„Neoliberalii ar trebui să facă o vizită la psihiatru!”

1

Pamant lumea globalizare financiar„În urmă cu 15 ani am scris o o carte intitulată ‹Globalizarea şi nemulţumirile ei› în care descriam opoziţia crescândă din lumea în curs de dezvoltare la reformele impuse de globalizare. Părea să fie un mister: populaţiei din ţările în curs de dezvoltare i s-a spus că globalizarea va duce la sporirea bunăstării. De ce atât de mulţi oameni au devenit ostili?”, se întreabă Joseph E. Stiglitz, laureat al Nobelului pentru Economie şi profesor la Columbia University, într-un articol pentru Project Syndicate.

„Acum, cei care se opun globalizării în pieţele emergente şi în ţările în curs de dezvoltare s-au unit cu zecile de milioane din ţările dezvoltate. Sondajele de opinie, inclusiv un studiu al Stanley Greenberg şi al asociaţilor săi de la Roosevelt Institute arată că acum comerţul este printre principalele surse de nemulţumire pentru o mare parte dintre americani. În Europa, viziunile sunt aparent similare.

Cum poate fi atât de ponegrit un lucru despre care liderii noştri politici şi mulţi economişti au spus că va aduce mult bine pentru toata lumea?

Un răspuns pe care îl aud uneori din partea economiştilor neoliberali care au susţinut aceste politici este că oamenii o duc mai bine. Doar că nu ştiu. Nemulţumirea lor este o problemă pentru psihiatri, nu pentru economişti.

Însă datele despre venituri arată că neoliberalii ar fi cei care ar trebui supuşi acestei terapii. Segmente mari din populaţia ţărilor avansate nu o duc deloc mai bine: în SUA, cei mai săraci 90% suferă de 30 de ani din cauza stagnării. Venitul mediu pentru bărbaţii care lucrează cu normă întreagă este mai redus (ajustat la inflaţie) decât era în urmă cu 42 de ani. La nivelul cel mai de jos, salariile reale sunt comparabile cu cele din urmă cu 60 de ani.

Efectele durerilor economice şi ale dislocării pe care o trăiesc mulţi americani se reflectă chiar şi în statisticile legate de sănătate. De exemplu, economiştii Anne Case şi Angus Deaton, laureaţii Nobelului din acest an, au arătat că speranţa de viaţă a albilor din America se reduce.

Lucrurile stau puţin mai bine în Europa. Dar doar puţin mai bine.

‹Inegalitatea Globală: o nouă abordare a Erei Globalizării›, noua carte a lui Branko Milanovici, îi analizează pe marii câştigători şi marii perdanţi în termeni de venituri în ultimele două decenii, din 1988 până în 2008. Printre câştigători îi avem pe cei 1%, plutocraţii globali, dar şi clasa mijlocie din ţările în curs de dezvoltare. Printre perdanţi – cei care au câştigat puţin sau nimic – îi avem pe cei mai săraci, precum şi clasa mijlocie şi clasa muncitoare din ţările dezvoltate. Globalizarea nu este singurul, dar este unul dintre motive.

Presupunând că pieţele sunt perfecte (ca în majoritatea analizelor economice neoliberale), liberul schimb uniformizează salariile muncitorilor necalificaţi din lume. Comerţul înlocuieşte circulaţia oamenilor. Produsele importate din China – bunuri care necesită multă mână de lucru necalificată – reduc cererea pentru muncitori necalificaţi în Europa şi SUA.

Această forţă este atât de puternică încât, dacă nu ar exista costurile transportului şi dacă SUA şi Europa nu ar avea avantaj competitiv în alte zone precum tehnologia, lucrurile ar arăta ca şi cum muncitorii chinezi ar migra mereu spre SUA şi Europa până când diferenţele ar dispărea cu totul. Nu e deloc surprinzător că neoliberalii nu au vorbit despre consecinţele liberalizării comerţului atunci când au susţinut – am putea spune că au minţit – că toţi vor beneficia de pe urma acestei liberalizări.

Eşecul globalizării de a îndeplini promisiunile partidelor tradiţionale a subminat încrederea în ‘establishment’. Iar împrumuturile generoase ale guvernelor acordate băncilor care au dus la criza din 2008, în timp ce cetăţenii obişnuiţi erau lăsaţi să se protejeze de unii singuri, au întărit viziunea cum că acest eşec nu ţine doar de erori economice.

În SUA, republicanii din Congres s-au opus până şi ajutoarelor pentru cei direct loviţi de globalizare. Aparent, neoliberalii s-au temut de efectele adverse şi s-au opus măsurilor pentru protejarea celorlalţi.

Pentru ca toată lumea să beneficieze de globalizare, trebuie să ai măsuri puternice pentru protecţia socială. Scandinavii şi-au dat seama de asta cu mult timp înainte; asta a fost parte din contractul social care a menţinut o societate deschisă – deschisă către globalizare, către schimbările în tehnologie.

Neoliberalii de prin alte părţi nu au făcut asta, iar acum, la alegerile din SUA şi Europa, îşi primesc pedeapsa.

Desigur, globalizarea este doar o parte a fenomenelor ce au loc. O altă parte este inovaţia tehnologică. Însă toate aceste fenomene ar fi trebuit să ne facă mai bogaţi, iar ţările avansate ar fi trebuit să apeleze la politici care să asigure împărţirea echitabilă a beneficiilor.

În schimb, ţările avansate au apelat la politici care au restructurat pieţele într-un mod care a sporit inegalitatea şi a subminat performanţa economică generală; creşterea este acum încetinită din cauză că regulile jocului sunt rescrise pentru a apăra interesele băncilor şi ale corporaţiilor – cei bogaţi şi puternici – în dauna tuturor celorlalţi. Puterea clasei muncitoare s-a redus; cel puţin în SUA legile concurenţei nu ţin pasul cu vremurile; legislaţia existentă nu se aplică în mod adecvat. Financializarea a continuat în ritm alert, iar guvernanţa corporatistă a devenit mai rea.

Acum, după cum scriam în volumul ‹Rescrierea regulilor economiei americane›, regulile jocului trebuie schimbate din nou – iar aici trebuie incluse şi măsurile care să îmblânzească globalizarea. Cele două noi mari acorduri pentru care a militat preşedintele Barack Obama – Parteneriatul Transpacific dintre SUA şi 11 ţări pacifice şi Parteneriatul Transatlantic pentru Comerţ şi Investiţii dintre UE şi SUA – sunt o mişcare în direcţia greşită.

Principalul mesaj al volumului ‹Globalizarea şi nemulţumirile ei› era că problema nu ţine de globalizare, ci de cum este ea gestionată. Din nefericire, modul în care a fost gestionată nu s-a schimbat. După 15 ani, noile nemulţumiri au adus acest mesaj chiar în ţările avansate”.


Globalization and its New Discontents

Fifteen years ago, I wrote a little book, entitled Globalization and its Discontents, describing growing opposition in the developing world to globalizing reforms. It seemed a mystery: people in developing countries had been told that globalization would increase overall wellbeing. So why had so many people become so hostile to it?

Now, globalization’s opponents in the emerging markets and developing countries have been joined by tens of millions in the advanced countries. Opinion polls, including a careful study by Stanley Greenberg and his associates for the Roosevelt Institute, show that trade is among the major sources of discontent for a large share of Americans. Similar views are apparent in Europe.

How can something that our political leaders – and many an economist – said would make everyone better off be so reviled?

One answer occasionally heard from the neoliberal economists who advocated for these policies is that people are better off. They just don’t know it. Their discontent is a matter for psychiatrists, not economists.

But income data suggest that it is the neoliberals who may benefit from therapy. Large segments of the population in advanced countries have not been doing well: in the US, the bottom 90% has endured income stagnation for a third of a century. Median income for full-time male workers is actually lower in real (inflation-adjusted) terms than it was 42 years ago. At the bottom, real wages are comparable to their level 60 years ago.

The effects of the economic pain and dislocation that many Americans are experiencing are even showing up in health statistics. For example, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, this year’s Nobel laureate, have shown that life expectancy among segments of white Americans is declining.

Things are a little better in Europe – but only a little better.

Branko Milanovic’s new book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization provides some vital insights, looking at the big winners and losers in terms of income over the two decades from 1988 to 2008. Among the big winners were the global 1%, the world’s plutocrats, but also the middle class in newly emerging economies. Among the big losers – those who gained little or nothing – were those at the bottom and the middle and working classes in the advanced countries. Globalization is not the only reason, but it is one of the reasons.

Under the assumption of perfect markets (which underlies most neoliberal economic analyses) free trade equalizes the wages of unskilled workers around the world. Trade in goods is a substitute for the movement of people. Importing goods from China – goods that require a lot of unskilled workers to produce – reduces the demand for unskilled workers in Europe and the US.

This force is so strong that if there were no transportation costs, and if the US and Europe had no other source of competitive advantage, such as in technology, eventually it would be as if Chinese workers continued to migrate to the US and Europe until wage differences had been eliminated entirely. Not surprisingly, the neoliberals never advertised this consequence of trade liberalization, as they claimed – one could say lied – that all would benefit.

The failure of globalization to deliver on the promises of mainstream politicians has surely undermined trust and confidence in the “establishment”. And governments’ offers of generous bailouts for the banks that had brought on the 2008 financial crisis, while leaving ordinary citizens largely to fend for themselves, reinforced the view that this failure was not merely a matter of economic misjudgments.

In the US, Congressional Republicans even opposed assistance to those who were directly hurt by globalization. More generally, neoliberals, apparently worried about adverse incentive effects, have opposed welfare measures that would have protected the losers.

But they can’t have it both ways: if globalization is to benefit most members of society, strong social-protection measures must be in place. The Scandinavians figured this out long ago; it was part of the social contract that maintained an open society – open to globalization and changes in technology. Neoliberals elsewhere have not – and now, in elections in the US and Europe, they are having their comeuppance.

Globalization is, of course, only one part of what is going on; technological innovation is another part. But all of this openness and disruption were supposed to make us richer, and the advanced countries could have introduced policies to ensure that the gains were widely shared.

Instead, they pushed for policies that restructured markets in ways that increased inequality and undermined overall economic performance; growth actually slowed as the rules of the game were rewritten to advance the interests of banks and corporations – the rich and powerful – at the expense of everyone else. Workers’ bargaining power was weakened; in the US, at least, competition laws didn’t keep up with the times; and existing laws were inadequately enforced. Financialization continued apace and corporate governance worsened.

Now, as I point out in my recent book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, the rules of the game need to be changed again – and this must include measures to tame globalization. The two new large agreements that President Barack Obama has been pushing – the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the US – are moves in the wrong direction.

Now, globalization’s opponents in the emerging markets and developing countries have been joined by tens of millions in the advanced countries. Opinion polls, including a careful study by Stanley Greenberg and his associates for the Roosevelt Institute, show that trade is among the major sources of discontent for a large share of Americans. Similar views are apparent in Europe.

How can something that our political leaders – and many an economist – said would make everyone better off be so reviled?

One answer occasionally heard from the neoliberal economists who advocated for these policies is that people are better off. They just don’t know it. Their discontent is a matter for psychiatrists, not economists.

But income data suggest that it is the neoliberals who may benefit from therapy. Large segments of the population in advanced countries have not been doing well: in the US, the bottom 90% has endured income stagnation for a third of a century. Median income for full-time male workers is actually lower in real (inflation-adjusted) terms than it was 42 years ago. At the bottom, real wages are comparable to their level 60 years ago.

The effects of the economic pain and dislocation that many Americans are experiencing are even showing up in health statistics. For example, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, this year’s Nobel laureate, have shown that life expectancy among segments of white Americans is declining.

Things are a little better in Europe – but only a little better.

Branko Milanovic’s new book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization provides some vital insights, looking at the big winners and losers in terms of income over the two decades from 1988 to 2008. Among the big winners were the global 1%, the world’s plutocrats, but also the middle class in newly emerging economies. Among the big losers – those who gained little or nothing – were those at the bottom and the middle and working classes in the advanced countries. Globalization is not the only reason, but it is one of the reasons.

Under the assumption of perfect markets (which underlies most neoliberal economic analyses) free trade equalizes the wages of unskilled workers around the world. Trade in goods is a substitute for the movement of people. Importing goods from China – goods that require a lot of unskilled workers to produce – reduces the demand for unskilled workers in Europe and the US.

This force is so strong that if there were no transportation costs, and if the US and Europe had no other source of competitive advantage, such as in technology, eventually it would be as if Chinese workers continued to migrate to the US and Europe until wage differences had been eliminated entirely. Not surprisingly, the neoliberals never advertised this consequence of trade liberalization, as they claimed – one could say lied – that all would benefit.

The failure of globalization to deliver on the promises of mainstream politicians has surely undermined trust and confidence in the “establishment.” And governments’ offers of generous bailouts for the banks that had brought on the 2008 financial crisis, while leaving ordinary citizens largely to fend for themselves, reinforced the view that this failure was not merely a matter of economic misjudgments.

In the US, Congressional Republicans even opposed assistance to those who were directly hurt by globalization. More generally, neoliberals, apparently worried about adverse incentive effects, have opposed welfare measures that would have protected the losers.

But they can’t have it both ways: if globalization is to benefit most members of society, strong social-protection measures must be in place. The Scandinavians figured this out long ago; it was part of the social contract that maintained an open society – open to globalization and changes in technology. Neoliberals elsewhere have not – and now, in elections in the US and Europe, they are having their comeuppance.

Globalization is, of course, only one part of what is going on; technological innovation is another part. But all of this openness and disruption were supposed to make us richer, and the advanced countries could have introduced policies to ensure that the gains were widely shared.

Instead, they pushed for policies that restructured markets in ways that increased inequality and undermined overall economic performance; growth actually slowed as the rules of the game were rewritten to advance the interests of banks and corporations – the rich and powerful – at the expense of everyone else. Workers’ bargaining power was weakened; in the US, at least, competition laws didn’t keep up with the times; and existing laws were inadequately enforced. Financialization continued apace and corporate governance worsened.

Now, as I point out in my recent book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, the rules of the game need to be changed again – and this must include measures to tame globalization. The two new large agreements that President Barack Obama has been pushing – the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the US – are moves in the wrong direction.

The main message of Globalization and its Discontents was that the problem was not globalization, but how the process was being managed. Unfortunately, the management didn’t change. Fifteen years later, the new discontents have brought that message home to the advanced economies.

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979, is University Professor at Columbia University, Co-Chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, and Chief Economist of the Roosevelt Institute. A former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and chair of the US president’s Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton, in 2000 he founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, a think tank on international development based at Columbia University. His most recent book is Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.

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