E continuava eu a minha leitura de "The Visionary Realism of German Economics: From the Thirty Years' War to the Cold War" durante a caminhada matinal de ontem quando tropeço nisto:
"Looking at history from a simple perspective of barter, not production, [Moi ici: Como não recordar as palavras de Vera Gouveia Barros sobre concorrência perfeita] and under diminishing returns/ single equilibrium/ perfect information, the importance of these policies is lost. In the diminishing return/ equilibrium perspective, any and all factors causing unequal economic growth are lost, creating the world of artificial harmony and world- wide factor- price equalisation. As we shall attempt to show later, a most important historical role of Adam Smith’s was precisely that of laying the ground for ‘‘perfect markets’’ and ‘‘natural harmony’’ by making the quest for knowledge into a zero- sum game – using the metaphor of a lottery – from the point of view of both the individual and the State. In this way Adam Smith effectively removed the quest for imperfect competition through new knowledge which was so important to Renaissance thinking. This is the root of why new knowledge and new technology hits today’s mainstream economics as ‘‘manna from heaven’’.
Just as we today would see a career of washing dishes in a restaurant as having a limited potential for creating income compared with a career as a lawyer, the Renaissance economists extended this argument to apply to the common weal as well. In other words, they believed that the factors which created differences in welfare within an economy were the same factors which created differences in income between nations. As a result of the process of pre- Ricardian common sense, no factor- price equalisation would be achieved by putting all the people washing dishes in one nation and all the lawyers in another and open up for free trade between the two nations. In these theories economic growth is ‘‘activity- specific’’; it is only available in some economic activities subject to dynamic imperfect competition, and not in others.
What, then, are the characteristics of growth inducing – ‘‘good’’ – economic activities? We have, in several publications, provided a ‘‘quality index’’ of economic activities, listing the characteristics which, in a system of dynamic imperfect competition, ranks economic activities according to their ability to provide increasing economic welfare to a nation. This ‘‘quality index’’ is reproduced in Figure 2.2.
Differences in wage levels, both nationally and between nations, seem to result from varying degrees of imperfect competition – caused by both static and dynamic factors. The factors at work have long been identified both by businessmen and in industrial economics, and they are correlated. Figure 2.2 attempts to create an area from light to dark grey where ‘‘the quality’’ of economic activities at any time can be roughly plotted on a scale from white: ‘‘perfect competition’’ – to black: ‘‘monopoly’’. The latter is only a temporary state, as new technologies fall towards a lower score as they mature."