Pope Francis on Development Economics

business_ethics_highlights_2Pope Francis keeps saying stuff about capitalism, and people keep listening to it, or at least reporting it. The link below is about a speech he gave in Bolivia, in which he said, among other things, that unfettered pursuit of money is bad — something that literally everyone agrees with. He also apparently said (as paraphrased by the reporter) that poor countries ‘should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labour for developed countries.’ No reports as to whether he commented on the large number of poor countries that would love to be elevated, economically speaking, to providing raw material and cheap labour for developed countries. >>>

LINK: Unbridled capitalism is the ‘dung of the devil’, says Pope Francis (from Reuters in The Guardian)

…In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope used his visit to Bolivia to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic church…

…Quoting a fourth century bishop, he called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil”, and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labour for developed countries…..

What do you think?

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  1. Renee Payne

    What does it mean to be “elevated, economically speaking.” Does it assume that global market transactions among disparate nations with uneven legal standards are inherently just, or commonly just?

  2. The Editors

    If you’re unemployed, then getting a job amounts to being elevated (raised up) economically.

  3. Renee Payne

    Do you argue that “sweatshops” provide better employment options than all possible alternatives? I think it is a mixed bag. Governments in developing nations often enact policies that subsidize the foreign investors while simultaneously suppressing worker voice. So some “sweatshops” are part and parcel of a system of repression. (Thanks for posting. I’ll sign off.)

  4. The Editors

    No, of course not. But sweatshops do sometimes provide better options than all ACTUAL alternatives.

  5. Renee Payne

    I wonder where you stand on an area of potential disagreement in the libertarian network. Ian Maitland went so far as to condemn sweatshop employers who voluntarily exceed market-level wages claiming that they do harm to their enterprises and the global economy. Powell and Zwolinski appear to favor voluntary strategies to mitigate sweatshop employment (although their fidelity to neoclassical orthodoxy probably means that they assume all appropriate measures are already in force).

    What do you think? Is there an realized potential in sweatshop self-reform?

    • I don’t know how libertarians would respond, but I suspect the most ground for reform is in non-pay factors that improve working conditions. I doubt anyone believes that ground is already exhausted. For what it’s worth, even the most orthodox neoclassical economist could not assume that all appropriate measures are already in place; that would only be true where markets and factories operate efficiently, and factories (at least) in the developing world are not as efficient — not as productive per worker — as those in developed nations. Some of the efficiency gap is likely due to factors that have a bearing on working conditions.

  6. Renee Payne

    I mean “unrealized potential.”

  7. Francis Bellamy

    I am not sure. Wouldn’t an orthodox neoclassical economist assert that very thing: that free markets assure Pareto Optimality including maximum efficiency? Otherwise, why would corporations in developed nations choose to invest in less productive suppliers?

    • I’m not an economist of any stripe, so I’m not positive. But no, I don’t think real economists assume that real markets operate perfectly, any more than real physicists think real surfaces can be frictionless. A supplier doesn’t need to be efficient in its use of human resources to be attractive: it just has to be cheap and effective, compared to alternatives.

  8. Francis Bellamy

    Conceding that there is slack in labor markets opens the way to broad reform of sweatshops through collaborative approaches to enhanced productivity. I fully agree.

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