Saturday, August 21, 2010

Washington Consensus

Interesting! I had never seen this before.

From Ronald McKinnon.

John Williamson (1990) did all a great favor by writing down the rules for what he called “The Washington Consensus” for developing countries to follow to absorb aid efficiently:

  1. Fiscal policy discipline.
  2. Redirection of public spending from subsidies (“especially in discriminate subsidies” toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care, and infrastructure;
  3. Tax Reform—broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates:
  4. Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
  5. Competitive exchange rates;
  6. Trade liberalization—with particular emphasis on the elimination of quantitative restrictions; any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs;
  7. Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;
  8. Privatization of state enterprises;
  9. Deregulation—abolish regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudent oversight of financial institutions.
  10. Legal security for property rights.

To provide perspective on these ten rules, the year 1990, when Williamson wrote, is important. It was just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the complete collapse of confidence in Soviet-style socialism. The rules reflect the hegemonic confidence that most people then had in liberal market-oriented capitalism—think Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. But, 20 years later, should the meteoric rise of socialist China—both in its own remarkable growth in living standards, and in the effectiveness of its foreign “aid” to developing countries, undermine our confidence in Williamson’s Washington Consensus?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Copyright and competition

De Spiegel discusses work by Wolfgang Menzel that suggests that an absence of copy right in Germany was responsible for a flourishing of ideas. In contrast to England, where copyright laws kept monopoly power over ideas and prevented competition, in Germany there was an outpouring of non-fiction publishing. German publishers reacted to their inability to enforce their rights by using price discrimination to cover the market.

In Germany during the same period, publishers had plagiarizers -- who could reprint each new publication and sell it cheaply without fear of punishment -- breathing down their necks. Successful publishers were the ones who took a sophisticated approach in reaction to these copycats and devised a form of publication still common today, issuing fancy editions for their wealthy customers and low-priced paperbacks for the masses.

Monday, August 16, 2010

European money markets

Some interesting comments on the state of the money market in Europe. It appears that things remain very tight and that collateral is increasingly demanded.

What Comotto emphasises, however, is that while that trend may have begun as far back as the 1990s, the recent European crisis has now nearly completely vaporised what little unsecured interbank lending was left in the market. What’s more, the demand for tri-party transactions — where collateral is managed by a custodian rather than bilaterally — has almost doubled from less than 25 per cent before the Lehman crisis to almost 50 per cent since.

This is from Richard Comotto of the European repo market, quoted in the FT's Alphaville. There is a lot more interesting information on the repo and money markets. //