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On Robotization and Unemployment at the Rick Smith Show

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Robots. The gist is that technological change is not the problem. Employment is pro-cyclical and pro-structural, for lack of a better word, it goes with the cycle and with the trend. The issue is the weakness of the working class bargaining power. We need regulation of corporate oligopolies, stronger unions, and a political system willing to require and fund social welfare. In that world, robots are not the cause of a dystopia.
Recent posts

Technological progress is NOT the cause of unemployment and inequality

Or that is what the recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Report by Lawrence Mishel and Josh Bivens says. Their study is essentially a critique of a recent study by Acemoglu and a co-author that suggests that robotization would have a large effect on employment generation. Note that this is not a requirement in mainstream neoclassical (marginalist) theory. Actually, technological progress should generate higher real wages and higher employment in the conventional model of the labor market (which is fraught with logical problems; yep capital debates apply here).

The reason, I mean the probable underlying ideological reason, for the narrative about robotization is that one cannot blame unemployment and inequality (wage stagnation) on policy decision made by conservative (neoliberal)   policy makers. It's the result of the inevitable changes in technology that are dictated by competition. The argument is not very different from the idea that it was not trade, but skill biased techn…

On Priming the Pump and Trumponomics at the Rick Smith Show

My interview with Rick this week. I should say that I'm quite skeptical that impeachment will actually take place. In part, because Trump is not a real populist, and will not deliver for the working class people in the Rust Belt that voted for him. But he will, probably, pass several things that Republicans want, and that might provide the support that would shield him from political disaster.

Brazil and the entry of China in the WTO

I have discussed here the role of Chinese growth in the decrease of US manufacturing jobs (note that I was, and still am somewhat critical about simplistic stories of deindustrialization). At any rate, for other reasons I was looking at the IMF Direction of Trade Statistics (DOTS) and ended up with the two graphs below.
After the Chinese entry in the WTO in 2001 the rise in Brazilian imports is astounding. Now Chinese imports of manufacturing goods are about the same share as imports from the US and the European Union.

Brazilian exports to  China, on the other hand, only take off after the Global Crisis in 2008, even though an increase after 2001 is also visible. This suggests that, in spite of the slowdown in China, their relatively rapid growth has sustained the external markets for Brazilian commodities (iron ore and soybeans mostly). There is a lot to be said about the patterns of specialization that this South-South integration has shaped, and the problems that it entails for Br…

Back of the envelope calculation: BNDES lending and the Marshall Plan

So, a few days ago, someone (my bad, can't remember who did it) posted on FB a piece (in Portuguese and behind a wall; but this post is mostly about the role of historical comparisons really, so you can skip the piece altogether) on the Brazilian National Development Bank (Portuguese acronym is BNDES, btw) and how it lend more than the US government with the Marshall Plan. The guy did a back of the envelope calculation (I did check and bringing the US$ 13 billion to present value, with the GDP deflator would be about 106 billion, roughly what he calculated) and concluded that the BNDES lending, which was higher, was very ineffective. Hm. Where to start?

Sure one can assume that the important thing is just to calculate how much money was lent in current values and one gets a reasonable picture of the impact. However, it should be clear that the US was lending dollars, and access to imports that were vital for the survival of Europe. Harder to put a dollar figure on that. But a bet…

Slow Posting, Hyperventilation, and the Wrong Lesson for the Left

Still grading, so slow posting for a while. Just a brief note on the whole firing of Comey scandal that is still unfolding, and the incredible degree of anxiety on the left, which somehow thinks this means that there is a 'pee' tape and that Trump will be eventually impeached (here, for example; too many of these). This is at least the second event compared to Nixon's firing of the Attorney General, the infamous Saturday night massacre. The other being the firing the Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

All of these is very unproductive and dangerous for progressives in my view. It emphasizes an interpretation of the election that is deeply flawed. That Hilary was a strong candidate, that she was progressive, that she would have won (yeah, I know she did win the popular vote; but that's not the way it works) if Comey didn't discuss the emails days before the election, or the Russians didn't hack her campaign, or if Wikileaks didn't expose them.

It exempts …