The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Heroes or villains, is there luck for finance ministers?


Highlights: Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin has written a new book. The Yellow Pad: Making Better Decisions in an Uncertain World is published by Simon & Schuster. The book is based on Rubin's time as Minister of Economy in Argentina in 2002. Rubin says the best way to make the best decisions in the future is to learn from the mistakes of the past. He says uncertainty is the great challenge for the generations to come and that his generation was forced to face it.

Non-Fiction Economics. The luck and books of two former economy ministers, one from the U.S. and the other from Argentina. The best way to make decisions is to learn from past mistakes, says a former Treasury secretary.

"The best Treasury secretary since Alexander Hamilton."

This is how Bill Clinton defined Robert Rubin, an American economist who served as Secretary of the Treasury (equivalent in the position of the Minister of Economy in Argentina) at the time when Clinton said "It's the economy, stupid", as president of the main world power between 1993 and 2002. Hamilton was the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Rubin, who could boast of the favorable numbers of his administration and the praise of Clinton, nevertheless maintains in a new book that perhaps his was more luck and less the result of political will and own decisions.

In The Yellow Pad, Making Better Decisions in an Uncertain World, the author goes beyond the simple racconto of his routine, anecdotes and experiences as a civil servant. Recall that Rubin published his memoirs twenty years ago, where he told the details of the Clinton government's bailouts to Mexico in the Tequila effect.

That 2003 book may have already had the DNA of this current version: it was called In an Uncertain World. Rubin returns 20 years later with the same concept, uncertainty as a subject that no longer belongs only to statisticians and mathematicians.

Economic science adopted, shaped and crowned the use of statistical probability as its own 100 years ago by John Maynard Keynes and his theory to explain the Great Depression. Rubin now ventures to say that this type of analysis will be more necessary in the future because of the problems facing the world and the global economy. "It is the great challenge for the generations to come. From climate change and nuclear proliferation to income inequality and rising authoritarianism at home and abroad, they will be far greater than my generation was forced to face. The need for a robust approach to decision-making in the face of uncertainty has always been great, but now it is greater than ever."

The former secretary confesses that one of the most exhausting tasks he faced as an official was to constantly deal with decisions in contexts of high uncertainty where the correct answer in advance is not obvious. A recurring theme in American politics and that even Barack Obama dealt with in his memoirs.

The economist says that his favorite tool to estimate the probability of an event is to dump all his notes in a simple yellow notebook (hence the title of the book) "not to quantify every aspect of each decision, it would be impossible, but it helps me in my way of thinking and to incorporate probabilistic thinking in the real world".

Perhaps it is because of all this Rubin concludes that it is a mistake to evaluate a decision only by its results and that then the work of an economy minister can receive more credit than it deserves if his mandate coincides with that of a boom in the economy. "I know a lot of places where luck can make a big difference," he says of his former jobs on Wall Street and the Treasury. Rubin before coming to the Treasury with Clinton had been at Goldman Sachs.

A book that was also published these days (in Spanish) and that is reminiscent of Rubin's, is that of another former economy minister. But from Argentina: Jorge Remes Lenicov, who held that position in 2002 and with Eduardo Duhalde as President. Remes worked on the exit from convertibility, on renegotiating contracts and balancing public accounts. In the first quarter of 2002 Argentina had already reached the fiscal surplus (Rubin, a great defender of fiscal balance, does not boast of his results as minister but of reforms that he promoted and one was the tax: the US achieved fiscal surplus in 1998 for the first time in 30 years. Remes tells the story of withholdings in Argentina).

Remes says in 115 days that to drive the economy you have to "learn from our rich historical experience." And Rubin points out that "the best way to make the best decisions in the future is to learn from the mistakes of the past." "The decision-making process has two components," Remes explained to the Economico, "being convinced of the plan and political support. But imponderables always appear." In his case they were Duhalde's phrase ("he who deposited dollars will receive dollars") and the position of the Court against economic measures. Remes, criticized within his government, left office in 2002.

Thus it is confirmed then that to be good at Economics, stand out at the head of the Ministry of Economy or get to be compared with Alexander Hamilton, many times the die is cast. Rubin, perhaps, had it. Remes, less.

Source: clarin

All business articles on 2023-05-27

You may like

Life/Entertain 2023-09-05T08:42:39.518Z
Life/Entertain 2023-09-11T12:32:54.541Z
Life/Entertain 2023-06-30T05:10:34.662Z
News/Politics 2023-05-22T03:42:04.638Z

Trends 24h


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.