Restructuring Debt in the Dark

October 6, 2016

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...

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Venezuela Needs International Assistance to Recover

June 28, 2016

Ricardo Hausmann - New York Times

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...

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What the world can learn from Argentina's holdout saga

May 26, 2016

Eduardo Levy Yeyati - Vox/CEPR

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...

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Learning without Theory

March 30, 2016

Ricardo Hausmann - Project Syndicate

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

In Argentina's Economy, It Takes Three to Tango

February 26, 2016

Eduardo Levy-Yeyati for Bloomberg View

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.

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The Import of Exports

November 26, 2015

CAMBRIDGE – Should a country’s development strategy pay special attention to exports? After all, exports have nothing to do with satisfying their people’s basic needs, such as education, health care, housing, power, water, telecoms, security, the rule of law, and recreation. So why give precedence to satisfying the needs of distant foreign consumers?


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Does Capitalism Cause Poverty?

August 21, 2015

Ricardo Hausmann - Project Syndicate

CAMBRIDGE – Capitalism gets blamed for many things nowadays: poverty, inequality, unemployment, even global warming. As Pope Francis said in a recent speech in Bolivia: “This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable. The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say – also finds it intolerable.”

But are the problems that upset Francis the consequence of what he called “unbridled capitalism”? Or...

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Back to Fundamentals in Emerging Markets

August 13, 2015

Dani Rodrik - Project Syndicate

CAMBRIDGE – Following 15 years of hype, a new conventional wisdom has taken hold: emerging markets are in deep trouble. Many analysts had extrapolated rapid growth in countries such as Brazil, Russia, Turkey, and India into the indefinite future, calling them the new engines of the world economy. Now growth is down in almost all of them, and investors are pulling their money out – prompted in part by the expectation that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in September. Their currencies have tumbled, while corruption scandals and other political difficulties have overwhelmed the economic narrative in places like Brazil and Turkey.... Read more about Back to Fundamentals in Emerging Markets

The Diaspora Goldmine

June 25, 2015

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

CAMBRIDGE – Many countries have substantial diasporas, but not many are proud of it. After all, people tend not to leave a country when it is doing well, so the diaspora is often a reminder of a country’s darker moments.

El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Cuba, to cite three examples, had more than 10% of their native population living abroad in 2010. And this figure does not take...

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Secular Stagnation for Free

March 27, 2015

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

CAMBRIDGE – Something is definitely rotten in the state of capitalism. Despite unprecedentedly low interest rates, investment in most advanced countries is significantly below where it was in the years prior to the 2008 crisis, while employment rates remain stubbornly low. And even investment in the pre-crisis period was unimpressive, given low prevailing interest rates.


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The Education Myth

May 31, 2015

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

TIRANA – In an era characterized by political polarization and policy paralysis, we should celebrate broad agreement on economic strategy wherever we find it. One such area of agreement is the idea that the key to inclusive growth is, as then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair put in his 2001 reelection campaign, “education, education, education.” If we broaden access to schools and improve their quality, economic growth will be both...

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Should Venezuela Default?

Should Venezuela Default?

September 5, 2014

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

CAMBRIDGE – Will Venezuela default on its foreign bonds? Markets fear that it might. That is why Venezuelan bonds pay over 11 percentage points more than US Treasuries, which is 12 times more than Mexico, four times more than Nigeria, and double what Bolivia pays. Last May, when Venezuela made a $5 billion private placement of ten-year bonds with a 6% coupon, it effectively had to give a 40% discount, leaving it with barely $3 billion. The extra $2 billion that it will have to pay in ten years is the compensation that investors demand for the likelihood of default, in excess of the already hefty coupon.... Read more about Should Venezuela Default?