domingo, fevereiro 21, 2021

Descongelar não é o inverso de congelar - histerese

Lembro-me no meu Foust, no meu McCabe, velhos manuais de "heat & mass transfer", do fenómeno da  histerese.

A histerese acontece quando o estado de um sistema não é independente da sua história. A viagem de ida de A para B é diferente da tentativa de regresso de B para A.

Ontem escrevi sobre a missiva de António Saraiva... a certa altura ele diz:
“No final da crise, outros vão partir da pole position, porque tiveram ajudas reforçadas às suas estruturas empresariais, e nós partimos atrás.”

Isto significa que ele acredita que quando a economia descongelar vamos estar no ponto em que a começamos a congelar. Não o creio!

Sim, sexta-feira estive com empresários em Felgueiras que estão muito animados com as perspectivas, com as encomendas que têm caído. Eu não estou tão optimista.

Entretanto, ontem li este artigo no WSJ de quinta-feira passada, "Future Europe Task: Unlocking Economy":

"For nearly a year, large swaths of Europe’s economy have been in a deep freeze. Trillions in state-backed subsidies and inexpensive loans have kept businesses alive, while governments pay millions of furloughed workers to stay home. In much of Europe, layoffs or forced bankruptcies are banned. In pursuing such policies, European leaders have bet that, once the pandemic subsides, they can defrost the region’s $18 trillion economy, allowing businesses to fire up quickly and bring back workersIt’s an intentional effort to slow an economic deep clean, dubbed by many economists creative destruction.  This reflects a political choice: Europeans are generally less tolerant of the brutal adjustments required by the U.S. model of capitalism.

But as the pandemic drags on and Europe’s vaccine rollout is expected to stretch through the year and beyond, some policymakers, economists and business executives worry that mothballing the economy for so long will leave it struggling to adapt to the seismic business and social changes the crisis is driving. That could stall an economic recovery.

“Trying to freeze work where it was and how it was is in many cases a profound mistake, because it delays the corporate reorganizations, new investments and new hires that are necessary,” [Moi ici: Este é o meu grande receio. O contexto muda brutalmente e ninguém se prepara para o que aí vem embalados que estão nas canções dos governos e no "soma" chamado "lay-off"] said Carlo Bonomi, chairman of Confindustria, the Italian employers’ federation. While Europe keeps the economy in suspended animation, the U.S. is already creating new jobs and businesses.


Bankruptcy gap [Segundo o última Barómetro Informa, nos últimos 12 meses a criação de empresas caiu 26,5%, o número de encerramentos caiu 22% e o número de insolvências manteve-se igual. Numa crise temos turbulência, há empresas novas a aparecer, empresas estabelecidas a falir ou encerrar, mas neste período estamos num aparente ponto morto. Aparente, porque entretanto o capital vai-se esvaindo. As empresas não morrem, mas viram zombies. E os zombies são perigosos, destroem o mercado das empresas saudáveis]

Europe registered far fewer business bankruptcies last year than in the previous five, while bankruptcies in the U.S. remained within the pre-pandemic range, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements. Applications to start new businesses in the U.S. rose 42% in the six months through September but declined slightly in France and Germany, according to Oxford Economics.

Worker productivity has risen in the U.S. but been flat or down in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, according to Deutsche Bank. Eliminating unviable jobs and businesses is responsible for about half of long-run productivity growth, some economists say. [Moi ici: A velha lição finlandesa que aprendi com Maliranta em 2007 "In essence, creative destruction means that low productivity plants are displaced by high productivity plants" e sintetizado por Nassim Taleb em 2018 com este vintage "Systems don’t learn because people learn individually – that’s the myth of modernity. Systems learn at the collective level by the mechanism of selection: by eliminating those elements that reduce the fitness of the whole, provided these have skin in the game." Reparem no paradoxo. Os governos apoiam as empresas para que elas se tornem mais produtivas, mas elas, ao receberem os apoios, agem como as raposas na Austrália. As raposas foram introduzidas na Austrália para acabarem com a praga de coelhos, também eles introduzidos pelos humanos. As raposas rapidamente perceberam que havia uma quantidade muito mais interessante e fáceis de apanhar que os coelhos. Assim que as empresas recebem os apoios o seu negócio passa a ser captar mais apoios - OK, conheço excepções]

The pandemic is accelerating a shift toward new digital business models and automation of processes. Some habits may stick, such as working and shopping from home, permanently reducing demand for certain services. If the economy looks very different in a couple of years, anything that delayed the adjustment would be costly. [Moi ici: O mundo descongelado será diferente do mundo pré-congelamento]


At Germany’s Recaro Aircraft Seating GmbH, which makes seats for European, U.S. and Chinese airlines, sales fell 60% last year to about €300 million ($360 million). CEO Mark Hiller doesn’t expect sales to return to pre-crisis levels for five years.

Recaro cut about 30% of jobs at its factories in the U.S. and China, but in Germany it hasn’t reduced its workforce of roughly 1,100. Instead, it has tapped the government program, which pays its workers up to 87% of their salary, to a maximum of almost €5,000 a month, to stay home. Almost all of Recaro’s workforce is on furlough, working 40% fewer hours than normal.

Recaro has agreed not to lay off employees until at least mid-2023. The high cost and legal complexities of doing so in Europe deter many companies from cutting staff.

But job-retention schemes “can only bridge the gap until we’re back on a higher level,” Mr. Hiller said. “If we need to adapt to €300 million [sales] forever, it won’t work.”

Meanwhile, U.S. defense group Raytheon Technologies Corp. cut a fifth of the workforce in its commercial aerospace division after sales at a unit that competes with Recaro fell 26% last year. It doesn’t plan to hire all of the people back.


Half of German companies have halted or delayed transformation and innovation projects because of furlough programs, according to a survey by Boston Consulting Group.

Job-retention schemes are “a little bit too easy. You can delay decisions and remain in your comfort zone as a manager,” said Karl Haeusgen, president of the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, a lobby group for a sector that employs around 1.3 million people.

Economists and business executives also say business subsidies could increase the share of “zombie” companies that struggle to earn enough over time to cover their debt servicing costs, and that can undercut prices charged by healthier competitorsIn Germany, the share of zombie companies could increase to 20% of all businesses this year from 7% before Covid, according to research by Creditreform, a German credit agency.

Alexander Alban, managing partner at German mechanical parts manufacturer Walter Schimmel GmbH, hustled last year to keep his business in the black—cutting staff, putting workers on furlough and canceling plans for a new factory— as he coped with a 25% decline in sales.

Price reductions 

Though demand fell, a third of that revenue drop was due to a roughly 12% fall in market prices, Mr. Alban said, as struggling local competitors using government support offered low prices to stay afloat.

“These zombie companies... run their business for a couple of months below costs,” Mr. Alban said. “They ruin the market. Afterwards, it’s very hard to get this business back. Usually it’s good if the market is cleaned.” 

In Italy, widespread use of job-retention schemes hurt labor productivity growth during the 2008-09 financial crisis, according to a 2018 paper by Giulia Giupponi of Bocconi University in Milan and Camille Landais, a professor at the London School of Economics. The least productive firms were three times more likely to tap the job-retention scheme than their stronger peers, the researchers found.


Germany’s sweetened job furlough scheme has “crazy consequences,” said Friedrich Merz, a senior politician in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic party. “Employees are kept in businesses even though they are needed in other places.” Still, some businesses say the European model is better in the long run."

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