Five years ago, Albania faced a truly ominous situation. With Greece and Italy reeling from the euro crisis, remittances and capital inflows were falling and the economy suffered a severe slowdown. The fiscal deficit ballooned to over 7% of GDP, financed to a large extent by arrears, as access to external financial markets had collapsed and domestic interest rates were sky high.
When Adam Smith wrote ‘The Wealth of Nations’ in 1776, the richest country in the world was four times richer than the poorest one. Today, Singapore is over 110 times richer than Burundi. What could possibly explain such an extreme divergence of the wealth of nations?
Economists have shown that these differences are too large to be explained by differences in the availability of land or capital – including human capital. So, they ascribe it to differences in the productivity with which land and capital are used,...
Venezuela is in the news again. Through unprecedented treachery, President Nicolás Maduro awarded himself victory in the presidential election on May 20. Given that the blatantly pro-government electoral council had delisted the three main opposition parties and disqualified two major political leaders, much of the opposition boycotted the process. The two other candidates who participated did not recognize the result, given the many violations that took place. Neither did the United States, Canada, the European Union and most...
Ricardo Hausmann joins Cardiff Garcia to discuss the historical foundation of Venezuela's current macroeconomic and humanitarian crisis, what may happen with its debt and what the future holds for the country.
Ricardo Hausmann is interviewed by the Council of Foreign Relations
The misguided policies of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, along with falling oil prices, have destabilized Venezuela’s economy and triggered shortages of vital supplies, says Ricardo Hausmann, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School and a former minister of planning in Venezuela.
Hausmann argues that it will almost certainly take new leadership in Caracas to introduce the market reforms and debt restructuring he says are needed. “A recovery would...
CAMBRIDGE – Investing often creates moral dilemmas over goals: Should we aim to do well or to do good? Is it appropriate to invest in tobacco companies? Or in companies that sell guns to drug gangs?
The recent popularity of so-called impact investment funds, which promise to deliver decent returns while advancing social or environmental goals, is based on this unease. Foundations often find that these investment vehicles help them to do good both with the money that they...
It is not just because I am from Venezuela that I see Sri Lanka with admiration and envy. The island has made more progress in human development than any other in South Asia. It has reduced poverty in a pretty dramatic way. It has many reasons to be proud of its achievements. But anything that is worth doing, is worth doing better. The Center for International Development at Harvard University is collaborating with the Government of Sri Lanka to work on a strategy to make progress faster, more sustainable and more inclusive.
CAMBRIDGE – In the summer of 2015, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper looked set to win his fourth consecutive election, scheduled for that October. Instead, his Conservative Party won just 99 of the House of Commons’ 338 seats. The party did not win a single constituency in Toronto or the entire Atlantic seaboard. Instead, the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, ended up obtaining the second-largest parliamentary majority in its history – 184 seats – despite having started the electoral campaign in third place.... Read more about Refugees as Weapons of Mass Destruction
¿Cuánto tardaría Venezuela en recuperarse de la debacle económica de estos años? Es una pregunta frecuente en las conversaciones cotidianas, en los salones de clases y en los foros de discusión dentro y fuera del país. Es también una pregunta sencilla, relativamente intuitiva, cuya respuesta es compleja por diferentes razones. En primer lugar, la pregunta supone que el país corrige el rumbo a partir de cierto punto, mediante una transición política de la que hoy en día nadie sabe a ciencia cierta cómo ni cuándo puede ocurrir. En segundo lugar, no todos entendemos lo mismo por recuperación. ¿Es detener la recesión? ¿Es recuperar el nivel de algún punto reciente? ¿Es volver a nuestro mejor momento? ¿Es alcanzar el nivel o las tasas de algún país que nos sirva de referencia? ¿Cuál es la base de referencia en la que piensan quienes se hacen esta pregunta? Es importante encontrar una definición de éxito que balancee nuestras ambiciones y posibilidades. Por último, aun suponiendo que sabemos a dónde queremos llegar y que ocurre un cambio político capaz de enrumbar al país en esa dirección, está el hecho de cuan factible es una recuperación acelerada.
José Ramón Morales, Douglas Barrios - Caracas Chronicles
Social policy planners in Venezuela today are like field doctors in a war zone: if they actually stopped to register emotionally the devastation all around them, they’d never be able to get any work done. Today, Venezuela is undergoing the most brutally painful economic and social calamities probably since the Federal War. Sitting around feeling horrible about it, though, is not a luxury policy planners can afford.
Ricardo Hausmann & Mark Walker - Project Syndicate
CAMBRIDGE – As the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank begin in Washington, DC, one member country is conspicuously absent: Venezuela. Yet there is much to be discussed about the country’s finances. Indeed, a sovereign-debt crisis is inevitable.
All major sovereign-debt crises of the past – including in Mexico and Greece – have generated changes in the rules, jurisprudence, or strategies adopted by debtors, creditors, and international financial institutions. Most...
Venezuela’s problems are self-inflicted and the country will only recover if it mends its ways. However, there is much that the rest of the world could do to help Venezuela out of its current crisis.
How did we get here? Unfortunately the former president Hugo Chávez did not use the massive oil price boom between 2004 and 2013 to put money aside for a rainy day but instead, over-spent and quintupled the public foreign debt. This left the country in a vulnerable position because when the price of oil declined in 2014 the country was...
As Argentina’s protracted and litigious restructuring saga comes to an end, it is natural to ask what lessons the world can draw from this contentious process. While a close look reveals that Argentina’s ordeal has been fairly idiosyncratic, and hence less influential than most people think, the 15-year-long script yields important, albeit unexpected, lessons. Here’s a list.
Super-CACs are great and you should use them (but risks remain) The first lesson has already been learnt and implemented, but it will...
How can we improve the state of the world? How can we make countries more competitive, growth more sustainable and inclusive, and genders more equal?
One way is to have a correct theory of the relationship between actions and outcomes and then to implement actions that achieve our goals. But, in most of the situations we face, we lack such a theory, or if we have one, we are not sure that it is correct. So what can we do? Should we postpone action until we learn about what works? But how will we learn if we do not act? And if we act, how can we learn whether we did the right thing?... Read more about Learning without Theory
With inflation ticking up and strikes on the horizon, critics of Argentina's President Mauricio Macri are sharpening their attacks on his economic policies. The truth is, however, that the new president came into office with few good -- much less easy -- choices, and is so far making the best of them.
When Macri delivers his much-anticipated speech to launch the 2016 session of Congress on March 1, you can expect to hear a lot about "legacy"-- a buzzword that, in the Argentinean context, refers to the economic mess bequeathed to him by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The Kirchner legacy is indeed complex, encompassing important long-term factors such as a run-down infrastructure, a fat and ineffective public sector and lagging public education. But its short-term policy implications could be reduced to a simple trilemma: Correct the exchange rate, reduce inflation, and grow.