Debate on productivity brings together officials and experts
FGV’s Brazilian Institute of Economics (IBRE) hosted the seminar titled Dimensions of Productivity on May 11. The meeting was organized into four panels, covering areas of economic policy in which it is possible to define initiatives with potential to boost productivity in Brazil: Targeted Credit and Forced Savings, Promotion of Competition, Trade Policy, and Infrastructure Regulation. The event was closed by the Secretary of International Affairs of the Brazilian Ministry of Finance, Marcello Estevão, representing Minister Henrique Meirelles.
“Brazil is going through a moment of transition. In the short term, there are discussions about the work of the Central Bank. Much is said about the crisis and discussed about how much the economy will grow in the next few years, but this conference addressed something very important that can impact the lives of everyone in 5, 10, 20, or 30 years, which is the growth of productivity. Greater productivity leads to higher well-being, which brings benefits to ordinary citizens,” he said.
Earlier, economist Fernando Velloso pointed out, during the opening ceremony, that productivity in Brazil has remained stagnant since the 1980’s, with some episodic growth periods in the 1990’s and 2000’s. The Special Advisor for Microeconomic Reforms of the Ministry of Finance, João Manoel Pinho de Mello, analyzed the key factors to leverage productivity: increased workforce, human capital, and physical capital.
The first panel of the seminar, which discussed Targeted Credit and Forced Savings, counted on the participation of Vinícius Carrasco (BNDES) and Mark Dutz (World Bank). Mark focused his presentation on some aspects of a study developed by the World Bank on reviewing public spending of industrial policy, the reasons for public interest in targeted credit, and who benefits from this subsidized credit. During the debate, additional comments were made by Marcio Nakane (USP).
The second panel, mediated by IBRE researcher Regis Bonelli, featured Otávio Damaso (Central Bank), Leandro Fonseca (ANS), and José Tavares (CINDES), with comments by Leonardo Rezende (PUC-RJ). The lecturers discussed aspects of the promotion of competition and how it can increase productivity.
In the afternoon, the debate turned to Trade Policy. Marcello Estevão (Ministry of Finance) moderated the panel, which was participated by Sandra Rios (CINDES), Carlos Márcio Cozendey (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Alexandre Messa (IPEA), with comments by Jorge Arbache (Ministry of Planning). The lecturers shared their outlooks on Brazil’s level of integration to international trade growth and its relationship with productivity growth.
The last panel focused on the regulation of Infrastructure. Tackling one of the most complex issues in Brazilian economy, the panel was moderated by Marcos Mendes (Ministry of Finance) and featured presentations by Joísa Dutra (Director of FGV’s Center for Regulation and Infrastructure Studies – CERI), Cláudio Coutinho Mendes (BNDES), and Adriano Pires (CBIE), with comments by economist Armando Castelar Pinheiro (IBRE). Participants highlighted that Brazil’s interest rate is one of the highest in the world, and that the macroeconomic aggregates are highly volatile, which harms long-term investments, added to a great dependence on financing from the public sector.
The seminar continued a successful partnership between IBRE and the Brazilian Ministry of Finance, and was also an opportunity to launch the book Anatomia da Produtividade no Brasil [Anatomy of Productivity in Brazil], organized by Regis Bonelli, Fernando Veloso, and Armando Castelar Pinheiro, from IBRE. Both the event and the publication derived from a decision by IBRE to choose productivity as one of the central concerns of its institutional mission of contributing to the debate on Brazilian development.
Watch the seminar, which is in Portuguese: