domingo, 12 de junho de 2011

O ultra-neo-liberalismo, o capitalismo selvagem, os especuladores e o mercado

No título, todos os culpados da crise financeira internacional que se iniciou em 2008. O governo é que não e o que precisamos é de mais intervenção governamental, diz a maioria da opinião publicada. Em 1984, John Gray escrevia um pequeno livrinho a respeito de F. A. Hayek, intitulado Hayek on Liberty. Deixo a sua breve abordagem à teoria dos ciclos económicos da Escola Austríaca de Economia, que se pode encontrar nas páginas 84 e 85 da 3.ª edição. Qualquer semelhança com o que se tem passado nos últimos anos deve ser pura coincidência.

"Equilibrium, then, is for Hayek a matter of market actors behaving in ways which allow their activities to mesh or integrate. Whether they succeed in coordinating will depend on how accurate their beliefs and expectations about each others behaviour turn out to be. The question now arises as to how this very general account of equilibrium illuminates or applies to historical episodes of depression and large-scale discoordination, and here we come to Hayek’s version of the Austrian theory of the trade cycle. As it had been developed by Hayek’s colleague, von Mises, the Austrian theory explains the boom—bust cycle of modern capitalist economics by invoking the credit policies of the banking system. At its simplest, the Austrian view is that the contemporary banking system tends to lower the market rate of interest below the natural rate—where the natural rate is understood to be the interest rate that would match the investment level with the level of voluntary savings—and so communicates to businessmen misleading and incorrect signals regarding the condition of the economy. In acting on these false signals, businessmen take the economy further away from coordination and reinforce existing distortions in relative price structures. Bankruptcies and unemployment are bound to follow the period of malinvestment induced by unsound credit expansion and are in fact signs of the market process attempting to move back to coordination.

Two points of theoretical interest may be made about this very brief sketch of Austrian trade cycle theory. First of all, it embodies a strong insistance on the non-neutrality of money. Changes in the quantity of money (as this is produced by governmental and banking institutions) do not act at once to alter the general price level. Rather, they enter the economy at specific points and act to alter the relative price structure. They do this—and here is the second point—by altering the time structure of the production process. Austrian theory is distinctive in its characterization of production as a process having several stages or phases, consumption goods being at the nearest stage and investment or capital goods at the furthest stage. Each phase of the production process requires a combination of complementary goods, many of which are specific to that phase of production and so cannot easily be switched to other stages of the process. The effect of credit expansion induced governmentally or via unsound banking practices is to lengthen’ the production structure artificially so that resources are drawn into long-term investment at the furthest end of the process. Since, however, people’s real preferences have not altered, the malinvestment in capital goods can be sustained only by further credit expansion. When this is not forthcoming the discoordination of the economy is disclosed in rising unemployment and business failures. In a nutshell, the credit laxity which the modern banking system tends to display distorts the allocation of resources from its natural, if constantly changing home where it reflects the actual preferences (including the time-preferences) of all market actors (consumers as well as producers). It does so, more specifically, by inducing over-investment at the furthest end of the production process. Depressions represent a spontaneous process in which market factors attempt to restore the lost meshing between demand and supply at all stages of the production process."

2 comentários:

  1. Grande escolha! Gostava de saber se John Gray com esta crise re-reconsiderou o seu afastamento da new-right.

  2. Também gostava de saber, mas depois de ter lido a crítica dele ao derradeiro livro de Tony Judt, tenho dúvidas.