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This seminar featured presentations of the results of the IPP/ISEG Index, produced by the Budget Watch project, an annual partnership between the Institute of Public Policy, ISEG-Uni. of Lisbon and Deloitte, and of the Open Budget Survey, the international comparison of budget processes in the world.

 

Agenda

Registration 5pm

Welcome address 5.10pm

Maria Rosa Borges, Deputy Dean, ISEG-U. Lisbon
Carlos Farinha Rodrigues, Chairman, Institute of Public Policy

Budget Watch 2018 & Open Budget 2017 5.20pm

João Ferreira do Amaral, Joana Vicente
ISEG-ULisboa & Institute of Public Policy

Coffee-break 5.50pm

Debate 6pm

Joaquim Miranda SarmentoISEG-ULisboa

Jorge MarrãoDeloitte, Budget Watch – Pro-Business Deloitte Index

Paulo Trigo Pereira, Portuguese Parliament, ISEG-ULisboa, Institute of Public Policy

Susana PeraltaNOVA SBE

(Moderação: Susana Paula, LUSA)

Keynote address 7pm

João Leão
State Secretary for the Budget

Upon the initiative of the Socialist Party and the Left Bloc party, a National Working Group was create to assess the sustainability of Portugal’s external debt, composed of both economists of those political parties and independent researchers. Among the latter were Miguel St. Aubyn, Paulo Trigo Pereira and Ricardo Cabral, associate researchers at IPP.

The results of this Working Group, composed of: Francisco Louçã (ISEG-UL); João Galamba (PS); Miguel St. Aubyn (ISEG-UL, IPP); Paulo Trigo Pereira (ISEG-UL, IPP); Pedro Filipe Soares (BE); Pedro Gil (FEP-UP); Ricardo Cabral (U. Madeira, IPP); Ricardo Paes Mamede (ISCTE-IUL), are hereby published by IPP in the form of a Report.

Download here (PDF, in Portuguese).

IPP Report 4

Programa de estabilidade, orçamento de estado 2018

IPP Policy Paper 10, by Ricardo Cabral, Paulo Trigo Pereira (IPP, ISEG ), Luís Teles Morais e Joana Vicente discusses the macroeconomic framework of the Portugal 2017 Stability Programme and discusses possible policy options and fiscal trajectories for the coming years.

PDF download (Portuguese only)

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IPP Policy Brief #10 is authored by Professor Ricardo Cabral (University of Madeira) and IPP researchers Luís Teles Morais and Joana Vicente. It is based on the presentation prepared for the Conference “Repair and prepare: Growth and the Euro after Brexit” held in 2017 in Lisbon.

With this brief, the authors intend to make a brief critical analysis of the report by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Jacques Delors Institute (Repair and prepare: Growth and the Euro after Brexit), where the necessary steps and tools for a more integrated Economic and Monetary Union are analyzed, as well as the improvements that must be implemented in order to avoid future crises, ensuring economic stability and growth in the euro area.

More specifically, the purpose of this brief is to identify and analyze the key strengths and weaknesses of the report, focusing on the first two “blocs” (1. “First aid kit” for the euro and 2. Reforms and investment for economic growth), which correspond to a less distant time, and thus less uncertain than the third block (3. Risk of sharing and sovereignty).

They also go on to conclude that the report presents second best solutions in order to circumvent political impossibilities associated with the EMU project and that the first two blocks will not be enough to stabilize EMU and New crises – although they represent important contributions.

Download Policy Brief here.

Policy Brief-RicardoCabral-03jul-2

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Apart from this Government’s competence, the state of grace of Portuguese economic growth enjoys a structural effect from Passos Coelho’ Government.

 

The title is an ironic throwback to one of the most interesting economics books title’s published in recent years (Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff in 2009). With this question about warnings, signals and fate, I want to call your attention to the sensitive political interpretation of recent GDP performance figures. Is it the most appropriate occasion to praise the economic resurrection by raising the figures released by the Instituto Nacional de Estatística (Portuguese’s National Statistics Institute)? According to the published data, the Portuguese economy grew 2.8% in 2017’s first quarter, counting on the contribution of net external demand (NED).

The economic dynamics evidenced by the INE are positive and remarkable. But it poses a problem to political dynamics. The opposition will not be comfortable with this data. Not because it wishes poor results, but because it has trapped itself in an argumentative alley. And that may not be good. When a democratic government is restricted to the criterion of economic performance, the numbers rule. And this is not a criticism of the Portuguese right-wing parties – now members of the opposition at the Parliament. It is a logical corollary of our political system, in which the dictatorship of numbers is transversal to all parties when in the shoes of the opposition. The parties tend to reflect the success or failure of policies from a criterion of objectivity, based on a simplification to which they call “economy” and the way it behaves. But economics is more characterized by a Heisenberg uncertainty principle than by a Newtonian vector sum. I only wish to emphasize the numbers’ instrumental character for a political judgment. Both before – during the PSD-CDS Government – and now – under the “Geringonça”[1] (the “Contraption”).

However, I do not wish to claim that the GDP performance figures do not play a significant role in reading economic performance. Nor do I wish to claim that the GDP data is useless. They aren’t, of course. However, if we are to use economic language, its effects are exacerbated by the existence of a marginal utility with increasing returns to scale in the political system and in the maintenance of government power whenever the GDP data are useful. Thus, in order not to make decisions that are too short-term, we must be careful in interpreting growth data.

What, then? Is this a real effect of the current Government’s policies or are these numbers a delayed effect, which only now is beginning to be felt from the austerity purge implemented by Passos’ Government? While it is true that António Costa always defended a path of economic development based on internal demand, Passos Coelho, by defending austerity, maintained an increased need for an external market. Who was (is) right after all, according to the numbers? To be strict on the matter, I would say that both were and are right. While it is true that NED had a positive balance in the first quarter, it is equally true that the policies for income replacements, the balance of public accounts and the evolution of the indicators of confidence have all contributed to a growth sustainability that has taken place now, under Costa’s governance.

My opinion is that, apart from this Government’s competence, the state of grace of Portuguese economic growth is enjoying a structural effect from Passos’ Government. With budgetary restrictions imposed during the austerity program, with the consequent contraction of domestic demand, Portuguese businesspersons were forced to increase the degree of internationalization in order to reduce domestic demand. Hadn’t Portuguese companies been oriented to other markets, perhaps today we would not be talking about these growth numbers! If any positive aspect resulted from austerity this is, undoubtedly, one of the few to retain. And this redirection to internationalization by companies has had a strong impact on the external accounts sustainability. I would thus say that Costa enjoys a period of sustained economic development. The sustainability of the external accounts by the positive action of the companies’ internationalization, combined with a reinforcement of the internal market by the policies of the current Government, give a glimpse of positive aspects for the future. Bottom line, Democracy works, and care must be taken with excessive manipulations of the data, both then and now.

This care in interpreting data is very important if we do not want to neglect the inherent weaknesses of our economy. Public accounts should continue to show signs of debt reduction. Only this way will be possible for a greater latitude on sustainable policies and the strengthening of the social state that will not exclude the most fragile ones. This is Costa’s merit.

The road is not easy. Crises and economic shocks exist. In these moments, cynicism invites democracies to populism. But Portugal’s recent History and its young democracy show a resilience to the electoral turmoil of the Western world as well as an effective functioning of the party system – hence these numbers and the growth that accompanies them. Portuguese democracy is young – although this is often presented as a problem – but youth can also be an advantage. Indeed, this time must be different. The numbers seem to agree!

 

José Borges Alves, Researcher at IPP

The Institute of Public Policy (IPP) is an academic, independent and nonpartisan Portuguese think tank. The opinions expressed herein are binding only on the authors and do not necessarily reflect IPP’s points of view, the University of Lisbon, or any other institution.

 

[1] The geringonça term emerged from the Portuguese right-wing parties to criticize António Costa when he negotiated – in an allegedly desperate way to become prime-minister – a dealing with the Portuguese Communist and Bloco de Esquerda Parties to ensure a parliamentary support for the new government.

IPP Policy Brief 9 by Daniel Carolo compares the situation of self-employed workers (in particular taking into account the situation of “bogus” self-employed workers which work mostly for only one firm) with regular workers earning the minimum wage in Portugal, given current rules in terms of personal income tax collection and social contribution. Its main conclusions are: i) the minimum wage would be equivalent to about a yearly income of 10,335 EUR for self-employed workers, and as such according to available data there are many self-employed workers in Portugal earning below that value; ii) income collection and social contribution rules should be change to make the situation more equitable.

PDF download (in Portuguese only).

O IPP Policy Brief n.º 8 by Professor Francesco Franco (NOVA SBE) is based on his speech at the Conference on Socio-Economic Challenges in Southern Europe Competitiveness in the Euro-Mediterranean region, in 2016 in Lisbon.

Francesco Franco clarifies the necessary conditions to achieve a functional monetary zone, underlining three factors: relative price adjustment, fiscal integration and financial integration.

He also outlines a proposal for a stabilisation mechanism based in a mix of a common stabilisation instrument, such as a european unemployment insurance scheme, and structured “fiscal devaluations”, to smooth the impact of asymmetric shocks in the absence of monetary adjustment between Euro area member states.

Download this policy brief here.

Policy Brief-Internal and External rebalancing for Euro area members_final

IPP Policy Paper 9 is the exclusive translation to Portuguese of Lessons for the Euro from early US monetary and financial history, by Jeffry Frieden, originally published in the Bruegel Essay and Lecture Series (see here), which takes us on a ride on the turbulent early history of the American dollar.

 

PDF download (in Portuguese)

With the support of

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As part of the 2017 edition of the Budget Watch project, we publish our third Report.

This results from the analysis carried out by an IPP-ISEG team, concerning rigor, transparency and fiscal responsibility. In addition to the analysis of these dimensions, the Budget Watch also includes an analysis focused on business-friendliness, which consists of the Deloitte Pro-Business index.

This analysis served primarily to support the evaluation by the Budget Watch Scientific Advisory Board, composed of 19 economists/scholars, behind the IPP-ISEG Budget index. The analysis is intended to be purely technical, independent and objective in the light of best international practices of reporting and the budgetary process.

Download: IPP Report 3. (Portuguese only. English translation will be available soon)

Our eighth policy paper discusses the results of the analysis of the responsibility of the State Budget proposal for 2017 by the Budget Watch Scientific Advisory Board: IPP-ISEG Budget index.

The IPP-ISEG Budget index results from the analysis of the Portuguese government budget for 2017 by the Budget Watch Scientific Advisory Board, composed of 19 Portuguese economists/scholars. With the support of an analytical report, the members of the Board answered a questionnaire, organized around 10 principles of fiscal responsibility.

This assessment is made in the perspective of rigor, transparency and responsibility. The analysis is intended to be purely technical, independent and objective in the light of best international practices of reporting and the budgetary process. The Budget Watch project also includes an analysis of the business-friendliness of the Budget, which consists of the Deloitte Pro-Business index, to be released shortly.

Download: IPP Policy Paper 8 (Portuguese, PDF).