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Argentina – better this time?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

This time, I change the content of my blog and turn to South America. Argentina is currently trying to reorganize and restructure its economy – not one single day too early. Now again, long-term observers of the Argentine economy may add.

The Kirchners certainly failed as presidents (2003-2015). Argentina’s relatively new president and former mayor of Buenos Aires – Mauricio Macri – is now trying to restore international confidence in his country by a much more market-oriented policy than the Kirchners were conducting. Some success can already be seen, for example by bringing back Argentina to international capital markets – though at a high interest rate and after an international compromise about the old government debt and the return to a floating currency system against the U.S.dollar (which led to a significant but unavoidable weakening of the peso).

Despite these and some other positive signals, the outlook for Argentina remains very uncertain. The country is still in a recession. Risks for social unrest are still in place.The budget deficit is high, and so is inflation after the abolition of important price regulations and the weaker exchange rate. Trying to give a better balance to the economy remains difficult.

In other words: l am not sufficiently convinced that Argentina will achieve sustainable progresss in its fight against the burdening economic hangover after the Kirchner era. My own analytical experience from Argentina and its economy makes me doubtful.

At least we can now see the start of a better economic policy for the fascinating country of Argentina. Let’s hope for the best ! But Macri and his team are still very far from the goal.

In the meanwhile, we can always watch all these wonderful fotboll players from the country of the pampas. They use to give us fun also during difficult times in Argentina’ economy. By the way, President Macri once was the head of Boca Juniors, the creator of many superstars of Argentine fotboll (soccer). Now he is the president of Argentina.

Hubert Fromlet
Senior Professor of International Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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TTIP should be discussed more (in Sweden)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

The ongoing free trade negotiations between the United States and the EU (TTIP) are currently entering a decisive period. Totally, 24 chapters have to be settled. However, communication from this important event is held at a low level in Sweden, despite the fact that the responsible EU Commissioner for TTIP – Cecilia Malmström – comes from Sweden. At the same time, the Swedish government obviously avoids to discuss the issue more extensively with a broader public – for whatever reason. This should be changed for democratic reasons!

Time is tight for coming to an agreement between the U.S. and the E.U. It should happen before president Obama will be leaving his office on January 20. Quite a number of difficult issues have to be agreed upon until this date.

Here can be noted institutional matters such as investors’ protection, public purchasing (“buy American”) and sensitive parts of agriculture. Particularly certain details of the agricultural negotiations may become complicated because of the difficult balancing act between necessary environmental protection and too generalizing populism.

The question whether TTIP will become a hot topic or not in Sweden and a number of other involved countries cannot be answered today. But we do know that TTIP is important and already today discussed with passion in, for example, Germany, France, Austria and the Netherlands.

Hubert Fromlet
Senior Professor of International Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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When will an Asian Win the Nobel Prize in Economics?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

So far, we have not seen many winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics – or more exactly “The Riksbank’s Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel” – who had their roots in emerging countries. Arthur Lewis (1979) from St.Lucia and Amartya Sen from India (1998) were two positive exceptions. But what about the chances that an Asian economist may win the Nobel Prize this year again?

There are altogether 200-300 serious candidates for the Nobel Prize in Economics. Usually, the award goes to American economists – but not necessarily. Among candidates with Asian roots – Israel and Japan excluded in this context – I see clearly Avinash Dixit as the strongest candidate for 2014(born in Mumbai, India) , nowadays working as a professor at Princeton University, dealing with microeconomics, industrial organization, public economics, international trade plus growth and development theories. Dixit is also included in my own list of the “Top 10 Favorites” that will be published on October 3.

Dixit’s main challengers from Asia should be free trade supporter Jagdish Bhagwati (New York University) from India and Partha Dasgupta (University of Cambridge) from Bangladesh. Dasgupta has done important research on the environment which is so badly needed for emerging countries – but also on poverty, nutrition and knowledge. One should not either forget the very important field research of Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) with focus on development economics, many times taking research results from his home country India. The main outsider with roots in Asia could be Hashem Pesaran (with roots in Iran, econometrics and empirical macroeconomics). Sendhil Mullainathan – born in Tami Nadu/India – can develop to a serious Nobel Prize candidate but is currently still by far too young (research areas: behavioral finance, development economics).

Another well-known and important economist from the emerging-country world is, of course, Hernando de Soto from Peru (corruption, informal economy, institutions). (Almost) the whole continent of South America is still waiting that the Nobel Prize Committee will give him the highest award for economic research. However, it may be the case that de Soto is judged as not being sufficiently anchored in the academic economic world of models and mathematics.

But if this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics is not going to one of the names mentioned above it remains possible that other representatives of “growth and development” will be awarded, probably from the U.S. This would be another way to put more emphasis on emerging markets.

On October 13, we will know more about it. Competition with other economists and research areas is tough.

 

Hubert Fromlet
Senior Professor of International Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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