Dr.C Juan Triana Cordoví

Dr.C Juan Triana Cordoví

Havana, 2021. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Closer to the horizon

Although it seemed that the list of activities not allowed as a modality of self-employment in Cuba looked faraway like the horizon, today we can practically reach it with our fingertips. In short, when the regulations in this regard are published, it will be known how much the Cuban business fabric can be diversified and effectively enriched under current conditions. The history of self-employment has been with us since the late 1970s, when the first resolution that allowed such activity was issued as part of the “rectification of errors” announced in the Programmatic Platform of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). This document was the foundation that anticipated the first of all the PCC congresses. This story has been told over and over again for decades, especially since the 1990s, from multiple perspectives,1 with greater or lesser depth, from quite different and sometimes irreconcilable political and ideological positions: from the almost absolute naivety of understanding the event as “the solution” to the country’s problems to the one that has identified it as part of the problems and dangers, and even as the confirmation of the distancing of official policy from the essential foundations of the Revolution. The U.S. administrations, especially...

Container terminal in the Mariel Special Development Zone, in Cuba. Photo: @ZEDMarielCuba/Twitter/Archive.

Multiply or divide…

The devaluation of the official exchange rate of the Cuban peso against the dollar, the wage reform and the administration of the management of the prices of some goods and services have become a combination that doesn’t always produce the desired effect. At least, so far in this process of structural adjustment of the national economy called reorganization task. We know from the macroeconomics and microeconomics books that any devaluation must generate positive incentives for the efficiency of the system as a whole; on labor productivity and on exports. It should lead to improvements in all three, though not in the short term. We also know from the macro and micro books that any devaluation produces a short-term effect on prices and generally pushes them up. This effect, in economies where there is an adequate dynamic of substitution of production factors (capital, labor, land and know-how) and where the supply is sufficiently elastic and varied, should serve as a containment of the expected short-term “price-effect” term. In universal economic thought, Alfred Marshall and Leon Walras defended different points of view on the role of quantities and prices in this necessary adjustment process. It is also true that those analyzes were...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Aftershocks of the earthquake

If anyone ever doubted the telluric nature of the exchange rate and monetary unification, this week, the first after the famous Day Zero, has been enough to show how intense the earthquake is and will continue to be. If the aspiration is to produce the effects that a devaluation should produce in the real economy, well then, it will be necessary to prepare for the many aftershocks that have yet to appear and that will necessarily occur. What is happening today in the economy and society, and even the way in which people begin to perceive the advantages and disadvantages of the happiness of living with a single currency, affects the pocket, the stomach and the mind. And they do so with a depth never seen before. The “intensity of the earthquake” is associated with many factors, but there is one that should be highlighted. Currency distortions are not the product that dollarization was adopted one day, back in the 1990s. They come from further back, since our country kept the exchange rate of the CUP with the US dollar unchanged, something that happened in the early sixties. They also go back to the fact that the tax system was...

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