Sobre a Decadência do Desenvolvimentismo

Há algum tempo li uma resenha sobre o livro “Decadent Developmentalism. The Political Economy of Democratic Brazil” (2020). Tenho muito interesse nesse tema. No entanto, como se trata de um livro caro, espero que alguma biblioteca local o compre. Até já o recomendei. Enquanto isso, baixei a amostra grátis da Amazon, com a introdução e o início do primeiro capítulo. A parte inicial, que oferece uma visão geral do argumento do autor, é bem convincente. Posteriormente, o livro perde um pouco de tração, enveredando por uma detalhada revisão bibliográfica, mas nem sempre bem articulada e até mesmo com alguns anacronismos.* Quero crer que isso seja um problema pontual, mas precisarei ler o restante para poder opinar. Independentemente disso, reproduzo a seguir algumas passagens bastante impactantes. Vale a pena conferir:

Political scientists have long emphasized executive-legislative relations to the general neglect of the economy, focusing more on the process of governing than on its content or performance. This has given many social scientists an artificial and perhaps overly optimistic perspective of how well Brazilian politics could function or actually functions, suggesting that all that is needed is stronger leadership, or focused more on narrow measures of legislative production and executive control than on the broader content of this legislation, the murky processes that often produce it, the options that are foregone, or the lackluster long-term performance of the system.

(…) many of the economic and political institutions of the new democracy are regressive and inefficient; but more importantly, that complementarities across the political and economic spheres generate incentives that drive actors toward a suboptimal political and economic equilibrium that has become stable over time.

Brazil often seems to be ambling leisurely toward a grim future in which an unresponsive political system, an inefficient economic framework, the end of the demographic dividend, and a deeply unjust social structure conspire to rob Brazilian youth of their future.

The institutions of the Brazilian political economy drive toward a common equilibrium that is hard to break, not least because of institutional complementarities across five institutional arenas that jointly explain the country trajectory since 1985: the resilience of developmentalism as an idea with effects on both policy choices and institutions in the macroeconomic realm; the concentration and segmentation of firm life in the microeconomic realm, DHME [developmental hierarchical market economy]; the consensual politics inherent to the coalitional presidential system, which undermine the checks and balances that are frequently assumed to be central to presidential systems; the resulting weakness of the control mechanisms needed to effectively govern the developmental state; and an autonomous bureaucracy that is able to undertake reforms that ensure the developmental state continued viability but also contribute to its growth-constraining effect by reinforcing the incentive structures set in place by the other institutions.

(…) the president agenda-setting powers, cabinet powers, partisan powers, and budgetary authority help to ensure presidential dominance (…). But these formal powers do not clinch the support needed to ensure effective governance which, as a consequence, is often obtained through informal exchange. This pattern of political interaction leads to a suboptimal, inefficient equilibrium that drives up the cost of politics, dilutes the coherence of policy initiatives, requires costly side payments, and may diminish public support, by undercutting public confidence in the probity of policy deliberations. But there are many reasons it survives: it provides key interest groups with defenses against policy change, provides executives with support in a fissiparous party system, provides legislative incumbents with powerful resources for political survival, and enables incumbent firms to outcompete their potential rivals.

Five institutional spheres, in particular, help to determine the performance of Brazil economic system: the scale of the state, the monetary and financial regimes, patterns of state intervention in industry, the economy integration into the world system, and the wage-labor nexus. Several stylized facts about the political economy of Brazilian democracy emerge from the interaction between these spheres:
. The fiscal imperative generates incentives for politicians of all ideologies to employ what I term fiscally opaque instruments of economic policy (…).
. The combination of the fiscal imperative and fiscally opaque instruments contributes to the high cost of credit, and low levels of investment (…).
. (…) there has been a lasting proclivity toward the protection of domestic producers, at some cost to efficiency and consumers.
. Industrial policy (…) serves the purposes of government by providing fiscally opaque tools to meet the needs of domestic firms or guide them toward government objectives.
. (…) the burden of balancing the fiscal accounts has fallen disproportionately on the less well-off, through regressive taxes, weak social welfare, and high informality (…).
. (…) economic growth, by default, is a residual.
. (…) foreign direct investment often responds to incentives in ways that are similar to domestic capital, producing for the local market behind high protective barriers.

(…) the regulatory framework established to facilitate the privatization of a variety of firms in a number of sectors has been repurposed over time to serve as a tool of government control over the economy.

(*) O autor, p. ex., atribui à Lei de Responsabilidade Fiscal o status de emenda constitucional e inclui o Unibanco entre os atuais grandes bancos brasileiros.

About Alexandre Rocha

I am a professional committed to applying economic and statistical techniques to the evaluation of public policies.
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