of working and raising children often came up. A motivated, intelligent young woman does not know if and when she will get married, but she does know that she is expected to go to college and choose a career. My personal goal at the time was to become a sports journalist. When I applied to colleges, I planned on being a communications major. I even got into a pretty good local school known for its journalism program, Webster University. It was five minutes from my house, and I was offered a nearly complete tuition scholarship. I could have succeeded academically there, and I could have made my way into the world of journalism. But when it came down to it, and I imagined life as a journalist, I realized that it would not be compatible with my dream of family life. I could not be the beat writer of the St. Louis Cardinals and be the type of mother that I wanted to be. I had no idea if I would get married and have children, but I hoped that I would. I made a choice to move away from a lucrative career back when I was 17, not when I decided to stay at home with my children.
By the time I got my financial aid package from Franciscan University, I was already wavering on whether to go into journalism. I could have chosen a lucrative career path, but went instead with the college that I thought would best form my character. I started off as a communications major, switched immediately to undeclared, and within three semesters had switched to theology and philosophy and was participating in the Great Books program. I am so glad that I made these choices. My college experience formed me into the person I am now; I am not sure what I would be like without this experience. I learned to value virtue, family, and religion above material wealth and worldly success. I learned to discern what God had planned for me, and it was made pretty clear halfway through college that I would marry the man I was dating. While I focused on that, I always thought that, if for some reason I am unable to have children, I would pursue a doctorate. However, within a month of marriage, I was already on track to be a stay at home mom.
It was not easy to be a stay at home mom, even with my 12 hour a week, bring the baby along part time job, on my husband’s meager graduate student income. But we knew that it was important for our family for me to be at home. During my first years of marriage and parenting, I had close female friends who were all making economic sacrifices to stay at home with their children. Some of them had part time positions that they could work from home, and some of them had free grandparent childcare. I lived in the subculture of college educated, single income, stay at home moms. If anything, it reinforced my choice. My pro-life Catholic friends all valued spending time raising their children more than their careers.
When we moved to St. Paul, Minnesota to advance my husband’s career (we moved for his tenure-track academic job), I became friends with a number of moms who had Ph.D.’s. Most of my husband’s departmental colleagues who have young children at home have all made the choice to have one parent at home with the children, whether it be the mother or the father. In philosophy, the decision of who stays at home is often based on who has the tenure-track job. All of the academic parents who stay at home also adjunct classes and write. I have spent many a play date with these Ph.D. moms discussing the life and career that they had thought they would have until they met their husbands in graduate school. They are fully aware that by staying at home they are setting aside chances at a successful career in philosophy, but they realize that their children will only be young for so long and that it is important for them to raise them.
I am not claiming that it would be wrong for both parents to work and have their children taken care of by someone else. I think that having a thriving career is a good thing and that many women are meant to have competitive and lucrative careers. I am so thankful for my doctor, who is a mother of six, and who delivers my babies and looks into my children’s ears. I am thankful to my mother for keeping her nursing career going while my father pursued a new career path. Both of them had a strong presence in the lives of their four children. I am sure there are many mother journalists who are happy in their lives and jobs and have growing families. I really think that we cannot make a sweeping judgment about what is best for “Americans.” Every family makes a decision about what is best for their family.
And some families decide that a parent spending the weekdays with his or her children is more important than how much money they make later in life. Couples decide that, yes, they can make ends meet with a single income, and they go for it. It is not an easy decision to make, and career advances are sacrificed. But if anything is worth sacrificing income for, the care of a human being is. The life and formation of a human being is far more important than the salary one brings home. The salary provides the material needs, the parent at home provides so much more. The working parent, hopefully, finds fulfillment in work and home life.
Other families have both parents working. Some arrange schedules to have one parent at home at all times. Others have grandparents who can help with the childcare. Others hire childcare. I do not think that it means that these parents value or love their children any less than those who are able to stay a home. I have spoken to working parents who wish that they could stay at home, but they cannot make that sacrifice.
For a mother or a potential mother in a society that values so highly education and then “doing something with that,” the tension between work and family is always there. Feminism has brought this upon mothers. But no mother who stays at home should be made to feel that their choice was not worth it. Because, while children change ones life forever, human lives will always be more valuable than worldly success.


segunda-feira, 10 de novembro de 2014

Piketti está certo: Os 0,01% Ricos. Desigualdade de Renda nos Estados Unidos


Hoje li um texto da The Economist que volta a discutir o argumento de Thomas Piketti sobre a tendência de se acumular riqueza nas mãos de poucos no mundo.

É interessante para se ver quem são os realmente ricos (Paris Hilton e Mark Zuckerbergs) e como está piorando a desigualdade de renda nos Estados Unidos. O texto fala de um novo paper sobre o assunto.

Vou colocar aqui partes do texto da The Economist, leiam todo clicando no link.

Forget the 1%

It is the 0.01% who are really getting ahead in America


AMONG the most controversial of Thomas Piketty’s arguments in his bestselling analysis of inequality, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, is that wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the very rich. Rising wealth inequality could presage the return of an 18th century inheritance society, in which marrying an heir is a surer route to riches than starting a company. Critics question the premise: Chris Giles, the economics editor of the Financial Times, argued earlier this year that Mr Piketty’s data were both thin and faulty. Yet a new paper suggests that, in America at least, inequality in wealth is approaching record levels.

A new paper by Mr Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics reckons past estimates badly underestimated the share of wealth belonging to the very rich. It uses a richer variety of sources than prior studies, including detailed data on personal income taxes (which the authors mine for figures on capital income) and property tax, which they check against Fed data on aggregate wealth. The authors note that not every potential source of error can be accounted for; tax avoidance strategies, for instance, could cause either an overestimation of the wealth share of the rich (if they classify labour income as capital income in order to take advantage of lower rates) or an underestimation (if they intentionally seek out lower yielding investments for their tax advantages). Yet they believe their estimates represent an improvement over past attempts.

The results are enough to make Mr Piketty blush. The authors examine the share of total wealth held by the bottom 90% of families relative to those at the very top. Because the bottom half of all families almost always has no net wealth, the share of wealth held by the bottom 90% is an effective measure of “middle class” wealth, or that held by those from the 50th to the 90th percentile. In the late 1920s the bottom 90% held just 16% of America’s wealth—considerably less than that held by the top 0.1%, which controlled a quarter of total wealth just before the crash of 1929. From the beginning of the Depression until the end of the second world war, the middle class’s share of total wealth rose steadily, thanks largely to collapsing wealth among richer households. Thereafter the middle class’s share grew along with national wealth thanks to broader equity ownership, middle-class income growth and rising rates of home-ownership. The expansion of tax breaks for retirement savings also helped. By the early 1980s the share of household wealth held by the middle class rose to 36%—roughly four times the share controlled by the top 0.1%.

From the early 1980s, however, these trends have reversed. The ratio of household wealth to national income has risen back toward the level of the 1920s, but the share in the hands of middle-class families has tumbled (see chart). Tepid growth in middle-class incomes is partly to blame; real incomes for the top 1% of families grew 3.4% a year from 1986-2012 while those for the bottom 90% grew 0.7%. But Messrs Saez and Zucman reckon the main cause of falling middle-class net worth is soaring debt. Rising home values did little to raise middle-class wealth since mortgage debt also soared. The recession battered home prices but left the debt untouched, further squeezing middle-class wealth.

On the other side of the spectrum, the fortunes of the wealthy have grown, especially at the very top. The 16,000 families making up the richest 0.01%, with an average net worth of $371m, now control 11.2% of total wealth—back to the 1916 share, which is the highest on record. Those down the distribution have not done quite so well: the top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and exactly the same share as the bottom 90% of the population. Meanwhile the share of wealth held by families from the 90th to the 99th percentile has actually fallen over the last decade, though not by as much as the net worth of the bottom 90%.

The outsize fortunes of the few would not be too worrying were they largely the product of entrepreneurial activity: riches amassed by hardworking billionaires who are as likely as not to give their bounty away through philanthropy. Messrs Saez and Zucman find some evidence for this dynamic. Wealthy families are younger than they were a generation or two ago, and they earn a larger share of the country’s income from labour: 3.1% in 2012 versus less than 0.5% prior to 1970.

Yet one should not yet rule out the return of Mr Piketty’s “patrimonial capitalism”. The club of young rich includes not only Mark Zuckerbergs, the authors argue, but also Paris Hiltons: young heirs to previously accumulated fortunes. What’s more, the share of labour income earned by the top 0.1% appears to have peaked in 2000. In recent years the proportion of the wealth of the very rich held in the form of shares has levelled off, while that held in bonds has risen. Since the fortunes of most entrepreneurs are tied up in the stock of the firms that they found, these shifts hint that America’s biggest fortunes may be starting to have less to do with building businesses, just as Mr Piketty warned.


*Studies cited in this article
"Top wealth shares in the United States, 1916-2000: Evidence from estate tax returns", by Wojciech Kopczuk and Emmanuel Saez, National Tax Journal, June 2004.
"Recent trends in household wealth in the United States: Rising debt and the middle-class squeeze—an update to 2007", by Edward Wolff, Levy Economics Institute Working Paper, March 2010.
"Wealth inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from capitalized income tax data", by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, National Bureau of Economics Research Working Paper, October 2014.

sexta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2014

Chesterton, Belloc e J.R.R Tolkien - Visões sobre Economia


Joseph Pearce, diretor do Centro of Faith and Culture do Aquinas College escreveu um excelnmete texto que compara as visões econômicas de três grandes escritores católicos: Chesterton, Belloc e J.R.R Tolkien (do Senhor dos Anéis). Pearce está criticando a percepção de Tolkien não compartilha das visões distributistas de Chesterton e Belloc.

Texto excelente, publicado no site da The Imaginative Conservative,

Vou colocar aqui partes do texto, leiam todo no site Imaginative Conservative,


In a very interesting interview in Catholic World Reporton October 30, Jay W. Richards, co-author of The Hobbit Party, a new book examining the political thought of J. R. R. Tolkien, sought to distance Tolkien from the political views of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Whilst paying lip service to the romantic aspirations of distributism, the political creed advocated by Belloc and Chesterton, Richards suggests that the devil is in the practical details of distributism:
The difficulty, we think, is that Belloc in particular didn’t simply offer an appealing ideal. He proposed some very specific policies to bring about a distributist society, and he did so with economic ideas that we think were in some ways mistaken. For instance, in hisEssay on the Restoration of Property, Belloc wrote that “the effort at restoring property will certainly fail if it is hampered by a superstition against the use of force as the handmaid of Justice.” In contrast, in “The Scouring of the Shire,” Tolkien describes a group of bossy outsiders who have infiltrated the Shire, “gatherers and sharers . . . going around counting and measuring and taking off to storage,” supposedly “for fair distribution.” It’s not a complimentary picture. Given Tolkien’s views about the use of coercive power to achieve presumably laudable goals, it’s hard to imagine him signing off on the details of Belloc’s program.
....
We have to dig beneath the incoherent surface to understand what Richards is trying to say. His argument is not with the use of force per se but with the use of economic force. As an adherent to the nonsensical creed of the free market libertine, Richards advocates the legitimacy of using force of arms to restore property taken unjustly but not the force of law. It is legitimate to kill people and to drop bombs in order to restore property to its rightful owners but it is not legitimate to enact laws to do so.
Belloc advocates legal intervention to restore justice in the economy, such as, for instance, proactive measures to assist small businesses to gain and retain a place in the marketplace in the face of efforts by large corporations to exclude them from it. Richards makes the all too common and naive mistake of equating Belloc’s political philosophy with that of socialism and then, having done so, states, quite correctly, that Tolkien was not a socialist. The fact is that Belloc opposed the way in which both socialism and globalist capitalism concentrate property into the hands of a privileged few, i.e. politicians and plutocrats. The answer to this injustice was to promote small businesses and to use the power of politics to do so. Such political intervention is not liked by free market libertarians who seem to believe that it’s better to have the world run by global corporations who have free rein (and reign) to use and abuse their economies of scale to monopolize control of the market.
Richards’ reasoning is simple and simplistic. He begins by demonstrating that Tolkien disapproves of socialism, the “gatherers and sharers … going around counting and measuring and taking off to storage,” supposedly “for fair distribution.” He then suggests that Belloc’s advocacy of distributism is itself socialist, even though Belloc always vehemently attacked socialism. The problem seems to be that Richards does not make the essential and crucial distinction between socialist “redistribution of wealth” and the restoration of widely distributed private property which the distributists advocate. Whereas socialists believe that private property is bad and that it should be controlled by the state, distributists believe that private property is good and that it should therefore be restored to as many people as possible as a defence against the power of the state. It is simply incorrect to equate or conflate these diametrically opposed philosophies.
It is also curious that Richards is keen to quote Tolkien’s opposition to socialism but neglects to mention his graphic depiction, a few pages later, of the ravages inflicted by the laissez faire capitalism of the industrial revolution:
It was one of the saddest hours in their lives. The great chimney rose up before them; and as they drew near the old village across the Water, through rows of new mean houses along each side of the road, they saw the new mill in all its frowning and dirty ugliness: a great brick building straddling the stream, which it fouled with a streaming and stinking outflow. All along the Bywater Road every tree had been felled.
As they crossed the bridge and looked up the Hill they gasped. Even Sam’s vision in the Mirror had not prepared him for what they saw. The Old Grange on the west side had been knocked down, and its place taken by rows of tarred sheds. All the chestnuts were gone. The banks and hedgerows were broken. Great wagons were standing in disorder in a field beaten bare of grass. Bagshot Row was a yawning sand and gravel quarry. Bag End up beyond could not be seen for a clutter of large huts.
As a boy, Tolkien had lived in the “rows of new mean houses along each side of the road”, i.e. the slums, of industrialized Birmingham, which, as the second largest city in England...
And as for the necessity of the so-called “force” of economic intervention to restore productive property to those who have been dispossessed by the onslaught of laissez faire, Tolkien would have agreed with Chesterton. “The foundation of the true doctrine of progress is that all things tend to get worse,” wrote Chesterton. “Man must perpetually interfere to resist a natural degeneration; if man does not reform a thing Nature will deform it. He must always be altering the thing even in order to keep it the same.” Chesterton used the example of a gatepost to illustrate this point, stating that we cannot preserve a gatepost by leaving it alone. If we leave it alone we will be leaving it to rot. If we wish to preserve the gatepost we have to be continually painting it. The sort of intervention that Belloc was advocating was of this sort. To conserve culture or property we must actively oppose those forces that seek to undermine it; to restore culture or property, once it is lost, we must be actively engaged in defeating those forces that have dispossessed us of it. Doing nothing, leaving things be, “laissez faire”, is not an option for the true conservative or distributist because it ensures the destruction of all that is worthy of conservation and restoration. It is in this context that we must understand Belloc’s advocacy of the use of force “as the handmaid of Justice,” It is also in this context that we must understand the hobbits’ use of force in achieving the restoration of property in the Shire.
It is true, as Dr. Richards maintains, that Tolkien never seems to have called his own political philosophy by the admittedly ugly name of “distributism”. It is equally true, however, that Shire economics and distributist economics are essentially synonymous. When all is said and done, economic sanity by any other name still smells as sweet!


quinta-feira, 6 de novembro de 2014

Análise de Dois Livros sobre Catolicismo e Economia


Eu já comentei o livro de Zieba aqui,e já mencionei Samuel Gregg também, quando falei da guerra contra a pobreza nos Estados Unidos.

Hoje, o blog do filósofo Edward Feser me indicou a análise de dois livros destes autores feita por Michael Uhlmann. Como sou um grande fã de Feser, qualquer recomendação dele, eu leio.

A análise de Uhlman foi feita para The Claremont Institute. E realmente é um texto sensacional, vale muito a pena a leitura. Ele conta como surgiu a ideia (equivocada) que a Bíblia apoia o "welfare state" e discute o tratamento da economia dentro da Doutrina da Igreja.


Thou Shalt Not Steal

By: Michael M. Uhlmann



Posted: August 12, 2014
This article appeared in: Vol. XIV, Number 3, Summer 2014
Make Text Size    (-) Smaller    (+) Larger

A review of Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate, by Maciej Zięba and
Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing, by Samuel Gregg

The social teaching of the Catholic Church is a sizeable cloak of many colors. Its lineage is ancient and sacred, arising as it does from Biblical instruction and most emphatically from Jesus’ own words and example. These scriptural passages have been elucidated over many centuries by Fathers and Doctors of the Church and, since the late 19th century, by encyclicals or other formal papal statements.
Inasmuch as the Church has been functioning (as Thomas Babington Macaulay famously put it) since cameleopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheater, the body of putatively authoritative social teaching is, as one might imagine, not merely copious but complex. One must say putatively because not everything passing under the label of Catholic Social Teaching (or Doctrine: the terms are commonly interchanged) is necessarily binding on the devout conscience. The problem is one of generality. A Christian is morally obliged to practice the virtue of charity, for example, but how precisely this should be done would seem to depend more on prudential deliberation about particular circumstance than doctrinal formulas as such. One must not assign dogmatic finality to matters that inescapably entail questions of judgment. The problem is compounded when one moves from private behavior to standards appropriate to public life. What does the moral law of charity say about the duties of citizens or the character of a rightly constituted political order? Does it require, for example, that the modern welfare state is morally obligatory, or that Catholics have to support it?

* * *

Many clerics seem to think so. In the United States, this view was vigorously advanced in the 1920s and 1930s through the work of Monsignor John Ryan, or “Monsignor New Deal” as he came to be known, an influential writer and advisor to Catholic bishops who argued, inter alia, that minimum wage laws, government-funded social security, and collective bargaining rules favorable to unions were more or less authorized, if not mandated, by Church teaching. This disposition—which is, to say no more, highly debatable—continues to animate many American churchmen, some of whom tend to correlate Church doctrine with the Democratic Party’s economic agenda.

In 2012, for example, two committee chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a highly publicized letter to Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, criticizing his proposed budget plan for 2013. The letter argued that Ryan, a devout Catholic, was out of step with his church’s teaching. Ryan fought back. Among other things, he cried foul to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, then president of the USCCB, who in turn wrote a public letter to Ryan that for all practical purposes countermanded the chastisement previously uttered by his episcopal colleagues.

The modern antecedents of this contretemps will be found in the clerical debates that occurred in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), when an influential group of liberal American bishops sought to mold a church more to their liking. One of their major initiatives took the form of the so-called “seamless garment” argument, a term coined in the 1980s by Cardinal Joseph Bernadin of Chicago. Catholic social policy, it was said, required a consistent commitment to a full range of “life” issues, not only on subjects like abortion and euthanasia, but no less on capital punishment, military strategy, and social programs. Whatever might be said about the argument’s theological merits, or about the intention of its advocates, its principal practical effect was to give liberal Catholic politicians a free ride on the abortion question—which explains why prominent figures like Joe Biden, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and almost anyone named Kennedy or Cuomo have felt free to defy their church on abortion while calling themselves faithful Catholics. Their idea seems to be that it’s morally okay to support abortion, provided you also support Obamacare and increased appropriations for food stamps and unemployment compensation.

* * *

The dust-up with Congressman Ryan suggests that the seamless-garment faction is still alive and well among the bishops. Even so, the public policy enthusiasms that animated the episcopacy during the 1970s and ’80s seem to have diminished. The explanation, undoubtedly, lies in the long and extraordinary papacy of John Paul II, which, among other things, radically redefined the terms of debate on a host of theological and philosophical questions, including the Church’s social teaching. His intellectual legacy on this latter front is the chief focus of two recent books, Maciej Zięba’s Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate and Samuel Gregg’s Tea Party CatholicThe Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing.

Both titles are somewhat playful. The author of Papal Economics, a trained physicist and Dominican priest who worked closely with John Paul, is fully aware that there is no such thing as “papal economics” in the strict sense, any more than there is papal psychology, political science, or sociology. Modern popes, however, have had rather a lot to say about the principles that ought to guide the study of such subjects; and in John Paul’s case, we were shown that a proper Christian anthropology can work side-by-side with free markets to enhance the dignity of the human person. Samuel Gregg, who shares Fr. Zięba’s enthusiasm for John Paul’s understanding, chose a deliberately provocative title for his book; the content, however, is far removed from what you might expect from a Tea Party rally pamphlet. Gregg, who earned his doctorate in philosophy at Oxford under the redoubtable John Finnis and now directs research at the Acton Institute, is a prolific author who knows how to engage a thoughtful audience with substantive argument.

* * *

In each case, the subtitle tells all. Fr. Zięba’s book is a straightforward scholarly account of how papal thought on political economy has developed since 1891. In that year, Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum (Of Revolutionary Change), the first comprehensive Catholic appraisal of the Industrial Revolution’s economic and political consequences. Leo severely criticized the harsh conditions to which workers and their families were frequently subjected, called for a living wage and greater workplace safety, and castigated the selfishness of greedy entrepreneurs. He was equally harsh when addressing the false god of Marxist materialism and socialism’s utopian nostrums. Along the way he had kind things to say about the importance of the right to private property, which he described as “sacred and inviolable.” Rerum Novarum was, all things considered, an intellectual tour de force that would set the stage for almost all subsequent debate on economic matters within Catholic circles.

Insofar as Leo was equally pointed in criticizing the wretched excesses of both capitalism and socialism, some writers have argued that the pope was pointing toward a “third way,” in effect laying the spiritual and intellectual foundation for the welfare state. That view was certainly fashionable for a time (consider the aforementioned Msgr. Ryan), and remains strong among many Catholic bishops and intellectuals who style themselves as progressive thinkers. Fr. Zięba argues that third-way thinkers are too absorbed with the mechanical details of particular social programs (about which thoughtful Catholics can disagree). What they should focus on instead is what he sees as the grand theme of modern papal teaching on social questions, namely, how best to secure the conditions of human dignity and freedom against the dehumanizing tendency of modern political regimes. That project takes us well beyond a narrow concern with the minutiae of economic redistribution schemes and points toward a broader understanding of polity and economy. The more or less definitive articulation of this broader perspective will be found in John Paul’s encyclical, Centesimus Annus (Hundreth Year; written on the anniversary of Rerum Novarum) which, Zięba argues, is the definitive statement of Catholic social teaching in our time.

Samuel Gregg would agree, though he focuses less on the development of papal teaching as such than on the ways in which the American regime, rightly understood, is compatible with Catholic social teaching. His second goal is to show that the welfare state endorsed by many Catholic thinkers in fact deprives citizens of the dignity and freedom essential to human flourishing. His book begins with an instructive discussion of the life and thought of Charles Carroll of Maryland, the sole Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence, whose opinions on politics and economics owe more to theologians Thomas Aquinas and Francisco de Vitoria than to John Locke. Gregg uses that Carrolline thread to argue, persuasively, that one need not believe men are motivated by narrow self-interest alone in order to support free markets and limited government. Markets have their vices, to be sure, but the modern social service state, Gregg shows, is as indifferent to actual individual and social growth as the most callous exponent of laissez faire economics. Moreover, its programs often create perverse incentives. Government expansion of old-age retirement systems, for example, tends to correlate with lower marriage and birth rates and more divorce. The wisest Catholic social teaching, he concludes, has always been wary of Caesar’s grasp and should remain so when dealing with the social-assistance state’s blandishments.

* * *

In contrast to many commentators on Catholic social thought, Zięba and Gregg actually understand economics. This is a welcome relief from the theological sentimentalism that dominates so much clerical and professorial rhetoric on social policy. It is all well and good to talk about the right to a “living wage” or to “health care.” But most who talk that way haven’t a clue about what such concepts entail in practice, much less how to bring them about. They seem to assume that capitalist economies somehow magically produce a large supply of goods just waiting to be redistributed, in the name of Christian charity, to the less fortunate. Zięba and Gregg note that, among 20th-century popes, John Paul was the first to exhibit a sophisticated understanding of, and support for, the virtues of entrepreneurialism. If you want something to redistribute, someone has to produce it; it doesn’t fall as an accidentally beneficial rain from heaven.

Zięba and Gregg also understand, as did John Paul, the dark side of the welfare state, and how many social-service programs advanced to help the less fortunate often rob them of human dignity or produce results as bad as, if not worse than, those they seek to remediate. Once again, the authors’ understanding of economics and economic incentives sheds much-needed light on matters that, when they are discussed in Catholic circles, seldom rise above the invocation of feel-good pieties.

Given the specifically American focus of his book, Gregg is particularly good when noting that the machinery of the administrative-welfare state, quite apart from its inefficiencies, poses a threat that ought to worry defenders of freedom. To cite but one example: if the government is going to guarantee health care, the government gets to define what health care is; and when the government decides that insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortions are essential to “women’s health,” no one should be surprised.

* * *

Tea Party Catholic is also a useful addition to a growing literature about the nature of the American regime and its compatibility with Catholic teaching. Some critics (for example, Patrick Deneen at Notre Dame) believe the United States is fatally flawed because its founding principles are irreducibly and irredeemably Lockean in their understanding of human nature and the ends of politics. That being the case, the argument goes, there is precious little room for contravening Catholic thought, and efforts to soften the materialist suppositions of this profoundly Lockean enterprise will come to nought.
Other prominent Catholic thinkers disagree, philosophically and politically, with this pessimistic assessment, chief among them the late Richard John Neuhaus, George Weigel, and Michael Novak, to name only three. They are fully aware of the epistemological and moral flaws of John Locke, while arguing (a) that there is more than one way to read Locke and (b) that, in any event, America isn’t simply Lockean. Its founding partook as well of other, richer streams of thought rooted in Christian premises. The founders, as the saying goes, built better than they knew. Rightly understood, the American regime has virtues that enable it to rise above Lockean materialism’s baser tendencies. Samuel Gregg clearly belongs to this latter school, and his book may be considered an opening brief in what promises to be a long oral argument about the future of the American regime—an argument that, as Gregg says, needs the insights that Catholic social teaching can uniquely provide.

Meanwhile, the narrower debate about the implications of Catholic social doctrine for social policy proceeds apace. When Pope Francis issued his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) last year, liberals were heartened because some of Francis’s language seemed to echo their own disdain for free markets. He spoke, for example, of the vices of trickle-down economics, adding that we could not trust “in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market.” How deeply invested the pope is in this sort of rhetoric and critique is hard to say. Michael Novak, the gifted thinker whose ideas greatly influenced John Paul, has suggested that Francis’s criticism is directed at the crony capitalism he experienced in Argentina and should not be read as an objection to free markets generally. Let us hope he is correct. But if one wanted to slip a couple of books into the pope’s social policy reading list, one could hardly improve on Papal Economics and Tea Party Catholic.


quarta-feira, 5 de novembro de 2014

25 Anos da Queda do Muro de Berlim - 25 Histórias.


Eu já tive a graça de visitar Berlim e lá estudei um pouco sobre a história do muro e dos pontos relativos à Segunda Guerra. Comprei um "pedaço do muro" de souvenir que a minha esposa diz que não é do muro mesmo, mas eu não me importo se é verdadeiro ou não, foi comprado em Berlim.

Agora, nos 25 anos da guera do muro de Berlim, há uma campanha de marketing de Berlim que conta 25 histórias de empreendedores sobre o impacto da queda do muro.

Aqui vão as histórias de uma judia e de um artista:

Sara Nachama first came to West Berlin in 1978 and worked as a freelance film editor for the radio and TV broadcasters known as SFB and ZDF. The daughter of a diplomat, Nachama had grown up in Israel and lived in many other far eastern countries before taking a degree in history at Hebrew University Jerusalem. In Berlin, she worked and cared for her own family and two sons. She was also involved in Berlin's Jewish community and worked as a volunteer for the Jüdische Kulturtage (Jewish Cultural Days).

On the evening of November 9, 1989, Nachama was attending a memorial event organized by the Jewish Community and was taken completely by surprise by the events in the eastern part of the city. In the years following the fall of the Wall, life in the Jewish community in Berlin changed dramatically. Many Jews, especially those from the former Soviet Union, came to Berlin and were integrated into the community.

In 2000, while on a vacation in the USA, Nachama met Dr. Bernhard Lander, the founder of Touro College New York, who asked her about Jewish life in Berlin. She invited him to the capital to get a look for himself. After his visit, Lander entrusted Nachama with the task of establishing a Berlin branch of the college. In the Winter Semester 2003, after much work, Touro College Berlin was opened as an American-Jewish private university in Charlottenburg – with Nachama as rector and vice president.

English is the language of instruction at the Touro campus "am Rupenhorn" in the western part of Berlin. The college focuses on business administration and is accredited in Germany and the USA, thus offering both German and American degrees. For Nachama, Berlin has long since become her new home and, in her opinion, is now entirely on par with New York and London: "Jewish life in Berlin has developed in a highly dynamic and diverse way. Many Jewish Americans and young Israelis come to Berlin to work and live." In other words, just like Nachama herself, Touro College – which has held its graduation ceremonies at Berlin's "Rotes Rathaus" City Hall in the former East many times – has long since arrived in Berlin.


Dissidence in a time capsule – that's one way to describe the focus of Gunar Barthel's work. His gallery, BARTHEL+TETZNER, which he operates together with Tobias Tetzner in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg, specializes in non-conformist art from the GDR. In Barthel's biography, East and West stand in an exciting relationship to one another: as an independent gallery operator in the city of Karl-Marx-Stadt (today's Chemnitz), he was expatriated from the GDR on October 3, 1987.

After that point, Barthel had two years to get to know the West German art world and devise a new gallery program before his old life caught up to him: three weeks before the Wall came down on November 9, 1989, Barthel had just opened the first exhibition in his new West-Berlin gallery. And it was in that space on Fasanenstraße that he first heard about the fall of the Wall. He made his way immediately to the border crossing at Friedrichstraße, where he followed the action in disbelief. He soon returned to his gallery and celebrated with a group of complete strangers until the early hours of the morning.

The fall of the Berlin Wall had far-reaching consequences for his gallery: Barthel was able to reconnect with his former East German artist friends and he now specializes in the work of GDR artists:


As a gallery owner, the tasks that Barthel faced after the Wall came down were enormous. He created catalogues and focused his work on editions, publications, national exhibitions and international art tradeshows. He also published articles on art in the GDR and advised museums and institutions in Germany and abroad. In this way, Barthel was able to establish a reputation as an internationally sought-after expert and gallery owner specializing in non-conformist GDR art. Berlin will always be the focus of his work: "For me, Berlin is the city of art and artists. You can still feel that unique friction energy between East and West."


(Agradeço a indicação ao site da Agência Estado)

terça-feira, 4 de novembro de 2014

"O Mundo Econômico de Mentira". Falso Crescimento, Falsa Inflação, Falso Emprego


Texto do investidor americano Paul Singer, vale à pena ler. Disponibilzado pelo site Zero Hedge. Em poucas palavras, ele não confia nos dados de crescimento, emprego e inflação divulgados pelas principais economias e reclama que os governos de hoje são muito incompetentes e fracos para decidir por um modelo econômico sólido.

Excerpted from Elliott Management's Paul Singer letter to investors,
FAKING IT
Nobody knows when reality will overtake the rhetoric, lies, phony statistics, wishful thinking, fake prices and tiresome poseurs pretending to be world leaders. The situation is universal, a consequence of incompetent leaders and careless (or ignorant) citizenry. Global problems are continuing to mount, along with the risk that the consequences of years of bad policies and inept leadership compound (as sometimes happens) in a short window of time. Let us start by unpacking some current examples of fakery, and then try to explore the consequences.
Monetary policy.
Either out of ideology or incompetence, all major developed governments have given up (did they ever really try?) attempting to use solid, fundamental policies to create sustainable, strong growth in output, incomes, innovation, entrepreneurship and good jobs. The policies that are needed (in the areas of tax, regulatory, labor, education and training, energy, rule of law, and trade) are not unknown, nor are they too complicated for even the most simple-minded politician to understand. But in most developed countries, there is and has been complete policy paralysis on the growth-generation side, as elected officials have delegated the entirety of the task to central bankers.
For their part, the central bankers are proud and delighted to be providing the primary support for the global economy. Their training for this role took place in the decades before the 2008 financial crisis, when central bankers (led by “The Maestro,” Alan Greenspan) “deftly” headed off crisis after crisis. These policy responses “worked,” we were told, and they promised a new era of fine-tuning, moderation in markets and complete control of the economy by central bankers. The words in quotes are meant to be ironic, of course, because in fact, the Federal Reserve Board’s moves disguised hidden – but serious and real – future costs, which came due in 2008. The ensuing crisis introduced the term “moral hazard” (not meant to be ironic) into the mainstream, meaning that risks were taken by financial institutions and others seeking private reward, while the costs of the risks were borne primarily by the taxpayers. Central bank manipulation of prices and risk taking has become the norm over the last six years, because it is so hard for investors to see the downside. QE and ZIRP have been “free,” as far as most people are concerned, in terms of stability, asset price and economic growth, and economic recovery. “Free” in this context means devoid of future countervailing negative consequences. Unfortunately, this particular magic bullet is illusory – the negative consequences are in the early stages of revealing themselves.
Among the worst consequences of the delegation of responsibility from political leaders to central bankers has been the increasing arrogance of the latter group and their inability to understand the rapidly evolving nature of the world’s major financial institutions. Prior to the crisis, central bankers were unable to understand the risks that were building up in the global financial system and the economy. They did not see the 2008 collapse coming, nor did they perceive how fragile the system had become, or that the major financial institutions had become the largest and most leveraged hedge funds on earth.
This lapse was a catastrophic error, not just of execution but also of theory and structure. During the 2008 crisis, the central bankers (rightly) applied standard (more or less) responses to financial collapse (flooding the system with liquidity and reducing interest rates), which of course truncated the crisis and stabilized the system. But their inability to understand the financial system, or to take responsibility for their massive failures in causing/allowing the crisis to occur, has resulted in a seriously deficient economic recovery phase. Central bankers do not understand that it was their tinkering, manipulation, bailouts and false confidence that encouraged and enabled the insanity that led to the fragility and collapse. Partially as a result of that misunderstanding, the developed world has doubled down on the same policies, feeding the central bankers’ supreme self-confidence. Political leaders have been content to stand aside and watch the central bankers do their seemingly magical and magnificent work.
The believers in the wisdom of this central-banker-centric economic world have been crowing and gloating that those (like us) who have raised concerns about the risks posed by the post-crisis, monetary-dominated policy mix (inflation, distortions, growing inequality, lower growth) are just “wrong” and should apologize for a “massive error.” This, shall we say, “Krugmanization” of a substantial portion of the economics profession and punditocracy is in its triumphalist phase, and whether its smug non-stop “victory lap” ultimately represents an embarrassing high-water mark is for subsequent events to reveal.
However, let us look at the policies that have been implemented post-crisis (in the absence of the kind of solid pro-growth policies that we and others have been advocating) and compare them to the policies that were in place during the run-up to the 2008 crisis.
Pre-crisis, the Fed funds rate was 1% for 2-1/2 years. There was no asset buying by the central bank (QE), but the persistently low Fed funds rate fueled bubbles in leverage, real estate and structured products. The balance sheets and derivatives books of financial institutions went from crazy to colossally insane.

Following the crisis, the Fed funds rate has been effectively zero for six years, and QE has put several trillion dollars of government and mortgage debt on the books of the world’s major central banks. Indeed, a substantial portion of government spending in the past six years has been “financed” by QE. If the gibberish that passes for explanations of why this is not just money printing makes sense to you, then please give us a call so we can be educated. The explanation makes no sense to us.
ZIRP has allowed insolvent corporations to issue debt at almost no premium to government bond rates. Companies that should be shuttered or taken over and chopped up are instead able to pursue projects that should never have seen the light of day, and to create fake demand that essentially borrows growth (and jobs) from the future.
A good deal of the economic and jobs growth post-crisis is false growth, with little chance of being sustainable and self-reinforcing. It is based on fake money conjured by the Fed to buy assets at fake prices. What happens when interest rates are normalized and QE stops (and reverses) globally is a question that nobody wants to contemplate. The financial system is fragile, still ultra-leveraged and reliant upon a continuation of superlow interest rates. Thus, the appearance of stability and low volatility is also illusory.
Government economic data.
Some of the most important government data is unreliable, starting with inflation. Reported real GDP growth has been in the 2% annualized range for the last few years. The 4% annualized real growth rate reported for the second quarter of 2014 only reversed the terrible first quarter numbers, so year-over-year growth was still only in the 2% range for the twelve months ended June 30, 2014. Only if third and fourth quarter real GDP growth reaches 3% or higher, and only if that rate persists next year, will it be fair to say that the U.S. economy has finally recovered from the crisis (six tough years later).
But regardless of the purported results for the rest of 2014 and into 2015, all of the reported growth numbers are too high, because the official inflation number is too low. Over a long period of time, these figures have become politicized, always in the direction of under-reporting inflation. Constant repetition has resulted in most policymakers and economists now just accepting the adjustments and tricks that have become part of the reporting culture. From the notion that there is “core” and “non-core” inflation; to ignoring house prices and using “rental equivalence”; to “hedonic adjustments” according to which, if your computer is “better” than last year’s, then you should subtract an amount from the actual price every year to reflect that improvement, even though it is subjective and not really quantifiable; to a handful of other nonsensical adjustments, inflation is understated. Inflation is also distorted by the increasing gap between the spending basket of the well-off and that of the middle class (check out London, Manhattan, Aspen and East Hampton real estate prices, as well as high-end art prices, to see what the leading edge of hyperinflation could look like).
Said differently, inflation is the degradation of the value of money. Money has no meaning beyond the value of the real things for which it can be exchanged. The inventions and tools of modern finance have made things look really complicated, but stripping inflation to its essence is critical to understanding what is real and what is false. The inflation that has infected asset prices is not to be ignored just because the middleclass spending bucket is not rising in price at the same rates as high-end real estate, stocks, bonds, art and other things that benefit from QE and ZIRP. Money is losing value in those areas. This is inflation, plain and simple. If and when the situation gets to be Argentina-like, with generalized increases across the entire spending spectrum, it will be clear to everyone. In the meantime, sadly, policymakers do not recognize the reality of the peculiar and sectoral inflation, in some cases massive and growing, that has been caused by money printing and bad policy.
Even apart from rising prices in high-end goods, all of this suggests that CPI inflation is being understated by some unknowable amount, which we estimate is between 1/2% and 1% per year. This is a big difference in a 2% or 2-1/2% per year reported real GDP growth environment. Middle class citizens who are paying more at the supermarket and for college tuition and for many other goods and services feel that inflation is higher than reported, but they lack access to reliable data. The well-off think that it is their exquisite good choices that enable them to sell their overpriced $10 million co-op apartment and buy a $20 million overpriced Hamptons beach home. Neither group is coming to grips with the insidious and tricky nature of modern inflation, and the government just uses its tone of complete confidence to ignore what citizens see with their own eyes.
Unemployment figures are also a source of faulty or misleading data. The headline currently reported unemployment rate of 5.9% is deeply misleading. A 35-year low in the workforce participation rate, a policy-driven transition from full-time to part-time jobs, and the transition from high-paying jobs to relatively low-paying service jobs, all combine to make the headline rate a poor measure of employment health. Support for our statement is provided by the data on real wages, which have been stagnant during the entire post-crisis period. These figures for trends in real wages avoid the distortions we have described above, and are consonant with the polling numbers which show that Americans believe their country is on the wrong track and that the future prospects for themselves and their children are poor.
Deleveraging.
The 16th Geneva Report on the World Economy (published in September of this year by the Centre for Economic Policy Research) says that the total burden of global non-financial debt, private and public, has risen from 60% of national income in 2001 to almost 200% after the crisis in 2009 and to 215% in 2013. Contrary to widely held beliefs, the world’s leading governments and financial institutions have not yet begun to de-lever, and the global debt-to-GDP ratio is still growing to record highs, even before taking into account entitlement programs.
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Nobody can predict how long governments can get away with fake growth, fake money, fake financial stability, fake jobs, fake inflation numbers and fake income growth. Our feeling is that confidence, especially when it is unjustified, is quite a thin veneer. When confidence is lost, that loss can be severe, sudden and simultaneous across a number of markets and sectors.