sábado, 31 de maio de 2008

Where have all the thinkers gone?

Interessante entrevista com um famoso Cardeal belga.

Progressive Catholics might think that Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who is 75 next week, would be concerned that the Church is moving away from the ideals of Vatican II. But what really concerns him, he tells Robert Mickens, is the scarcity of intellectuals among bishops

Cardinal Godfried Danneels was taking no chances. Two weeks before celebrating his seventy-fifth birthday on 4 June, he had already sent his letter of resignation to the Vatican. "Because you never know if the Italian post is working," the cardinal tells me playfully - and knowingly. After all, he lived in Rome from 1956 to 1959 while earning a doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University. But as I laugh at his gentle dig at the Italian work ethic, the cardinal breaks in with a mischievous grin: "I am a polite man, so I wanted [the letter] to be on time." And there it is, in the very first minute of our hour-long visit: Cardinal Danneels' subtle and ironic humour or the "Danneels Code" as one of his admirers calls it.
It's Friday, 4 p.m., and I am in the old Flemish city of Mechlin (Malines in French) at the archiepiscopal residence, sitting at a table with one of the top intellectuals in the College of Cardinals. But the stately white "palace" is the only external sign to the unsuspecting visitor that Cardinal Danneels is a man of importance. It is certainly not evident in his dress or demeanour. As usual, he is wearing a simple black suit with clerical collar. The only thing that distinguishes him from a parish priest is the silver pectoral cross around his neck and the flat gold band on his right-hand ring finger. There are no priest attendants or secretaries fussing over him, no clerical entourage to announce his presence. There are only two laywomen - a receptionist and another who accompanies guests to the cardinal's study.
Cardinal Danneels is obviously well aware of the symbolism of all this. After all, before being named a bishop in 1977 he taught systematic and sacramental theology for 18 years, the last eight of those at the fabled University of Louvain. So I ask him to explain the significance of his modern-looking pectoral cross with its image of the risen Christ. "It is a risen Lord, not the dying Lord," he points out. And it is "very cheap ... something like half a euro in Rome", he says. But this is not because he lacks taste. On the contrary. Cardinal Danneels, in the best Belgium tradition, is a man of high culture and a patron of the arts, though he is not above relaxing to the Dixie sounds of New Orleans jazz. "But I like it very much because it is Christ who is rising on the Cross. It is typical Johannine," he stresses. "If you look at the Cross with the crucified Jesus it is exactly correct. But you look at what we have before the Resurrection. We are [living] after the Resurrection ... and for a long time already," he says, his voice rising slightly as if to suggest that perhaps too many people have forgotten that part.
Comments like this have earned Belgium's cardinal a reputation for being a progressive. But it is a label that he accepts only cautiously and with qualification. "I have never had the impression that I was a very ideological progressive," he says, though admits that he has been "a bit progressive". Not surprisingly he quotes his visionary predecessor, Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens (1904-1996) and declares that he stands in "the extreme centre", for - after all - to be a "blind progressive is not very intellectual". Suenens, of course, was one of the key figures of the Second Vatican Council and the leading progressive voice in the immediate post-conciliar period. Cardinal Danneels tells me of his "great admiration" and "great affection" for his predecessor, pointing out that he had a good "instinct" for reading the signs of the times. "But," he says, exercising that qualifier, "it was another time."
It is a time that has deeply shaped Godfried Danneels. "I must say that the Second Vatican Council is very central in my life," the cardinal tells me with great seriousness. "My whole life has been the application of Vatican II, especially in liturgy, catechesis, the relationship between the Church and the world ..." His voice trails off. Then he reminds me that even before the council was convened in 1962 its teachings and ways of thinking were commonplace in Belgium. "It was not a surprise what was decided at Vatican II. All those things were known ... What was new was that the Church confirmed all that in a council," he says.
In more than 31 years as a bishop the cardinal has tried to encourage his priests and laity to "read the council" and to work together. Lay collaboration has become more and more essential with the declining number of new priests. Even though there are still more than 1,900 diocesan and religious-order priests officially listed as living in the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, many are already retired and the largest percentage will soon reach retirement age. Critics say that Cardinal Danneels has not attracted new priesthood candidates (only two were ordained in 2007) because he is, in a word, too progressive in a Church that is drawing more traditional men to service. This goes hand in hand with the criticism that he is overly optimistic about trends in society.
"From time to time they say that I see things as too rosy, but I think we have to give credit to the good that is happening," he says. "I have always had an immense respect for every feeling and every thought of every human being I have ever met," he tells me. Keeping an "open mind" and being "very hopeful" comes from a belief that "fundamentally the human being is a good being". He adds: "We need a therapy, but we can be healed."
Since this all sounds very much in the vein of Cardinal Suenens, I ask him what aspects of the Church of today would sadden his pre-decessor. Cardinal Danneels pauses for several seconds, obviously suspicious that the question is indirectly aimed at him. "Well," he begins, with a knowing look, "stupid progressivism." I smile at what seems to be one of those clever responses in the "Danneels Code". Cardinal Suenens would surely have been grieved as much or more by stupid conservatism, as well as by those who espouse it.
Cardinal Danneels, though he is open-minded and respectful, is distressed that there are not brighter men in the Church hierarchy. This point comes up as we speak about the Synod of Bishops. He has attended every assembly since 1980. "When I look at the synod assembly, so many good people are there with really pastoral hearts. They are good shepherds. But from time to time I think it would be good if 5 per cent of them were also thinkers, that don't lack hearts. We need among the bishops and cardinals some really intelligent people."
When I ask Cardinal Danneels if he would like to see some developments or changes from the Vatican he says, "I do not know the Vatican very well, I am here ..." This is despite the cardinal being a long-standing member of four Roman Congregations and a consultant to the Secretariat of State. However, he has publicly questioned the Vatican's intransigence on certain issues, such as denying the sacraments to divorced and remarried Catholics or speaking against the use of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of Aids. And there is also the infamous 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. "It's a problem," Cardinal Danneels says when I mention the papal document. "We have concentrated the whole problem on the pill," he adds, pointing out that the encyclical has deflected people's attention from the other good things the Church has to say about marriage.
However, he accuses not only the Church as an institution, but also himself, for not having done enough for families. When asked what more he could have done, the cardinal says without hesitation that he could have "been much more positive to support and encourage" strong families rather than mostly focusing on broken families. "They feel like orphans and the Church sometimes forgets she is a mother," he pleads.
When Cardinal Danneels became Bishop of Antwerp in 1977 he wrote the first of what are now more than 50 pastoral letters, which are issued at Christmas and Easter. He speaks proudly of these pamphlets, which he says are widely read "outside the Church". He has covered a huge range; one of the latest focused on stress. But it is the first letter that seems to sum up the ideal he has tried to live. It was about the "ministry of encouragement".
Cardinal Danneels has always shunned talk about his his legacy, saying it is "better to remain humble". But he says there is a line from St Francis of Assisi that could be an epitaph for his life: "You should never let anyone leave your presence in sadness." Trying to follow these words is the only achievement the cardinal is willing to ponder. "When I am before the throne of God at the end of my life, the first thing I will say to God is, ‘Have compassion on me.' And he will probably say, ‘I have. Come in ... maybe a bit of Purgatory first ...'" The cardinal begins to laugh and finishes the thought, "‘... but it is just to get you acclimatised

Fonte: The Tablet, 31.05.08

sexta-feira, 30 de maio de 2008

Fagundes e a distribuição de renda

Voltando para casa ontem a noite; observando a fila de carros , os canhões de luzes – do tipo que o Comissario Gordon usava para chamar o Batman - as arvores finas como pernas de saracuras, a nova ponte estaida, o vento frio, compondo o cenário perfeito para o gosto, não raro duvidoso, dos convidados para a inauguração do mais novo símbolo do novos ricos paulistanos; pensei na última grande declaração de Fagundes. Não, estou falando do grande ator, mas de um ator menor, que disfarçado, bate ponto na nossa Las Vegas.

Ah! mas você cara leitor, talvez, não conheça o Fagundes. Permita-me refrescar sua memória, ou, para os mais jovens, apresentá-lo:”Todos os momentos de sua existência são dedicados a enaltecer seu chefinho – para o desespero desse último. Ele, para Fagundes, será sempre o primeiro e único, a razão de sua existência”. Ele é uma das mais divertidas criações do Laerte.

Pois é, ..., segundo leio nos jornais para ele : "Há uma mobilidade social brasileira inexistente na maioria dos países. Na maioria, o que há é concentração de renda. Aqui, não há concentração. “. É esta ausência de concentração de renda, que explica o belo cenário ontem na marginal do rio pinheiros, uma demonstração, se ainda necessário, da mais perfeita distribuição de renda.

quinta-feira, 29 de maio de 2008

The snow man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens

quarta-feira, 28 de maio de 2008

Lições da crise financeira de 2007

Abaixo o abstract da nova versão de um artigo do Buiter sobre a crise financeira de 2007. Como ja mencionado neste blog, ele é um dos melhores macroeconomistas, ainda, em atividade e sempre vale a pena ler os seus trabalhos.

The paper studies the causes of the current financial crisis and on the policy responses by central banks and regulators. It also considers proposals for the prevention or mitigation of future crises.
The crisis is the product of a ‘perfect storm’ bringing together a number of microeconomic and macroeconomic pathologies. Among the microeconomic systemic failures were: wanton securitisation, fundamental flaws in the rating agencies’ business model, the procyclical behaviour of leverage in much of the financial system and of the Basel capital adequacy requirements, privately rational but socially inefficient disintermediation, and competitive international de-regulation. Reduced incentives for collecting and disseminating information about counterparty risk were a pervasive feature of the new financial world of securitisation and off-balance sheet vehicles. So was lack of transparency about who owned what and about who owed what and to whom. In many ways, the crisis can be seen as a failure of the transactions-oriented model of financial capitalism favoured in the US and the UK. Proximate local drivers of the specific way in which these problems manifested themselves were regulatory and supervisory failure in the US home loan market.
Among the macroeconomic pathologies that contributed to the crisis were, first, excessive global liquidity creation by key central banks and, second, an ex-ante global saving glut, brought about by the entry of a number of high-saving countries (notably China) into the global economy and by the global redistribution of wealth and income towards commodity exporters that also had, at least in the short run, high propensities to save. Very low risk-free long-term real interest rates and unprecedently low credit risk spreads of all kinds together with the ‘great moderation’ – low and stable inflation and stable global GDP growth – prompted an increasingly frantic ‘search for yield’.
In the UK, failures of the Tripartite financial stability arrangement between the Treasury, the Bank of England and the FSA, weaknesses in the Bank of England’s liquidity management, regulatory failure of the FSA, an inadequate deposit insurance arrangement and deficient insolvency laws for the banking sector contributed to the financial disarray and the failure of a medium-sized home-loan bank, Northern Rock. In the US, the balkanised and incoherent structure of regulation of financial institutions and financial markets, even at the Federal level, meant that too many regulators are involved but none is ever in charge or responsible.
Despite this, since the excesses were confined mainly to the financial sector and, in the US and some European countries, the household sector, it should have been possible to limit the spillovers over from the crisis beyond the financial sector and the housing sector without macroeconomic heroics. Measures directly targeted at the liquidity crunch should have been sufficient. The macroeconomic response of the Fed to the crisis - 325 basis point worth of cuts between September 2007 and May 2008 and a 75 basis point cut in the discount window penalty – therefore seem excessive and create doubt about the Fed’s commitment to price stability.The liquidity-enhancing policies of the Fed, and its bailout of the investment bank Bear Stearns, were effective in dealing with the immediate crisis. They also were, quite unnecessarily, structured so as to maximise moral hazard by distorting private incentives in favour of excessively risky future borrowing and lending. The cuts in the discount rate penalty, the extraordinary arrangements for pricing the collateral offered to the Fed by the primary dealers through the TSLF and the PDCF, the proposals for bringing forward the payment of interest on bank reserves, the terms of the Bear Stearns bail out and the ‘Greenspan-Bernanke put’ rate cut on January 21/22 2008, 75 bps at an unscheduled meeting and out of normal hours, are most easily rationalised as excess sensitivity of the Fed to Wall Street concerns, reflecting (cognitive) regulatory capture of the Fed by Wall Street.
The macroeconomic stability records of the Bank of England and of the ECB have been superior to those of the Fed. After climbing a quite steep liquidity learning curve in the early months of the crisis, the Bank of England is now performing its lender of last resort and market maker of last resort roles more effectively. It would be desirable to have the information in the public domain that is required to determine whether the ECB (through the Eurosystem) is pricing illiquid collateral appropriately. There is reason for concern that the ECB may be accepting collateral in repos and at its discount window at inflated valuations, thus joining the Fed in boosting future moral hazard through the present encouragement of adverse selection.
The Fed, unlike the ECB and the Bank of England, is also a banking sector regulator and supervisor. This gives it an informational advantage. The downside to the Fed’s position is the risk of regulatory capture. I believe that what I call ‘cognitive regulatory capture’ of the Fed by Wall Street has occurred during the past two decades. The net result is that both as regards macroeconomic stability and as regards future financial stability, the Fed has performed worse during this crisis than the ECB and the Bank of England.
Future regulation will have to be base on size and leverage of institutions. It will have to be universal (applying to all leveraged institutions above a certain size), uniform, countercyclical and global.
Financial crises will always be with us.

Para ler o artigo: here

terça-feira, 27 de maio de 2008

Resultados do setor externo

O resultado negativo da CC, provavelmente, vai roubar algumas noites de sono da turma que se passa por economistas em Barão Geraldo e Perdizes. Crise externa a vista, é uma questão de tempo, e outras tolices do gênero definem a retórica desta turma. Contudo, para a infelicidade deles, não parece que será desta vez que a crise final, o “derrumbe”, nos atingirá.

A situação do setor externo ainda não é preocupante, é preciso esperar para ver qual será o comportamento da remessa de lucros e dividendos. Se de fato é apenas uma realocação de recursos para cobrir prejuízos e, no caso do setor financeiro, se o valor atual destes prejuízos esta correto. Há também o impacto da greve dos auditores fiscais da receita. Enfim é preciso esperar.

O volume de investimento direto é um dado positivo, mas é preciso lembrar que no futuro, ele deverá gerar como contrapartida a remessa de lucros e dividendos. Digo pode, porque o resultado positivo deste investimento poderá ser reinvestido novamente no Brasil. Contudo, é razoável esperar que parte dele deverá sair sobre a forma de remessa de lucros e dividendos.

segunda-feira, 26 de maio de 2008

O relativismo bresseriano

Em interessante artigo publicado na FSP, no inicio deste mês, Bresser analisa a enorme dificuldade em governar países pobres, como é o caso de alguns países da America Latina: Venezuela, Equador e Bolívia . Ameaças de golpes e julgamento negativo dos seus governantes, definem o agir político da elites locais e constituem o pesadelo dos lideres políticos de países pobres.

O artigo, retoma temas caros ao autor, um nacionalista de esquerda da velha guarda , com uma certa dose de relativismo, como fica explicito nesta passagem do artigo : “ as elites do dois países[pobres e ricos] insistem em julgar esses líderes de acordo com critérios adequados a países desenvolvidos, em vez de compreenderem que os padrões mais baixos de desenvolvimento político exigem igualmente padrões menos rigorosos de avaliação”(FSP, 05.05.08, Pg.B2). Bresser assume uma relação de causalidade entre desenvolvimento econômico e desenvolvimento institucional, ou seja quanto mais pobre é um país “menos informada politicamente será sua população”. A tese não é nova e continua sendo controversa. Há países em que ela parece ser valida e outros que negam sua validade, o que reduz seu poder explicativo, assim como a sua utilidade.

Uma consequência obvia desta linha de argumentação é que ela serve como justificativa para praticas intervencionistas dos países ricos e, principalmente, para a tolerância com que são tratados ditadores em vários países pobres. Afinal nada se pode fazer, apenas esperar pelo desenvolvimento econômico, que resolverá os problemas institucionais destes pobres países. Ate la, melhor aceitar os Ditadores, afinal é isto que se espera dos países pobres.

domingo, 25 de maio de 2008

Um certo grilho falante

O grilho falante de um ex- Ministro da Fazenda do Governo Lula, levanta uma questão importante: o impacto negativo dos debates sobre a política econômica sobre esta mesma política econômica. Segundo ele “ na condução da política econômica, muitas vezes, silêncio e serenidade auxiliam mais do que ativismo e declarações sucessivas”( FSP, 25.05.08, pag.B5). Estaria ele defendendo o regime ditatorial? Afinal, em um regime democrático é normal a disputa, interna, sobre os rumos da política econômica. Ela esteve presente em vários governos brasileiros, como é o caso recente do Governo FHC e, em período mais distante, no segundo Governo Vargas. Política econômica, é acima de tudo Política, parece que nosso grilho falante confunde teoria econômica com política econômica. Erro fatal, ainda que recorrente, que não se esperaria de alguém de reconhecido talento e competência.

Em outra passagem ele argumenta que “ os anúncios ansiosos de que algo será feito( ainda que nada muito relevante, até agora, tenha ocorrido) aumentam a volatilidade dos preços dos ativos e reduzem a segurança para os investimentos de longo prazo”. O impacto sobre a volatibilidade é uma possibilidade real, mas é necessário compará-lo com os impactos de outras variáveis, para conhecermos sua relevância. Já a questão da segurança não parece ser muito convincente. Redução na segurança tem impacto sobre os investimentos de longo prazo, via aumento no risco de expropriação do retorno sobre este mesmo investimento. Caberia ao nosso grilho falante apresentar exemplos onde isto de fato ocorreu.

É ponto pacifico que Fagundes prestaria um grande serviço a nação com um emprego fora do Governo. Este, alias, parece ser, um dos objetivos do nosso grilho falante. Um segundo é criticar a posição, correta como já comentada em um post anterior, de um conhecido economista de esquerda com livre transito neste e em outros governos e que, aparentemente, estaria sendo ouvido pelo Presidente. Parece que nosso grilho falante não consegue ser ouvido e tem como único meio, um tanto desesperado, diga-se de passagem, a pagina de economia de um grande jornal.

sábado, 24 de maio de 2008

Poder de persuasão

Interessante artigo sobre a participação da Igreja em debates na esfera política. A reflexão é feita a partir da experiência britanica, mas é útil, também, para o Brasil.

Does the Church have the right to try to influence political processes, such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill? And if so, how? A new report from a Christian think tank sets out how the Church should engage in modern politics

What is the easiest way to win an argument? You might choose to undermine your opponent's logic, discredit their facts or show how ghastly things would be if they had their way. But surely the easiest way is simply to deny them a voice in the first place.
It has been interesting to see how this tactic has been deployed in debates over the recent Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Few use it quite that blatantly, of course, but if your opponents are religious, it is so much easier to deploy the "religion is private" card than actually to engage with their arguments.

Para ler o artigo completo:Powers of persuasion

sexta-feira, 23 de maio de 2008

Boas notícias

O lançamento da revista “ Interesse Nacional” é um bom sinal. Ainda não tive a oportunidade de ler a revista, mas a lista de contribuidores para o número de lançamento é auspiciosa: diversidade de linhas e de filiação partidária é o que se espera de uma revista dedicada a este tema e é isto, justamente, o que encontramos no primeiro número. É esperar para ver ... e torcer para que ela possa romper a barreira que o tema ainda encontra nas Universidades de elite.

Uma segunda boa noticia é a suspensão do lançamento do Fundo Soberano. Segundo a Folha o Presidente ainda tem dúvidas “sobre o uso de recursos do superávit primário para formar seu caixa”. É mais uma decisão correta do Presidente, que poderia aproveitar a oportunidade e encontrar um outro emprego para Fagundes, o formulador de idéias exóticas. É sempre possível encontrar um emprego bem remunerado em algum canto do globo, principalmente na capital do Império. Por falar nisto, Walter Ego, continua implicando com o famoso Napoleão de Hospício, que justiça seja feita é um ótimo economista, enquanto o primeiro é um esforçado contador de histórias.

quinta-feira, 22 de maio de 2008

Dois poemas de Langston Hughes

I, Too

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at rable
When company comes
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beatiful I am
And be ashamed -

I, too, am America



Between two rivers,
North of the park,
Life darker rivers
The streets are dark.

Black and white,
Gold and brown -
Pie of a town.

Dream withim a dream,
Our dream deferred.

Good morning, daddy!

Ain't you heard?

quarta-feira, 21 de maio de 2008

Mendonça de Barros e a política industrial

L.C.Mendonça de Barros, um dos melhores analistas da economia brasileira, apresentou, recentemente na Folha novos ( ou velhos?) argumentos em defesa da política industrial, no formato de três lições.
Ele inicia o artigo afirmando que “em primeiro lugar, quero dizer que acredito na necessidade de um país como o Brasil ter uma política industrial. Não concordo com os que negam que a articulação entre o setor privado e o governo seja um caminho eficiente para desenvolver o tecido industrial de um país em desenvolvimento.”
A história econômica brasileira e de outros países esta longe de comprovar a tese da eficiência. Mendonça de Barros menciona apenas um exemplo de fracasso, o da Cobra, e elogia, como era de se esperar, o sucesso da Embraer. Contudo, se levarmos em consideração o montante de recursos públicos investidos nesta empresa, a avaliação não será tão rósea quanto a do Mendonça. Ele esquece, também, de mencionar a Engesa e outros exemplos de eficiência da política industrial. Mesmo aceitando a tese dele, ela não se aplicaria ao Brasil, que esta longe de ser um país em desenvolvimento. Neste quesito, a avaliação do FHC ne parece correta.
“A primeira, e talvez a mais importante, é a de que nenhuma política industrial tem viabilidade se não respeitar o mercado. Em outras palavras, ela precisa ter as forças de mercado a seu favor e nunca andar na mão oposta”. É no mínimo curiosa. Qual seria, então sua razão de ser? Ela somente poderá respeitar o mercado e contar com o favor do mercado, se não assumirmos assimetria de informações. Sabemos que as informações do gestor e do mercado são diferentes e o que o grande erro da política industrial é achar que ela pode antecipar-se ao mercado.
“A segunda lição que a história nos ensina é que a política industrial deve acompanhar a evolução do capitalismo brasileiro.” O contrário é que não poderia ser. Mas, ele tem razão, no Brasil algumas obviedades, ainda são novidades.
“A terceira lição nos ensina que a política industrial deve responder às necessidades do setor privado, eliminando ou reduzindo os principais obstáculos estruturais ao seu desenvolvimento.” É correto, somente se aceitarmos que as necessidade deste setor, são as mesmas da sociedade como um todo. Convenhamos que é uma tese no mínimo heróica e, não raro, justificativa para a defesa de interesses de classe em nome do interesse nacional. Não estou negando a existência do interesse nacional, muito pelo contrário: ele existe e é importante, mas não pode ser confundido com o interesse de classe. Uma indicação da miséria intelectual brasileira é ausência de debates sobre o interesse nacional: presente em Universidades de elite mundo afora, por aqui ainda engatinha.

terça-feira, 20 de maio de 2008

O eterno retorno

“ A desvalorização cambial implica redução temporária de salários reais e um aumento tambem temporário da inflação”(FSP.19.05.08). Finalmente alguem reconhece os impactos negativos de uma alteração na taxa de cãmbio. Mais uma demonstração de coragem do Sr. Bresser Pereira. Resta, contudo, a questão: seria temporária? Na historia econômica brasileira encontramos varios exemplos de políticas que deveriam ter um impacto negativo, apenas, temporário sobre os salários reais e a inflação e que terminaram tendo um impacto permanente. Não é facil aceitar que desta vez seria diferente.

Uma outra questão deve ser lembrada: trata-se, também, da transferência de renda entre setores da economia brasileira. O setor vencedor, neste caso, seria, naturalmente o exportador. É o eterno retorno da velha pratica mercantilista com uma roupagem, aparentemente, moderna, mas , na verdade roto.

segunda-feira, 19 de maio de 2008

Inflation here, there and everywheree

Buiter é um dos melhores macroeconomistas da atualidade. Autor de um livro clássico de macroeconomia e artigos fundamentais em politica fiscal e monetária.

What is inflation?
Inflation is rising just about everywhere. Why is this and what can be done about it?
To get some basic concepts clear: inflation is a sustained rise in the general price level. Both the words ’sustained’ and ‘general price level’ are imprecise and in need of operationalisation. By general price level I mean a broad, representative index of consumer prices. That excludes the (headline) CPI in the UK because, like the other EU harmonised price indices, it excludes housing costs (that is, the rental cost of housing services or the imputed rental paid by owner occupiers). This makes the CPI/HICP indices unrepresentative, unless either the relative price of housing services and the goods and services included in the CPI/HICP remains constant or UK/EU citizens live in cardboard boxes provided free of charge by the Salvation Army. It may come to that, but not yet. The UK’s RPI and RPIX indices would be more representative.
I also exclude as unrepresentative various ‘core’ price indices, which exclude from the headline index such things as food, drink, energy and fuel. Among leading central banks, only the Fed has focused mainly on core inflation rather than on the headline index of consumer goods and services prices. Focusing on core inflation will be misleading unless either the relative price of core and non-core goods and services is expected to remain constant or Americans don’t eat , drink, drive cars and heat their houses or use air conditioning.

Para ler o artigo completo:http://blogs.ft.com/maverecon/

domingo, 18 de maio de 2008

Piadas sobre Economistas e Economia IV

Há duas classes de economistas que prevêem as coisas: Aqueles que não sabem e aqueles que não sabem que não sabem. (J.K. Galbraith)

Lei de Murphy da Política Econômica: Os economistas tem a menor influência na Política Econômica quanto mais sabem e mais concordam; tem a maior influência na Política Econômica quando sabem o mínimo e discordam veementemente. (Alan S. Blinder)


Um economista é um especialista que saberá amanhã porquê as coisas que previu ontem não acontecerem hoje. (Laurence J.Peter)


Um estudo de economia geralmente revela que a melhor época para comprar qualquer coisa é o ano passado.


Se todos os economistas fossem postos lado a lado eles não iriam alcançar uma conclusão. (George B. Shaw)


Se você coloca dois economistas em uma sala, você acha duas opiniões, ao não ser que um deles seja Keynes, quando você acha três opiniões. (W. Churchill)


Um economista é alguém que vê alguma coisa funcionando na prática e pergunta como funcionaria em princípios. (Stephen M. Goldfeld)


Há alguns anos atrás houve um desfile na União Soviética. Tanques, soldados, mísseis e aeronaves desfilaram. Depois dez homens vestidos de terno e gravata seguiram os pelotões.
— Aqueles são nossos espiões ?, perguntou Gorbatchev para o diretor da KGB.
— Não, são economistas. Imagine o estrago que vão causar nos Estados Unidos quando deixarmos com os americanos.


Uma maneira rápida de identificar se alguém é um economista. Pergunte ao sujeito qual a diferença entre ignorância e indiferença. Se ele responder "Eu não sei e não quero saber", pode estar seguro que é um economista. Agora resta a questão do que fazer com ele.


Se um economista e um advogado estivessem ambos se afogando e você pudesse salvar apenas um deles, você iria almoçar ou ler um jornal

sábado, 17 de maio de 2008

Good will ethics

Ainda não li o livro, mas a resenha abaixo o recomenda.

Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, edited by James F Keenan, Continuum £16.99

These 18 articles are the result of the first meeting at Padua, in July 2006, of an international panel of 400 theological ethicists from 63 countries. It is the kind of book I have been waiting for a long time to be able to recommend and it deserves to be read widely by pedagogues, pastors and priests. This is Catholic theology at its best, challenging and embracing what it should not evade: that post-modern world which believes (unlike the traditional Catholic world) it has inherited no obligations or assumptions from the past. The four-day conference was marked by "so much good will and respect toward one another that we were able to challenge one another", writes the editor proudly. Three altercations summon up the spirit and breadth of the meetings. First: "When three senior ethicists concluded their remarks on the African continental panel, three African women ethicists took them to task for not mentioning anything about living in profoundly patriarchal settings." Secondly: "When a French scholar spoke of the primacy of the conscience, an Italian responded speaking about the competency of the Magisterium." Thirdly: "The most significant exchange came when, after the North American spoke at length about the military aggressiveness of the United States, several others asked 'were scholars from the States doing enough, in light of the impact such policies were having on their own countries?' "The content of the book is expertly arranged in three parts, each section with its own introduction, summary and conclusion. I found it very user-friendly. Part one asks how theological ethicists can respond to the world's needs - a very important consideration because it relates to one of the great unresolved problems of our time: the demands of authority versus the priority of conscience, with the former superseded by the latter as the foremost moral guide. Part two tackles moral theological attitudes in the five continents. Part three identifies the four central themes challenging Catholic theological ethics today: the interpretation of its sources, the sensus fidelium and moral discernment, pluralism, and globalisation and justice. This sounds extremely highbrow, a bit like a textbook in the extent of the information included, but unlike a textbook in that it is couched in the language of debate. The contents range from simple explanations to analysis in depth. The Italian Giuseppe Angelini, for example, gives the following exact and straightforward definition of the key words "ethics" and "morality". "Ethics is concerned with justice in societal relationships, not with my immediate neighbourhood; it has a fundamental interest in procedures. Morality ought to be concerned precisely with the relationships between neighbours, through which the individual acquires self-knowledge from the very beginning of his life. In these relationships, his identity is always involved."Or consider the clarity with which Maureen Junker-Kenny from Ireland opens her discussion on scripture and tradition. "The Christian truth is given by God. God's self-revelation is witnessed in - but not identical with - scripture, where we encounter it in an already interpreted form." In a few words she is able to establish that distinction which has plagued both Christian and Islamic theology: what is a direct revelation for God and what is created, opening the way for considerations of tradition and reason in establishing Christian ethics.Finally, Antonio Papisca, another Italian, takes on the burden of accepting or rejecting the notion of a bellum iustum (just war). His conclusions may be unacceptable to many, but the rapid way in which he establishes the inconsistencies and dishonesties of our present-day international position is impressive. "The time has come to bury this concept," he says. "The historical fact of the existence of a new international law, of the United Nations, and of other important international organisations means that it is no longer acceptable from an ethical point of view to justify war - not even a war of defence." This goes beyond a fashionable pacifism; it sounds very like the Christian gospel. Is not the idea of the Kingdom of Heaven going to war a somewhat ridiculous contradiction in terms? All this is a far cry from the status of ethics 50 years ago, when the subject was hardly taught in seminaries and certainly not in secondary schools. A final comment is that, for the advanced student of ethics, the extensive footnotes should prove a real bonus for updating opinion and knowledge. "It was a wonderful meeting. I believe these papers convey that," concludes Fr Keenan. They certainly do.

John Greenhalgh

sexta-feira, 16 de maio de 2008

What have we learned, if anything?

Um artigo muito interessante, de um dos melhores historiadores da atualidade e velho conhecido dos leitores da New York Review of Books. Recentemente saiu a edição brasileira de seu último livro: POS-GUERRA - UMA HISTORIA DA EUROPA DESDE 1945.

"The twentieth century is hardly behind us but already its quarrels and its achievements, its ideals and its fears are slipping into the obscurity of mis-memory. In the West we have made haste to dispense whenever possible with the economic, intellectual, and institutional baggage of the twentieth century and encouraged others to do likewise. In the wake of 1989, with boundless confidence and insufficient reflection, we put the twentieth century behind us and strode boldly into its successor swaddled in self-serving half-truths: the triumph of the West, the end of History, the unipolar Ameri-can moment, the ineluctable march of globalization and the free market.
The belief that that was then and this is now embraced much more than just the defunct dogmas andinstitutions of cold war–era communism. During the Nineties, and again in the wake of September 11, 2001, I was struck more than once by a perverse contemporary insistence on not understanding the context of our present dilemmas, at home and abroad; on not listening with greater care to some of the wiser heads of earlier decades; on seeking actively to forget rather than remember, to deny continuity and proclaim novelty on every possible occasion. We have become stridently insistent that the past has little of interest to teach us. Ours, we assert, is a new world; its risks and opportunities are without precedent." Para ler o artigo completo:What Have We Learned, If Anything?

Tony Judt

quinta-feira, 15 de maio de 2008

The Hollow Men


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdon
Remeber us - if at all - not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

T.S. Eliot

quarta-feira, 14 de maio de 2008

Richard Rorty at Princeton: Personal Recollections

O período princetoniano de Rorty , influente filosofo americano e um dos responsáveis pela sucesso recente do relativismo em certos circulos intelectuais, recentemente falecido, é recontado por Geuss em artigo no Arion. Abaixo publicamos um trecho.

"W hen I arrived in Princeton during the 1970s my addiction to tea was already long-standing and very well entrenched, but I was so concerned about the quality of the water in town that I used to buy large containers of allegedly “pure” water at Davidson's—the local supermarket, which seems now to have gone out of business. I didn't, of course, have a car, and given the amount of tea I consumed, the transport of adequate supplies of water was a highly labor-intense and inconvenient matter. Dick and Mary Rorty must have noticed me lugging canisters of water home, because, with characteristic generosity, they developed the habit of calling around at my rooms in 120 Prospect, often on Sunday mornings, offering to take me by car to fill my water-bottles at a hugely primitive and highly suspicious-looking outdoor water-tap on the side of a pumphouse which was operated by the Elizabethtown Water Company on a piece of waste land near the Institute Woods. This pumphouse with its copiously dripping tap was like something out of Tarkhovski's film about Russia after a nuclear accident, Stalker, and the surrounding area was a place so sinister one half expected to be attacked by packs of dogs in the final stages of radiation sickness or by troops of feral children who had been left by their parents to fend for themselves while the parents went off to the library to finish their dissertations. On one of those Sunday mornings in that insalubrious, but somehow appropriate, landscape, Dick happened to mention that he had just finished reading Gadamer's Truth and Method. My heart sank at this news because the way he reported it seemed to me to indicate, correctly as it turned out, that he had been positively impressed by this book. I had a premonition, which also turned out to be correct, that it would not be possible for me to disabuse him of his admiration for the work of a man, whom I knew rather well as a former colleague at Heidelberg and whom I held to be a reactionary, distended wind-bag. Over the years, I did my best to set Dick right about Gadamer, even resorting to the rather low blow of describing to him the talk Gadamer had given at the German Embassy in occupied Paris in 1942, in which Gadamer discussed the positive role Herder could play in sweeping away the remnants of such corrupt and degenerate phenomena as individualism, liberalism, and democracy from the New Europe arising under National Socialism. All this had no effect on Dick. His response to this story was that Gadamer had probably wanted to finance a trip to Paris—a perfectly understandable, indeed self-evidently laudable aspiration—and, under the circumstances, getting himself invited to the German Embassy was the only way to do this. As I persisted in pointing out that this in itself might “under the circumstances” not exactly constitute an exculpation, I came up against that familiar shrug of the shoulders which could look as if it meant that Dick had turned his receiving apparatus off. In this case, the shrug also made me feel that I was being hysterically aggressive in pursuing a harmless old gent for what was, after all, no more than a youthful indiscretion. In retrospect, I am not sure but that I don't now think Dick was right about this last point, but that was not my reaction at the time" . Para o texto completo:Richard Rorty at Princeton: Personal Recollections

Raymond Geuss

terça-feira, 13 de maio de 2008

Missa Tridentina

A polêmica sobre a missa em latin ganha, aparentemente, um novo capítulo. É o que podemos inferir a partir da notícia, abaixo, publicada no The Catholic Herald:

The pope wants the Latin Mass to be available in parishes "even if it is not specifically asked for, or requested", according to a senior Vatican official.Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, said priests should make the extraordinary form available so that "everyone may have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church". In the latest sign that Pope Benedict XVI wants to make the Mass more widely available, the Cardinal made the comments in a Latin Mass DVD put together by the traditionalist group the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in cooperation with Catholic television station EWTN.The cardinal added that the Pope wants the old rite to become normal in parishes, so that "young communities can also become familiar with this rite". The Ecclesia Dei Commission is tasked with the implementation of Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on the 1962 Latin Mass.It has been claimed that priests may not celebrate a traditional Mass publicly in their parish unless they have first received a petition from a "stable group". Some bishops have tried to limit the public celebrations of the Tridentine Mass by imposing a minimum number of people in such a group.But Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos's announcement suggests that priests should use the 1962 Missale Romanum in their parishes without such a request. Copies of the instructional video on the 1962 Latin Mass will be available for free to any priest or seminarian who orders it.It includes over three hours of footage on two DVD discs, giving a step-by-step explanation and demonstration of the Mass in the extraordinary form. The production includes multiple appendices with instructions on the general principles of gesture and movement, as well as commonly encountered variations in the elements of the Mass.Also featured is a real-time demonstration of the Mass, which can be viewed from multiple angles on demand. A spiritual commentary is included, as well as an explanation from an FSSP priest on the liturgical_principles of the extraordinary form. The cardinal provides an introduction for the DVD in which he explains that Pope Benedict XVI hoped to foster a "spiritual and theological richness".

Fonte:Ed West, The Catholic Herald,13.05.08

segunda-feira, 12 de maio de 2008

A crise financeira: uma entrevista com George Soros

Famoso por ter vencido uma queda de braço com o Banco da Inglaterra, Soros tornou-se desde então uma figura reverenciada por alguns, devido a filantropia no antigo leste europeu, e ,por vários, em razão da sua opinião, pouco ortodoxa, sobre o mercado.

A entrevista completa está disponível no site da New York Review of Books: The Financial Crisis: An Interview with George Soros by Judy Woodruff
The following is an edited and expanded version of an interview with George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management, by Judy Woodruff on Bloomberg TV on April 4.
Judy Woodruff: You write in your new book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets,[1] that "we are in the midst of a financial crisis the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression." Was this crisis avoidable?
George Soros: I think it was, but it would have required recognition that the system, as it currently operates, is built on false premises. Unfortunately, we have an idea of market fundamentalism, which is now the dominant ideology, holding that markets are self-correcting; and this is false because it's generally the intervention of the authorities that saves the markets when they get into trouble. Since 1980, we have had about five or six crises: the international banking crisis in 1982, the bankruptcy of Continental Illinois in 1984, and the failure of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, to name only three.
Each time, it's the authorities that bail out the market, or organize companies to do so. So the regulators have precedents they should be aware of. But somehow this idea that markets tend to equilibrium and that deviations are random has gained acceptance and all of these fancy instruments for investment have been built on them.
There are now, for example, complex forms of investment such as credit-default swaps that make it possible for investors to bet on the possibility that companies will default on repaying loans. Such bets on credit defaults now make up a $45 trillion market that is entirely unregulated. It amounts to more than five times the total of the US government bond market. The large potential risks of such investments are not being acknowledged.

domingo, 11 de maio de 2008

Piadas sobre Economistas e Economia III

Por quê os economistas sempre carregam seus diplomas consigo ?
Pois desta forma podem parar nas vagas para deficientes.


Coisas para se fazer com um livro texto de pós-graduação em economia:
1. Amasse bonitas flores;
2. Amasse bonitos insetos;
3. Use de peso para papel;
4. Deixe sempre a vista para impressionar os estudantes da graduação;
5. Mande para Brasília como uma tática de intimidação;
6. Dê uma lida durante uma peça teatral existencialista;
7. Jogue fora;
8. Deixe a chuva ou outras forças da natureza avaliar e debater com o livro;
9. Leia-o (hahaha!) e chore;
10. Venda-o como livro usado para pagar a cerveja do fim de semana.


Como você pode saber quando um economista está mentindo ?

Quando ele está movendo seus lábios.
Por quê os tubarões não atacariam economistas ?
Cortesia profissional.


O que acontece quando você reúne o Poderoso Chefão Don Corleone com um economista ?
Uma oferta que você não consegue entender.


— Quantos economistas são necessários para trocar uma lâmpada ?
— Nossa, você vai precisar de um departamento inteiro deles apenas para preparar as verbas
para pesquisa.


Um economista de uma Universidade estatal paulista morreu e foi para o céu. Chegando lá viu que haviam milhares de pessoas em sua frente esperando, na fila, para falar com São Pedro. Para sua surpresa, São Pedro foi até ele e chamou para a frente, passando por todos que estavam na fila. "São Pedro, muito obrigado por este atendimento. Mas o quê ME faz tão especial para receber este tratamento?". São Pedro respondeu, "Eu somei as horas que você ficou dando consultoria cobrando caro de seus clientes, e pelos meus cálculos você já está com mais de 150 anos!"

— Qual a diferença entre matemática e economia ?
— Matemática é incompreensível, enquanto a economia não tem nada a ver com nada.

Papai Noel, a Fada Madrinha, um economista prático e um velho bêbado estavam andando pela rua e viram simultaneamente uma nota de cem reais. Quem pegou a nota ? O velho bêbado, é claro, os outros três são figuras mitológicas.
Dado mil economistas haverá 10 economistas teóricos com diferentes teorias sobre como trocar uma lâmpada e 990 economistas empíricos trabalhando para determinar qual teoria é correta. Todos ainda estarão no escuro

sábado, 10 de maio de 2008

Até tu, Brutus...

Demorou, mas antes tarde do que nunca. Finalmente um dos heróis da esquerda acadêmica e líder da turma que se passa por economistas em Barão Geraldo e Perdizes aprendeu o be a ba da macroeconomia e não somente aceita, mas esta defendendo, também, o aumento no superávit primário. O objetivo principal é combater o risco de inflação e , secundariamente, obter os recursos necessários para a criação do fundo soberano.

O Presidente parece que ficou encantado com a idéia em razão dos objetivos acima e porque, também, permitiria copiar a política chinesa para o continente africano. Como já mencionado neste blog, esta política nada mais é que o velho conhecido e, em tempos de antanho combatido, imperialismo. Resta saber se o governo brasileiro tem estomago para este tipo de jogo e vai segui-lo a risca no seu próprio quintal, começando com o pacote de ajuda para o Paraguai.

sexta-feira, 9 de maio de 2008

Idéias exóticas

Finalidade e origem dos recursos parecem dominar a discussão sobre a criação do fundo soberano. Utilizar recursos de impostos para o fundo não parece ser uma idéia muito feliz. Usar o fundo pra financiar empresas do setor de exportação é transforma-lo em instrumento de politica industrial. É uma proposta polemica e arriscada, mas a preocupação com o financiamento deste setor é correta e pratica corrente entre novos e velhos participantes do comércio internacional. A China, por ex, tem usado e abusado desta pratica no continente africano e parece ter planos para ampliá-la em outros continentes. É, como já mencionado neste blog, uma nova roupagem para o velho imperialismo. Para quem tem dúvidas recomendo reler os clássicos da área: Hobson, Hilferding e Rosa Luxemburg.

Uma outra proposta exótica foi apresentada por um jornalista econômico da Folha de S.Paulo: o estado assumir o papel do “venture capital” que, como sabemos, é muito raro no Brasil. A idéia, aparentemente, atraente ignora as lições que aprendemos com Schumpeter e outros austríacos a respeito do papel da ação individual na vida econômica. O Estado pode cumprir, com algum sucesso, várias funções, mas não, seguramente, a de “venture capital”.

quinta-feira, 8 de maio de 2008

On Seeing the Elgin Marbles

My spirit is too weak—mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep,
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep,
Fresh for the opening of the morning's eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an indescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time—with a billowy main—
A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.

John Keats

quarta-feira, 7 de maio de 2008

A vulnerabilidade moral dos mercados

Interessante artigo do autor da biografia definitiva do Keynes.

LONDON -- Today, there seems to be no coherent alternative to capitalism, yet anti-market feelings are alive and well, expressed for example in the moralistic backlash against globalization. Because no social system can survive for long without a moral basis, the issues posed by anti-globalization campaigners are urgent – all the more so in the midst of the current economic crisis.
It is hard to deny some moral value to the market. After all, we attach moral value to processes as well as outcomes, as in the phrase “the end does not justify the means.” It is morally better to have our goods supplied by free labor than by slaves, and to choose our goods rather than have them chosen for us by the state. The fact that the market system is more efficient at creating wealth and satisfying wants than any other system is an additional bonus.
Moral criticisms of the market focus on its tendency to favor a morally deficient character type, to privilege disagreeable motives, and to promote undesirable outcomes. Capitalism is also held to lack a principle of justice.
Consider character. It has often been claimed that capitalism rewards the qualities of self-restraint, hard-work, inventiveness, thrift, and prudence. On the other hand, it crowds out virtues that have no economic utility, like heroism, honor, generosity, and pity. (Heroism survives, in part, in the romanticized idea of the “heroic entrepreneur.”)

Para ler o artigo completo:The Moral Vulnerability of Markets, Robert Skidelsky

terça-feira, 6 de maio de 2008

Fundo soberano

Mal encerrada a comemoração pela obtenção do “ Investment grade”, e o atrapalhado ministro de plantão apresenta a última idéia dos desenvolvimentistas: a criação de um fundo soberano, administrado pelo Tesouro, que teria a missão de agir como um Banco Central paralelo, atuando no mercado de câmbio. Com esta instituição, “clandestina”, o ministro espera poder intervir com maior liberdade no mercado de moedas e evitar a apreciação do real.

A criação do fundo soberano é uma ótima idéia, usá-lo, quando for o caso, para evitar a apreciação do real , no entanto parece ser uma proposta fora de lugar. Esta é a função do Banco Central, querer colocá-lo no banco de reservas demonstra falta de coragem para defender, a luz do dia, a proposta de mudanças na direção do banco.

segunda-feira, 5 de maio de 2008

Black liberation theology

Teologia da libertação, versão latino americana e brasileira , já é nossa conhecida, mas a sua versão existente nos Estado Unidos, ainda é pouco conhecida. Em comum, com a versão mais conhecida entre nós, o marxismo e o voluntarismo romantico dos anos 60. Um artigo no NYTimes de 04 de maio deste ano é uma boa introdução a esta curiosa teologia.

“BLACK liberation theology was a radical movement born of a competitive time.
By the mid-1960s, the horns of Jericho seemed about to sound for the traditional black church in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. was yielding to Malcolm X. Young black preachers embraced the Nation of Islam and black intellectuals sought warmth in the secular and Marxist-tinged fire of the black power movement.
As a young, black and decidedly liberal theologian, James H. Cone saw his faith imperiled.
“Christianity was seen as the white man’s religion,” he said. “I wanted to say: ‘No! The Christian Gospel is not the white man’s religion. It is a religion of liberation, a religion that says God created all people to be free.’ But I realized that for black people to be free, they must first love their blackness.”
Dr. Cone, a founding father of black liberation theology, allowed himself a chuckle. “You might say we took our Christianity from Martin and our emphasis on blackness from Malcolm,” he said.
Black liberation theology was, in a sense, a brilliant flanking maneuver. For a black audience, its theology spoke to the centrality of the slave and segregation experience, arguing that God had a special place in his heart for the black oppressed. These theologians held that liberation should come on earth rather than in the hereafter, and demanded that black pastors speak as prophetic militants, critiquing the nation’s white-run social structures.
Black liberation theology “gives special privilege to the oppressed,” said Gary Dorrien, a professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York. “God is seen as a partisan, liberating force who gives special privilege to the poorest.”

Para ler o artigo completo:A Fiery Theology Under Fire

Fonte: Michael Powell no NYTimes

domingo, 4 de maio de 2008

Benedict XVI and God

The Pope has a very distinctive theological viewpoint. The editor of the English edition of Communio magazine, a journal of theology, analyzes Benedict’s theological system

David Schindler is Edouard Cardinal Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology and Provost-Dean of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. He is also editor of the English-language edition of Communio: International Catholic Review, a theological journal founded in 1972 by Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Henri de Lubac, among others. There are 15 different national editions of Communio, whose editors meet biannually to plan their common work.
This interview has a twofold goal: to bring the insights of a collaborator and reader of Ratzinger to bear on Pope Benedict’s approach to culture in general and American culture in particular; and to present Ratzinger’s approach to important questions of the day in light of the American historical experience. Following Benedict’s theology, it attempts to bring to light some of the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of America and the Church in America.

Professor Schindler, you have been involved with Communio since the North American edition was founded. In his autobiography, Milestones, then-Cardinal Ratzinger described the founders’ goal for Communio as "an international journal whose work would both be done out of the heart of communion in sacrament and faith, and also lead to its enhancement... Since the crisis in theology had emerged out of a crisis in culture, and, indeed, out of a cultural revolution, the journal had to address the cultural domain, too." What part does Communio play in the cultural landscape today?
DAVID L. SCHINDLER: The journal was founded most basically to recover a Godcentered understanding of the Church and of the human being. And also to recover the fact that the reality of our being in the Church and the reality of our being in the world is a matter, in the deepest sense, of love.
This task of recovery is at the heart of the Second Vatican Council, and it is even more important today, I would say, than it was then.
Joseph Ratzinger had to step down from editorial work at the German edition when he moved to Rome, of course, but he continued to contribute articles. He gave an address, "Communio: A Program," in 1982, on the 10th anniversary of the journal’s founding, which was a beautiful recapitulation of its history and mission.
This past December (2007), he invited the various national editors to hold the annual winter meeting in Rome, where he received them in the Vatican and was able to greet each one personally. On another note, he cited articles from the 2006 Communio issue devoted to the Wedding at Cana in Jesus of Nazareth, in the section on symbols in the Gospel of John, and he says he continues to read the German edition regularly.
How did you first meet Cardinal Ratzinger?
SCHINDLER: Through Hans Urs von Balthasar, the Swiss theologian and co-founder of Communio. In 1984, Balthasar was awarded the Paul VI International Prize by Pope John Paul II, who asked him to organize a conference in September 1985 on the work of Adrienne von Speyr. Ratzinger held a reception for Balthasar at Castel Gandolfo immediately following the conference, and it was at this reception that Balthasar introduced me to Ratzinger. I had been editor of the North American edition of Communio for three years by then.
How would you characterize Joseph Ratzinger as a theologian?
SCHINDLER: What’s characteristic is his capacity for integration. His scholarship is marked by a great integration of academic theology and spirituality -- and always in a way that speaks from within the heart of our cultural problems. A sign of this integration: when you read his homilies, they provoke you into thinking, and when you read his theology, it inclines you to pray. Simply, he does theology in the manner of the great saints and doctors of the Church -- a way of doing theology that is badly needed in our time.
The German philosopher Robert Spaemann has spoken of Benedict’s theology as a retrieval, a mutual enrichment between old and new; he says Ratzinger the theologian never felt the need to reconstruct theology from the ground up via a new schema, as, for example, Karl Rahner did, because Ratzinger was too historically grounded to go that way. In what sense is Benedict retrieving something that was both already there, and, in a sense, lacking in our times?
SCHINDLER: Newness and oldness: a beautiful point. To me, this is again the greatness of Benedict. He’s simply doing what every saint and doctor of the Church has done. He has gone back to the roots of his being and of the Church’s being: the Gospel. And he’s done it entirely naturally, in the sense that he recovers it precisely in the context of his own historical being. That is, he recovers it while living in the 20th century and today in the face of the problems of Nazism, Communism, and liberalism. What results is a development. So the idea that his emphasis on, say, the structure of being as centered in God and filiality were somehow recent inventions is nonsense. These things are the heart of the Gospel. In other words, this recovery and development is what real theologians do. This is epitomized in Benedict, as Spaemann observes, and also can explain why so many theologians become very obscure: they want to be new. Benedict has no interest in being new. He has an interest in being faithful. And the creativity takes care of itself because we’re historical beings. Everyone, especially the theologian, has to look at his own work in this way and to ask: What is the cause of the obscurities? There can be difficulties in someone’s thought and so on, but what is remarkable in Benedict’s work, and what is really one of his great gifts to the Church, is that his thought is jargon-free. And it’s jargonfree because he has no interest in speculation, in the sense of saying, let’s speculate on this without regard, say, for the integrity of human life and ecclesial life. He says what he has to say to keep alive the memory of what has been given.
Could you say something about his way of engaging people in conversation?
SCHINDLER: He’s very simple and gentle, always curious about the world. Always very much full of wonder at things. He has a great capacity as a listener. If you do not interrupt him during a conversation, you can easily end up spending the entire time speaking mostly about yourself, responding to his questions about you and your work.
How does he deal with people with whom he disagrees?
SCHINDLER: People who disagree with him are often a bit disarmed to discover how respectful he is of what they have to say. In any conversation he is concerned about the truth, but it’s always clear that in defending the truth, he’s defending something that is integral to the dignity of the other person. He’s not defending his ego, but rather something that is greater than himself and that is necessary for the realization of the dignity of both himself and the interlocutor.
How does Pope Benedict XVI engage the question of culture?
SCHINDLER: At the heart of his basic proposal to culture is a particular conception of dialogue. Dialogue for Benedict is something we are before it is something we do. For Benedict, human existence is dialogue with God, specifically, with the Creator. Relation to God lies at the core of our being as creatures and thus we implicitly invoke the question of the nature and existence of God in all of our conscious acts. As Aquinas says, we know God implicitly in all that we know, and we love God implicitly in all that we love.
Embedded within the dialogue with God is an implicit dialogue with all other creatures, relation to whom is given to us inside the relation with the Creator.
Why is Benedict’s conception of dialogue relevant to American culture, where polls indicate both a high belief in God and a widespread interest in the very question of God?
SCHINDLER: Interestingly, Benedict says the problems of the West can all be traced back to the forgetfulness of God. In what sense is that true in America? First of all, one has to recognize the sincerity of Americans; they are not cynical when they say they believe in God. The question is how that is understood. ...

Para ler a entrevista completa: click here

Fonte:EMILY RIELLEY da revista " Inside the Vatican"

sábado, 3 de maio de 2008

Esquerda jurássica

As reações à obtenção do “Investment grade” continuam ....Para John Authers do FT, a classificação da Standard & Poor’s não é tão importante e acrescenta que “ como aprendemos com a crise de crédito, é perigoso que tantos dêem tanto peso à avaliação de uma agência de classificação”(FSP, 3.05.08, p.B3). É uma avaliação ponderada e , me parece, correta dado o histórico de equívocos destas agências. No caso, brasileiro, contudo a classificação parece correta e é, sim, motivo para comemoração.

Teoria conspiratória ou reação ignorante e patética, ou as duas? Difícil classificar a avaliação do Sr. Benjamin. Para ele “ recebemos de presente uma maça envenenada . Uma herança maldita esta a caminho”(FSP, 03.05.08,p.B2) . É pedir demais um pouco mais de horas de estudo, antes de repetir o velho e equivocado discurso da esquerda jurássica? Blanchard foi muito otimista( pelo menos em relação aos jurassícos) quando afirmou que “être de gauche n’est pas être ignorant”.

sexta-feira, 2 de maio de 2008


O país finalmente conseguiu o “investment grade” e, estranhamente, o que seria motivo de comemoração, transformou-se, com ajuda inestimável do lobby exportador e dos fracassomaníacos de plantão, em lamentações e um clima de tristeza ao estilo da quarta-feira de cinzas dos tempo de antanho.

Estranho país, transforma sempre uma boa noticia em noticia ruim. Parece que somos incapazes de sermos felizes. Um espirito fracassomaníaco nos acompanha e esta sempre pronto para inverter os sinais.

Há sempre aqueles que aparecem, nestes momentos, com a velha lembrança: sim, ..., continuamos campeões de violência, de desigualdade, etc. Ela é pertinente ? É claro que é, mas ela é mencionada para provar uma tese: a irrelevância do objetivo alcançado, quanto, deveria ser usada como argumento para incluir na agenda do brasileira a questão da desigualdade social, o modelo de crescimento econômico, a violência entre outros temas urgentes.

Não há nada de errado em reconhecer que o país tornou-se igual a outros países: estabilidade macroeconômica, algum crescimento econômico, inflação baixa, ou seja a política econômica tornou-se chata, corriqueira, sem grandes novidades, o que nos resta a fazer ,e é muito importante, é encontrar soluções para os problemas acima mencionados.

Haverá sempre uma turma , como a que se passa por economistas em Barão Geraldo, Bixiga, Perdizes e Praia Vermelha, incapaz de superar a fracassomania e reconhecer os méritos dos tristes trópicos.

quinta-feira, 1 de maio de 2008

Eugenio Montale: dois poemas de "Ossi di Seppia"

Non chiederci la la parola che squadri da ogni lato
l'animo nostro informe, e a lettere di fuoco
lo dichiari e risplenda come un croco
perduto in mezzo a un polveroso prato.

Ah l'uomo che se ne va sicuro,
agli altri ed a se stesso amico,
e l'ombra sua non cura che la canicola
stampa sopra uno scalcinato muro !

Non domandarci la formula che mondi possa aprirti
sì qualche storta sillaba e secca come un ramo.
Codesto solo oggi possiamo dirti,
ciò che non siamo, ciò che non vogliamo


Forse un mattino andando in un'aria di vetro,
arida, rivolgendomi, vedrà compirsi il miracolo:
il nulla alle mie spalle, il vuoto dietro
di me, con un terrore di ubriaco

Poi come s'uno schermo, s'accamperanno di gitto
alberi case colli per l'inganno consueto.
Ma sará troppo tardi; ed io me n'andro zitto
tra gli uomini che non si voltano, col mio segreto.