Sunday, April 1, 2018

Matias Vernengo — Goodbye Lula?

Backgrounder on Brazil.

This is also a challenge for BRICS in addition to Brazil, since all of these countries have a significant and endemic corruption problem.

Naked Keynesianism
Goodbye Lula?
Matias Vernengo | Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University


Unknown said...

Really, no more than in the US or the EU, where the corruption has basically been legalized - both petty and Grand corruption - the first one is exemplified by - Alabama sheriff pocketed $750K in inmate food money as a result of unusual law. The second is exemplified the Clinton Foundation type "Pay to Play". In the middle lie "Lobbying" and "Citizen's United"

Tom Hickey said...

That's true, but there is a lot more awareness of the corruption in BRICS countries than in the West. For whatever reason, folks in the West seem to just grouse a bit but more or less accept it. Western politicians and oligarchs are criticized but seldom for corruption.

At lest that is my perception.

Matt Franko said...


André said...

"Lula remains the most popular politician in Brazil, and is far ahead in all the polls to win elections this year. That is the real reason why Lula will most likely be imprisoned"

No, that is not the real reason. The real reason is that he is a criminal.

"The whole case hinges on the testimony of a not particularly credible witness"

That is simply a lie. Anyone with a little bit of information is able to spot such an obvious lie.

I am a left-winger too, but I am not as blind as crazy people like Matías Vernengo.

The fact is that Lula is a criminal and should spend time in prison.

We should not accept Lula's criminal behavior just because he is a left-winger.

Tom, I can't understand why you multiply the words of those troubled crazy people...

Tom Hickey said...

Matias has a good reputation as an economist wrt Latin American affairs.

But he is an economist and this is a legal matter, so it is somewhat out of his field, although corruption certainly impacts economics.

His concern is that the Brazilian legal system is biased politically, and he seems to make a decent case for that.

I am chiefly interested in political economy rather than theoretical economics, and corruption is an influential factor, pointed out as long ago as Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations.

It may be that a case can be made against Lula, but it appears to me that there is a huge difference in the scale of corruption in government and the big problem is not the Worker's Party.

If that is the case, it would be a sham to prosecute Lula so he cannot run when the bulk of corruption is being committed by those on the other side of the issues.

That is not justice but weaponized justice to maintain an inherently corrupt system.

André said...

"but it appears to me that there is a huge difference in the scale of corruption in government and the big problem is not the Worker's Party."

It's hard to claim anything about corruption, because there are obviously no official statistics or data about that.

However, as can be seen in the recordings of the whistle blower program (better than watching House of Cards by the way!) the ruling party was the one that gave the cards and also the most benefited by the corruption structure.

The big problem is the entire country itself, but the ruling party is always a meaningful piece of the picture.

Before 2002, the neoliberal party was the ruling party and hence probably the most benefited by the corruption schemes. Since 2002, the Workers' Party is the one in power. Opposition parties probably always make their own illegal money too, but probably not as much as the ruling one.

Aécio Neves, the president of the neoliberal party and defeated candidate in the last presidential elections, was involved in a corruption scheme. However, unlike Lula, Neves is a senator, and hence enjoys privileged forum at the Supreme Court. Such privilege is an absurd, kept by the corrupt politicians themselves (including Lula and the legislators of the Workers' Party). That's why he is not facing the risk of jail like Lula. He is not being saved by neoliberals. He is being saved by bizarre laws kept in place by all legislators. That is the weaponized justice you are taking about, and the Workers' Party is part of it.

Lula and many politicians of the Workers' Party and all other parties are criminals. Actually, there are even some parties created exclusively for the purpose of perpetuating corruption schemes, like PP (Partido Progressista, something like Progressist Party in english) and everyone knows that. That's how things work in Brazil...

Tom Hickey said...

Thanks for the explanation f Brazilian politics, André.

Corruption is a major reason that libertarians of left and right see "the state" and "government" as ordinarily constituted as a problem.

Who oversees the overseers?

In a liberal democracy, it is supposed to be "the people," but those with asymmetrical power have the means to corrupt that institutionally.

Even the US Constitution, supposedly the model for liberal democracy, was designed to prevent actual rule of the people, by the people and for the people.

As a result, corruption based on asymmetrical power and wealth masquerades and "good government" and "liberty and justice for all" under the rule of law. But who makes and enforces the rules?