viernes, mayo 13, 2011

Discutiendo el futuro norteamericano

Aviso previo: Esta nota ya fue publicada el 11 de mayo. Pero un fallo técnico de Blogger hizo que por ahora se haya perdido.Es probable que en unos días el artículo se restablezca. En prevención de que esto no suceda, se vuelve a publicar. Si Blogger lo repone, éste se borrará.
Nota II: Sábado 14, el artículo está restaurado, pero como borrador. Dado esto, opto por mantener el republicado.

La persistencia de los términos de la crisis global iniciada en 2008, parecen acelarar dos de sus aspectos más importantes: una visible declinación de Estados Unidos, y un crecimiento sostenido de China. Entre ambos, tres bloques continentales, Europa, Latinoamérica y Asia,  se mueven al compas de estas influencias planetarias. Como parte de este proceso, por primera vez en mucho tiempo, se escuchan voces en Estados Unidos que analizan, sopesan y diagnostican su crisis con desaliento. Y no lo hacen simplemente sus estrategas, sus pensadores; lo hacen los especialistas que enfrentan diariamente los problemas estructurales, allí donde se siente el cambio. Si bien es más que probable que su país alcance un punto de equilibrio y se recupere, parece ser que el escenario ya no será el mismo...
Entre marzo y mayo, dos comentarios elegidos entre muchos otros: Adam Hartung, comentarista económico en Forbes, y Kevin Meyer, especialista en gestión de calidad en la industria.
Adam Hartung habla el 25 de marzo de productividad e innovación en su país, considerando que la administración estatal no está colaborando a ayudar a despegar a su economía: como tantos otros, critica el enorme flujo de fondos hacia sectores que no han demostrado eficiencia ni productividad, mientras no se apoya a aquellos que sí podrían representar una mejora (en particular, comparando la industria automotriz y bancos contra Amazon, que además representa la ventaja de la innovación en los negocios):

American manufacturers today are about the most productive in the world.  In the Wall Street Journal’s “The Truth About U.S. Manufacturing” we learn that American factory workers are producing triple the output of 1972.  The use of ever more sophisticated equipment, often with digital controls, and a higher trained workforce has made it possible to make more and more stuff with less and less labor.  While considerable manufacturing has gone offshore, it is not because our workers are competitively unproductive.
Unfortunately, most of America’s business/economic government policy has been trying to preserve jobs that are, well, not that productive.  Take for example agriculture subsidies.  They pay farmers to produce less and otherwise make less productive use of land, feedstocks, grains, etc.  By giving farmers (most of which are now huge corporations, not the “family farm” circa 1970 and before) subsidies it actually lowers agricultural productivity.

Similarly, bank and auto bailouts (and all subsidies to all manufacturers) lowers productivity.  The first gives money to banks, which make nothing.  Because they have no economic outputs, they can only aid productivity (via loans) and are of themselves not a contributor to national productivity.  (An economy can live without banks, it cannot live without producers of goods and services.) The latter gives money to an unproductive manufacturer to keep its plant operating when the value of its output is insufficient to cover costs.    These government programs serve only to defend and extend the least productive jobs in society – jobs that are economically unviable.  Through these investments the government attempts to preserve the old (companies such as GM and Chrysler) at the expense of national productivity.

Said another way, bailouts are opting to invest in preserving old jobs, not creating new ones.  Bailouts have taxpayers subsidizing unproductive jobs, rather than investing in creating more high-productivity jobs.
America can create highly productive jobs On Hiring Spree” is the Seattle Times headline. Amazon has revolutionized book retailing, publishing and is changing a number of other markets as well.  Amazon has created a far more productive workforce in these industries than previous competitors.  Borders, to cite a recent example, could not be nearly as efficient selling or publishing books with its out-of-date model, so Borders recently followed 90% of other book sellers into bankruptcy. The more productive company, Amazon, is now hiring people as fast as it can to grow its business.  Higher productivity allows Amazon to be more competitive, sell more and create jobs.

Had the government chosen to bail out Borders there would have been a public outcry. Why should taxpayers protect the jobs of store shelf stockers?  Likewise, as the number of printed books drops, replaced by digital books, should it be government policy to subsidize book (or magazine, or newspaper) publishers/printers?  Whenever a business is no longer competitively productive – whether it be agricultural, manufacturing or anything else – bailouts serve only to keep the unproductive competitor alive.  Which actually harms the more competitive company that subsequently must fight the subsidized competitor.
The better policy would be to subsidize Amazon.  Amazon is growing.  Theoretically, the more money Amazon has the faster it could grow and the more jobs it could create.  But, of course, nobody feels good about subsidizing a growing, profitable concern.  And Amazon isn’t asking for subsidies, anyway.
 Así, Hartung apunta a algunos de los signos de decaimiento norteamericano: su política de subsidios estatales, que está contribuyendo a minar su balance a niveles impensables para el resto del mundo, la imparable salida de empresas fuera del territorio, la pérdida de liderazgo en el soporte de la innovación industrial y tecnológica...Más importante, la visión de Hartung acentúa que para peor, lo que se está moviendo fuera de Estados Unidos, es la inversión en investigación y desarrollo:
The Wall Street Journal has reported “More Companies Plan to Put R&D Offshore.”  When things are equal, business will invest where the costs are lowest.  With little incentive to undertake innovation in America, increasingly U.S. companies are moving their R&D — along with manufacturing, customer service, telesales, etc. — to emerging markets.  And their plans are to increase this movement offshore by 50-100% by 2015!
What will happen if innovation investments move from America to emerging markets?  Will intellectual property remain an American advantage?  Will new product development remain in America, or go elsewhere?  If manufacturing capacity already exists in these markets, is it hard to predict that new products will increasingly be made offshore as well?  Asked another way, if we outsource the innovation jobs – what jobs will America have left?
(...) So why are Americans surprised that job growth struggles?  When the head of GE, a company that has moved manufacturing, information technology, engineering and R&D to offshore centers during the last decade is made head of the U.S. jobs initiative is there much doubt?  When the spending and incentives, as well as the selected leaders, have as their #1 interest preserving the past – largely in areas where American productivity lags – why would anyone expect new job creation?
¿Tiene esta lógica de los negocios una manera de ser reconducida? mientras no sea así, sin duda la declinación americana continuará...

Kevin Meyer -un consultor en técnicas de organización industrial- por su parte, suele dedicar observaciones a las prácticas americanas que perjudican su futuro. El 22 de abril comentaba una disputa entre la administración nacional norteamericana y Boeing, a propósito de la intención de la empresa de abrir una planta en Carolina del Sur. La administración decidía abrir una demanda contra la empresa a propósito de políticas laborales. Qué comenta Meyer:
I don't know, my friends.  One of the nation's few remaining exporters of high-value manufactured products, employing tens of thousands of high wage people.  And we're doing our best to make them reconsider opening a new plant in the U.S. and perhaps instead go someplace more hospitable.  Like China?  Italy?  Korea?  Or maybe they'll follow Halliburton's lead and say screw it, pick up the whole kit and kaboodle, and move overseas.  It's stunning and sad how many already are.
And then those same folks that make these inane decisions will moan and groan about jobs moving overseas, U.S. companies hiring more at their overseas facilities than their U.S. facilities, why our tax base is decreasing, why our balance of trade is shifting, and so forth.
Anyone have a mirror they'd like to send to the White House?
Parece ser que por ahora la corriente que impulsa a salir de Estados Unidos a sus capitales se mantiene robusta...Quizá así continúe hasta que las condiciones sociales y laborales alcancen un punto de equilibrio con sus competidores. Mal futuro para el modelo de bienestar...

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