martes, agosto 26, 2008

. Cato's Letters

En la literatura sobre la historia de los frenos y contrapesos, los periodistas ingleses John Trenchard (1662-1723) y Thomas Gordon (1692-1750) ocupan un lugar muy especial. Entre 1720 y 1723, Trenchard y Gordon publican 144 cartas en el London Journal, más tarde conocidas como Cato's Letters. Trenchard y Gordon eran muy populares durante los años de la Revolución de los Estados Unidos. Estuve leyendo la carta No. 67: contiene un estupendo análisis de la relación entre la abundacia/escasez de crédito en gobiernos libres/arbitrarios. (Tengo que repasar notas sobre Montesquieu: creo que los conoció durante su viaje a Inglaterra en los 1720s). Está claro que Trenchard y Gordon están razonando en base a una teoría de fondos prestables en el mercado de crédito, parecida a la que Montesquieu utilizará en 1748. A notar el vínculo entre el tamaño del mercado de crédito y la calidad de la gobernanza — cualquier parecido con la Argentina de 2008 no es casual:

There [gobierno que protege la propiedad] people will dare to own their being rich; there will be most people bred up to trade, and trade and traders will be most respected; and there the interest of money will be lower, and the security of possessing it greater, than it ever can be in tyrannical governments, where life and property and all things must depend upon the humour of a prince, the caprice of a minister, or the demand of a harlot. Under those governments few people can have money, and they that have must lock it up, or bury it to keep it; and dare not engage in large designs, when the advantages may be reaped by their rapacious governors, or given up by them in a senseless and wicked treaty: Besides, such governors condemn trade and artificers; and only men of the sword, who have an interest incompatible with trade, are encouraged by them.

For these reasons, trade cannot be carried on so cheap as in free countries; and whoever supplies the commodity cheapest, will command the market. In free countries, men bring out their money for their use, pleasure, and profit, and think of all ways to employ it for their interest and advantage. New projects are every day invented, new trades searched after, new manufactures set up; and when tradesmen have nothing to fear but from those whom they trust, credit will run high, and they will venture in trade for many times as much as they are worth: But in arbitrary countries, men in trade are every moment liable to be undone, without the guilt of sea or wind, without the folly or treachery of their correspondents, or their own want of care or industry: Their wealth shall be their snare; and their abilities, vigilance, and their success, shall either be their undoing, or nothing to their advantage: Nor can they trust any one else, or any one else them, when payment and performance must depend upon the honesty and wisdom of those who often have none.

¡Sensacional! (itálicos mios).

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