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On the blogs

For Whom the Wall Fell? -- Branko Milanovic's analysis of the effects in Eastern Europe of the transition to capitalism. Not good, by the way. Few success stories, and mostly associated to commodity booms. Worth reading also his response to Andrei Shleifer's view that the transition was a success.

Trapped in a Recession -- C.P. Chandrasekhar discusses why we are back in a "situation where finance capital is back to profitability and is thriving but the real economy and the rest of the system is mired in recession." In one word, austerity.

Obituary: Frederic S. Lee (1949-2014) -- Tae-Hee Jo has published a nice obituary with more biographical detail than previous ones.

IMF Response to the Financial and Economic Crisis -- Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) report on the IMF's role during the Great Recession. They suggest that: "The IMF’s record in surveillance was mixed. Its calls for global fiscal stimulus in 2008–09 were timely and influential, but its endorsement in 2010–11 of a shift to consolidation in some of the largest advanced economies was premature." I am more critical, as you know, but it is good that their evaluator noticed that the IMF has pushed for austerity too soon.

PS: And yes the last one is not really a blog post. But it's related to a previous blog post of mine. ;)


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There will be a lot of postmortems for the European Union (EU) after Brexit. Many will suggest that this was a victory against the neoliberal policies of the European Union. See, for example, the first three paragraphs of Paul Mason's column here. And it is true, large contingents of working class people, that have suffered with 'free-market' economics, voted for leaving the union. The union, rightly or wrongly, has been seen as undemocratic and responsible for the economics woes of Europe.

The problem is that while it is true that the EU leaders have been part of the problem and have pursued the neoliberal policies within the framework of the union, sometimes with treaties like the Fiscal Compact, it is far from clear that Brexit and the possible demise of the union, if the fever spreads to France, Germany and other countries with their populations demanding their own referenda, will lead to the abandonment of neoliberal policies. Aust…

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So besides the coup in Brazil (which was all but confirmed by the last revelations, if you had any doubts), and the electoral victory of Macri in Argentina, the crisis in Venezuela is reaching a critical level, and it would not be surprising if the Maduro administration is recalled, even though right now the referendum is not scheduled yet.

The economy in Venezuela has collapsed (GDP has fallen by about 14% or so in the last two years), inflation has accelerated (to three digit levels; 450% or so according to the IMF), there are shortages of essential goods, recurrent energy blackouts, and all of these aggravated by persistent violence. Contrary to what the press suggests, these events are not new or specific to left of center governments. Similar events occurred in the late 1980s, in the infamous Caracazo, when the fall in oil prices caused an external crisis, inflation, and food shortages, which eventually, after the announcement of a neoliberal economic package that included the i…