O regresso do capitalismo de estado

Numa altura em que muitos preferem ignorar as lições do passado a Economist publica um oportuno artigo: “The rise of state capitalism”

When the government favours one lot of companies, the others suffer. In 2009 China Mobile and another state giant, China National Petroleum Corporation, made profits of $33 billion—more than China’s 500 most profitable private companies combined. State giants soak up capital and talent that might have been used better by private companies. Studies show that state companies use capital less efficiently than private ones, and grow more slowly. In many countries the coddled state giants are pouring money into fancy towers at a time when entrepreneurs are struggling to raise capital.

Those costs are likely to rise. State companies are good at copying others, partly because they can use the government’s clout to get hold of their technology; but as they have to produce ideas of their own they will become less competitive. State-owned companies make a few big bets rather than lots of small ones; the world’s great centres of innovation are usually networks of small start-ups.

Nor does the model guarantee stability. State capitalism works well only when directed by a competent state. Many Asian countries have a strong mandarin culture; South Africa and Brazil do not. Coal India is hardly an advertisement for efficiency. And everywhere state capitalism favours well-connected insiders over innovative outsiders. In China highly educated princelings have taken the spoils. In Russia a clique of “bureaugarchs”, often former KGB officials, dominate both the Kremlin and business. Thus the model produces cronyism, inequality and eventually discontent—as the Mubaraks’ brand of state capitalism did in Egypt.

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