Sunday, December 30, 2012

Da li Srbija treba da uvozi genetski modifikovanu hranu?

Oko ovog pitanja digla se prašina u posljednje vrijeme. Svi znamo da se kroz prašinu slabo vidi pa se tako slabo nazire šta je u stvari ovdje konkretan problem. Prije nego što damo odgovor na bilo koje pitanje, potrebno je utvrditi da smo postavili pravo pitanje. Dati odgovor na krivo pitanje je slično davanju krivog odgovora na pravo pitanje. Dakle, da krenemo od početka. Naslov ovog teksta, u stvari, postavlja pitanje uvoza genetski modofikovanih proizvoda na način kako to pitanje većina komentatora čini. Međutim, ovo nije pitanje na koje mi treba da nađemo odgovor. Zašto?

Srbija, kao skup svih 8 ili 10 miliona njenih građana, ne ide bukvalno kolektivno u inostranstvo da bi, opet kolektivno, uvezla neke proizvode. To rade pojednci i firme koji misle da te proizvode u Srbiji neko želi da kupi.

Dakle, Pravo pitanje je: Da li je opravdano da srpska država zakonom zabrani uvoz genetski modifikovane hrane? Pošto iza svakog zakona stoji sila državnog aparata, ovo pitanje dalje znači: Da li je opravdano koristiti silu (ili prijetnju silom) protiv ljudi koji žele da prodaju genetski modifikovane proizvode građanima Srbije koji bi te proizvode željeli kupiti? Dalje, ovo pitanje povlači za sobom sljedeće, kjučno pitanje: Kada je upotreba sile protiv gradjana Srbije opravdana?

Sada, kad smo došli do pravog pitanja, možemo početi razmišljati o potencijalnim odgovorima. Prije toga, treba da budemo svjesni da su teoretičari prava odavno počeli razmišljati o ovakvim pitanjima i došli, ne do jednog, nego do najmanje pet mogućih odgovora. Tih pet odgovora je bazirano na pet različitih teorija pravde: klasičnom liberalizmu, utilitarianizmu, pragmatizmu, legalnom pozitivizmu i modernom libertarianizmu.

Svaka od ovih teorija koristi poseban princip za odrđivanje legitimnih razloga za upotrebu sile. Naslućujete, onda, da, u zavisnosti od toga koju teoriju pravde koristimo, možemo doći do različitih odgovora na naše ključno pitanje--kada je upotreba sile (ili prijetnja silom) protiv građana Srbije opravdana. Sada bi bilo prirodno da opišem te posebne principe koji su u osnovi različitih teorija pravde. Međutim, pošto ovo zahtijeva vrijeme koje trenutno nemam, ostaviću to za slijedeći post. Za sada je dovoljno da budemo svjesni pravog pitanja i činjenice da je moguće doći do pet različitih etičko-pravnih odgovora na ovo pitanje.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Purpose of Economic Research: A Student's Perspective


The Methodologies of Economics
Department of Agricultural Economics and Business
University of Guelph
January 12, 2006
Student: Predrag Rajsic
Instructor: Glenn Fox

Essay assignment

The Purpose of Economic Research

Humans have always been intrigued by the purpose of their existence and their actions. Economic research is one of these actions. The term purpose is complex and can be answered on different levels. I start by differentiating between absolute and relative purpose. Next, I recognize that relative purpose can take at least two forms – individual (or personal) and collective. Creation of knowledge is at the root of both the collective and the individual purposes of economic research. These terms, and all other terms and definitions in this essay, are my attempt to articulate the problem of the purpose of economic research, and may or may not coincide with any definitions in the existing literature.

The term purpose embodies both the reason for existence and the goal of existence. In my view, there are two main categories of purpose – absolute purpose and relative purpose. If you believe in any kind of an absolute being, you may identify the absolute purpose as God’s plan for everything that exists. It is questionable whether humans can ever develop an understanding of this type of purpose. 

On the other hand, relative purpose is, to be consistent with the previous definition, man’s plan for everything that exists.  The term man from the previous sentence is a metaphor. It includes both men and women. It can represent an individual, a group, as well as the whole humanity. Conditionally, we could say that relative purpose can take two forms - personal and collective purpose. Within this framework, the personal purpose of an action is an individual’s perception of the reason for or goal of that action. The collective purpose of an action is the most widely accepted reason for or goal of that action by the members of society. I will now focus on the collective and the individual purpose of the human activity called economic research. This will show that these two types of purpose may or may not coincide. 

Throughout history there has been an immense amount of economic research. All the studies, projects, dissertations, analyses, papers, reports and many other forms of research were attempts to solve specific problems. Now, the question is what do we get from solving these problems? We get an understanding of the existing world and an ability to change it or to improve it according to a specific objective. Various groups, organizations, or institutions within society may have predetermined goals, but they lack the knowledge to achieve them. Therefore, these groups cooperate with researchers who discover the needed knowledge. This acquisition of knowledge corresponds to the collective purpose of economic research. 

How does new economic knowledge improve things? Let us first define improvement as a transition to a state of the world that is preferred over the current state. There are many different avenues through which new knowledge makes us humans happier. Homo sapiens seems to show a tendency to explore things just for the sake of knowing more about them. It appears that he or she derives specific pleasure from learning. Whether or not he or she cares about the well being that his or her discovery will bring to other people is harder to answer. Personal satisfaction from conducting research may be the only purpose one can see in research. If we take this personal satisfaction in the neoclassical sense, then we can say that utility maximization is the individual purpose of economic research. 

To conclude, the absolute purpose of the world and everything in it is not known to the human kind. Humans determine the relative purpose of things, and we can only talk about the relative purpose of economic research. The relative purpose of economic research can be collective or individual. Individual purpose relates to the researcher’s personal reasons for doing research. These may or may not include the desire to improve other people’s well being. Collective purpose is the reason why a group of individuals, and, in the broadest sense, humanity, supports economic research activities. There are as many reasons as there are specific objectives that these individuals or groups want to achieve. All possible collective and individual objectives have one common characteristic – improvement – achieving a more desirable (or preferred) state of the world (or state of one’s being) than the current state. A researcher prefers to have more economic knowledge than he or she currently has. The majority of the human kind may agree they prefer less poverty in the world than the current level. In the world of incomplete knowledge, economic research is needed to discover the necessary knowledge that will move the world (or an individual) to a more preferred state.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Istorija podilaženja vlastima Hrvatskog šumarskog društva (1918 - 1995)



Priklanjanje i podilaženje vlastodršcima nije nova pojava. Pojedinci i organizacije time žele da sačuvaju društveni i imovinski status. Nekad, dok me je još zanimala literatura iz oblasti moje nesuđene profesije, čitao sam dokumente šumarskih društava iz "regiona" i naišao na ovaj bolno upadljiv primjer podilaženja nekadašnjim južnoslovenskim vlastodršcima u proteklom vijeku. Radi se Hrvatskom šumarskom društvu. Društvo i sada postoji i tokom svoje istorije okupljalo je doktore nauka, magistre, šumarske inženjere, tehničare i ostale građane zainteresovane za gajenje šuma. Hrvatsko šumarsko društvo je u tehničkom smislu okosnica državnog upravljanja šumama tako da nam ovo govori dosta o odnosu tog društva prema državi. Ovdje su četiri dokumenta koja ilustruju kako je ovo udruženje oduševljeno pozdravilo dolazak na vlast Kralja Petra I Karađorđevića (prvi dokument odozgo), Ante Pavelića (drugi dokument odozgo), Josipa Broza Tita i komunista (treći dokument odozgo) i nove hrvatske vlasti 1990-ih (donji dokument). Uživajte.










Wednesday, December 12, 2012

O nasilnicima, manipulatorima i ratu u bivšoj Jugoslaviji


Sa nasilnicima sam se sreo vrlo rano na svom životnom putu, valjda zato što sam bio slabe fizičke građe pa im je to davalo ideju da sam pogodan materijal. U početku sam bio zbunjen jer nisam vidio smisao u njihovom ponašanju. Vremenom sam primijetio da postoji visoka korelacija između nasilništva i gluposti. Naprimjer, imamo nasilnika sa nekom glupom idejom. Mi mu pokušamo reći da je to glupa ideja. On to shvati kao napad na njegovu ličnost i želi to da riješi nasiljem. Tu prestaje svaka logička veza izmedju glupe ideje i ishoda takvog događaja. Recimo da nasilnik isprebija toga ko mu je rekao da je ideja glupa - da li ta ideja odjednom postaje pametna? Šta ako se taj isprebijani vrati sa bejzbol palicom i isprebija nasilnika sa glupom idejom - da li to potvrđuje da je ta ideja stvarno glupa? Možemo s ovim ići unedogled.

Pošto je meni ovo vrlo rano postalo jasno, prestao sam odgovarati na izazove nasilnika. Nisam znao, a ni htio da govorim njihovim jezikom, a oni neki drugi jezik ne razumiju. Ovo je, čini mi se, rezultiralo nečim vrlo zanimljivim. Bilo je nasilnika koje su drugi izbjegavali i plašili ih se, koji su željeli da mi ispričaju svoju cijelu životnu priču; valjda ne bi li me uvjerili da oni nisu u stvari tako loši. Ja bih slušao i klimao glavom, ali izgleda da nisam uspio sakriti prezir jer su oni uvijek iznova htjeli nešto da mi "objasne". Prezirao sam ih jer sam njihovo nasilje objašnjavao nedostatkom volje za spoznavanjem sebe i drugih. Po meni, nedoststak volje je ljenost - a ljenost prezirem.

Druga grupa ljudi koje prezirem su manipulatori. Manipulatore prezirem možda još i više nego nasilnike jer je većina manipulatora, čini mi se, na višem intelektualnom nivou od nasilnika. Samim time, posjeduju i veću potencijalnu sposobnost spoznaje samih sebe i drugih. Ne iskoristiti tu sposobnost je ljenost višeg stepena u usporedbi s nasilnicima.

Bilo je vremena kad sam mislio da je manipulacija izraz intelektualne superiornosti pa i sam pokušah biti manipulator. Nije dugo trajalo jer me je takav stav prema drugim ljudima ostavljao praznim i konstantno nezadovoljnim svime i svačim. Uz to, ljudi nisu budale i oni mogu da prozru manipulatore. Manipulatori nemaju pravih prijatelja.

Znao sam neke manipulatore, i oni su, kao i nasilnici, izgleda htjeli nekako da mi objasne da oni nisu tako loši. I oni su mi istresali cijelu svoju životnu priču pred noge iz ko zna kojih razloga. Izgleda i u njihovom slučaju nisam uspio sakriti prezir jer su i oni uvijek iznova htjeli nešto da mi objasne.

Postepeno shvatih da gubim vrijeme i sa jednima i sa drugima. Shvatih da jednostavnost i iskrenost nije znak intelektualne inferiornosti i da je "preko preče, a naokolo bliže."

Zašto ja ovo pišem - zato sto mislim da se nasilnici i manipulatori teško mijenjaju. Mislim da je to karakterna crta koja, ili je genetski predodređena, ili je stečena u ranom djetinjstvu i duboko je ukorijenjena. Dok smo djeca, nasilnici i manipulatori nisu toliko ni opasni, ali kad odrastemo, "najbolji" medju njima, u zavisnosti od okolnosti, mogu da postanu nasi dželati.

Manipulatori, pošto imaju razvijenije intelektualne sposobnosti, su dobri kandidati da postanu političari. Nasilnici, s druge strane, su dobri kandidati da postanu promašeni slučajevi i kriminalci. U trenucima socijalne krize, ove dvije grupe rade u simbiozi. Manipulatori, daju nasilnicima signale da nasilje neće biti sankcionisano, štaviše, da će biti nagrađeno. Nasilnici slijede taj signal i iniciraju strah kod ljudi kojima ni nasilje ni manipulacija nisu na umu. Pakleni recpt je kad postoje dvije grupe manipulatora i dvije grupe nasilnika. Tada dobijamo smrdljivu supu koja se zove - rat.

Posmatrao sam, slušao šta ljudi pričaju, čitao sta stručnjaci misle, i došao do zaključka da rat u bivšoj Jugoslaviji odgovara ovom receptu. U suštini, svaki rat počinje po veoma sličnom receptu. Mislim da je u korijenu svega nesposobnost većine ljudi da shvate mentalni sklop manipulatora i nasilnika ako nisu u direktnom kontaktu s njima.

Obje grupe imaju ljenost doboko usadjenu u svoj mentalni sklop. Lijeni ljudi ne žele do onoga što im treba da dođu radom i zadovoljavanjem potreba drugih ljudi (razmjenom dobara i usluga). Oni do toga žele doći na način koji je njima lakši - nasljem i manipulacijom, otimanjem.

Nisam siguran da li se ovaj problem može riješiti, ali bar za sebe znam da ću pokušati da prozrem manipulacije manipulatora i da ću pokušati da me ne uplaše nasilnici. Možda to neće promijeniti ništa u nekom univerzalnom poretku svijeta, ali to nije bitno.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mrtvi Progovaraju


Ovaj tekst je napisao moj brat, Miodrag, u šestom razredu osnovne škole 1987. godine. Škola se tada zvala O. Š. Ivan Rukavina - Siđo, Petrinja, a tekst je objavljen u školskom časopisu Slap. Miodrag je, sticajem nesretnih okolnosti, poginuo 1992. godine. Inače, za života je bio bio neka vrsta lokalnog heroja. Svakako, bio je moj lični heroj. Imajući u vidu naslov i temu ovoga o čemu on govori, ne mogu da se otmem osjećaju da život sobom nosi ironiju.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Presuda Gotovini


Nisam provjeravao koji je ishod suđenja. Baš me pretjerano ni ne zanima. Moj problem sa svim tim je da rat, kao ljudska aktivnost, ne može postojati ako ljudi koji u njemu učestvuju ne misle da im je to najbolja opcija. Mislim da je važno da se svako od nas dobro skoncentriše ne tu aksiomatsku istinu. Kad se dobro skoncentrišemo na to, onda treba da se zapitamo zašto ljudi ponekad misle da im je učestvovanje u ratu najbolja opcija. Ovakvo razmišljanje je strano mnogim ljudima jer je to bolan proces. 

Proces je bolan jer zahtjeva preispitivanje ispravnosti vlastitog mentalnog skopa. Zato što je to bolan proces, većina ljudi ga izbjegava i prepušta se primitivnim ritualima podnosenja žrtve bogovima na oltar. Tako mnogi od nas kažu da su pojedinci činili zločine, a mi ostali u tome ama baš nikakvog udjela nismo imali. Umjeto toga, zapitajmo se da li bi taj "pojedinac" uopšte išao u bitku da članovi njegove porodice, šire i uže okoline, nisu taj čin okarakterisali kao uzvišen. Da li bi on tamo išao da su oni umjesto toga rekli: "svako ko silom rješava konflikte je životinja i idiot, bez obzira da li je član moje porodice ili ne." Ovo važi za sve, i sa "ove" i sa "one" strane.

Odgovor koji obično dobijem kada postavim ovu tezu ide optpitlike ovako: 

Ko uopste želi učestvovati u ratu? Nije to izbor za mis. Rat je nametnut "običnom čovjeku" od strane određenih pojedinaca. Oni rat vode zbog vlastitih interesa, ali ne na vlastitom teritoriju, već na tuđem. U nagonu svih živih bića je da se brane, da brane svoju teritoriju, poput napadnute životinje koja brani svoje potomke. To što se događalo '91., svako je to doživio na svoj način i na svojoj strani, tako da je filozofirati o tome nebulozno!

Ovo se, u stvari, u potpunosti slaže s onim sto sam gore rekao. Radije bismo okarakterisali sebe kao uplašenu životinju nego kao čovjeka sa sposobnošću racionalnog rasuđivanja. Životinja ne može kontrolisati svoje porive. Tako ispada da je ono što se desilo bila samo naša neminovna predodređena reakcija, refleks.

Znači, po toj logici je nebulozno razmišljati o prošlosti da bismo je razumjeli. Više smisla ima reći da su nas neki pojedinci "zaveli" kao sto se životinje vode u tor. 

Ovo razmišljanje je normalno, ali destruktivno jer nam ne pomaže da se suočimo sa vlastitim vjerovanjima iz toga vremena. Mi smo ta vjerovanja izabrali. Niko nam nije ta vjerovanja ulio u glavu protiv naše volje. Bez tih vjerovanja nemoguće je da se ljudi u takvom broju pokrenu i učine to sto su učinili. Naprimjer, svaka strana je vjerovala da su oni "uplašene životinje" a da su na drugoj strani bezosjećajne zvijeri. Bolno je sebi priznati da smo izabrali verovati u tako glupu hipotezu. Naravno, nije lako sebi reći--bio sam glup. Znači, ne zaveden, obmanut, izmanipulisan, nego--glup jer nisam izabrao da kritički razmišljam.

 

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ivica Dačić, klovn sa paklenom mašinom u rukama


Ivica Dačić ima jednu veliku prednost na svojoj strani, a to je da ga ljudi sa imalo inteligencije uglavnom ne smatraju vrijednim ozbiljne analize i ocjene. Tako Dačić ima priliku da koristi silu državnog aparata bez mnogo otpora od strane intelektualaca. Intelektualci, sami po sebi, generalno imaju veliki ego. Njima je ispod časti da se bave Dačićem. On je prejednostavan za njihov ukus. Tako, na kraju, narod postane žrtva Dačićevog "državničkog" bauljanja u mraku. Mada, moramo biti iskreni, nije Dačić izuzetak. On je samo upadljiv primjer opšteg pravila.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prisilna Nezaposlenost: Slučaj Srbije i Hrvatske


Status: objavljeno na katalaksija.com
Aktu­elna eko­nom­ska kriza je do sada zao­ku­pila gotovo sva­čiju pažnju. Rasprave oko toga štа ju je iza­zvalo ne jenja­vaju. Jedna od popu­lar­nih rasprava vrti se oko pita­nja ko je u pravu, kejn­zi­janci ili austri­janci. Dok ovaj čla­nak ne teži da odgo­vori na to kon­kretno pita­nje, nadam se da će baciti tra­čak sve­tla na kamen teme­ljac teo­rije Dž. M. Kejnza: pret­po­stavku nedo­bro­voljne nezaposlenosti.

U svom trak­tatu iz 1936. godine, Opšta teo­rija zapo­sle­no­sti, kamate i novca, Kejnz tvrdi:

Ljudi su nedo­bro­voljno neza­po­sleni, uko­liko su, u slu­čaju malog pora­sta cene robe u odnosu na  nomi­nalne plate, ukupna ponuda radne snage spremne da radi za tre­nutne plate i ukupna tra­žnja za rad­nom sna­gom pod tim istim pla­tama, veće od posto­je­ćeg obima zapo­sle­no­sti.1

On tvrdi da je ova (čudna?) situ­a­cija u tesnoj vezi sa nemo­guć­no­šću pre­du­zeća da sma­nje stopu plata i nedo­volj­nom sprem­no­šću sta­nov­ni­štva da kon­zu­mira (troši). Lek je, po Kejnzu, inter­ven­cija države – pove­ća­nje javne potro­šnje ili pove­ća­nje ponude novca. Nisam uve­ren da je to tačno.

Prvo, da bi mogli da se ubu­duće zapo­sle, neza­po­sleni moraju na neki način da se održe u životu. Do hrane i dru­gih potrep­ština bi mogli doći tro­šeći sop­stvena pre­o­stala sred­stava (ako imaju bilo kakva), pri­ma­njem poklona od dru­gih (kroz dobro­tvorne usta­nove ili kao milo­sti­nju) ili dobi­ja­njem fina­sij­ske pomoći države. Druga moguć­nost je da nađu poje­di­nace koji bi mogli imati kori­sti od nji­ho­vih usluga.

Posao izvan vla­stite spe­ci­jal­no­sti ili posao koji nije u okviru zakona često nosi stigmu, a često i nije nečiji prvi izbor zapo­šlje­nja, ali svaka dobro­voljna raz­mena dobara i usluga – ako se pri tome ne krše imo­vin­ska prava tre­ćih lica – pred­sta­vlja pro­i­zvodnu delat­nost pro­tiv koje ja nemam nika­kav pri­go­vor. Iako bi bilo udob­nije dobi­jati novac ni za šta, to ne bi bila naj­pa­met­nija dugo­ročna poli­tika za reša­va­nje nezaposlenosti.

Da bih malo poja­snio sum­njivu pri­rodu nedo­bro­voljne neza­po­sle­no­sti, ispri­čaću priču o jed­noj vrsti „neza­po­sle­no­sti“ u kojoj neza­po­sleni nemaju pre­o­sta­lih sred­stva koja bi potro­šili, dobro­tvorni pri­lozi ne postoje, i nema nika­kve državne finan­sij­ske pomoći – nema ničega osim bistrog uma i rela­tivno zdra­vog tela. Priča koju ću ispri­čati je u izra­zi­tom kon­tra­stu s kejn­zi­jan­skom ide­jom o leku za neza­po­sle­nost. Ustvari, ona otkriva bolji lek – dobro­voljno zapošljavanje.

Dobro­voljno zapošljavanje

U avgu­stu 1995. godine, zajedno sa oko 250.000 sta­nov­nika Hrvat­ske, moja poro­dica je pre­se­ljena u Srbiju u peri­odu od oko nede­lju dana tokom vojne ope­ra­cije „Oluja“ koju je spro­vela hrvat­ska voj­ska. U to vreme, Srbija je već bila u dubo­koj eko­nom­skoj krizi usled niza kata­stro­fal­nih ekonomsko-političkih mera, gde je neo­bu­zdano pove­ća­nje ponude novca bilo cen­tralni pro­blem. Slu­žbena stopa neza­po­sle­no­sti pre­va­zi­la­zila je 30 odsto, a pro­se­čan pri­hod po doma­ćin­stvu izno­sio je oko 20 odsto pri­hoda iz 1989. godine.

Čovek bi oče­ki­vao da bi dodatni pri­liv neza­po­sle­nih, koji je odgo­va­rao brojci od oko 2,5 odsto sta­nov­ni­štva Srbije, samo dopri­neo broju već posto­je­ćih neza­po­sle­nih koji su ili bili na teretu već pre­op­te­re­će­nih pro­grama soci­jalne pomoći, ili su tro­šili pre­o­stalu poro­dičnu ušte­đe­vinu ili su kri­jum­ča­rili ciga­re­tama i ben­zi­nom iz Rumu­nije i Bugar­ske. To je takođe ono što bi suge­ri­sala većina onih koji kori­ste kejn­zi­jan­ske modele.

Ali, to se nije dogo­dilo. Većina tih ljudi je došla sa samo neko­liko sto­tina nemač­kih maraka u džepu i sa kesom odeće. Nije bilo vre­mena da se spe­ku­liše da li je bolje da se pri­ku­plja soci­jalnu pomoć, potroši neka poro­dična ušte­đe­vina ili proda neka imo­vina pre stu­pa­nja u neu­godnu potragu za bilo kakvim poslom.  Većina nas nije čak ni oče­ki­vala ni želela bilo kakvu pomoć države.

Kao što je moj otac jed­nom sar­ka­stično rekao: „Mi smo od njih već dovoljno pomoći dobili, na nos nam je iza­šla“, alu­di­ra­jući na činje­nicu da smo zavr­šili kao izbe­glice usled nasil­nog sukoba između srp­skog i hrvat­skog poli­tič­kog vrha za kon­trolu nad područ­jem u kojem smo živeli. Još jedna nje­gova izjava iz tog vre­mena koju mislim da ću uvek pam­titi gla­sila je: „Ja mogu bolje!“. Bio je to komen­tar koji se odno­sio na „kolek­tivne cen­tre“ za sme­štaj izbe­glica koje je država nudila u prvih neko­liko nede­lja nakon našeg egzodusa.

Kao što bi se iz gore­po­me­nu­tih opštih eko­nom­skih indi­ka­tora moglo naslu­titi, spo­sob­nost države da izvuče dodatna sred­stava iz pri­vrede i usmeri ih ka novom talasu neza­po­sle­nih bila je ozbiljno ogra­ni­čena. Dakle, naša mala oče­ki­va­nja su zapravo odgo­va­rala držav­nim pla­ne­rima. Povrh svega, budući da nismo bili drža­vljani Srbije, nismo imali pravo glasa, tako da je moti­va­cija države da bilo šta učini u našu korist bila zane­mar­ljiva. Čak i u malo vero­vat­nom slu­čaju dobi­ja­nja prava glasa, nivo razo­ča­re­nja u spo­sob­nost države da nešto poboljša je bio pri­lično visok tako da većinu nas kori­šće­nje tog poten­ci­jal­nog prava nije ni zanimalo.

Posle prvih dana pomet­nje, kada je većina poro­dica bila sme­štena u sport­skim halama, pra­znim ško­lama, zatvo­re­nim fabri­kama itd., mnogi su uspeli da se snađu za dugo­roč­niji sme­štaj u roku od neko­liko nede­lja. Ovi ljudi su se dogo­vo­rili sa vla­sni­cima sta­rih kuća na selu i viken­dica, i uop­šte, sa bilo kime ko je bio spre­man da obez­bedi pod­no­šljiv pra­zan pro­stor na svom ima­nju u zamenu za neku uslugu.

Moji rodi­te­lji i ja smo upo­znali poro­dicu emi­gra­nata koja je živela u Nemač­koj i koja je dola­zila u Srbiju samo na godi­šnji odmor (pa bi se čak moglo reći da smo imali sreću da se naša nesreća poklo­pila s nji­ho­vim godi­šnjim odmo­rom). Tokom nared­nih pet godina, moj otac i ja smo popra­vili sve što se moglo popra­viti na četiri kuće u vla­sni­štvu ove poro­dice, od loših elek­trič­nih insta­la­cija i vodo­voda do oja­ča­va­nja beton­skih bal­kona, poplo­ča­va­nja dvo­ri­šta, zamene cre­pova, reno­vi­ra­nja ente­ri­jera i opšteg odr­ža­va­nja. Moja majka je oči­stila sve da bli­sta, a bašta je uvek bila puna cveća.

Vla­snici su oči­gledno imali kori­sti od ove naše usluge, posebno zbog toga što je im je ima­nje bilo na meti pro­val­nika pre našeg dola­ska. Naravno, i nama je bilo od kori­sti da živimo u nji­ho­voj kući. Pored toga, moji rodi­te­lji su poma­gali u poljo­pri­vred­nim rado­vima u lokal­nom mana­stiru. Zau­zvrat smo dobili parče zemlje na kori­šće­nje za vla­stite useve.  Uz to, u selu u kome smo živeli bilo je poslova na dnev­noj bazi, od rada u polju, popra­vlja­nja ograda, sad­nje drveća i čišće­nja smeća do popravki motor­nih testera i dru­gih mašina.

U nared­nim mese­cima i godi­nama, veći deo od 250 hiljada novih sta­nov­nika Srbije je pri­hva­tao svaki posao koji bi mogao naći, čak i na jedan dan. Nije bilo kanala kojeg bi bilo suviše teško kopati, mal­tera kojeg bi bilo suviše teško mešati, korova suviše jakog za čupa­nje, useva kojeg bi bilo suviše teško žeti niti auto­mo­bila ili kami­ona kojeg bi bilo suviše teško popra­viti. Ovaj niz nema kraja. Većina poslova je bila na razvoju malih pre­du­zeća i u poljo­pri­vredi, dok su državna pre­du­zeća sve više propadala.

Mnogi od tih ljudi su imali uni­ver­zi­tet­ske diplome, ali takve spo­sob­no­sti nisu bile potrebne na mnogo mesta. Ono što je bilo potrebno je bio prak­tični rad na odr­ža­va­nju sta­rih i izgrad­nji novih (ali dru­ga­či­jih) kapi­tal­nih dobara. Moj drug iz ode­lje­nja, bri­ljan­tan um, nije želeo da mu rodi­te­lji finan­si­raju fakul­tet­sko ško­lo­va­nje pa je počeo niz pri­vre­me­nih poslova, sve dok nije zavr­šio radeći kao far­bar u jed­nom auto ser­visu. Ser­vis je tokom godina ras­tao i napre­do­vao i sada je taj moj pri­ja­telj jedan od mena­džera tamo.

U prvim mese­cima i godi­nama posle 1995. godine, većina ljudi je radila za novac, hranu, odeću, za bilo šta. Šte­deli su ono­liko novca koliko su mogli, a hranu i odeću su kori­stili. Nemačka marka je bila naj­vred­nija valuta za šted­nju, dok je domaći dinar bio prak­tično bez­vre­dan. Novac nije čuvan u ban­kama, jer je većina banaka već bila ban­kro­ti­rala zbog galo­pi­ra­juće infla­cije iza­zvane dnev­nim štam­pa­njem novog novca od strane Narodne banke Jugo­sla­vije. Čuva­nje domaće valute je bilo ravno finan­sij­skom samoubistvu.

Šted­nja „pod dušek“ bila je jedina pre­o­stala razumna opcija pa smo je i kori­stili. Većina ljudi je imala jedan jedini glavni cilj na umu – da ponovo imaju svoj dom. Neki, poput mojih rodi­te­lja, sta­vili su veći nagla­sak na finan­si­ra­nje obra­zo­va­nja svoje dece.

Neki bi rekli da je to sve bilo uza­lud, jer, ima­jući u vidu ogra­ni­čenu koli­činu nemač­kih maraka u pri­vredi, ako se štedi, to odu­zima od ukupne koli­čine novca na ras­po­la­ga­nju za tro­še­nje i čuva­nje od strane dru­gih. Ali, kada se štedi novac, to ne uma­njuje koli­činu posto­jeće robe i usluga dostup­nih za raz­menu. Ti pro­i­zvodi i usluge i dalje postoje i mogu se raz­me­nji­vati, obzi­rom da postoji neka pozi­tivna, bes­ko­načno deljiva koli­čina novca u eko­no­miji. Šted­nja „pod dušek“ sma­njuje koli­činu novca u opti­caju u odnosu na koli­činu robe i usluga na ras­po­la­ga­nju za raz­menu, i to samo sma­njuje nov­čane cene te robe i usluga.

Što je još važnije, čovek štedi novac da bi finan­si­rao buduće inve­sti­cije koje će doneti veću pro­duk­tiv­nost i više robe i usluga na ras­po­la­ga­nju za potro­šnju u buduć­no­sti. Uku­pan iznos novca u pri­vredi će i dalje biti isti, ali će koli­čina robe i usluga koje se mogu kupiti tim isti nov­cem biti veći.

Dakle, ono što se štedi nije fizička koli­čina novca, nego buduća vred­nost pro­je­kata koji će biti zavr­šeni pomoću tog novca. Ogra­ni­čena koli­čina novca nije pre­preka za šted­nju u ovom slu­čaju. Istina je, među­tim, da je bez ban­kar­skog sistema potrebno čekati vla­stitu ušte­đe­vinu da se aku­mu­lira da bi se finan­si­rao pro­jekt. Nisam sigu­ran da li je većina mojih zemljaka razu­mela ovo raz­mi­šlja­nje, ali su sva­kako delo­vali kao da su razumeli.

Nova nase­lja u bli­zini Beo­grada i širom Srbije koja su počela da niču 1997. godine nude i dokaz da sav taj rad i šted­nja, čak i tako pri­mi­tivni kakvi su bili, nisu bili uza­lud. Ta nase­lja su izgra­đena nov­cem i radom sada­šnjih vla­snika, biv­ših izbe­glih iz Hrvat­ske. Mnogi čla­novi moje šire fami­lije i bivši susedi žive tamo. Pravni sta­tus tih nase­lja je i dalje pod zna­kom pita­nja od strane države, ali ovi ljudi su odlu­čili da će radije pri­hva­titi taj rizik nego čekati pomoć koja nikada neće doći. Neko­li­cina onih koji nisu uzeli vla­stite živote u svoje ruke i koji su čekali pomoć države—još uvek čekaju.

Od 2000. godine do sada, posle pre­vrata 5. okto­bra, trži­šno ori­jen­ti­sani poje­dinci su ušli u državne struk­ture, a ban­kar­ski sistem je obno­vljen. Sudeći po devi­znom kursu dinara u odnosu na glavne svet­ske valute, izgleda se pove­ća­nje ponude novca drži na rela­tivno niskom nivou.2

Šted­nja je postala pro­duk­tiv­nija po jedi­nici vre­mena, jer oni koji žele da pokrenu inve­sti­ci­oni pro­je­kat ne moraju da čekaju svoju ušte­đe­vinu da nara­ste do potreb­nog nivoa ili da direktno traže poje­dince koji žele da pozajme svoju ušte­đe­vinu. Ban­kar­ski sistem omo­gu­ćava inter­tem­po­ralnu raz­menu šted­nje između ogro­mnog broja poje­di­naca, a inve­sti­ci­oni sek­tor pred­sta­vlja medi­jum za tu raz­menu.3

Većina vla­snika kuća u novim nase­ljima i dalje naporno radi i štedi ili se zadu­žuje da bi u eta­pama finan­si­rala manje pro­jekte na svo­joj imo­vini. Mnogi od njih vode mala pre­du­zeća iz svo­jih domova: auto­me­ha­ni­čar­ske i vul­ka­ni­zer­ske rad­nje, pro­dav­nice, mesare, pekare, pogone za pilje­nje i obradu drveta, pre­vo­zničke firme, sto­va­ri­šta gra­đe­vin­skog matri­jala, i mnoga druga. Ostali su uspeli da pro­nađu stal­nije zapo­sle­nje u nado­la­ze­ćim lokal­nih preduzećima.

Ne veru­jem da bi se ovi ljudi slo­žili sa zaključ­kom iz trak­tata Dž. M. Kejnza iz 1936. da je „izra­ziti nedo­statk pri­vred­nog dru­štva u kojem živimo … nje­gov neu­speh da osi­gura punu zapo­sle­nost“.4 Većina njih će vam reći da je izra­ziti nedo­sta­tak poli­tič­kog dru­štva u kojem živimo nje­gov neu­speh da osi­gura puno pošto­va­nje života i imo­vine ljudi i da su ljudi savr­šeno spo­sobni da upra­vljaju svo­jim živo­tima, što uklju­čuje i odluku da pro­vedu deo vre­meha u potrazi za dru­gim poje­din­cima kojima bi mogle zatre­bati nji­hove usluge. 

Ljudi u ovoj priči su pre­ži­veli ne zbog inter­ven­ci­o­ni­stičke poli­tike države nego baš upr­kos toj politici.

Beleške
  1. Kejnz, DŽ. M. 2006.Opšta teo­rija zapo­sle­no­sti, kamata i novca (New Delhi: Atlan­tic Publis­hers & Distri­bu­tors), str.  14. []
  2. Treba imati u vidu da je ori­gi­nalni čanak, čiji je ovo pre­vod, napi­san 2010. godine tako da se ova ocena ne odnosi na period posle 2010. godine. Ipak, gene­ralni uti­sak autora je, bar sudeći po kursu dinara u odnosu na evro (ne zabo­ra­vlja­jući  mnoge nedo­statke ovog par­ci­jal­nog indi­ka­tora), da su infla­ci­one ten­den­cije u posled­nje dve godine slične po obimu onima iz pret­hod­nih deset. []
  3. Među­tim, postoje indi­cije da cen­tralna banka poku­šava da pro­širi kre­dite izvan gra­nica u kojima se banke osje­ćaju ugodno. Na pri­mer, 2010. godine pre­go­vori između udru­že­nja banaka Srbije i cen­tralne banke zavr­šili su se zaključ­kom da će ogra­ni­če­nje zadu­ži­va­nja biti podig­nuto sa 30 na 40 odsto od dužni­ko­vih neto pri­hoda. To je dovelo do neo­bične situ­a­cije gde su banke naja­vile ovu pro­menu, a pri tom pozi­vale dužnike da budu opre­zni u odlu­či­va­nju koliko pozaj­miti. []
  4. Kejnz, Nav. delo, str. 341. []

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Da li je broj poginulih u Drugom svjetskom ratu "prenaduvan"?


Neki dan čitam tvrdnje da je broj žrtava 2. svjetskog rata prenaduvan. Odlučih da zaobiđem postojeću literaturu na tu temu (koja se ionako usijala do tačke topljenja od polemika i kontroverzi) i sam napravim jedan statistički eksperiment. Ovaj dijagram pokazuje (1) koliko bi ljudi bilo da se trend porasta stanovništva od 1921. do 1931. nastavio i (2) koliko ih je stvarno bilo, prema popisu stanovnistva. Razmak između te dvije linije je oko 1,5 milion ljudi 1948. godine i poslije 1953. godine ostaje konstantan na oko 1,25 miliona ljudi. To sugeriše da je stopa rasta stanovnistva bila prilicno ujednačena prije i poslije 2. svjetskog rata, sa izuzetkom perioda neposredno poslije rata kad je stopa rasta bila nesto veća, sto je i u skladu sa većinom slučajeva u istoriji (stopa rasta stanovnistva neposredno poslije ratova se privremeno poveća). Ipak ovo povećanje stope rasta je "nadoknadilo" samo oko 250 do 300 hiljada od ukupno 1,5 miliona, koji su, po ovoj statistici nestali sa lica zemlje. 

Mogli bismo postaviti tri hipoteze:

1. Stopa rađanja za vrijeme rata se smanjila za 1,5 miliona, a stopa umiranja se nije promijenila u odnosu na mirnodopski period.
2. Stopa umiranja za vrijeme rata se povećala za 1,5 miliona, a stopa rađanja se nije promijenila u odnosu na mirnodopski period.
3. Stopa rđanja se smanjila, a stopa umiranja se povećala tako da je ukupan efekat bio 1,5 miliona ljudi manje.

Hipotezu 1 mošemo eliminisati sa relativno velikom sigurnošću. Ostaju hipoteze 2 i 3. Ako je hipoteza 2 tačna, u Drugom svjetskom ratu je poginulo 1,5 miliona Jugoslovena. Ako je hipoteza 3 tačna, poginulo je manje od 1,5 miliona. Koliko tačno manje, to na osnovu ovih podataka ne možemo zaključiti. To zavisi od smanjenja stope rađanja u ratnom periodu. Ostavimo to za neku sljedeću analizu. Takođe, ne zaboravimo da se i stopa emigriranja iz zemlje mogla promijeniti između 1931. i 1948. To bi dalje smanjilo našu procjenu broja poginulih ispod 1,5 miliona. Da sumiramo, 1,5 miliona bi bila neka gornja granica broja poginulih u Drugom svjetskom ratu u Jugoslaviji.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chobani vs. Supply Management: Happy Marriage, Ugly Divorce or a New Chapter?


I love yogurt. Soon after I immigrated to Canada from Serbia in 2001, I realized that Canadian yogurt, feta and cream cheeses  are not to my taste, so I started discovering little ethnic speciality stores with dairy products from Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Serbia, Croatia and other places with a strong dairy tradition.

This is partly why I can understand the success of Chobani, a company founded by Turkish immigrants in 2007 that has since then captured over 18% of the U.S. yogurt market. Canadian consumers might have the opportunity to try Chobani’s products soon, and many new Canadians like myself, used to fine cheese and yogurt, might discover a cheaper alternative to the very limited supply of expensive imports.

This is only if Chobani wins its legal battle against Canadian milk processors, lead by Danone and Yoplait, who are invoking Canadian supply management policy and claiming that Chobani’s presence in the Canadian market and its subsequent plan to build a 940,000 square foot milk processing facility in Ontario “will destroy the delicate balance created by the Canadian supply-management system.” In the meantime, the company has been granted a temporary, one year reduction in import tariffs on its U.S. produced yogurt from over 200% to 5% by the Canadian federal government. Currently, this yogurt can be bought in the Toronto and Hamilton area.

Canadian supply management policy focuses primarily on limiting the supply of raw milk at the farm level by using a system of producer quotas and import restrictions on final products. While Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), the province’s supply management marketing board, do regulate the distribution of milk to processing plants based on the end use, the board does not directly limit the domestic output of specific final products. Thus, it is not clear how the policy applies in Chobani’s case. This aside, it is still up in the air whether Chobani will win this legal battle, and I will not analyze the legal issues here. Rather, I will show how the Canadian milk quota system works, which will make it easier to see why certain interest groups favour this system, and why some groups oppose the potential entry of Chobani into the Canadian market. This will also be useful for assessing the potential consequences of Chobani’s plan to enter the Canadian milk processing industry.

Why Many Current Farmers Favour the Quota System

The quota system, introduced in the early 1970’s, sets legal limits on the national, provincial and farm-level milk supply below the quantity that would have been supplied in an open market. In 2011, the quota system limited the total quantity of raw milk produced and sold in Canada to 77 million hectolitres per year, which is, for the sake of comparison, identical to the yearly supply in 1958.[1] To be technically correct, the dairy quota is expressed in kilograms of butterfat (milk fat). As the fat content is a fairly stable property, milk volume is often used as a shorthand quota measure.

Each province has a certain share of the national butterfat quota. This share is determined by the national supply management agency, the Canadian Milk Supply Management Committee (CMSMC). Each producer cannot exceed his or her share of the provincial quota. Milk is bought from farmers by the provincial milk supply management marketing boards, which then sell it to the processors.  The average price received by milk farmers last year was about $75 per hectolitre.

No one really knows what the quantity of milk supplied on the market would be if each farmer was allowed to produce as much milk as he or she wanted, but we could base our guess on the average per person raw milk production in the early days of supply management (i.e., 1975), which was 3.1 hectolitres of raw milk per person per year.[2][3][4]Using this number, we arrive at the estimated unrestricted production of 105 million hectolitres in 2011.

Similarly, no one really knows what the price of raw milk would be under these conditions, but a good guess would be that it would not be much different from the current U.S. price, like in the early years of supply management (i.e., in 1975), when the Canadian and the U.S. raw milk prices were both at about $15 per hectolitre. Last year’s U.S. raw milk price was around $45 per hectolitre at its peak in July and August.

Figure 1 shows this on a diagram. At the price of $75 per hectolitre, processors buy the current quantity of 77 million hectolitres. As the quantity supplied increases to 105 million hectolitres, the price processors pay falls to $45 per hectolitre.


Figure 1. The effect of the quota system on the raw milk price received by dairy farmers

From this, it is still not obvious why many dairy farmers would prefer a total supply of only 77 million hectolitres as opposed to 105 million.[5] However, if we compare the total revenues received by all producers under the two scenarios, this becomes a bit clearer. In the case when the producers supply only 77 million hectolitres, the total revenue they receive is 77 million hectolitres times $75 per hectolitre, which is $5.8 billion. In the alternative, higher supply and lower price scenario, the total revenue is $4.7 billion (105 million hectolitres times $45 per hectolitre). The total revenue received by primary milk producers is 22% higher under the restricted supply scenario. This illustrates the incentives behind the industry support for the quota system.

Note that this simple calculation takes into account only the price and quantity effects of the quota system. It does not, however, take into account reduced competition, both domestic and from abroad. In other words, here I assumed that all of the current Canadian raw milk producers are in fact able to produce milk at $45 per hectolitre. Recent farm financial data indicate that only a fraction of Ontario farmers would be able to maintain a profitable business under this price.

This calculation also suggests that, as a consequence of the quota system, milk processors are paying higher prices for raw milk than they would have otherwise been paying. In total, they pay 22% more for raw milk compared to the scenario with fewer restrictions on milk supply. At first, one would think that the processors would be strongly opposed to this system but a closer look proves otherwise.

Why Milk Processors Don’t Oppose the Quota System

We can use a similar approach as before to show the effects of the reduced raw milk supply in the final products market. There are many dairy products, but for illustrative purposes, let us look at 3.25% fluid milk. Last year, the total quantity of 3.25 % fluid milk sold in Canada was 364 million litres, and the average price was $1.5 per litre.

Note that these price and quantity correspond to the situation when 77 million hectolitres of raw milk are produced. In the case when 105 million hectolitres of raw milk are produced, we would expect about 499 million litres of 3.25% milk to be produced and sold.[6] As before, no one really knows at what price this milk would be sold, but, following the raw milk price analogy, a good guess would be that the Canadian price in these conditions would be close to last year’s U.S. price. The average price of 3.25% milk in the U.S. in 2011 was approximately $0.9 per litre.

The two scenarios are shown in Figure 2. The demand curve shows the consumers’ willingness to pay for milk at different market quantities supplied. As the total quantity supplied increases, the price that would clear the market falls.


Figure 2. The effect of restrictions in the raw milk market on the price of a final dairy product

Comparing the total processors’ revenues at the restricted milk supply scenario to the revenues at the milk supply unrestricted by the quota system reveals why processors would not oppose the quota system. At the relatively low supply of 364 million litres, the total processors’ revenue from 3.25% fluid milk is $546 million (364 million litres times $1.5 per litre). This is considerably higher than $449 million revenue (499 million litres times $0.9 per litre) under the unrestricted quantity of 499 million litres processed and sold.[7] This translates into an increase in the total revenue just under 22% compared to the unrestricted supply scenario.

A similar pattern of price differences between the U.S. and Canada can be observed in the markets for other final dairy products. For example, the average U.S. price of 500 g of yogurt in March of 2012 was $1.05 compared to the 2011 average of $2.35 in Canada. Similarly, in the U.S., 2 kg of ice cream cost, on average, $4.06 in March of this year compared to the 2011 average of $5.38 in Canada. In the case of hard cheese, the U.S. consumers paid, on average, $6.97 for 1 kg, while their Canadian neighbours paid about $13.80 in 2011. Thus, the increase in the processors’ outlays on raw milk tends to be offset by the increase in the total revenue received from consumers in the final products market. In other words, the processors simply transfer the high raw milk price onto the consumer.

Why Expanding and Potential Future Farmers Don’t Favour the Quota System

So far, we have seen why many farmers, especially those unable to produce at lower milk prices, would favour the quota system and why the processors would not be strongly opposed to the system. However, what about those dairy farmers that want to grow their business or those entrepreneurs who want to enter the industry?

First, due to the limitation on the total output, one producer cannot expand if another does not contract his or her output. The current quota holders are asking between $25,000 and $36,000 in order to reduce their output by one cow. In response to the rising quota prices, the governments of Ontario and Quebec have put price ceilings of $25,000 per kg of butterfat per day (approximately equivalent to the milk output per one cow) in 2009. Prior to the ceilings, quota prices in these provinces were in the range of $28,000 to $30,000.

The quota purchase expenditure for new and expanding operations is in addition to all regular capital investments like land, buildings and machinery. This means that if you want to start a 50-cow dairy farm, you need to cash out $1.5 million for a permit to produce and sell milk in Canada. Moreover, for the expanding operations, due to the low supply of quota, especially after the imposition of quota price ceilings, it is quite hard to acquire quota in larger chunks. This creates an impediment for these farmers to grow their business to a more desired size.

Although the required quota expenditures represent barriers for expansion or entering the industry, some people are still borrowing money to buy quota permits at these prices. This demonstrates their expectations of future profits that would be used to make this extra expenditure worthwhile in the long run. Moreover, this is another indication that the industry output would increase as a consequence of new entrants seeking to benefit from extra profits if the quota system was abolished.

The Unsuspecting Consumers

At this point, it becomes clear that the consumers of dairy products are the ones paying the price of the quota system. One defence often put forth for this arrangement is that the consumer expenditure on dairy products as a share of income is small, and thus the consumers don’t really feel the pinch of the quota system.

For the sake of rough assessment, let us assume that an average four-member family consumes dairy products that correspond to four times Canada’s 2.2 hectolitres per year per capita milk production.[8] Let us, as a common unit of accounting across all dairy products, use the price of 3.25% fluid milk. At the fluid milk prices of $1.5 per litre, an average family spends $1320 per year on dairy products. In contrast, if this average family was paying $0.9 per litre of milk, the expenditure would be $792 per year.[9] This is a $528 difference. This may be a small share of one’s total income or even total food expenditure, but it is still a sum of money for which many would have no trouble finding a useful purpose.

What Happens if Chobani Enters the Canadian Market

In a sense, Chobani has already entered the Canadian market by getting the temporary import easement. Note that the company is using U.S. raw milk to produce the yogurt sold in Canada. Thus, at the moment, the company is selling its product in a high-price market while buying its milk at the price of $45 per hectolitre, as opposed to the Canadian price of $75 per hectolitre. It is not clear whether this permit will be extended beyond one year if Chobani’s legal case takes longer than a year. In case there is no set expiration date, this arrangement provides incentives for Chobani to maintain the status quo, while squeezing out the existing processors by using the low raw milk price advantage. Presumably, the benefits of establishing itself as a processor in Canada would outweigh the incentives for prolonging the temporary import easement.

In case that Chobani is eventually allowed to build the proposed plant, the above analysis has given us a good basis for assessing the potential consequences of a new milk processor in Canada. First, this processor would need to acquire milk from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. The agency could supply this milk either (1) by reallocating some of the current raw milk supply away from the existing processors, (2) by attempting to get approval for increasing the provincial raw milk quota from the Canadian Milk Supply Management Committee, (3) by increasing the actual milk output without increasing the provincial butterfat output or (4) by using a combination of the previous three options.

In the first case, it is relatively easy to see why the existing processors would object losing some of their share in the current milk supply.

Alternatively, as Chobani’s yogurt is a non-fat product, the DFO could potentially meet their demand without increasing the provincial butterfat quota by encouraging farmers to produce milk with a lower fat content. This would potentially result in a higher total volume of milk produced. However, as farmers are paid for their milk on the basis of its fat content, this option would involve DFO’s changing the raw milk pricing structure.

The interprovincial allocation of the national quota is decided by representatives of the provincial marketing boards. Although all provinces have gradually increased their butterfat output over the years, the provincial shares of the national quota have remained almost unchanged in the last 20 years. Thus, expecting a unilateral increase in Ontario’s quota may be unrealistic. In that case, Chobani’s entry into the market would add one more processor bidding for the same quantity of raw milk.

Regardless of how the DFO decides to manage the milk supply to meet Chobani’s demand, the fact that Chobani is attempting to enter the Canadian processing sector suggests that it is ready to pay $75 or more per hectolitre of milk. This would put an upward pressure on the raw milk prices, especially in the conditions of constrained supply. The ability of the existing processors to shift any raw milk price increase to the consumers  is limited by the consumers’ demand for milk. Figure 2 shows that if the processors wanted to increase the price of final products, they would need to reduce the quantity they sell to the consumers. However, the new industry entrant would generally offer its products below the current prices to build up a consumer base. This means that the existing processors could increase only the prices of products not supplied by the new entrant, which would result in a lower quantity of these products consumed. This would, in the long run, provide additional incentives for the new entrant to expand the range of its products.

It is thus not surprising that the dairy processors are the most energetic opponents of Chobani’s import easement and of its plan to open a milk processing plant in Ontario. It is the processors that would feel the immediate impact of this project through increased competition for raw milk and increased competition for the consumers’ money. But, does this mean that some of the identified potential changes resulting from Chobani’s entry into the Canadian processing sector “will destroy the delicate balance created by the Canadian supply-management system,” as some of the current processors claim? If this was indeed true, then there would be good reasons to be worried about this system even if Chobani never existed. A system in which one new firm would disturb its balance to the point that its overall functioning is jeopardized, is indeed a system worth questioning.

Although supply management can be and has been questioned on multiple grounds, its alleged internal fragility is not one of them. Regardless of some of its inherent rigidity, the above presented structure of the Canadian supply management system seems to be flexible enough to accommodate one more milk processor. Provided there is a will within the DFO to allow for some adjustments, there are multiple avenues for these adjustments within the system to take place: through gradual increases in the provincial quota, through adjustments in allocating raw milk to processors, and through adjustments in the composition of raw milk. Finally, adjustments in the prices of final dairy products would provide some of the guiding signals for the production adjustments. Ultimately, more competition in the processing sector would make the restrictions on the supply of raw milk more apparent through the upward pressure on the price of raw milk. This would provide incentives for relaxing these restrictions in the long run.

When it comes to the effect of Chobani’s presence on the consumers, they would feel the benefits of new product lines and a downward pressure on the prices of yogurt resulting from increased competition in the processing sector. However, at least in the short-run, there may be increases in the prices of other dairy products due to a reduced quantity of raw milk available to other processors.

Thus, the claim that Chobani’s processing plant would change the balance in the supply management system has some truth in it. However, the alleged detrimental effects of this change are much less obvious. In fact, if we are to be honest about economic change, any change, good or bad, starts with a “destruction” of balance in the pre-existing system. After all, didn’t Jude Delisle, the founder of Danone Canada, destroy the balance in the pre-existing dairy industry structure and consumers’ habits with the construction of the Delisle plant in Boucherville, Quebec, in 1968? In the company’s own words: “His first buyers were doctors who prescribed yogurt as a medication and Montrealers of European descent, who were soon enthusiastically spreading the word.”

This sounds much like Chobani’s current experience in the words of Hamdi Ulukaya, the company’s founder: “In many cases it’s not easy for a start-up company to have a chance in this major competition world. You can have a healthy, good-for-you product, but it has to taste good. So it has been key for Chobani that is it fat free, but tastes creamy, and people spread the word about this great find.”
Oddly enough, I haven’t tried Chobani’s yogurt yet, but this story has surely spurred my desire to do so soon.

Notes:

[1] All data and calculations used in this article are available from the author.
[2] The per person milk production in Canada declined from 3.1 hectolitres in 1975 to 2.2 hectolitres in 2011. In contrast, the per person milk production in the United States increased from about 2.4 to 2.8 hectolitres during the same period.
[3] Using the per person production in the years immediately prior to supply management (i.e., about 3.8 hectolitres) would yield even higher unrestricted estimates. However, one could argue that some of the subsequent decline in the average per person production numbers could be attributed to the downward trend that was present even before supply management. This is why I use a more conservative estimate of average per person production.

Figure 3. Actual and projected raw milk output in Canada, 1920 - 2011

[4] A similar estimate is obtained if we take a linear projection of milk production between 1920 and the first year of supply management, 1972. Figure 3 shows this projection, along with the actual pre- and post-supply management production volumes.
[5] Note that each producer may individually have incentives to expand his or her production under the price of $75 per hectolitre, but if all producers expanded their production, the price would no longer be $75 but lower than that. This is why the system is held together by legal restrictions on output.
[6] Assuming that the proportion of raw milk processed into 3.25% fluid milk does not change.
[7] In reality, we should  subtract the retailers’ margin from the two totals to get the processors’ revenue, but since milk prices in both scenarios include the retailers’ margin, for the purpose of comparison, this subtraction is not necessary.
[8] Canada’s net imports of dairy products, in dollar terms, were 7.3% of the total raw milk revenue in 2011. Import tariffs of 200% to 300% are applied to these products and thus they are sold at comparable or higher prices than the domestic products.
[9] A more detailed analysis would involve comparing the Canadian price to the U.S. price of each dairy product, while taking into account the respective quantities of each product consumed in each country. However, since the final product price has to, on the margin, justify producing the specific product as opposed to fluid 3.25% milk, the other final product price differences between the two countries follow a similar pattern to the 3.25% milk price differences.

 [Originally published at LvMIC]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Igra zvana demokratija


Po mom mišljenju, političari su posebna vrsta ljudi koja misli da drugima čini uslugu time što im govori sta da rade, a u samom procesu neminovno slijedi svoj vlastiti interes jer to svaki čovjek, po logici svog postojanja, radi. Uz to, svaki političar mora da jede, stanuje negdje, ukratko, da koristi prozivode i usluge drugih ljudi, a da sam ne proizvodi nešto sto bi mogao tim ljudima (tj. proizvođačima dobara) dati zauzvrat, osim ideje da svima njima čini uslugu time sto im “soli pamet.”

Pošto mnogi ljudi ipak istinski ne vjeruju u tu ideju da je to što političar radi vrijedno novca koji dobija, novac kojim će političar kupiti svoju hranu, platiti stan, ili bilo sta drugo, mora da se skupi ne dobrovoljnim prilozima onih kojima on, jelte, čini uslugu, nego putem poreza, koji, naravno, nije dobrovoljan. Da je dobrovoljan, ne bi se išlo u zatvor zbog utaje poreza.

Političari ne mogu da kažu narodu da radi bilo šta. Recimo, kad bi neki političar rekao narodu: hajde sad svi lupajte glavom o zid koliko možete; to je zdravo za dušu i dobro za ekonomiju, svi bi mu se smijali. Dakle, političar mora da narodu proda dobru "žvaku" koju će većina da podrži. Ako on misli da većina ljudi misli da je dobro ciljati na nacionalne razlike između grupa ljudi, on će to i uraditi. Pošto je demokratija vladavina većine, manjina ce uglavnom biti u minusu, bilo da je manjina nacionalna, ideoloska, ili bilo koja druga drustvena kategorija.

Ali, ako većina ljudi istinski ne vjeruje da nam političcari čine uslugu svojim postojanjem, zašto većina ipak podržava takav sistem? Zato što misle da je to najmanje zlo, tj. da ne postoji nešto bolje. Pod time mislim da većina ljudi ipak ne vidi alternativu postojanju države kao društvenog urdjenja. I tako smo se našli u paradoksu da dobrovoljno živimo u nasilnoj tvorevini.

U stvari, to i nije toliki paradoks kad se ima u vidu da tipični platiša poreza živi u nadi da će nekako privoljeti svog omiljenog političara da mu "prelije" u džep više društvenog novca nego što je i sam platio putem poreza. Tako se narod putem političara otima za vlastiti novac dok političari koriste dio tog istog novca da bi kupili hranu, odjeću, aute, platili stan, itd. Zaključak je da su samo neki proizvođači dobara i usluga, mjereno novcem koji na kraju posjeduju, u plusu samo ponekad a da su svi političari u plusu uvijek. Ipak, svi i dalje pristajemo da igramo ovu igru jer ne vidimo mogućnost postojanja neke bolje igre. Neki možda i vide mogućnost, ali je njihov broj trenutno nedovoljan da bi nešto promijenili, makar i u vidu društvenog eksperimenta.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

A PhD Thesis Bringing Together the Market Process Approach and the Concept of Comparative Advantage

"I thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from this outstanding PhD thesis “Linking Comparative Advantage, Supply Management, and Environmental Externalities.” Mr. Rajsic provides a rigorous discussion --- scholarship, analytically, and application --- of supply management in the Canadian context. I very much appreciated the way he both explores in detail the idea of comparative advantage at a foundational theory level, and strives to incorporate heterogeneity into the analysis. So much of economic analysis is based on models that assume a world defined by functions that are smooth and continuous and twice differentiable. But the world we live in as human beings is lumpy, and often discontinuous. The question remains how much of the orthodox conclusions about the division of labor and the exchange and production efficiencies of the market economy can be maintained once we depart from this world of smooth and continuous functions.

Once frictions are introduced into our positive analysis of the market, the existence of frictions cannot be assumed prima face to imply that market failures exist. The world is far more complex than the simple model suggest, but that complexity is not necessarily an indication of the need for external intervention to guide the pattern of resource use. Instead, the way production processes are coordinated through time is through mechanisms (namely the price system and entrepreneurial discovery) that cope with that complexity and our ignorance. Those mechanisms are necessarily under-explored, let alone under-appreciated, in the more standard neoclassical treatment of production and exchange. But as Mr. Rajsic points out, heterogeneity is not a complicating factor in a standard model, but a feature of the reality of markets. The bottom line is that Mr. Rajsic has produced an excellent study of supply management utilitzing the market process economics associated with Mises, Hayek, Kirzner and Rothbard." -- Peter J. Boettke

 
Link to thesis PDF

PDF of Dr. Peter J. Boettke's (External Examiner) review