Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Economic Data on Cuba From the Spanish Embassy in Havana

The Spanish Embassy in Havana has recently published a short economic analysis of the Cuban economy.  Embajada de España, Oficina Economía y Comercio de España, Coyuntura político-economía (March 2010).

The critical issue, ironically, was one of translation.  
La existencia de un sistema económico centralizado, con precios intervenidos y control de salarios, rentas y, lo que es más importante, controles sobre las cantidades de bienes y servicios suministrados, hace difícil traducir a términos de economía de mercado la información económica del país.  Id.
The systemic differences between free market and state market systems makes the use of numbers generated by each essentially incomprehensible to the other for purposes of comparison.  Moreover, the free market focus on pricing as an indicator of value is of little help in state market systems where price is an expression of political will with respect to availability rather than a measure of the value of the object priced. 
Los precios no funcionan como indicadores de los costes ni de las preferencias del consumidor: una parte importante del consumo de las familias lo proporciona el Estado a precios políticos, por lo que valorar dicho consumo es difícil (los costes salariales son determinados centralizadamente). Por otro lado, los márgenes de distribución de muchas empresas cubanas funcionan más como impuestos sobre el consumo que como retribución de la actividad empresarial.  Id.
For those interested in the relationship between law and economics, and the approaches to governance in states where the public and private spheres are conflated in a way that privileges government direction and control of the factors of production, the document makes fascinating reading.

For those interested in the subject, the country report on Cuba prepared by the  Oficina Económica y Comercial de España en La Habana (Feb, 2010) is also worth reading for a global Spanish perspective--sympathetic but critical, of the situation in Cuba. 

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