Informacionalismo e a riqueza das nacións

A través de Juan Freire chego a un informe, un bo resumo do informe e unha entrevista con Kirk Hamilton, economista do Banco Mundial. O informe versa sobre a riqueza das nacións no século XXI (no informacionalismo), que divide entre capital natural, manufacturado e intanxible:

The World Bank study defines natural capital as the sum of cropland, pastureland, forested areas, protected areas, and nonrenewable resources (including oil, natural gas, coal, and minerals).

capitalProduced capital is what most of us think of when we think of capital: machinery, equipment, structures (including infrastructure), and urban land. But that still left a lot of wealth to explain. “As soon as you say the issue is the wealth of nations and how wealth is managed, then you realize that if you were only talking about a portfolio of natural assets, if you were only talking about produced capital and natural assets, you’re missing a big chunk of the story,” Hamilton explains.

The rest of the story is intangible capital. That encompasses raw labor; human capital, which includes the sum of a population’s knowledge and skills; and the level of trust in a society and the quality of its formal and informal institutions. Worldwide, the study finds, “natural capital accounts for 5 percent of total wealth, produced capital for 18 percent, and intangible capital 77 percent.”

Social institutions are most crucial. The World Bank has devised a rule of law index that measures the extent to which people have confidence in and abide by the rules of their society. An economy with a very efficient judicial system, clear and enforceable property rights, and an effective and uncorrupt government will produce higher total wealth.

Na entrevista con Ronald Bailey, Hamilton explica de novo -cun humor e claridade que se agradecen- en qué consiste o capital intanxible:

Intangible capital is capital that has an economic value but is not something you can drop on your foot.

It’s the preponderant form of wealth. When we look at the shares of intangible capital across income classes, you see it goes from about 60 percent in low-income countries to 80 percent in high-income countries. That accords very much with that notion that what really makes countries wealthy is not the bits and pieces, it’s the brainpower and the institutions that harness that brainpower. It’s the skills more than the rocks and minerals.

E, a pesar de levar tempo falando do capital-paisesinformacionalismo, non deixan de sorprenderme os seus números:

el informe del Banco Mundial estima que mientras el capital natural representa sólo el 5% de la riqueza mundial y el capital manufacturado el 18%; el capital intangible representaría la mayor parte de la riqueza, un 77%.

Además de esta evidencia, la comparación entre países ricos y pobres (las tablas recojen los datos de los 10 más ricos y más pobres) es especialmente relevante. El capital intangible determina la mayor parte de la riqueza incluso en los países pobres, entorno al 60%, contradiciendo la idea de que estos países dependen fundamentalmente de sus recursos naturales.

De hecho, es paradigmático el caso de Nigeria, aquejado de graves problemas de pobreza a pesar de sus grandes recursos minerales pero que presenta valores de capital intangible negativos. Por el contrario, en los países ricos la importancia del capital intangible crece hasta valores próximos al 80% de media

O intanxible imponse ó tanxible. E desta premisa debemos aprender para reformular as estratexias de desenvolvemento:

Reason: Fifty years ago at the World Bank, it was all about tangible capital-factories, railroads, dams, and roads. Now it seems that enhancing intangible capital is huge, comparatively speaking, if the bank wants to spur more development.

Hamilton: In the old days, we thought if you built the infrastructure then development would come-the Field of Dreams model of development. It turns out to be a lot harder than that.

Ou en palabras de Juan Freire,

La economía del desarrollo ha documentado diversas evidencias que indican que en los países en desarrollo son aquellos proyectos basados en tecnologías ligeras y baratas ideados y gestionados por emprendedores locales los que alcanzan mayores tasas de éxito, mientras que los planes que se apoyan en una “burocracia masiva” asociada a la ayuda y planificación gubernamental suelen ser mucho menos eficaces.

Ese es el argumento de buena parte del trabajo de William Easterly (comentado aquí y aquí). Son especialmente inetersantes en este sentido su artículo de 2006, Planners vs. Searchers in Foreign Aid, en Asian Development Review (pdf). y sus libros de 2001, The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics, y The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.

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