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El Cisne Negro Dominicano

Por: Jochi Vicente

Publicado el 31/1/2012 en el periódico Hoy 

 

El “Cisne Negro: El Impacto de lo Altamente Improbable” es un libro escrito por Nassim Taleb cuyo argumento principal es que los eventos importantes de la historia son raros e impredecibles. Taleb narra como en el siglo 17, los europeos creían que todos los cisnes eran blancos dado que nunca un europeo había visto un cisne negro. Esta creencia se derrumbó con el descubrimiento de un palmípedo negro en Australia.

 

El manejo de la deuda pública dominicana se ha basado en la creencia que sólo existen cisnes blancos. La existencia de apetito por nuestros bonos soberanos, la obtención de una tasa de interés baja en comparación con los estándares históricos del país y la creencia de que nuestra deuda es baja medida como porcentaje del PIB son varios de los elementos que justifican la teoría de que nuestra deuda es sostenible.

 

El convencimiento de que no existe un problema de sostenibilidad se agrava por el hecho de que no existe una fuente oficial única que establezca el nivel de deuda pública de nuestro país. Esto hace que el análisis de la situación de endeudamiento sea un ejercicio titánico. Es probable que muy pocos funcionarios del área económica conocen realmente la situación de deuda de nuestro país.

 

En mi opinión, cada vez somos más vulnerables a la aparición del cisne negro. Por un lado, el stock de deuda denominada en moneda extranjera se ha incrementado significativamente durante los últimos años. Aproximadamente el 52% de la deuda pública total está expresada en moneda dura. Esto nos hace muy dependientes a la continua entrada de capitales foráneos y nos exponemos al riesgo de no poder refinanciar la deuda que vence cada año. Por esto último, es que los acuerdos con el FMI se han vuelto la regla durante los últimos años. Necesitamos su sello de aprobación para poder obtener recursos externos a tasas razonables.

 

Adicionalmente, las cuentas fiscales proveen una fotografía incompleta de la realidad dado que no se toma en cuenta la situación de pasivos del Banco Central, el sector eléctrico y otras instituciones. Una parte importante de los intereses sobre deuda pública están siendo cubiertos por la institución monetaria a través de la inflación, aumento de su stock de deuda y/o mayores pérdidas operativas. Esto no es transparente en las cuentas fiscales. Mi estimación es que si toda la deuda pública fuera manejada por el Gobierno Central, el gasto por intereses representaría aproximadamente el 21% de los ingresos fiscales. Esto no es sostenible.

 

Por último, los niveles inusualmente bajos de las tasas de interés a nivel internacional se incrementarán en el corto/mediano plazo a medida que empiece la recuperación de las economías desarrolladas. Esto presionará aún más nuestras precarias cuentas fiscales.

 

Todavía estamos a tiempo para corregir nuestras debilidades. En primer lugar, tenemos que generar superávits fiscales que permitan estabilizar el nivel de deuda acorde a las posibilidades de nuestra nación. Es inevitable una reducción del gasto público espurio. El sector privado formal no soporta más impuestos. Por otro lado, es urgente transparentar el balance total de deuda pública en una sola institución. Si no sabemos cuanto debemos, nunca podremos planificar correctamente.  Por último, debemos dar preferencia al endeudamiento en moneda local para reducir la vulnerabilidad externa.

 

No podemos seguir pensando con los europeos del siglo 17. Los cisnes negros económicos existen. Es imprescindible estar preparados para cuando estos comiencen a nadar entre nosotros.

 


Sobre innovación y países en desarrollo

“Innovation stems from inclusive institutions.” – The End of Low Hanging Fruit? http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2013/2/5/the-end-of-low-hanging-fruit.html/


Intervención estatal: El caso de los condones en Sur Africa

Un artículo excelente que presenta los problemas y limitaciones de la intervención estatal analizando el programa de condones gratis en Sur Africa como forma de reducir el SIDA.

http://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian_initi/2013/02/can-government-intervention-ever-be-sufficiently-sensitive.html


Financial Collapse: A 10-Step Recovery Plan

Fuente: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/opinion/sunday/financial-collapse-a-10-step-recovery-plan.html?_r=0

 

By ALAN S. BLINDER
Published: January 19, 2013

HEGEL once wrote, “What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history.” Actually, I think people do learn. The problem is that they forget — sometimes amazingly quickly. That seems to be happening today, even though recovery from the economic debacle of 2008-9 is far from complete.

Omer Hoffmann

 

Evidence of this forgetting is everywhere. The public has lost interest in the causes of the crisis; many, of course, are just struggling to get by. Unrepentant financiers whine about “excessive” regulation and pay lobbyists to battle every step toward reform. Conservatives bemoan “big government” and yearn to return to laissez-faire deregulation. Higher international standards for bank capital and liquidity have been delayed. I could go on.

Instead, let me try to encapsulate what we must remember about the financial crisis into 10 financial commandments, all of which were brazenly violated in the years leading up to the crisis.

1. Remember That People Forget

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner lamented last year that before the crisis, “There was no memory of extreme crisis, no memory of what can happen when a nation allows huge amounts of risk to build up.” He was right. As the renegade economist Hyman Minsky knew, it is normal for speculative markets to go to extremes. A key reason, Minsky believed, is that, unlike elephants, people forget. When the good times roll, investors expect them to roll indefinitely. When bubbles burst, they are always surprised.

2. Do Not Rely on Self-Regulation

Self-regulation of financial markets is a cruel oxymoron. We need zookeepers to watch over the animals. The government must not outsource this function to “market discipline” (another oxymoron) or to for-profit companies like credit-rating agencies. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 isn’t perfect, but it has the potential to change regulation for the better. But most of its reforms are still being phased in, and as the rules are being drafted, the industry (here and abroad) is fighting them tooth and nail and often prevailing.

3. Honor Thy Shareholders

Boards of public corporations are supposed to protect the interests of shareholders, partly by monitoring the behavior of top executives, who are employees, not emperors. In the years before the crisis, too many directors forgot those responsibilities, and both their companies and the broader public suffered from the malign neglect. Will they now remember? Some will — for a while. But sanctions on directors for poor performance are minimal.

4. Elevate Risk Management

One bitter lesson of the crisis is that, when it comes to risk taking, what you don’t know can hurt you. Too many C.E.O.’s let their subordinates ride roughshod over risk managers, tipping the balance toward greed and away from fear. The primary responsibility for keeping risk-management systems up to snuff rests with top executives and boards of directors. But the Federal Reserve and other regulators are now watching and mustn’t let up.

5. Use Less Leverage

Excessive leverage — otherwise known as over-borrowing — was one of the chief foundations of the house of cards that collapsed so violently in 2008. Overpaid investment “geniuses” used leverage to manufacture extraordinary returns out of ordinary investments. Bankers and investors (not to mention home buyers) deluded themselves into thinking they could earn high returns without assuming big risks. But leverage is like alcohol: a little bit has health benefits, but too much can kill you. The banks’ near-death experiences, plus preparation for higher capital requirements to come, are temporarily keeping them sober. But watch for the binge drinking to return.

6. Keep It Simple, Stupid

Modern finance profits from complexity, because befuddled customers are more profitable ones. But do all those fancy financial instruments actually do the economy any good? Paul A. Volcker, the former Fed chairman, once said the A.T.M. was the only beneficial financial innovation in the recent past. He may have exaggerated, but he had a point. Who needs credit default swaps on collateralized debt obligations, and other such concoctions?

7. Standardize Derivatives and Trade Them on Exchanges

Derivatives acquired a bad name in the crisis. But if they are straightforward, transparent, well collateralized, traded in liquid markets by well-capitalized counterparties and sensibly regulated, derivatives can help investors hedge risks. It is the customized, opaque, “over the counter” derivatives that are the most dangerous — and the ones more likely to serve the interests of the dealers than their customers. Dodd-Frank pushed some derivatives toward greater standardization and transparent trading on exchanges, but not enough. The industry is pushing to keep more derivatives trading out of the sunshine.

8. Keep Things on the Balance Sheet

Before the crisis, some banks took important financial activities off their balance sheets to hide how much leverage they had. But the joke was on them. The crisis revealed that some chief executives were only dimly aware of the off-balance-sheet entities their banks held. These “masters of the universe” hadn’t mastered their own books. Dodd-Frank specifies that “capital requirements shall take into account any off-balance-sheet activities of the company.” That’s a welcome step toward making off-balance-sheet entities safe and rare. Now regulators must make the rule work.

9. Fix Perverse Compensation

Offering traders monumental rewards for success, but a mere slap on the wrist for failure, encourages them to take excessive risks. Chief executives and corporate directors should “claw back” pay when putative gains turn into losses. If they don’t, we may need the heavy hand of government to do it.

10. Watch Out for Consumers

The meek won’t inherit their fair share of the earth if they are constantly being fleeced. What we learned in the crisis is that failure to protect unsophisticated consumers from financial predators can undermine the whole economy. That surprising lesson mustn’t be forgotten. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should institutionalize it.

Mark Twain is said to have quipped that while history doesn’t repeat itself, it does rhyme. There will be financial crises in the future, and the next one won’t be a carbon copy of the last. Neither, however, will it be so different that these commandments won’t apply. Financial history does rhyme, but we’re already forgetting the meter.

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Alan S. Blinder is a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and the author of “After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response and the Work Ahead.”



Consejos para manejar una crisis

Buenos consejos de como manejar una crisis. El artículo completo está en http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2011/08/14/teachable-moments-in-pr-crisis-management/

1. If You Don’t Shape Your Story, Somebody Else Will

2. Understand the Gravity of the Situation for Your Customers

3. Don’t Bury Bad News

4. Never Blame the Press

5. Know Your Key Messages

6. Don’t Take the Bait

7. Develop Trusted Advisors

8. Get to Know the Press Now

9. Get Media Training

10. Have a PR Strategy

 


Sobre los consejos de directores en las empresas

Buen artículo que trata sobre como seleccionar y manejar los consejos de directores de las empresas.

 

The Board Of Directors – Selecting, Electing & Evolving

 


Ha llegado el fin del crecimiento económico?

Un artículo muy provocativo sobre las tendencias de crecimiento en Estados Unidos y por carambola en el mundo – http://www.voxeu.org/article/us-economic-growth-over

Aquí está la respuesta de Paul Krugman quien cree que todavía falta mucho por hacer. - http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/is-growth-over/


Ten Economic Questions for 2013

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2012/12/ten-economic-questions-for-2013.html

Here are some questions I’m thinking about …

 
1) US Policy: This is probably the biggest downside risk for the US economy in 2013. I assume some sort of fiscal agreement will be reached soon, but how much austerity will be included? What will happen with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)? What about emergency unemployment benefits? What about extending the mortgage relief for debt forgiveness (important for short sales)?

And what about other policy in 2013 such as the “default ceiling” (aka debt ceiling)? In 2011, the threat of a US government default slowed the economy to almost a standstill for a month. Right now the White House is taking the Ronald Reagan approach (when the Democrats pulled a similar reckless stunt) and they are saying President Obama will only sign a clean debt ceiling bill. Good.  Hopefully default is off the table, but you never know.

2) Economic growth: Heading into 2013 there are still significant downside risks from the European financial crisis and from U.S. fiscal policy. Will the U.S. economy grow in 2013? Or will there be another recession?

3) Employment: How many payroll jobs will be added in 2013? Will we finally see some pickup over the approximately 2 million private sector job creation rate of 2011 and 2012?

4) Unemployment Rate: The unemployment rate is still elevated at 7.7% in November. For the last two years I’ve been too pessimistic on the unemployment rate because I was expecting some minor bounce back in the participation rate. Instead the participation rate continued to decline. Maybe 2013 will be the year the participation rate increases a little, or at least stabilizes. Economists at the SF Fed wrote about this last week: Will the Jobless Rate Drop Take a Break?

The recent recession was unusual in its depth and its duration. Labor market conditions have remained difficult for a long time. As a result, large numbers of discouraged workers have stopped looking for jobs. A big unknown is whether these workers will stay out of the labor force permanently or enter as the economy recovers. If these workers join the labor force, increasing participation could have a major impact on the unemployment rate in the coming years.

What will the unemployment rate be in December 2013?

5) Inflation: The Fed has made it clear they will tolerate a little more inflation, but currently the inflation rate is running below the Fed’s 2% target. Will the inflation rate rise or fall in 2012?

6) Monetary Policy: Currently the Fed is planning to buy $85 billion in Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities per month as part of the open-ended QE3. Will the Fed continue all year at this pace? Or will the Fed increase their purchase rate? Or will the Fed decrease their purchase rate, stop these purchases, or even sell some securities?

7) House Prices: It now appears house prices, as measured by the national repeat sales indexes, bottomed in early 2012? What will happen with house prices in 2013?

8) Housing Inventory: Over the last few years, we’ve seen a dramatic plunge in existing home inventory. Will inventory bottom in 2013?

9) Residential Investment: Residential investment (RI) picked up in 2012, with new home sales and housing starts increasing 20% or so.  Note: RI is mostly investment in new single family structures, multifamily structures, home improvement and commissions on existing home sales. This still leaves RI at a historical low level. How much will RI increase in 2012?

10) Europe and the Euro: What will happen in Europe in 2013? Will a country leave the euro this coming year, will the euro-zone implode, or will 2013 be the bottom for the euro-zone economies?

I’m sure there are other key questions, but these are the ones I’m thinking about now.
Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2012/12/ten-economic-questions-for-2013.html#FijedYhag8V2xr7o.99