O colapso é inevitável, por Chris Kniel

Retirado do Financial Times:

Sir, In his article “Lessons of history on public debt” (October 10), Martin Wolf asks: “What happens if a large high-income economy, burdened with high levels of debt and an overvalued, fixed exchange rate, attempts to lower the debt and regain competitiveness?”

Mr Wolf focuses the question on Italy and Spain but the key portion of the question (too much unserviceable debt) applies to much of the western world including the US and the UK.

Once the math is taken into account, the elegant, unpleasant, most assuredly politically incorrect, understandable answer, born out by history, and put forward by Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian school economist and classical liberal, in Human Action: A Treatise on Economics is simply this:

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final or total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”

I suggest that much of today’s financial commentary regarding western nation debt resolution is analogous to discussions about who would be best to replace Edward Smith, English naval reserve officer and captain of the RMS Titanic – after it collided with the iceberg.

Given the stated policy of QE3 (apparently to infinity), according to von Mises, what lies ahead should be clear to most everyone.

Chris Kniel, Orinda, CA, US

Mises on Keynes

Leitura recomendada: Stones into Bread: The Keynesian Miracle

Inclui passagens como:

Although Keynes looked upon “the strange, unduly neglected prophet Silvio Gesell” as a forerunner, his own teachings differ considerably from those of Gesell. What Keynes borrowed from Gesell as well as from the host of other pro-inflation propagandists was not the content of their doctrine, but their practical conclusions and the tactics they applied to undermine their opponents’ prestige. These stratagems are:

  1. All adversaries, that is, all those who do not consider credit expansion as the panacea, are lumped together and called orthodox. It is implied that there are no differences between them.
  2. It is assumed that the evolution of economic science culminated in Alfred Marshall and ended with him. The findings of modern subjective economics are disregarded.
  3. All that economists from David Hume on down to our time have done to clarify the results of changes in the quantity of money and money-substitutes is simply ignored. Keynes never embarked upon the hopeless task of refuting these teachings by ratiocination.

In all these respects the contributors to the symposium adopt their master’s technique. Their critique aims at a body of doctrine created by their own illusions, which has no resemblance to the theories expounded by serious economists. They pass over in silence all that economists have said about the inevitable outcome of credit expansion. It seems as if they have never heard anything about the monetary theory of the trade cycle.

For a correct appraisal of the success which Keynes’ General Theory found in academic circles, one must consider the conditions prevailing in university economics during the period between the two world wars.

Among the men who occupied chairs of economics in the last few decades, there have been only a few genuine economists, i.e., men fully conversant with the theories developed by modern subjective economics. The ideas of the old classical economists, as well as those of the modern economists, were caricatured in the textbooks and in the classrooms; they were called such names as old-fashioned, orthodox, reactionary, bourgeois or Wall Street economics. The teachers prided themselves on having refuted for all time the abstract doctrines of Manchesterism and laissez-faire.

The antagonism between the two schools of thought had its practical focus in the treatment of the labor union problem. Those economists disparaged as orthodox taught that a permanent rise in wage rates for all people eager to earn wages is possible only to the extent that the per capita quota of capital invested and the productivity of labor increases. If—whether by government decree or by labor union pressure—minimum wage rates are fixed at a higher level than that at which the unhampered market would have fixed them, unemployment results as a permanent mass phenomenon.

Almost all professors of the fashionable universities sharply attacked this theory. As these self-styled “unorthodox” doctrinaires interpreted the economic history of the last two hundred years, the unprecedented rise in real wage rates and standards of living was caused by labor unionism and government pro-labor legislation. Labor unionism was, in their opinion, highly beneficial to the true interests of all wage-earners and of the whole nation. Only dishonest apologists of the manifestly unfair interests of callous exploiters could find fault with the violent acts of the unions, they maintained. The foremost concern of popular government, they said, should be to encourage the unions as much as possible and to give them all the assistance they needed to combat the intrigues of the employers and to fix wage rates higher and higher.

But as soon as the governments and legislatures had vested the unions with all the powers they needed to enforce their minimum wage rates, the consequences appeared which the “orthodox” economists had predicted; unemployment of a considerable part of the potential labor force was prolonged year after year.

The “unorthodox” doctrinaires were perplexed. The only argument they had advanced against the “orthodox” theory was the appeal to their own fallacious interpretation of experience. But now events developed precisely as the “abstract school” had predicted. There was confusion among the “unorthodox.”

It was at this moment that Keynes published his General Theory. What a comfort for the embarrassed “progressives”! Here, at last, they had something to oppose to the “orthodox” view. The cause of unemployment was not the inappropriate labor policies, but the shortcomings of the monetary and credit system. No need to worry any longer about the insufficiency of savings and capital accumulation and about deficits in the public household. On the contrary. The only method to do away with unemployment was to increase “effective demand” through public spending financed by credit expansion and inflation.

The policies which the General Theory recommended were precisely those which the “monetary cranks” had advanced long before and which most governments had espoused in the depression of 1929 and the following years. Some people believe that Keynes’ earlier writings played an important part in the process which converted the world’s most powerful governments to the doctrines of reckless spending, credit expansion and inflation. We may leave this minor issue undecided. At any rate it cannot be denied that the governments and peoples did not wait for the General Theory to embark upon these “Keynesian”—or more correctly, Gesellian, policies.

Em “Planning for Freedom“, p. 50

3 Tipos de Liberais Económicos

Existem basicamente (claro, pode-se esmiuçar muito mais) 3 tipos:

1. Anarco-capitalistas ou simplesmente Anarquistas – Seguindo a tradição de Rothbard, defendem Estado 0. Mas Zero mesmo. Segundo estes, o Estado é Imoral (retira o que o Povo por intenção não lhe daria), ineficiente (vá, esta não tenho de justificar…) e é definido por ser “o Agente com monopólio do uso da força numa dada geografia”.

Defendem que se o Estado não é capaz de lidar com os Correios, também não lhes devemos confiar o “botão vermelho” (do arsenal nuclear). Defendem assim uma defesa à Suiça, tribunais arbitrais, empresas de segurança privada e a liberdade absoluta de contrato. Deduzem todas as suas regras baseando-se no primado dos 3 direitos essenciais: à Propriedade (direito a manter os frutos do trabalho passado), à Liberdade (liberdade de fazerem o que quererem – sendo responsáveis pelas consequências) e à Vida (direito ao futuro). Podem ver a sua filosofia explícita neste vídeo de 8 minutos.

2. Minarquistas ou Defensores do Estado Mínimo – Seguindo a tradição de Mises, defendem o Estado Mínimo que garanta, na tradição de Adam Smith, “Paz, Impostos Baixos, e uma Tolerável Administração da Justiça”. O Estado existe apenas para permitir às forças do mercado operarem e, como árbitro, nunca se deverá tornar jogador em qualquer sector: seja ele educação, saúde, telecomunicações, redes básicas (utilities), ou qualquer outro.

3. Monetaristas ou pertencentes à Escola de Chicago – Segundo a tradição de Friedman, defendem um estado mínimo em termos fiscais, mas defendem depois todo o tipo de Intervenções no Mercado Monetário, onde o Estado ou uma entidade “independente” deste possa regular a moeda.

Eu chamaria os primeiros de Ultra-Liberias, os segundos de Liberais Clássicos e os terceiros de Liberais Soft, mas isso talvez seja já o meu Misesianismo a falar.

A 1ª e a 2ª são mais coerentes e mais académicas, enquanto a 2ª e a 3ª a mais fáceis de defender politicamente (Anarquismo não cai bem entre políticos, havemos de convir…).

O 1º e o 2º são defendidos pelo Instituto Ludwig von Mises, enquanto o 3º é defendido pelo Instituto Cato.

Podem consultar material para estudo, ver vídeos e consultar páginas dos Institutos nesta página de Links.