quarta-feira, 30 de abril de 2008

Dominick Salvatore

A noticia não é recente, mas é interessante.

Dominick Salvatore has a way of getting people to listen to him. This past summer, even the Pope was willing to lend him an ear.

Salvatore is a Distinguished Professor of Economics, director of Fordham’s Graduate Program in Economics and quite possibly the University’s most prolific author. He recently returned from a sabbatical that took him to the Vatican, where he gave a presentation on “Globalization, Growth, Poverty and World Governance” and received a personal audience the following day with Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pontiff was eager to hear his ideas about globalization, one of the least understood and most contentious subjects affecting the world.

“What they were primarily interested in is really the fault of governance,” Salvatore said. “The economy of the world is globalizing, but there is no political system to make it work better. The poor nations that have globalized have grown rapidly and faster than the rich nations, thus reducing differences. It is the poor countries that did not globalize that did not grow, and became relatively poorer.”

It’s an idea that Salvatore promoted at lectures and seminars during a summer-long swing that took him through Austria, Italy, Germany, Singapore and Vancouver, Canada. His invitation to the Vatican came after he impressed Vatican officials at the United Nations in November 2006 with a lecture titled “Information Technology and Growth in LDCs.” That talk addressed the widening technological chasm that has emerged between advanced and developing countries.

“They are poor, and they’re technologically so backward that we need to do something to help them catch up,” he said.

Joining him at his May 18 audience with the Pope were three scholars with similar expertise, including a former trade minister from Germany who has studied the effects of how tariffs hold back developing countries and a Gregorian University professor who discussed how globalization has the power to destroy cultures.

Salvatore’s overriding message, which he has honed over his 35-year career at Fordham, was that institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund need to be strengthened so they can provide protection to poor nations the way that the Environmental Protection Agency keeps American companies from dumping waste in poor U.S. neighborhoods.

The Pope said the ideas are very interesting, and a little different from the teachings of the Catholic Church, which relies primarily on helping the poor. And the feeling among some of the Cardinals is, ‘Help them, but to help them help themselves is even better,’” Salvatore said. “Globalization is important because it increases productivity; it increases efficiency; we cannot run away from it; and it is not unethical or ethical. It only looks at efficiency.”

But Salvatore, who also edited the ninth edition of his leading textbook International Economics while on sabbatical, cautioned that real change needs to come from countries such as the United States.

The World Bank is controlled mostly by the rich countries and the IMF. So if the IMF demands certain things of developing countries, it’s because the countries that they represent are asking them to do this,” he said.

Fonte: Fordham University

terça-feira, 29 de abril de 2008

Católicos libertários

A relação entre capitalismo e doutrina social da igreja é, no mínimo, controversa e sujeita a leituras diferentes e, as vezes, opostas. Na America Latina, por ex, a turma da teoria da práxis(teologia da libertação) apresenta uma leitura fortemente influenciada pelo marxismo, em que o desaparecimento do capitalismo é a condição fundamental para superar os problemas sociais. Nos USA um grupo de intelectuais influentes, do que por lá é chamado de libertários, e próximos dos neo-conservadores, apresenta uma leitura recheada de elogios ao capitalismo e crítica de alguns documentos do magistério da Igreja sobre a questão social.

A revista Commonweal publica em seu último número um interessante artigo sobre a leitura deste último grupo. Para o autor do artigo, Angus Sibley, “We Catholics should not be shy about what distinguishes our récipe for the good society from that of libertarian theorists. We should not be afraid to insist that the health of communities and the demands of justice should take priority over the growth of markets”. Concordo com o autor e apenas acrescentaria que devemos seguir o mesmo procedimento em relação aos teóricos marxistas.

segunda-feira, 28 de abril de 2008

O novo ateísmo

A literatura ateísta , surpreendentemente, tornou-se, recentemente, um sucesso mundial de vendas, ocupando espaço privilegiado nas livrarias e nas páginas da grande mídia. A venerável publicação dos Jesuitas americanos, America, em sua última edição publicou cinco artigos sobre o tema. Escolhi um fragmento de um deles, The Madman and the Crowd," Michael J. Buckley, que me parece ser o mais interessante de todos.

“Care for the Subject Matter
The inadequacies of the new atheism lie not only in its failure to keep the integrity and depth of its question or to sustain an effective methodology with which the question of God could be credibly pursued. There is also an astonishing theological illiteracy that runs through all of these works, an illiteracy that invites comparison with the great atheistic thinkers of the 19th century, such as Ludwig Feuerbach, Arthur Schopenhauer or George Eliot. One representative will have to suffice. The most serious and paradigmatic of the great atheisms of the past century was that of Friedrich Nietzsche; probably his most celebrated advancement of the atheistic option was his parable of the madman in the marketplace, which I relay here with comment.
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the marketplace, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!” The people in the marketplace convulsed with laughter and screamed mocking questions after the madman: “Has he got lost?” asked one. “Did he lose his way like a child?” asks another. “Or is he hiding?”
Only the madman can answer this question: “I will tell you. We have killed Him—you and I. All of us are his murderers.” The full enormity of the deed and of their loss breaks in upon them. “But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns.... God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed Him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives.… Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?”
The people in the marketplace did not believe that God exists; they thought the search absurd. But for Nietzsche, the determining factor was that they had no understanding of what they had done and what they had lost. They took their disbelief for granted, held faith in contempt and had no sensible awareness of the new emptiness. The death of God existed among them, but it was an epistemological reality, not an ontological one; Hitchens misses this point completely. The death of God in Nietzsche means that Christian belief was no longer believable. Only the madman knew the unspeakable value of what had been destroyed.
It is here in the marketplace that the new atheism both resembles and differs from the old. The new atheists possess contempt for religious belief, but theirs is the contempt of the crowd in the marketplace, not the agony of the madman, who held what was destroyed in awe and reverence. The new atheism does not think the subject worth a decent argument. In the old atheism, only the madman knew what had taken place. The crowd, nameless and strident, had simply accepted the impossibility of belief: “The greatest recent event,” Nietzsche wrote, “that God is dead, that belief in the Christian god has become unbelievable—is already beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe.” As those shadows lengthened over what had once been Christian faith, atheism became a more commonplace conviction.
This became not the heroic disbelief of the prophetic voices of the 19th century, but rather the bourgeois indifference to transcendence and the superficially secured contempt of the crowd. Feuerbach, Marx, George Eliot, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Freud yielded place to Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Peter Atkins and Richard Dawkins. It seems painfully obvious that the second string is of lesser caliber than the first; indeed, they should not besport themselves on the same field. Harsh but warranted is the judgment of the Oxford mathematician and author John Lennox: “On matters of theology, their arguments are a disgrace: assertion without substance, demanding evidence, while offering none, staggeringly unscholarly.”
Lennox is not alone in discounting the attainments of the new atheism. The impoverished argument advanced by some recent atheist authors reveals, as perhaps nothing else, its weary and pervasive ignorance of what was regarded by their adversaries as “[w]hat was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned.” If one stays with the parable of Nietzsche, the frame of the marketplace can remain the same. The new atheism has simply given recent and celebrated names to the faces in the crowd. They have become the crowd, but the superficiality and self-assurance remain.”

Michael J. Buckley, S.J., the Augustine Cardinal Bea, S.J., Professor of Theology at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calif., é o autor de "At the Origins of Modern Atheism."

domingo, 27 de abril de 2008

O novo membro do clube das nações imperialistas

Paraiso Socialista que cativou , alguns, lideres africanos, e vários, intelectuais ocidentais nos anos 60, a China hoje parece mais interessada em desempenhar outro papel: de novo membro do clube das nações imperialistas. Esta é a conclusão, possível, a partir de recente reportagem da BBC que, curiosamente, tem sua sede e é mantida pelos súditos da nação que inaugurou o conceito moderno de Imperialismo, o Reino Unido.

"It's a scene that - with just a few changes - you might have found in the central African bush in the late 19th Century.
Ploughing through the long grass is a foreigner in a wide-brimmed sun-hat, scribbling away in a notebook.
Alongside, a deferential African bearing a long pole. The two are barely able to communicate with one another.
You're reminded, irresistibly, of images of Victorian era explorers such as David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, hacking their way across the continent.
But this foreigner comes from a country that suffered from colonial exploitation itself."

A reportagem completa esta disponível em :


sábado, 26 de abril de 2008

Déa Fenelon

Missa em memória
Dia: 26/04/2008 Horário: 15h30
Local: Capela da PUC/SP
Rua Monte Alegre, 940 Perdizes, SP/SP

Ato em Homenagem
Dia: 28/04/2008 Horário: 19h00
Local: TUCA ARENA – Teatro da Universidade Católica de São Paulo - PUC/SP
Rua Monte Alegre, 1.024 – Perdizes, SP / SP (entrada pela rampa de acesso)

sexta-feira, 25 de abril de 2008

Piadas sobre Economistas e Economia II

Economistas fazem sexo com bolas de cristal; Economistas fazem sexo com um competidor atomístico; Economistas fazem sexo na Caixa de Edgeworth; Economistas fazem sexo ciclicamente; Economistas fazem sexo na demanda
Um matemático, um economista teórico e um econometricista são requisitados para achar um gato preto, que não existe, num quarto escuro e fechado. O Matemático fica louco tentando achar o gato que não existe e vai parar no hospício. O Economista Teórico não consegue achar o gato preto, entretanto sai do quarto dizendo orgulhosamente que pode construir um modelo para descrever todos os movimentos do gato com grande acurácia O Econometricista passa uma hora dentro do quarto procurando o gato que não existe e depois grita, de dentro do quarto de que pegou o gato pelo pescoço.
Um economista indiano explicava aos seus alunos de pós-graduação a teoria da reencarnação."Se você é um bondoso economista", disse, "você irá renascer como um físico. Mas se você for um maldoso economista, então você irá renascer como um sociólogo." (P. Krugman, 1994)
Três matemáticos e três economistas foram viajar de trem. Os matemáticos estavam rindo dos economistas, que haviam comprado somente um bilhete e iriam tomar multa. Quando o cobrador veio, os economistas foram para o banheiro. O cobrador bateu na porta do banheiro e um deles estendeu o bilhete com a mão, sendo bem sucedidos. Noutro dia os matemáticos resolveram usar a mesma estratégia e compraram um só bilhete. Porém os economistas não compraram nenhum. Quando o cobrador estavam chegando os matemáticos foram para o banheiro. Quando ouviram as batidas na porta entregaram o bilhete ao condutor. O bilhete não retornou. Por que ? Os economistas pegaram e foram a outro banheiro.
Dois homens estavam andando de balão e se perderam. Decidiram baixar o balão e perguntar para algum transeunte. "Ei, você poderia nos dizer onde estamos ?" "Vocês estão em um balão", respondeu o transeunte. "A resposta é correta e absolutamente inútil. Este homem deve ser um economista", comentaram entre eles, no balão. "E você deve ser um empresário", respondeu o transeunte. "Exato. Como você sabe disto ?" "Você tem uma excelente visão de onde está e mesmo assim você não sabe onde está."
— Quantos economistas com MBA são necessários para trocar uma lâmpada ? — Somente um, se você me contratar. Na verdade eu posso trocar a lâmpada, eu mesmo. Eu tive uma extensa experiência em troca de lâmpadas em minhas funções anteriores. Também fui reconhecido como Especialista em Troca de Lâmpadas e já lecionei a disciplina Gerenciamento de Lâmpadas. Minha única fraqueza é que em meu tempo vago, sou um trocador de lâmpadas compulsivo.
Um dia um homem entrou na biblioteca, foi a seção de referência e pediu por livros de economia. Para a surpresa da bibliotecária nenhum dos livros de economia estavam na seção de referência. "Não há problema. Eu posso ir a outra biblioteca. Sou um homem muito ocupado e tirei este fim de semana para estudar economia" Curiosa com a figura, a bibliotecária não resistiu e perguntou ao sujeito: "Mas por que é tão urgente para o senhor estudar economia ?" "É que eu sou economista. Estou dando aulas nesta universidade já fazem dez anos. Como eu tenho uma importante reunião da segunda-feira, imagino que a economia tenha mudado nos últimos dez anos."
Uma mulher estava caminhando pela vizinhança quando um menino dirigiu-se a ela: "Senhora, você gostaria de ter estes cachorrinhos ? Eles são recém-nascidos, mas daqui a pouco já podem se mudar" "Oh, que bonitinhos! Que raça são eles ?" "São economistas." A mulher gostou dos cachorros e falou com seu marido. Uma semana depois o marido viu os cachorros. "Senhor, gostaria de um cachorrinho ?" "Minha mulher falou com você há uma semana atrás. Que raça são eles mesmo ?" "São analistas de decisão" "Imaginei que minha mulher tivesse dito que eram economistas." "Claro, é que eles abriram os olhos durante esta semana."

Dois guardas estavam perseguindo um bandido. Um deles então começou a calcular a estratégia mista ótima para a perseguição, enquanto outro protestou: "Você está bobeando! Ele está fugindo!", "Relax", respondeu o policial adepto a Teoria dos Jogos."Ele estará pensando no assunto também, não estará ?"
Um economista experiente e um economista não tão experiente estavam andando, quando avistaram uma merda na calçada. O economista experiente falou: "Se você comer esta merda eu te dou $ 20.000,00". O economista não experiente calculou o problema de otimização e concluiu que o ótimo seria comer a merda a fim de pegar o dinheiro. Os dois continuaram andando pela rua até que quase pisaram em outra merda. O economista não tão experiente disse: "Agora se vo-cê comer esta merda eu te dou $ 20.000,00." Após avaliar cuidadosamente, o economista experiente comeu a merda e pegou o dinheiro. Continuaram caminhando, enquanto o economista não tão experiente divagava: "Veja, nós dois temos a mesma quantidade de dinheiro que tínhamos antes, mas ambos comemos merda. Eu não nos vejo em uma posição ótima." O economista experiente disse. "Bem, é verdade, mas você está subestimando o fato de que nós dois estivemos envolvidos num comércio de $ 40.000,00!"

quinta-feira, 24 de abril de 2008

Epitah on a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.


quarta-feira, 23 de abril de 2008

Fernando Lugo

A teologia da libertação ganha mais um chance de colocar na prática suas idéias. Na primeira oportunidade, a vitoria dos sandinistas na Nicarágua, o resultado foi pífio , terminando em derrota eleitoral. O fracasso foi atribuído ao cerco do governo americano, ficando em segundo plano a incompetência do governo sandinista. Não se pode, evidentemente, negar o papel importante do Governo Reagan na derrocada sandinista, mas seria ingenuidade esperar outro comportamento do império e, portanto, este erro de avaliação simplesmente reforça o argumento central: eles foram realmente incompetentes. A segunda oportunidade foi com a eleição do Aristides, no Haiti, e os resultados foram ainda piores. Equador e Brasil poderiam, também, ser incluídos, mas no caso a influência é indireta, sem a participação de nenhum membro do clero no governo, por isto, acho melhor, não inclui-los.

Estou, naturalmente, torcendo por um resultado melhor que os das experiências acima mencionadas. Um bom resultado é do interesse nacional brasileiro e so resta esperar que o governo brasileiro finalmente tenha percebido que a sua liderança política exige um posicionamento mais pro-ativo na região. É o que espero, e, acredito, também ser o desejo do Presidente ,eleito, do Paraguai Fernando Lugo.

terça-feira, 22 de abril de 2008

O preço dos alimentos

A alta dos preços dos alimentos e de outras commodities é um fenômeno mundial que enriquece alguns e condena outros a fome. Quais seriam as causas deste terrível evento, em particular da alta dos preços dos alimentos? Para Bresser Pereira, na Folha de ontem, a onda neo-liberal seria a responsável: “ se a ideologia neoliberal dominante nestes últimos 30 anos não houvesse se encarregado de convencer os países pobres de que não precisavam de suas culturas de produtos alimentícios, de que era mais econômico especializar-se em alguma outra atividade( geralmente de valor adicionado per capita igualmente baixo) e importar seus alimentos básico, os povos desses países não estariam agora em justa revolta”(pag.B2). Tese interessante, que usa, novamente, o velho e gasto argumento cepalino contra a teoria ricardiana que, contudo, não me parece explicar o caso atual. Em alguns países, caso por exemplo das Filipinas, o aumento dos preços dos alimentos é a consequência, lógica, da redução das áreas agriculturáveis que, por sua vez é o resultado da ação do mercado ou, para usar a linguagem cepalina, do processo de industrialização( e urbanização) que abriria a porta do paraíso. Em outras palavras, o que estamos assistindo é, a redução das áreas agriculturáveis que somada às mudanças climáticas tem forte impacto sobre a oferta de alimentos. Como há aumento de demanda devido a entrada dos novos consumidores ,dos países emergentes, no mercado é natural esperar um aumento de preços.

Resta saber se é um fenônemo permanente, ou se novas técnicas agricolas e um uso mais racional do solo poderá reverter este processo no médio prazo. Há quem acredita que ele veio para ficar, prefiro acreditar na capacidade humana de resolver problemas que, as vezes, ela mesma cria.

segunda-feira, 21 de abril de 2008

Igreja, Estado e Liberdade

Durante a sua visita ao Brasil, o tema da separação entre Igreja e Estado, ocupou um espaço razoável na impresa e sempre é retomado quando se discute, por ex, educação religiosa nas escolas estatais, aborto etc. A leitura do trecho abaixo e de outros trabalhos do Ratzinger não deixa espaço algum para dúvidas: ele é um firme defensor da separação entre Estado e Igreja. A pratica do “ li e não gostei”, aparentemente, endêmica entre seus críticos de perdizes deveria ser substituida pelo estudo dos seus trabalhos. Afinal, é isto que se espera de qualquer intelectual.

“[W]e must take a clearer look at the relationship of the Church to the political sphere. For this Christ’s words remain fundamental: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s" (Mt 22:21). This saying opened up a new section in the history of the relationship between politics and religion. Until then the general rule was that politics itself was the sacral. Admittedly the later ancient world knew free religious groups, what are termed the mystery cults, whose attraction depended on the decline of the state religion. But tolerance with regard to them rested on the presupposition that the state was recognized as the bearer of a supreme sacrality. It safeguarded the ethical binding force of its laws and with this the human guarantee of its cohesion by these laws and in them the state itself appearing as the expression of a sacral, divine and not purely human will; because they are divine they must continue unquestionably and unconditionally to bind men and women.
This equation of the state’s claim on man with the sacral claim of the universal divine will itself was cut in two by the saying of Jesus we have quoted above. At the same time the whole idea of the state as cherished by the ancient world was called into question, and it is completely understandable that in this challenge to its totality the state of the ancient world saw an attack on the foundations of its existence which it avenged with the death penalty: if Jesus’s saying was valid the Roman state could not in fact continue as it had done up till then.
At the same time it must be said that it is precisely this separation of the authority of the state and sacral authority, the new dualism that this contains, that represents the origin and the permanent foundation of the western idea of freedom. From now on there were two societies related to each other but not identical with each other, neither of which had this character of totality. The state is no longer itself the bearer of a religious authority that reaches into the ultimate depths of conscience, but for its moral basis refers beyond itself to another community. This community in its turn, the Church, understands itself as a final moral authority which however depends on voluntary adherence and is entitled only to spiritual but not to civil penalties, precisely because it does not have the status the state has of being accepted by all as something given in advance.
Thus each of these communities is circumscribed in its radius, and on the balance of this relation depends freedom. This is not in any way to dispute the fact that this balance has often enough been disturbed, that in the middle ages and in the early modern period things often reached the point of Church and state in fact blending into one another in a way that falsified the faith’s claim to truth and turned it into a compulsion so that it became a caricature of what was really intended. But even in the darkest periods the pattern of freedom presented in the fundamental evidences of the faith remained an authority which could be appealed to against the blending together of civil society and the community of faith, an authority to which the conscience could refer and from which the impulse towards the dissolution of total authority could emerge.
The modern idea of freedom is thus a legitimate product of the Christian environment; it could not have developed anywhere else. Indeed, one must add that it cannot be separated from this Christian environment and transplanted into any other system, as is shown very clearly today in the renaissance of Islam; the attempt to graft on to Islamic societies what are termed western standards cut loose from their Christian foundations misunderstands the internal logic of Islam as well as the historical logic to which these western standards belong, and hence this attempt was condemned to fail in this form. The construction of society in Islam is theocratic, and therefore monist and not dualist; dualism, which is the precondition for freedom, presupposes for its part the logic of the Christian thing. In practice this means that it is only where the duality of Church and state, of the sacral and the political authority, remains maintained in some form or another that the fundamental pre-condition exists for freedom.
Where the Church itself becomes the state freedom becomes lost. But also when the Church is done away with as a public and publicly relevant authority, then too freedom is extinguished, because there the state once again claims completely for itself the justification of morality; in the profane post-Christian world it does not admittedly do this in the form of a sacral authority but as an ideological authority – that means that the state becomes the party, and since there can no longer be any other authority of the same rank it once again becomes total itself. The ideological state is totalitarian; it must become ideological if it is not balanced by a free but publicly recognized authority of conscience. When this kind of duality does not exist the totalitarian system is unavoidable.”

Fonte :http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/ratzinger2.html

domingo, 20 de abril de 2008

Banco Central

A decisão do Bacen de aumentar a taxa de juros colocou em lados opostos dois conhecidos militantes do PSDB: Mendonça de Barros favorável ao aumento, Nakano contra. A taxa de juros está alta? Em relação a que? Ao período em que a taxa real de juros era negativa e ajudava na acumulação de capital do setor privado? Qual a consequência de sua redução? Crescimento sustentável ou um apenas um surto seguido de reversão acompanhada com o retornos dos nossos velhos e conhecidos problemas? É difícil oferecer uma resposta definitiva para estas perguntas e por isto mesmo acho que a avaliação do Mendonça é, no momento, a correta, o que não implica descartar os problemas levantados pelo Nakano( meu ex-orientador no mestrado e um dos raros acadêmicos com um fantástico domínio da literatura econômica ortodoxa e heterodoxa), mas, tão somente, seu tom muito pessimista.

A taxa de juros tornou-se o vilão predileto, o bicho papão que assusta e atormenta os empresários e impede o Brasil de finalmente atingir o nirvana ou antecipar o famoso dia que virá. Contudo, ela esta longe de ser um tema trivial para o teórico da área monetária, como se pode perceber com a leitura dos trabalhos do Wicksell e Keynes. Taxa natural de juros(Wicksell) ou normal na linguagem do Keynes é para este último um fenômeno essencialmente convencional e determina o nível em torno do qual gravita a taxa de juros do curto prazo. A questão, portanto, é como influenciar e alterar as convenções que definem um nível normal para a taxa de juros.

sábado, 19 de abril de 2008

O charme irresistível do Bento XVI

Enquanto em perdizes Bento XVI, continua, aparentemente, ignorado, para não usar uma expressão menos elegante, no Reino Unido o cenário parece estar se alterando. É o que parece indicar o editorial, “This surprising Pope”, da última edição do venerável “TheTablet”, “porta voz” dos católicos progressistas.

Benedict XVI, who has just celebrated the third anniversary of his election as Pope, has surprised those who expected his papacy to be a seamless continuation of his role as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There has been no witch-hunt of those who do not subscribe to a narrow conservative orthodoxy. Instead, his personal humility and conviction have endeared him to the millions who have seen him from afar and deeply touched those who have met him in person. In the United States, which he is currently visiting, they are fascinated, even enthralled. He has made few enemies and many friends.
He has issued two erudite and profound encyclicals, both personal and original, which are written in a conversational, at times even tentative, tone. Few would have guessed correctly the issue he would choose to address in his first one - the relationship between the erotic and the sacred, which he saw very positively. He is more a thinker out loud than a Pope who wants to turn his personal opinions into Church doctrine overnight, a tendency of his predecessor. The fact that he does not always calculate the impact of his remarks in advance has made him look occasionally prone to gaffes, particularly on delicate matters of interfaith relations. But when he told reporters on his way to the United States this week that the clerical sexual abuse scandal in that country made him "deeply ashamed", his frankness was widely welcomed. It was also what America needed to hear.
His support for the Tridentine Rite and his revision of its Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews did hint at a certain nostalgia for pre-conciliar times. The manner of the rite's reintroduction, overriding the jurisdiction of local bishops, set alarm bells ringing that his conception of how power should be exercised in the Church was still top-down and not very collegial. And some of those who speak in his name are not helping his cause.
The Vatican cannot micro-manage every detail of the local Church, yet its tendency to prefer safe pairs of hands to original thinkers in episcopal appointments has resulted in few bishops able to inspire their flocks with visionary leadership. Benedict has yet to reverse this trend, whether in diocesan appointments or at the top of the Roman Curia. The instruments of government in the Church have still to be reformed: that task may await his successor.
However, it is as a visible, almost iconic, public representation of the modern Catholic Church that the Pope will be judged, and, in that, style matters as much as content. Here he has to be rated a success. He has been disinclined to be judgemental, for instance, recognising that a Church that is only ever heard saying "No" will attract few and repel many. He says what he thinks and yet is not pompous about it. His election to the papacy has revealed Joseph Ratzinger to be warmer and more human than his image projected; and as a man, even at 81, of formidable intellect and character. Measured against those who might have succeeded John Paul II if he had not, the cardinals are seen to have chosen well.

Fonte: The Tablet, 19.04.08.

sexta-feira, 18 de abril de 2008

Bento XVI: " A minimalist on Catholic Education

O discurso aos reitores das escolas e universidades católicas era, provavelmente, o mais esperado e motivo de esperança para, os conservadores, e temor ,no caso da esquerda católica( ou pós-Católica?). A análise abaixo me parece correta, assim como o comentário de um leitor deste artigo publicado, originalmente no(site do) NYTimes no dia 17.04.08. Para acessar o discurso do papa em português :http://www.cnbb.org.br/index.php?op=noticia&subop=17605

No one was expecting something dramatically different from what the Pope said to Catholic educators this evening at the Catholic University of America:
–Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News.
–A university or school’s Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students; it is a question of conviction.
–The Church believes that the truths of faith and of reason never contradict one another.
In short, Benedict believes that Catholic educational institutions must be genuinely Catholic. Not “in the Catholic tradition,” or “with a Catholic flavor.” Just plain Catholic, no sugar added.
Indeed, when he denounced the “assumption that every experience is of equal worth,” and “the reduction of the precious and delicate area of education in sexuality to management of ‘risk,’ bereft of any reference to the beauty of conjugal love,” he then asked, “How might Christian educators respond?”
The “V--Monologues”[ famosa peça de teatro o "monologo da vagina, ac] do not seem to fit with the answer the Pope has in mind: “These harmful developments — he said — point to the particular urgency of what we might call ‘intellectual charity.’ This type of charity calls the educator to recognize that the profound responsibility of leading the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love.”
Is Ratzinger, the former accomplished theology professor, opposing academic freedom at Catholic campuses? Not at all: “I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you.”
But to those moving from “Catholic” to “in the Catholic tradition” or any other code word to mean a move toward post-Catholicism, the Pope warns that “any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.”
“Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual.”
I spoke to the president of a Catholic college right after the meeting. I think his off-the-record comments were right on the money: Pope Benedict is a “minimalist.” He is not going to drag any theologian by his or her feet into orthodoxy, nor will he thunder condemnations right and left to force post-Catholic universities to comply with the “mandatum.”
He will just let the good trees bear the good fruit.And if they are just a few… so be it.

Alejandro Bermudez

Excellent commentary, Mr. Bermudez.
What is at the crux of the matter is not reducing academic freedom at all, but rather preserving the authenticity of Catholic institutions. If these institutions wish freedom from Catholic dogma, then they should become free from the Catholic name.
— Posted by Paul Rimmer

quinta-feira, 17 de abril de 2008

Lady Lazarus

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it--
A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?--
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand and foot--
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies
These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:
'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart--
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash--
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--
A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

23-29 October 1962

Sylvia Plath

quarta-feira, 16 de abril de 2008

"Inflation targeting" e taxa de câmbio

Com qual “target” trabalhar? Esta é uma questão interessante e controversa, como podemos ler no artigo, na Folha desta quarta-feira, de um dos famosos “Eram os Deuses Astronautas”, grupo de jovens brilhantes e arrogantes militantes do PSDB
( e quem sabe por isto mesmo com passagem ou ainda membros do governo petista).

Ao contrário do que o missivista sugere, trabalhar com a taxa de câmbio como target não é tão esotérico, mas, naturalmente, envolve riscos. Para entender o problema sugiro começar pela leitura do paper do Sebastian Edwards,wp12163 The Relationship Between Exchange Rates and Inflation Targeting Revisited, abril 2006, e o paper do Valpy Fitzgerald Monetary Models and Inflation Targeting in Emerging Market Economies, may 2004.

terça-feira, 15 de abril de 2008

Clodovis Boff e o Documento de Aparecida

O texto abaixo é relativamente antigo, mas é importante por apresentar a visão de um dos mais importantes teologos da atualidade sobre o documento aprovado no V Celam. A avaliação dele é diferente daquela que ouvi em perdizes. Mas isto é esperado:perdizes parou no tempo.

"'O Documento de Aparecida é o ponto mais alto do Magistério da Igreja Latino-Americana'.
Entrevista especial com Clodovis Boff

Em entrevista exclusiva, concedida por e-mail à revista IHU On-Line, o frei Clodovis Boff afirmou que o documento conclusivo da V Conferência do Celam “é uma surpresa do Espírito, pois nada deixava prever um texto dessa qualidade. É também um milagre da Mãe Aparecida, a quem o Santo Padre tinha confiado a direção da Assembléia”. E, muito otimista, continua: “O documento da V Celam não só dá mais um passo em frente, mas abre uma ‘nova fase’ na missão da Igreja no Continente. A sensação que passa é que ‘agora vai’”.

Frei Clodovis Boff, frade da ordem dos Servos de Maria, nasceu em Concórdia, Santa Catarina, em 1944. É professor no Instituto Teológico Franciscano de Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, na Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro e na Pontifícia Faculdade “Marianum” de Roma. É também membro do ISER-Assessoria. Possui graduação em Filosofia pela Faculdade de Filosofia Ciências e Letras de Mogi das Cruzes, graduação em Teologia pela Universidade Católica de Lovaina e doutorado em Teologia pela Universidade Católica de Lovaina.

É autor de vários livros, entre os quais citamos Uma Igreja para o Novo Milênio (5. ed. São Paulo: Paulus, 2003). Ele concedeu uma entrevista à IHU On-Line número 125, de 29 de novembro de 2004, que foi posteriormente republicada no Cadernos IHU em Formação número 8, de 2006, intitulado Teologia Pública.

IHU On-Line – O que o documento síntese da V Conferência do Celam traz de novidade em relação às conferências anteriores?
Clodovis Boff - O Documento de Aparecida é, a nosso ver, o ponto mais alto do Magistério da Igreja latino-americana e caribenha. É o melhor documento produzido até hoje pelos nossos bispos e talvez por qualquer outro episcopado regional. Ele recapitula o que há de melhor nas Celams anteriores, e isso dentro de um quadro teológico muito mais rico, seguro e homogêneo. O documento é uma surpresa do Espírito, pois nada deixava prever um texto dessa qualidade. É também um milagre da Mãe Aparecida, a quem o Santo Padre tinha confiado a direção da Assembléia. A meu ver, o documento da V Celam não só dá mais um passo em frente, mas abre uma “nova fase” na missão da Igreja no Continente. A sensação que passa é que “agora vai”. É que o documento apresenta uma estrutura teológica e pastoral harmônica bem centrada. Acertando o passo com lógica específica da vida da fé, o documento se estrutura articulando os seguintes elementos: fé viva em Cristo a partir de uma experiência de encontro (“discípulos”), fé essa que se irradia no mundo em forma da missão (“apóstolos”) e que se prolonga na sociedade em termos de compromisso pela justiça e pela vida (“para que n’Ele nossos povos tenham vida”). Aqui, cada coisa está no seu lugar: a fé em Cristo no começo, como fundamento de tudo; a evangelização como primeiro desdobramento espontâneo dela; e, enfim, a missão social como seu necessário desdobramento ulterior.

Este é o “fio vermelho” que permeia todo o documento e lhe dá unidade. Está aí, a meu ver, a chave geral que abre as riquezas de todo o texto episcopal. A principal novidade do documento? É a própria boa-nova do Amor de Deus a ser experimentado, anunciado e projetado na vida. Essa é a “prioridade das prioridades”, a prioridade originária e permanente, que a Igreja é chamada a anunciar e a re-anunciar sem descanso. A partir dessa novidade perene, o documento coloca as outras novidades.

IHU On-Line - Sinteticamente, quais seriam as três grandes luzes do Documento de Aparecida e as três grandes sombras?
Clodovis Boff - O grande acerto do Documento de Aparecida é ter recolocado, no início e na base de tudo, a fé viva em Cristo. “Começou pelo começo”, isto é, por onde começou historicamente a vida da Igreja e por onde recomeça a cada dia. Fazendo assim, os bispos encontraram a embocadura certa para relançar a missão evangelizadora do Continente: partir em tudo e sempre de Cristo. Sabe-se – e Aristóteles o declara – que achar o princípio é sempre a coisa mais difícil e também a mais decisiva, mas uma vez achada, tudo se torna fácil e se põe em ordem. O documento apresenta a fé como um evento existencial, como uma “experiência de encontro”. Trata-se de um encontro vivo com a pessoa viva de Jesus Cristo. Entender a fé assim constitui uma redescoberta decisiva da V Assembléia, pois supera uma idéia de fé entendida como simples aceitação de doutrinas, ou como opção ética, ou ainda como mera tradição cultural, como é em grande parte o nosso catolicismo. Fazendo assim, o episcopado latino-americano se põe em cheio no campo da espiritualidade, a parte mais íntima e vital da fé.

Um catolicismo de “iniciados”

Para operacionalizar pastoralmente a idéia de uma fé como “encontro com Cristo”, fonte de tudo o mais, os bispos propõem o “itinerário” de uma primeira “iniciação à vida cristã” (cap. VI). Entendem por aí introduzir “mistagogicamente” os afastados da fé à escuta da Palavra, à oração pessoal e à eucaristia. Pois só um catolicismo de “iniciados” é realmente evangelizador, socialmente fecundo e eficazmente resistente ao secularismo moderno assim como aos proselitismos atuais. Quanto às sombras, vamos com calma e respeito, pois se trata aqui de um documento de nossos pais e guias na fé. Mas, francamente, não percebemos sombras que mereçam reparo. O que talvez possa acontecer seria a tentativa de jogar sombras sobre o documento por parte dos grupos que pretendem levar a Igreja por caminhos pouco sintonizados com o sopro do Espírito.

IHU On-Line - Qual é a importância de difundir na cultura de nossos povos a fé em Deus-amor, e como isso se aplica no dia-a-dia da Igreja?
Clodovis Boff - A mensagem de Deus-amor é a coisa mais preciosa que a Igreja tem a oferecer ao mundo. É disso que ela vive e é para isso que ela existe. Esta é a essência mesma do Evangelho. Isso vale para todos e mais ainda para os nossos povos pobres. Estes, excluídos que são pelos poderosos, precisam sentir-se acolhidos pelo Criador e Pai, de modo a criarem coragem para viver e lutar por tão grande dignidade. Quanto à “aplicação” da mensagem do amor de Deus, deve-se dizer que, mais do que se aplicar, ela precisa ser vivida a plenos pulmões e em todo o tempo. É como uma luz que enche de beleza, energia e calor cada realidade da vida, desde o eros até à vida na pólis. A evangelização objetiva despertar antes de tudo essa paixão mística e esse deslumbramento espiritual. Se a fé é bastante intensa, ela mesma encontra suas formas concretas de se manifestar. Pois, como disse Nietzsche , “quem tem um porquê sempre encontra um como”. Quanto à operacionalização pastoral do anúncio do Evangelho do Amor, os bispos propuseram concretamente uma “grande missão continental” (n. 376-8). Esta objetiva mobilizar todas as forças vivas da Igreja para “sair ao encontro” dos distantes. E isso não com intenções de proselitismo ou de reconquista, mas para partilhar a alegria do Evangelho e comunicar as maravilhas da vida em e com Cristo.

IHU On-Line - A Assembléia de Aparecida confirmou a “opção preferencial pelos pobres”. Como essa opção vai ser posta em prática?
Clodovis Boff - Em Aparecida, a opção pelos pobres ganhou uma nova amplitude. Foram identificados “novos rostos” da pobreza: os desempregados, os refugiados e migrantes, os aidéticos e os tóxico-dependentes, a população de rua, as mulheres vítimas da violência e exploração sexual, os presos e tantos outros rostos mais. Mas é, sobretudo, a qualidade desta opção que é mais sublinhada pelo documento. Trata-se de uma opção verdadeiramente evangélica, no sentido de vir banhada e mesmo encharcada da fé em Cristo. E isso, tanto em sua origem (ela nasce do encontro com o Filho de Deus, “que de rico se fez pobre”) quanto em seu exercício (ela vibra com os sentimentos do coração do Bom Pastor). Quanto às aplicações concretas, além das indicações práticas que dão, os bispos apelam para a “imaginação da caridade”, a que se referiu João Paulo II.

IHU On-Line - Qual é a importância do tópico “família” e da necessidade de “promover a cultura do amor no matrimônio e na família, assim como o respeito pela vida”.
Clodovis Boff - A Igreja sempre viu na família uma instância privilegiada da transmissão da fé como também dos valores humanos, inclusive sociais. Em verdade, entre todas as agências de transmissão de valores, a família é a primeira e mais importante pela influência capilar, profunda e a longo termo que exerce sobre os filhos. Não é, pois, verdade que ela é mais vítima da problemática social do que agente de mudanças. Esta é uma visão falsa e derrotista. Como “célula da sociedade”, uma família sadia leva a uma sociedade sadia. Mas se essa célula é cancerosa, toda a sociedade pode entrar em metástase. A vocação específica da família é particularmente urgida no contexto atual de relativismo e de niilismo, no sentido de resistir a e mesmo de reverter o atual processo de desagregação dos valores, inclusive os mais naturais, como o amor à vida, a família heterossexual e a solidariedade humana.

IHU On-Line - Que rosto de Igreja emerge da V Conferência? Quais seriam suas principais características? Clodovis Boff - Será o tipo de Igreja que cumprir o lema da Conferência, devidamente desenvolvido no Documento de Aparecida. Portanto, será em primeiro lugar, uma Igreja “discipular”: ouvinte da Palavra, meditadora, grande orante, contemplativa, adoradora, doxológica e eucarística. Depois, será uma Igreja “missionária”, que anuncia com alegria e entusiasmo a Boa-nova do amor de Deus em Cristo, como o que enche de sentido o coração do ser humano, também nesta vida. Será, enfim, uma Igreja “agápica”, enquanto se faz samaritana de todos os caídos à beira das estradas do mundo, cuidando deles e curando-os "

segunda-feira, 14 de abril de 2008

Piadas sobre Economistas e Economia I

Economia é o único campo onde duas pessoas podem ganhar um Prêmio Nobel dizendo exatamente coisas opostas.

Um matemático, um contador e um economista se candidataram para o mesmo emprego. O entrevistador chamou o matemático e perguntou "Quanto é 2 + 2 ?". O matemático respondeu. "Quatro". "Mas quatro exatamente ?", indagou o entrevistador. O matemático olhou surpreso para o entrevistador e disse "Sim, quatro, exatamente." Chamou o contador e perguntou a mesma questão: "Quanto é dois mais dois ?". O contador disse: "Na média 4, acrescente ou tire 10%, mas na média é quatro." Por último chamou o economista. "Sr. Economista, quanto é dois mais dois ?". O economista levantou, trancou a porta, fechou a cortina, sentou próximo ao entrevistador e perguntou: "Diga-me uma coisa...o que você quer igualar?"


Sete razões para estudar Economia:
1. Economistas são armados e perigosos: "Cuidado com nossas mãos invisíveis !"
2. Economistas podem ofertar quando são demandados.
3. Você pode falar de dinheiro sem sempre ter de fazer dinheiro em alguma coisa.
4. Mick Jagger e Arnold Schwarzenegger estudaram economia e veja no que se tornaram.
5. Quando você está na fila de desempregados, ao menos você sabe porque você está lá. 6.Embora a Ética ensine que a virtude tem sua própria recompensa, na Economia nós aprendemos que a recompensa tem sua própria virtude.
7. Quando você está bêbado você pode falar para todo mundo que você está apenas pesquisando a lei da utilidade marginal decrescente.

Economistas só fazem sexo com modelos.


Um economista é um profissional pago para adivinhar coisas erradas sobre a economia.
Um econometricista é um profissional pago para usar computadores para adivinhar coisas erradas sobre economia.


A Segunda Lei da Economia de Bentley: a única coisa mais perigosa que um economista é um
economista amador.


Um economista que faz previsões tinha uma ferradura pendurada na porta de seu escritório. Quando perguntado, disse que era um amuleto para suas previsões darem certo. "Mas você acredita nestas superstições ?", lhe perguntaram. "Claro que não!", respondeu. "Então por quê você usa ?", "Bom... funciona dependendo se você acredita ou não nestas coisas." (Niels Bohr, ganhador do prêmio Nobel)


Um analista político é alguém sem ética o suficiente para ser um advogado, sem prática o suficiente para ser um teólogo e pedante o suficiente para ser um economista.


Perguntaram a George Stigler, um dos líderes da Escola de Chicago, quando ganhou seu prêmio Nobel, qual a razão de não haver premiações para outras ciências sociais como sociologia, psicologia, história. Stigler respondeu: "Não se preocupem...eles todos já tem seu prêmio Nobel...em Literatura."


Três econometricistas foram caçar. Quando encontraram a presa, o primeiro atirou, errando um metro para a esquerda. O Segundo atirou e também errou, um metro para a direita. O terceiro econometricista não atirou, mas mesmo assim gritou: "Pegamos, acertamos !"


— O que economistas e computadores tem em comum ? — Você necessita entupi-los com informação.


Se todos os economistas fossem colocados juntos, seria uma orgia... de matemáticos.


Um rico e bem sucedido economista do trabalho queria porque queria ter um neto. Tinha duas filhas e dois filhos, todos casados. Durante o Natal, a família toda estava reunida, inclusive todos os genros e as noras e ele disse. — Eu quero muito dar continuidade a nossa família. Para ajudar nas futuras despesas depositei cem mil dólares no banco para o primeiro casal que tiver um neto meu. Quando olhou para os lados só estava sua esposa na mesa de jantar.

domingo, 13 de abril de 2008

Milbank e a teologia da libertação

Folheando o interessante Dicionário Crítico de Teologia( Lacoste, 2004), encontrei o verbete dedicado a Teologia da Libertação. O autor é o John Milbank, e como seria de esperar, combina concisão com profundidade. Segundo ele “nenhum teológo da libertação é marxista no sentido próprio... e mantem do marxismo a prioridade da práxis” (p.1033), sendo que “o papel central atribuído à práxis aproxima-os das correntes humanistas e voluntaristas do marxismo”, já, “em compensação, o papel central dos ‘pobres’ é antes um desvio com relação ao marxismo”(p.1033).É uma leitura interessante e ate onde, minha ignorância permite, generosa da relação da T.L com o marxismo.

Milbank argumenta que “ deve-se observar que o gosto da modernidade é tão importante na teologia da libertação quanto o aspecto marxista”(p.1034), porque “embora professem formalmente a ortodoxia, os teólogos da libertação atenuam ou relativizam os aspectos metafísicos, míticos, doutrinais, místicos da fé”(p.1034), que seria uma demonstração da influência ou fascínio destes teólogos pelo protestantismo liberal. Esta relativização é o que sempre reprovei na práxis da T.L e a razão pela qual nunca senti nenhum apreço por suas propostas de um novo mundo.

A parte final do verbete é a mais fascinante, pelo menos para alguém como eu, ainda engatinhando nas leituras teólogicas. Segundo Milbank “apesar de todas as censuras feitas à teologia da libertação por seu coletivismo ou seu idealismo utópico, raramente se observa até que ponto sua concepção da religião é individualista”(p.1034). Confesso que fiquei surpreso com esta leitura, já que não me parece refletir a práxis da T.L,mas ela é, contudo, coerente, com a influência, já mencionada, do protestantismo liberal.

Para Milbank, “ a influência de Rahner leva-a a pensar que o conteúdo da revelação está fora da história, indiferente às manifestações concretas e, portanto, estranhamente insensível aos processos dialéticos , que são em compensação onipotentes num domínio social considerado a priori profano” .Isso, conclui o autor, “explica que a teologia da libertação, até ultimamente , tenha atribuído pouca importância à eclesiologia[reflexão consagrada à igreja] e edificação de uma doutrina social especificamente cristã”. A parte referente a eclesiologia é, como diria um aluno grego para mim, mas a passagem referente a doutrina social cristã é a que mais me atrai, já que parece ser uma boa pista pelo pouco apreço da T.L. pela doutrina social católica, o que, naturalmente, me leva a procurar outros trabalhos do Milbank. A questão é onde arrumar tempo para tanta leitura fora da minha área de trabalho que é, sou sempre lembrado, economia e não teologia.

sábado, 12 de abril de 2008

Diletantes e Economistas

Uma das conseqüências da aversão do economista à praticas corporativistas é a abertura dos departamentos de economia a professores sem graduação em economia e , as vezes, sem qualquer formação em economia. São os historiadores, sociólogos, filósofos, engenheiros, etc, que adoram economia, mas nunca tiveram paciência para fazer um curso regular de graduação, mestrado ou doutorado em economia. São diletantes, em sua maioria marxistas, que confundem a ciência econômica com esta escola do pensamento econômico. Estão sempre vociferando contra o FMI , empresários( nacionais ou estrangeiros), capital internacional e o maior de todos os perigos: o imperialismo sempre a espreita e pronto a abocanhar a nação brasileira.

Por uma destas ironias da historia, esta turma conseguiu e ainda consegui atrair a atenção de parte da comunidade católica indignada, com justa razão, com as mazelas sociais brasileiras. Isto explica o espaço que esta turma conseguiu em algumas universidades católicas brasileiras e , mais incrível ainda, americanas. É verdade que por la(USA), o prestigio desta turma esta em queda livre.

O curioso é que nos locais onde esta turma tornou-se hegemônica, impera um pensamento único pré queda do muro de Berlim e o pensamento social católico é completamente ignorado. Este é, aparentemente, o grande legado da teologia da libertação: a hegemonia intelectual da extrema esquerda onde a TL ainda tem força.

sexta-feira, 11 de abril de 2008

Cardeal Avery Dulles

Parte final da trigesima nona e última McGinley Lecture, do Cardeal Avery Dulles, um veterano teólogo, 90 anos, e venerável representante da tradição e ortodoxia. Com esta Lecture ele encerra uma longa e produtiva carreira dedicada a Igreja Católica.

The Quest for Eternal Truth and Wisdom
The present climate of opinion does not favor tradition and orthodoxy, two terms that have negative connotations for many hearers. Our culture is dominated by experimental science, which works by entirely different methods, leaving its own past behind as it forges into the future. Science, we all know, does not rest on a treasury of revealed knowledge handed down in authoritative tradition. Science has wonderfully increased our powers to make and to destroy, but it does not tell us what we ought to do and why. It does not tell us where the universe came from, or why we exist or what our final destination is. And yet some scientists speak as though their discipline were the only kind of valid knowledge.
This brand of scientism has been around for centuries, but only today is it boasting of its powers to displace philosophical wisdom and religious faith, as I noted in my McGinley Lecture “God and Evolution,” a year ago. Already as a college undergraduate 70 years ago, I felt the oppressive nature of a culture that had no place for objective moral norms and meaning. I was desperate for enlightenment about whether there was anything worth living and dying for, as I explained in one of my earliest books, A Testimonial to Grace. That very desperation set me on the path that led through ancient Greek philosophy to Catholic faith.
All of us today are immersed in a culture that lacks abiding truths and fixed moral norms. But there is no necessity for our culture to have taken this negative turn. Ancient philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle, had refuted the materialism, relativism, subjectivism and hedonism of their day and had shown the validity of metaphysical knowledge. Western thought followed in the path of cognitive realism for many centuries before the revival of agnosticism in the Renaissance. Catholic believers and indeed all clear thinkers have good reasons not to be engulfed in the superficial trends of the times. In his great encyclical Faith and Reason (1998), which forms the topic of one McGinley Lecture, John Paul II summoned philosophy to resume its original quest for eternal truth and wisdom.
As mentioned earlier, I entered college in a quagmire of confusion about whether life and the universe could make sense at all. I was conscious of the emptiness of a selfish life based on the pursuit of pleasure. Happiness, I gradually came to see, is the reward given for holding fast to what is truly good and important. To some extent the philosophers of antiquity identified these goals. But Christian revelation brought a tremendous increase of light. God alone, I learned from the New Testament, was good and true in an unqualified sense. And the same God in all his beauty and majesty became one of our human family in Jesus Christ, the truth, the way and the life. The most important thing about my career, and many of yours, I feel sure, is the discovery of the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field, the Lord Jesus himself.
As I approach the termination of my active life, I gratefully acknowledge that a benign providence has governed my days. The persons I have met, the places I have been, the things I have been asked to do, have all coalesced into a pattern, so that each stage of my life has prepared me for the next. My 20 years on the McGinley Chair have been a kind of climax, at least from my personal point of view. I often feel that there is no one on earth with whom I would want to exchange places. It has been a special privilege to serve in the Society of Jesus, a religious community specially dedicated to the Savior of the world.
The good life does not have to be an easy one, as our blessed Lord and the saints have taught us. Pope John Paul II in his later years used to say, “The Pope must suffer.” Suffering and diminishment are not the greatest of evils, but are normal ingredients in life, especially in old age. They are to be accepted as elements of a full human existence. Well into my 90th year I have been able to work productively. As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Para o texto completo A Life in Theology

quinta-feira, 10 de abril de 2008

Dois poemas de S.Quasimodo

Ed è subito sera

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da um raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.


Alla nuova luna

In principio Dio creò il cielo
e la terra, poi nes suo giorno
esatto mise i luminari in cielo
e al settimos giorno si riposò

Dopo miliardi di anni l’uomo
fatto a sua immagine e somiglianza,
senza mai riposare, con la sua
intelligenza laica,
senza timore, nel cielo sereno
d’una notte d’ottobre
mise altri luminari uguali
a quelli che giravano
dalla creazione del mondo. Amen.

Salvatore Quasimodo

quarta-feira, 9 de abril de 2008

O affair BNDES

O recente “affair” Bndes é mais um na longa lista de relações perigosas entre o setor privado e o setor público no Brasil. Contudo, ele esta longe de ser um problema exclusivamente brasileiro. Ao contrário, é comum a todo sistema político aberto, com algum grau de intervenção ou regulação estatal na economia.

O funcionário de carreira de uma estatal amarga alguns anos de baixos salários em troca da construção de uma rede de contatos e aprendizado a respeito da obtenção de valiosas informações úteis em uma futura carreira no setor privado. Ele se inseri em um mercado de trabalho que não esta restrito ao seu atual empregador, o estado; mas inclui, também, futuros empregadores no setor privado. Ate que ponto este agir interferi em decisões que possam beneficiar potenciais empregadores é uma questão controversa.

A quarentena tem sido apresentado como solução para o problema, mas me parece que ela esta longe de ser milagrosa e é, no máximo, apenas um paliativo que evita situações escandalosas, como o caso atual. O tempo de quarentena é muito pequeno para ter influência significativa sobre os conhecimentos adquiridos durante o período em que ele foi funcionário público. O impacto é maior no caso de funcionários que passaram pouco tempo na esfera pública. É o caso dos famosos cargos de confiança ou de indicação política.

Um funcionário público racional dividiria sua carreira profissional em duas fases: a primeira, no setor publico dedicada a criação da rede e aquisição de conhecimentos valorizados no mercado; a segunda em uma carreira lucrativa no setor privado. Este, por ex, parece ser o caso do comportamento dos funcionários públicos no Reino Unido e em outras democracias e ,aparentemente, também no Brasil. Contudo, o comportamento dos dois funcionários do Bndes( um de carreira e outra político) não me parece se adequar a esta regra e ser mais um indicativo da nossa fragilidade institucional .

terça-feira, 8 de abril de 2008

French theory in America(Deconstrucionismo)

Derrida( e cia) no Brasil ainda é levado muito a sério, já no mundo anglo-americano o oposto parece ser verdadeiro. É o esperado, já que ele nunca foi aceito nos mais importantes deptos de filosofia, isto para não mencionarmos a controvérsia de Cambridge nos anos 90.

O artigo abaixo resenha um livro que trata deste tema.

It was in sometime in the ’80s when I heard someone on the radio talking about Clint Eastwood’s 1980 movie “Bronco Billy.” It is, he said, a “nice little film in which Eastwood deconstructs his ‘Dirty Harry’ image.”

That was probably not the first time the verb “deconstruct” was used casually to describe a piece of pop culture, but it was the first time I had encountered it, and I remember thinking that the age of theory was surely over now that one of its key terms had been appropriated, domesticated and commodified. It had also been used with some precision. What the radio critic meant was that the flinty masculine realism of the “Dirty Harry” movies — it’s a hard world and it takes a hard man to deal with its evils — is affectionately parodied in the story of a former New Jersey shoe salesman who dresses and talks like a tough cowboy, but is the good-hearted proprietor of a traveling Wild West show aimed at little children. It’s all an act, a confected fable, but so is Dirty Harry; so is everything. If deconstruction was something that an American male icon performed, there was no reason to fear it; truth, reason and the American way were safe.

It turned out, of course, that my conclusion was hasty and premature, for it was in the early ’90s that the culture wars went into high gear and the chief target of the neo-conservative side was this theory that I thought had run its course. It became clear that it had a second life, or a second run, as the villain of a cultural melodrama produced and starred in by Allan Bloom, Dinesh D’Souza, Roger Kimball and other denizens of the right, even as its influence was declining in the academic precincts this crew relentlessly attacked.

It’s a great story, full of twists and turns, and now it has been told in extraordinary detail in a book to be published next month: “French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States” (University of Minnesota Press).
The book’s author is Francois Cusset, who sets himself the tasks of explaining, first, what all the fuss was about, second, why the specter of French theory made strong men tremble, and third, why there was never really anything to worry about.

Certainly mainstream or centrist intellectuals thought there was a lot to worry about. They agreed with Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, who complained that the ideas coming out of France amounted to a “rejection of the rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment” even to the point of regarding “science as nothing more than a ‘narration’ or a ‘myth’ or a social construction among many others.”

This is not quite right; what was involved was less the rejection of the rationalist tradition than an interrogation of its key components: an independent, free-standing, knowing subject, the “I” facing an independent, free-standing world. The problem was how to get the “I” and the world together, how to bridge the gap that separated them ever since the older picture of a universe everywhere filled with the meanings God originates and guarantees had ceased to be compelling to many.

The solution to the problem in the rationalist tradition was to extend man’s reasoning powers in order to produce finer and finer descriptions of the natural world, descriptions whose precision could be enhanced by technological innovations (telescopes, microscopes, atom smashers, computers) that were themselves extensions of man’s rational capacities. The vision was one of a steady progress with the final result to be a complete and accurate — down to the last detail — account of natural processes. Francis Bacon, often thought of as the originator of the project , believed in the early 17th century that it could be done in six generations.

It was Bacon who saw early on that the danger to the project was located in its middle term — the descriptions and experiments that were to be a window on the reality they were trying to capture. The trouble, Bacon explained, is that everything, even the framing of experiments, begins with language, with words; and words have a fatal tendency to substitute themselves for the facts they are supposed merely to report or reflect. While men “believe that their reason governs words,” in fact “words react on the understanding”; that is, they shape rather than serve rationality. Even precise definitions, Bacon lamented, don’t help because “the definitions themselves consist of words, and those words beget others” and as the sequence of hypotheses and calculations extends itself, the investigator is carried not closer to but ever further way from the independent object he had set out to apprehend.

In Bacon’s mind the danger of words going off on their own unconstrained-by-the-world way was but one example of the deficiencies we have inherited from the sin of Adam and Eve. In men’s love of their own words (and therefore of themselves), he saw the effects “of that venom which the serpent infused…and which makes the mind of man to swell.” As an antidote he proposed his famous method of induction which mandates very slow, small, experimental steps; no proposition is to be accepted until it has survived the test of negative examples brought in to invalidate it.

In this way, Bacon hopes, the “entire work of the understanding” will be “commenced afresh” and with better prospects of success because the mind will be “not left to take its own course, but guided at every step, and the business done as if by machinery.” The mind will be protected from its own inclination to err and “swell,” and the tools the mind inevitably employs, the tools of representation — words, propositions, predications, measures, symbols (including the symbols of mathematics) — will be reined in and made serviceable to and subservient to a prior realm of unmediated fact.

To this hope, French theory (and much thought that precedes it) says “forget about it”; not because no methodological cautions could be sufficient to the task, but because the distinctions that define the task — the “I,” the world, and the forms of description or signification that will be used to join them — are not independent of one another in a way that would make the task conceivable, never mind doable.

Instead (and this is the killer), both the “I” or the knower, and the world that is to be known, are themselves not themselves, but the unstable products of mediation, of the very discursive, linguistic forms that in the rationalist tradition are regarded as merely secondary and instrumental. The “I” or subject, rather than being the free-standing originator and master of its own thoughts and perceptions, is a space traversed and constituted — given a transitory, ever-shifting shape — by ideas, vocabularies, schemes, models, distinctions that precede it, fill it and give it (textual) being.

The Cartesian trick of starting from the beginning and thinking things down to the ground can’t be managed because the engine of thought, consciousness itself, is inscribed (written) by discursive forms which “it” (in quotation marks because consciousness absent inscription is empty and therefore non-existent) did not originate and cannot step to the side of no matter how minimalist it goes. In short (and this is the kind of formulation that drives the enemies of French theory crazy), what we think with thinks us.

It also thinks the world. This is not say that the world apart from the devices of human conception and perception doesn’t exist “out there”; just that what we know of that world follows from what we can say about it rather than from any unmediated encounter with it in and of itself. This is what Thomas Kuhn meant in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions when he said that after a paradigm shift — after one scientific vocabulary, with its attendant experimental and evidentiary apparatus, has replaced another — scientists are living in a different world; which again is not to say (what it would be silly to say) that the world has been altered by our descriptions of it; just that only through our descriptive machineries do we have access to something called the world.

This may sound impossibly counterintuitive and annoyingly new-fangled, but it is nothing more or less than what Thomas Hobbes said 300 years before deconstruction was a thought in the mind of Derrida or Heidegger: “True and false are attributes of speech, not of things.” That is, judgments of truth or falsehood are made relative to the forms of predication that have been established in public/institutional discourse. When we pronounce a judgment — this is true or that is false — the authorization for that judgment comes from those forms (Hobbes calls them “settled significations”) and not from the world speaking for itself. We know, Hobbes continues, not “absolutely” but “conditionally”; our knowledge issues not from the “consequence of one thing to another” but from the consequence of one name to another.

Three centuries later, Richard Rorty made exactly the same point when he declared, “where there are no sentences, there is no truth … the world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not.” Descriptions of the world are made by us, and we, in turn, are made by the categories of description that are the content of our perception. These are not categories we choose — were they not already installed there would be nothing that could do the choosing; it would make more sense (but not perfect sense ) to say that they have chosen or colonized us. Both the “I” and the world it would know are functions of language. Or in Derrida’s famous and often vilified words: There is nothing outside the text. (More accurately, there is no outside-the-text.)

Obviously the rationalist Enlightenment agenda does not survive this deconstructive analysis intact, which doesn’t mean that it must be discarded (the claim to be able to discard it from a position superior to it merely replicates it) or that it doesn’t yield results (I am writing on one of them); only that the progressive program it is thought to underwrite and implement — the program of drawing closer and closer to a truth independent of our discursive practices, a truth that, if we are slow and patient in the Baconian manner, will reveal itself and come out from behind the representational curtain — is not, according to this way of thinking, realizable.

That’s a loss, but it’s not a loss of anything in particular. It doesn’t take anything away from us. We can still do all the things we have always done; we can still say that some things are true and others false, and believe it; we can still use words like better and worse and offer justifications for doing so. All we lose (if we have been persuaded by the deconstructive critique, that is) is a certain rationalist faith that there will someday be a final word, a last description that takes the accurate measure of everything. All that will have happened is that one account of what we know and how we know it — one epistemology — has been replaced by another, which means only that in the unlikely event you are asked “What’s your epistemology?” you’ll give a different answer than you would have given before. The world, and you, will go on pretty much in the same old way.

This is not the conclusion that would be reached either by French theory’s detractors or by those American academics who embraced it. For both what was important about French theory in America was its political implications, and one of Cusset’s main contentions — and here I completely agree with him — is that it doesn’t have any. When a deconstructive analysis interrogates an apparent unity — a poem, a manifesto, a sermon, a procedure, an agenda — and discovers, as it always will, that its surface coherence is achieved by the suppression of questions it must not ask if it is to maintain the fiction of its self-identity, the result is not the discovery of an anomaly, of a deviance from a norm that can be banished or corrected; for no structure built by man (which means no structure) could be otherwise.

If “presences” — perspicuous and freestanding entities — are made by discursive forms that are inevitably angled and partial, the announcement that any one of them rests on exclusions it (necessarily) occludes cannot be the announcement of lack or error. No normative conclusion — this is bad, this must be overthrown — can legitimately be drawn from the fact that something is discovered to be socially constructed; for by the logic of deconstructive thought everything is; which doesn’t mean that a social construction cannot be criticized, only that it cannot be criticized for being one.

Criticizing something because it is socially constructed (and thus making the political turn) is what Judith Butler and Joan Scott are in danger of doing when they explain that deconstruction “is not strictly speaking a position, but rather a critical interrogation of the exclusionary operations by which ‘positions’ are established.” But those “exclusionary operations” could be held culpable only if they were out of the ordinary, if waiting around the next corner of analysis was a position that was genuinely inclusive. Deconstruction tells us (we don’t have to believe it) that there is no such position. Deconstruction’s technique of always going deeper has no natural stopping place, leads to no truth or falsehood that could then become the basis of a program of reform. Only by arresting the questioning and freeze-framing what Derrida called the endless play of signifiers can one make deconstruction into a political engine, at which point it is no longer deconstruction, but just another position awaiting deconstruction.

Cusset drives the lesson home: “Deconstruction thus contains within itself…an endless metatheoretical regression that can no longer be brought to a stop by any practical decision or effective political engagement. In order to use it as a basis for subversion…the American solution was..to divert it…to split it off from itself.” American academics “forced deconstruction against itself to produce a political ’supplement’ and in so doing substituted for “Derrida’s patient philological deconstruction” a “bellicose drama.”

That drama features deconstruction either as a positive weapon or as an object of attack, but the springs of the drama are elsewhere (in the ordinary, not theoretical, world of economic/social interest) because deconstruction neither mandates nor authorizes any course of action. Participants in the drama invoke deconstruction as a justification for reform or as the cause of evil; but the relationship between what is either celebrated or deplored will be rhetorical, not logical. That is, deconstruction cannot possibly be made either the generator of a politics you like or the cause of a politics you abhor. It just can’t be done without betraying it.

But, Cusset observes, “Americans do not take kindly to things being impossible,” and even though the “very logic of French theoretical texts prohibits certain uses of them,” they have not refrained from “taking a criticism of all methods of putting texts to work and trying to put them to work.” The result is the story Cusset tells about the past 40 years. A bunch of people threatening all kinds of subversion by means that couldn’t possibly produce it, and a bunch on the other side taking them at their word and waging cultural war. Not comedy, not tragedy, more like farce, but farce with consequences. Careers made and ruined, departments torn apart, writing programs turned into sensitivity seminars, political witch hunts, public opprobrium, ignorant media attacks, the whole ball of wax. Read it and laugh or read it and weep. I can hardly wait for the movie.

Stanley Fisch

Fonte: NYTimes, 08.04.08

segunda-feira, 7 de abril de 2008

Sem medo de ser feliz

No artigo desta segunda-feira, na Folha, meu velho Mestre, apresenta, novamente argumentos exagerados sobre a situação econômica presente e futura do país. Segundo ele “ o país já voltou a condição de deficitário em conta corrente, e, alem da gradual transformação em uma fazenda e uma mina, corre-se o risco de termos nova crise de balanço de pagamentos em dois ou três anos”(p..B2,).

Ele parece não perceber que o déficit atual é bem diferente daquele do período do Governo FHC. É so olhar atentamente para os dados para perceber que ele é resultado do crescimento econômico, o qual, por vez, ocorre em bases melhores, em grande parte devido, às mudanças estruturais que vem alterando(para melhor) a economia brasileira desde o Governo Collor.

É um exagero retórico alardear a transformação do pais em “fazenda e uma mina”. Isto implica em negar todo o processo de modernização da economia brasileira, ai incluído, a modernização do setor agrícola.

O risco de crise do BP é pouco provável. Este é um dos poucos pontos positivos do sistema de metas de inflação, o que não implica afirmar ser este modelo imune a este tipo de crise, mas a probabilidade dela ocorrer é muita pequena.

Aparentemente, meu caro Mestre, realmente tem medo de ser feliz.

domingo, 6 de abril de 2008

A leitura conservadora da relação entre doutrina social católica e as leis econômicas

A leitura conservadora da relação entre a Doutrina Social Católica e a leis econômicas é pouco difundida entre nós, e uma boa introdução é o "paper"Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension do Thomas E.Wood, Jr. Abaixo um trecho deste texto:

"The primary difficulty with much of what has fallen under the heading of Catholic social teaching since Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891) is that it assumes without argument that the force of human will suffices to resolve economic questions, and that reason and the conclusions of economic law can be safely neglected, even scorned.4 In fact, as with the German Historical School that Ludwig von Mises opposed, proponents of Catholic social teaching effectively deny the very existence of economic law. Their position therefore neglects altogether the role that reason must play in assessing the consequences of seemingly "progressive" economic policies, as well as in apprehending the order and harmony that can exist within complex (in this case market) phenomena. This attitude runs directly counter to the entire Catholic intellectual tradition, according to which man is to conform his actions to reality, rather than embarking on the hopeless and foolish task of forcing the world to conform to him and to his desires. This corpus of thought wishes to force reality into outcomes that cannot be realized by will alone.
Thus, for example, that every man should earn a "family wage" that allows his family to live in reasonable comfort is a desirable social goal. The suggestion that such an outcome can be brought into existence by decree, however, that man’s will can establish such a state of affairs by his ipse dixit alone, and that no recourse to any so-called economic law can be of any help in ascertaining the probable outcome of such measures, is no more intellectually defensible than the suggestion that man’s desire to fly renders superfluous any need to take into account the law of gravity.
In sum, much of the economic counsel set forth as Catholic social teaching over the past century suffers from logical flaws and is factually mistaken in a number of its assertions. Such a position, whether or not its proponents realize it, represents the triumph of will over intellect, of the substitution of arbitrary will and desire for a rational assessment of laws of social interaction and the inevitable consequences of violent interference in that interaction. Such a posture, in addition to the damage it does to the existing stock of wealth and to social comity itself, is thoroughly uncharacteristic of the Catholic Church, an institution that has always emphasized the mind’s ability to perceive (and to rejoice in) the orderliness of God’s creation and to conform itself to it. Truth, say Catholic catechisms, consists of the conformity of mind to reality. Catholic "social teaching," on the other hand, too frequently demands that man allow mere desire and sentiment to form his judgment in economic matters, rather than assessing the consequences of economic measures with the aid of economic law, and rather than looking in the economic realm for the order and regularity to which the Church points in so many other areas as reflections of the orderliness of God himself."

sábado, 5 de abril de 2008

St Augustine sermons discovered

Six previously unknown sermons of St Augustine of Hippo have been discovered at Erfurt University in central Germany, a find that the head of the university's library department, Thomas Bouillon, has hailed as "most significant".

Three researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences discovered and identified the texts in a more than 800-year-old manuscript collection in the Bibliotheca Amploniana at Erfurt. Isabella Schiller, one of the three Viennese researchers, noticed that the small, 270-page, book of sermons by St Augustine (354-430), which she was working on, contained sermons that were not listed in her databank.

Three of the sermons concern almsgiving. St Augustine examines the relationship between giving alms to the bishop and the latter's duty to support his flock in return. In another sermon about St Cyprian, who was martyred in 258, Augustine criticises the practice of holding drunken orgies on martyrs' feast days. And one sermon is on the reality of the resurrection of the dead and on believing in the truth of biblical prophecies.

St Augustine's preaching in the cathedral at Hippo Regius - the Algerian port of Bone today - attracted people from many parts of northern Africa. Large crowds from the then flourishing city of Carthage came, some of whom brought their scribes with them. The scribes took the sermons down and St Augustine would correct their copies afterwards. Some collections of his sermons reached England via Italy by the year 1000, according to the Dutch St Augustine specialist Professor Hans van Oort. It is thought that the newly discovered sermons are part of one such collection and were copied in England. Structural and handwriting similarities to English manuscripts point to the likelihood that they reached the continent via England.

The Bibliotheca Amploniana at Erfurt University is the largest complete book collection of any one medieval scholar in the world. Its 600 volumes were left to the university by the Westphalian theologian and doctor of medicine Amplonius Rating de Berka (1363-1435).
The newly discovered sermons will be published in a Viennese journal on philology and patristics, Vienna Studies: Journal for Classical Philology and Patristics, and on 15 April the three researchers - Ms Schiller, along with Dorothea Weber and Clemens Weidmann, will give a lecture on their discovery at Erfurt University. The Austrian Academy of Sciences is the world's leading institute for research on St Augustine.

Fonte:Christa Pongratz-Lippitt , The Tablet, 05 April 2008.

sexta-feira, 4 de abril de 2008

The consensus for free trade among economists — has it frayed?

Alan Blinder focuses on online outsourcing of services in his own writings as also in the present debate organized by Ben Friedman; but the issues raised are far more general for free trade itself, and have been advertised as such by the media. So, for both analytical and public-policy reasons, I cast my own contribution very wide, putting Blinder’s arguments into necessary perspective.
Turn to the leading American newspapers these days and you will read about the “loss of nerve”, even “loss of faith”, in free trade by economists. Then, you get incessant protectionist pronouncements from the New Democrats (i.e. those successful in the latest elections) in the Congress, and calculated ambiguities on free trade from the Old Democrats (such as Hillary Clinton who infamously asked for a “pause” in ratifying trade deals) as they run for President. When challenged by the proponents of free trade, these politicians now typically say: “Ah, but economists no longer have a consensus on free trade”, citing these very same stories they read in the newspapers.
You might think therefore that the days of free trade are behind us in the US. Indeed, this clamor against free trade is so intense that we may soon turn to PBS and find a Requiem for Free Trade composed and performed from England by Sir Paul McCartney. Yet, all this hype reminds me of the cartoon where two dervishes are idly sitting on the desert sands, next to their camels, and one is reading the excitable Cairo newspaper Al-Ahram and telling the other: “It says that we are in ferment again”.
The truth of the matter is that free trade is alive and well among economists, their analytical arguments in favour of it, developed with great sophistication in the postwar theory of commercial policy, having hardly been dented by any original arguments by the few economists, including Alan Blinder in today’s debate, arrayed against it.
The Latest Celebration of the Flight from Free Trade by Economists
If one looks at the most recent flood of journalistic stories on free trade, it is astonishing (as I document below) how often they have been written in funereal overtones in recent years and with disregard for the historical reality that such stories have been recurrently written in the last twenty years in major newspapers and magazines. The latest stories are by reputed journalists such as Lou Uchitelle of the New York Times (January 30, 2007) and the team of Bob Davis and David Wessel in the Wall Street Journal (March 28, 2007). They often also profile the “dissenting” economists such as William Baumol (with his co-author, the hugely renowned mathematician Ralph Gomory) and Alan Blinder who is before us today.
But if their enthusiasm in imagining the failing health, even the demise, of free trade betrays ignorance of earlier such analyses that came to nought, it is equally noteworthy that these journalists are contradicted by others whose analysis of the robustness of trade among economists is more accurate. Thus, even as Davis and Wessel were writing their story of “second thoughts” on free trade, (March 28, 2007) in the Wall Street Journal, a conservative newspaper, and proclaiming that “In many ways, the debate over free trade is moving in …the direction [of the skeptics and opponents]”, I drew the attention of Davis in a telephone interview to the column by the brilliant and acute Eric Alterman in The Nation (February 12, 2007), today’s most influential leftwing magazine, which correctly complained instead of the continuing approbation of free trade by economists: “This column is not going to settle the dispute over whether the United States needs a tougher trade policy. I happen to think so, but I don’t expect to convince, say, Paul Krugman or Jagdish Bhagwati that I am right and they are wrong. My question is: Why does the opinion of the [political] majority of the country get nothing but contempt in public discourse?”
To gain necessary perspective on the current media stories about the economists’ yet-again disappearing consensus on free trade, let me then turn to document different episodes in recent years when false notes of alarm were sounded over free trade, similar in hype to those of the motley crew that I have just cited as the latest journalists writing in a similar vein. I will assess and dismiss the “heretical” arguments that were advanced against free trade in each episode; in fact, I was cast by the media in the role of the defender of free trade in all these episodes.
Earlier Episodes of Media Frenzy
Episode 1. The Rise of Japan: Krugman and Tyson By far the most striking dissent over free trade, the equivalent of a Category 5 storm, came from my MIT student, Paul Krugman, one of the truly profound figures today in the theory of international trade, who extended the theory of imperfect competition to trade theory and began to argue that “Free Trade was Passe After All” in the late 1980s, about two decades ago. The effect on the media, and on the opponents of free trade, was electric, largely because the rise of Japan, and the allegations that it was protectionist while the US was a free trader, had fed the frenzy that called for a reputable economist as an icon for protectionists.
Robert Kuttner, now the Editor of The American Prospect and long a skeptic on free trade, celebrated Krugman’s apparent heresy. Karen Pennar wrote in Businessweek (February 27, 1989), under the heading “The Gospel of Free Trade is Losing Its Apostles”, that “Free Trade is good for you…Now more and more economists aren’t so sure”. Aside from Krugman, Laura Tyson (also one of my most distinguished MIT students) was quoted in support of “using trade policies to promote and protect industries and technologies that we believe to be important to our well-being”, a position that was rejected by the Stanford economist Michael Boskin in the famous and politically-costly words: there is no difference between potato chips and semi-conductor chips.
Take just two of the main arguments, starting with Tyson’s advocacy of trade policy as an instrument of industrial policy. Tyson claimed that industries with externalities ought to be protected. But the problem with this is that it is very hard for policymakers, and very easy for lobbyists, to decide which industries have the externalities. As the Nobel Laureate Robert Solow, as good a Democrat as you can find, once remarked: I know there are lots of industries where there are four dollars worth of social output to one dollar worth of private output: my problem is that I do not know which ones they are. Besides, Michael Schrage of The Los Angeles Times decided to actually look at how potato and semiconductor chips were made and, while the proponents of industrial policy obviously thought that semiconductor chips were made with sophisticated technology but not potato chips, the reality turned out to be very different. The Pringle chips, available in mini-bars in fancy hotels are made by PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay subsidiary in virtually automated factories; whereas semiconductors involve mindless fitting of boards by workers with little advanced skills but much patience and ability to survive boredom. Moreover, I noted at the time in a review in The New Republic (May 31, 1993) of Laura Tyson’s influential book, Who’s Bashing Whom?, the exaggerated concern with what you produce as defining your economic destiny is a quasi-Marxist obsession bordering on folly. You can produce potato chips, export them and import computers which you may use to do creative things. Equally, you could produce semi-conductors, export them and import potato chips which you could munch as a couch potato, mindlessly watching television and turning into a moron. What you “consume”, in a broad sense, is likely to be far more important to you and your society’s well-being, than what you produce.
However, Krugman’s theoretical modeling of imperfect competition among firms producing differentiated products, and the modeling of oligopolistic industries (by Krugman’s contemporaries such as Gene Grossman of Princeton, my equally remarkable MIT student just behind Krugman), did raise problems for free trade at a deeper level. To understand this, consider that the last two centuries since Adam Smith wrote about the virtues of free trade had in fact witnessed repeated dissent from front-rank economists such as Keynes at the time of the Great Depression. In essence, the argument for free trade is an extension of the argument for the Invisible Hand: that if market prices do not reflect social costs, then the Invisible Hand, which uses market prices to guide allocation, will point in the wrong direction. During the Depression, evidently the market wages (which were positive) exceeded the social cost (which was zero because of widespread unemployment). So Keynes became a protectionist. Similarly, if polluters are able to pollute without having to pay for it, we would be overproducing in the polluting industry because its private cost would be below the social cost (which should include the cost being imposed through pollution). Again, the case for free trade would be compromised. Each generation seems to have discovered some market failure, appropriate to its time, which would then undermine the case for free trade.
But, writing in 1963 in the Journal of Political Economy, I made a simple point which turned out to be revolutionary for the case for free trade: I argued that if the specific market failure was eliminated by a suitable policy, then the case for free trade would be restored. So, if we were to introduce a “polluter pay” principle (or, tradable permits which would equally charge those who wanted to pollute), we would then be able to exploit the gains from trade fully by adopting free trade. The case for free trade had been restored after two centuries of recurrent doubts.
But there was just one important catch. If the market failure was in domestic “markets” such as labor markets where there may be imperfections such as rural-urban wage differentials or sticky wages which led to wages that exceeded “true” labor cost, then my argument was correct: and the vast majority of such imperfections were indeed in domestic markets. But if these imperfections arose in international trade, then fixing these failures would involve using tariffs and so free trade could not be restored as the appropriate policy. So, if a country or its producers had some power in international markets to raise the prices at which they could sell by offering lower quantities for sale, they would do better with what economists call “an optimal tariff”, an argument going back to the time of Adam Smith. Paul Krugman was dealing with precisely such imperfections.
But eventually Krugman and other trade economists came back to free trade in several writings, abandoning Kuttner et.al. to twist in the wind. Essentially, this was done through less watertight, but nonetheless compelling, “political-economy” arguments. One set of economists, among them Avinash Dixit of Princeton, returned to the fold by saying that “there was no beef”: i.e. that the product market imperfections were, on empirical investigation, not substantial enough to warrant departing from free trade. Another set of economists, Krugman among them, bought into the argument that protection would make matters worse, not better. My radical Cambridge teacher Joan Robinson used to say that the Invisible Hand worked by strangulation; the less drastic Krugmanesque demonstration that it was feeble when there were product market imperfections was now combined with the view that the Visible Hand would be crippled instead. Yet others thought that, once we allowed for tariff retaliation, it was unlikely that those who initiated protectionism would survive such retaliation to break open a bottle of champagne.
The protectionists who had celebrated Krugman as their icon were disappointed, even furious: Kuttner would write fierce critiques of Krugman, for instance, for years. But the truth of the matter is that, even as these economists came back to the fold on free trade, Japan ceased to be a threat and the hysteria over Japan, thick as a dense fog, subsided. Free Trade as our choice policy option was back in business.
Episode 2. The Rise of India and China: Paul Samuelson. But then the rise of India and China would lead to another Category 5 storm. This time, it came from the Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson, my teacher at MIT. Writing in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Summer 2004), he argued, combining mathematics not accessible to journalists with colorful language that was, that the advocates of globalization were ignoring the reality that the rise of India and China would mean that the welfare of the US could take a hit 1.
Although Samuelson had been careful that this did not mean that US should respond with protection, the protectionists thought that they had another icon, this time the arguably greatest economist with Keynes of the 20th century and a longtime proponent of free trade, in their camp! Kuttner was back in business; and there were numerous stories in the magazines and newspapers, matching those when Krugman arrived on the scene almost twenty years earlier: e.g. Aaron Bernstein “Shaking Up Trade Theory” in Businessweek (December 6, 2004), Steve Lohr “An Elder Challenges Outsourcing’s Orthodoxy” in The New York Times (September 9, 2004), among many others. Samuelson was careful, as reported by Steve Lohr form his interview for the Times story, to emphasize that his analysis “was not meant as a justification for protectionist measures”. But that was lost in the unwarranted inferences against free trade by the protectionists.
Now, economists have long appreciated that external (“exogenous”) developments could hurt an economy. In fact, my Cambridge teacher, Harry Johnson, wrote exactly on this issue in the 1950s, when the dollar was scarce and Europeans opted for the pessimistic view that US growth would harm them (much as many believe to be the case for the US as India and China are growing), and he argued that Europe could benefit instead. To see this by analogy, imagine what weather does to your welfare. If a hurricane hits Florida, that hurts. But if a good monsoon arrives in India, that helps.
So, only an unsophisticated economist (and Samuelson is right that there are some, though not necessarily the ones he cited) would rule out the logical possibility that the rise of China and India could harm the US. That part is not news. But what became news in the popular imagination, fed by much of the media and by protectionists, was that if such a pessimistic possibility actually transpired, the appropriate response was protectionism. To see this again very simply, suppose that a hurricane does damage Florida. If Governor Jeb Bush were to respond to this by shutting off trade with the rest of the US, if not the world, he would only be increasing Florida’s anguish. And Samuelson, whose scholarship in unimpeachable and who is no creature of passions or politics, evidently did not make this elementary error.
As this truth filtered through, as many economists noted this and Samuelson himself emphasized from time to time, the protectionists lost their new icon. Besides, increasingly economists exploring the subject showed that the pessimistic possibility that the rise of India and China so they became “more like us” could reduce the US gains from trade by depressing the prices of US exports, was not a likely outcome. As countries got similar in endowments, they could profit hugely from trade in similar products (or variety), as another student of mine, Robert Feenstra (who is today the leading applied economist on trade and heads the NBER Program on trade policy) in his Bernhard Harms Prize acceptance speech, and my brilliant Columbia colleague David Weinstein, demonstrated empirically for the postwar period when Europe and Japan rose again from the ashes. Besides, the immediate political source of worry, the scare created by the outsourcing of a few call-answer and back-office jobs to India (which Alan Blinder has bought into, I am afraid), also subsided as it became evident that the notion that all online trade was one-way was at variance with the facts.
Episode 3: India and China and Fear of Outsourcing: Alan Blinder. But outsourcing happened to revive again, a couple of years ago, when the distinguished macroeconomist Alan Blinder, with us today, who was deeply influenced by Thomas Friedman’s bestselling book on globalization --- which seemed to translate the credible statement by Bangalore’s remarkable IT entrepreneurs-cum-scientists such as Nandan Nilekani that they could do everything that Americans could do into the frightening non sequitur that therefore Indians would do everything that the Americans were doing --- published an essay in Foreign Affairs (April 2006) that bought into the line that outsourcing of services on the wire would increasingly export American jobs to these countries and imperil the US and its working and middle classes. So, he was now turned into a new icon for the protectionists even though Blinder always said that he was still a free trader but…! Davis and Wessel (Wall Street Journal) built their story against free trade around him; he made it to the National Public Radio and even to the iconic TV program, Charlie Rose.
But Blinder missed out on the fact that outsourcing on the wire (i.e. without the provider and the user having to be in physical proximity as with haircuts), which is Mode 1 of supplying services in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the Uruguay Round agreement in 1995, was the mode tha t the US and other rich countries were keenest about: they saw that they would be the big winners, as no doubt they are. For all the call-answer services and other low-skill services now imported from countries such as India, there are many more high-skill and high-value services by rich-country professionals in architecture, law, medicine, accounting, and other professions.
But Blinder has now shifted ground to arguing that, as services became tradable on line, the number of jobs which would become “vulnerable” would rise pari passu. And he lists upward of 40 million jobs today that are so afflicted. And he concludes that we need to augment adjustment assistance and improve education in response. There is much that may be contested here. E.g. if you wish to talk about flux, talking only about Mode 1 (online transmission of services) is incomplete. Trade economists know that this is only one of possible modes in the supply of services: e.g. transmission of services without the physical proximity of suppliers and users of the services. Transmitting x-rays digitally from Indiana to be read in India is one example. But then doctors can go to patients; and patients to doctors. The GATS agreement recognizes four distinct modes of Service “transactions”.
As it happens, the different Modes were distinguished in a couple of articles in The World Economy in the mid-1980s by me and by Gary Sampson and Richard Snape and astonishingly made their way into the GATS agreement within a decade: a remarkable triumph for us economists 2 .I described the basic distinction between service transactions that required physical proximity and those that did not, whereas Sampson and Snape brilliantly sub-divided the former into those where the provider went to the user and the other way around.
Blinder who does not appear to have known all this when he wrote his celebrated Foreign Affairs article, any more than I know about the relevant intricacies of macroeconomics where he holds the comparative advantage instead, has been wrong therefore to think only of Mode 1. In fact, the possible flux arises in more ways today than he talks about. That is also true because of direct foreign investment. E.g. when Senator Kerry talked about outsourcing, he meant also, confusingly, the phenomenon where a CEO closes down a factory in Nantucket and opens it up in Nairobi, or when that same CEO simply invests in production in Nairobi instead of in Nantucket.
But the bottom line from the viewpoint of trade policy is that hardly any serious trade economist or policymaker has objected to providing adjustment assistance (or improving education) in living memory. The first Adjustment Assistance program in the US goes back to 1962 during the Kennedy Round negotiations: Kennedy and George Meany of AFL-CIO signed off on it. Virtually every trade legislation since has tried to improve on it. And many trade economists including myself in the late 1960s, and others such as Lael Brainard, Robert Lawrence and Robert Litan at Brookings in recent years, have written extensively and continually on the subject. Blinder, who started talking poetry, has therefore wound up talking prose. We free traders have no problem with him as he is on the same escalator even if he is behind us. If he is to remain the new icon for those who oppose free trade, they have to be pretty desperate.
So, these three balloons with journalists aboard, waving banners against free trade, have lost their helium. Free trade has continued to maintain its credibility among economists. Of course, there have been other, less influential assaults on free trade --- among them, I must count that by Baumol and Gomory (2000) who have enjoyed nonetheless some exposure, especially from the influential leftwing columnist William Greider in The Nation (April 30, 2007) and ironically also from the supply-side economist Paul Craig Roberts in his assault on outsourcing in the Wall Street Journal 3.
I might say simply that these authors make one important but familiar point, with little policy relevance as I argue now. It is the old one, which I learnt as a student from R.C.O.Matthews, my Cambridge tutor in 1954-56, who had written a classic paper on increasing returns, with others such as the Nobel Laureate James Meade and Harry Johnson following soon after, showing that sufficiently increasing returns would imply multiple equilibria and that this in turn implied (among other things) that there could exist a better free trade equilibrium than the one we may be in. Matthews and Meade, and many others such as Murray Kemp, had made this observation but by using the analytical device that the increasing returns were external to the firm but internal to the industry, a device that enabled perfect competition to be maintained. By the time Paul Krugman was writing his dissertation in the 1970s, economists had learnt how to handle imperfect competition; and so Krugman managed brilliantly to show multiple equilibria in this different, and more realistic, setting. Trade economists had known these arguments for almost half a century and taught them from standard textbooks such as mine (with Panagariya and Srinivasan). The analytical buzz therefore from the Baumol-Gomory book of 2000 was muted.
But when translated into policy prescription, all it could mean was that industrial policy, buttressed Tyson-style by appropriately tailored trade policy, could nudge us towards the “better” equilibrium. But neither author managed to do this, as far as we know. So, paraphrasing Robert Solow on externalities, one might say: yes, if scale economies are important, there could be multiple equilibria and we could use trade and industrial policies to choose a “better” equilibrium; but, alas, who can plausibly compute this better equilibrium? Besides, it is hard to imagine today that, with world markets so large due to the death of distance and extensive postwar trade liberalization, there are any industries or products left where the scale economies do not pale into modest proportions. Baumol and Gomory, a brilliant pair indeed, therefore do not carry any policy salience, in my view 4.
But one assault that is ongoing, and has had an impact on the New Democrats for sure, is that by economists associated with the AFL-CIO (such as Thea Lee), and with the labour-movement-influenced think tank Economic Policy Institute (such as Lawrence Mishel). In their view the pressure on unskilled wages, and progressively on the middle class as well, is to be traced to trade with the poor countries. None of this seems to face up well to the empirical studies of the subject. In an op.ed. titled “Technology, not globalisation, is driving wages down” in the Financial Times (January 4, 2007), I argued that the vast numbers of empirical studies (including by Paul Krugman) had shown that trade with poor countries had a negligible impact on our workers’ absolute real wages (as against the relative wages of the skilled and the unskilled 5. [Nor did alternative ways of tying the depressed wages to trade (and even unskilled, illegal immigration) have any empirical salience.] Harvard University Kennedy School’s prolific trade expert Robert Lawrence, in a splendid unpublished recent paper, concurs with this view, concluding that the impact of trade on the slow growth of wages does not “show up” in his analysis of the data.
The New Democrats who continue to believe nonetheless in this imaginary downside of free trade are not doing anyone any good. In fact, they use these erroneous beliefs to stop trade liberalization and to use every trick in the book to intimidate weak nations into accepting inappropriate labor standards in the hope of raising their cost of production to moderate the force of competition that they fear 6.
Paul Krugman, in one of his columns in the New York Times (May 14, 2007) did say that his own research earlier had shown that trade did not depress wages. But then he added: “But that may have changed” (italics inserted). The suggested reason was that “we’re buying a lot more from third-world countries today than we did a dozen years ago”. But it is easy to show that you can multiply such imports and still not have any effect on real wages. This particular case against free trade remains unproven and will not rise above the level of innuendos until some dramatic empirical study demonstrates otherwise.

Notes1. Paul Samuelson, “Where Ricardo and Mill Rebut and Confirm Arguments of Mainstream Economists Supporting Globalization”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 18(3), Summer 2004. back to textMy own article, “The Muddles over Outsourcing”, written with Arvind Panagariya and T.N.Srinivasan, appeared in the same journal in Autumn 2004, Vol. 18(4), right after Samuelson’s, and was regarded by many in the media as a “response” to Samuelson. It was not; we were not even aware of the Samuelson article when we wrote ours. Our article was in fact the first analytical exercise, with a number of theoretical models, exploring trade in services; and it was also the first to argue that several critics and commentators, including economists, were muddling up very different notions of what “outsourcing” meant and hence muddling their arguments, in turn. 2. Jagdish Bhagwati, “Splintering and Disembodiment of Services in Developing Nations”, The World Economy, Vol. 7, June 1984; and Gary Sampson and Richard Snape, “Identifying the Issues in Trade in Services”, The World Economy, Vol.8, June 1985. back to text3. William Baumol and Ralph Gomory, Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests, MIT Press; Cambridge, 2000. back to text4. There is one other argument in Baumol and Gomory which does not rely on scale economies. It is simply that technology may diffuse abroad and that this may create difficulties for the United States. This is similar to the concerns that India and China may become more similar in endowments and hence the gains from trade may diminish for the United States. But I have dealt with that argument already in discussing Samuelson. back to text5. There has also been dispute about how stagnant real wages have been, with some economists such as Marvin Kosters and Richard Cooper arguing that, once benefits and perks outside of strict wages are allowed for, the stagnation turns into slow growth. But I avoid this debate, arguing only about the explanation of stagnation or slow growth, as the case may be. back to text6. I have dealt with the phenomenon of export protectionism in the form of demands for higher labour standards in the poor countries in my book, In Defense of Globalization, Oxford 2004, and particularly in the Afterword to the new edition issued in August 2007. In discussing the protectionism that now characterizes the New democrats, I have dealt with this issue in several other places, such as the Financial Times and do not enter that set of arguments here.

Jagdish Bhagwati

Fonte: WTO