Para Que Servem os Economistas?

CAMBRIDGE – Quando há muita coisa em jogo, não é de admirar que os adversários políticos utilizem todo o apoio que possam obter de economistas e outros investigadores. Foi o que aconteceu quando os políticos conservadores norte-americanos e os responsáveis da União Europeia se basearam no trabalho de dois professores de Harvard - Carmen Reinhart e Kenneth Rogoff - para justificar o facto de apoiarem a austeridade orçamental.

Reinhart e Rogoff publicaram um documento que parecia demonstrar que se os níveis de dívida pública fossem superiores a 90% do PIB, constituiriam um entrave significativo ao crescimento económico. Seguidamente, três economistas da Universidade de Massachusetts, em Amherst, fizeram o que os académicos devem habitualmente fazer - replicaram o trabalho dos seus colegas e submeteram-no à crítica.

A par de um erro relativamente pequeno de folha de cálculo, identificaram algumas escolhas metodológicas no trabalho original de Reinhart / Rogoff que colocaram em questão a firmeza dos seus resultados. Mais importante, mesmo que os níveis da dívida e de crescimento se mantivessem negativamente relacionados, a evidência de um limite de 90% revelou-se bastante fraca. E, na opinião de muitos, a própria relação poderia ser o resultado de um crescimento reduzido que conduziu a um maior nível de endividamento, ao invés do contrário.

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